One thing I really like about this blacksmithing is that there seems to be just endless opportunities to learn something new. Just like with computers. When you’re programmer and doing some larger projects on your own, or even with team, there are many levels of abstraction that you have to keep in your head and figure out how to solve different tasks at different levels. Say you want to build e-commerce site. If you’re on your own, then you’ll install server (linux, *bsd, solars?), you must choose DB (postgres, mysql, sqlite, oracle?), programming language, templating language. You must think how incoming http request is routed inside your system, where is authorization, where, when and how data is asked from DB, at the lowest level you must decide which algorithms to use and so on and so forth. You are server admin, DB admin, programmer, user support and secretary. You know the drill.

Now let’s say I want to make a knife. First I must know which steel to use, which depends on where certain knife is used. Should it be stainless, shoud it be flexible? Tool steel, high carbon, low carbon etc? Is knife used more for cutting, which means it should keep edge very well, or is it used more likely for chopping, then the edge can’t be very hard or it’ll break. Then there are unlimited number of skills I could use – forging, heat-treating, grinding, filing, sharpening, sheath making (leather, wood), handle making (also wood, ivory, titanium (which can anodized to get color effects (and from parens you can see that I like lisp))), engraving (buttcaps, locks etc), chemistry (bluing steel, electro-etching etc). Choices are unlimited. And actually every little piece of that process in itself can be and is an art form where people learn all of their lives. So I guess it’ll keep me busy for few years…

Yesterday I had some spare time (we’re doing our first batch of katanas right now, so this takes majority of my time) and I used it to practice forge welding – success was 3 out of 4 tries. And to practice my hammering skills I made this in half an hour, or thereabouts.

Half hour hammering

Before and after

This second image is from series ‘before and after’. Here you can see how out of nothing something can be made. Fascinating.

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