Heidi Wordhouse-Dykema

>highschool (aprox. 100 high school students). He has now decided that
>he wants to just "finish" school at home and get on with "real
> He tests at 11 grade level. He just turned 16, but is quite mature
>for his age. He wants to learn Blacksmithing and welding as
>his "career".

You've been school-at-homing him?
So graduate him already...or have him unschool blacksmithing.
Voila. Problem solved.

Yours isn't the only unschooling teen who's into hot metal and fire. I've
a 14 year old son and we're building a forge out of an old semi-truck brake
drum (or whatever it's called.) Anyone have a squirrel-cage blower they
don't need anymore? (grin) And, we just got our first Mig welder
(harborfreight.com, about $200.) We're going to need it to weld the legs
onto the forge body... and weld the blower onto the bottom of the
drum. Next on the wish list is an oxy/acet set with a cutting tip or two
(plasma cutters are too expensive.) (sigh/grin)

He's been making chainmail on his own and next year will teach 'chainmail'
to some interested 5th graders.

After the forge is up and functional, he wants to start knifemaking, mostly
swords. Folded metal and such. I have the feeling it's going to require a
much larger forge, but at least we've helped him get started.

Look, you're not alone. Just do it and don't worry about it so
much. Support him. Encourage him. There's a farrier (horseshoes) around
here who makes more than $200 each time he shoes a horse. I'm sure he
pulls in six figures easy and everyone says he loves his work and does a
great job. Believe that your kid won't starve and he might just love what
he ends up doing. What a life!