Those are the adventures of Mr. Fimbulmyrk, in bushcraft and blacksmithing, mountainbiking and hiking, reenactment, writing, singing, dancing, stargazing and having a piece of cake and a coffee. Pray have a seat and look around you, but be warned - the forest´s twilight is ferocious at times.
Now those who know me know that I am really fond of the Khukuri knife variety. And now I had the privilege to get to know this guy on the web and exchange some really nice chats which gave me a lot of inside info on how it is REALLY done.
(source of all pictures and videos : Ambar Bahadur Bishwokarma KC Nepal)
Mr. Ambar Bahadur Bishwokarma works for the Nepal Khukuri corporation (www.nepalkhukuri.com) in Kathmandu producing awesome knives. The corporation is Nepali-owned and offers decent quality at awesome prices. Most of the time there are three smiths working in a team.
The blades are made from high-grade carbon steel (truck springs). The raw material is cut to pieces
All of the work is made by hand, with very simple equipment, but a lot of skill. I cannot resist ranting about how it´s not the high-end equipment and heebie-jeebie goobalahbah steel that makes a decent knife, but the smith that knows his trade... and from what I can say, these are really highly-gifted guys doing a really great job!
The rough shape is hammered out with a sledge-all done by hand, mind you!
The bevel and fullers are ground into the shape of the blade... no harm done, though. The blades are then normalized beside the fire.
The rough grind is ever more refined, all with the simplest of tools.
They also make more modern concepts, like this knife design intended as a hunting or tactical layout...
But this is where they really, really shine, in the truest sense of the word. These traditional designs are lovingly accomplished and come with a lovely lustre.
And, as a sneak peep I can show you these two models that will be available soon on their website:
The Khukuri is a knife that has always fascinated me for its history, its cultural aspects, its sleek and slender lines and, of course, its versatility and cutting prowess. One can easily say that if with an axe you´d be better off taking a saw when wanting to cut a branch of more than six cm diametre in thickness... with a decent Khuk´, you will need to think about hacking twice.. maybe. ;-) Cutting and working with a Khuk´ (or one for each hand... ;-) ) in landscaping I can say it beats a chainsaw when delimbing trees (at least when there´s a Fimbulmyrk at its end, and yes, we DID a contest ;-), and yes, we ARE mad ;-) ). But hacking and chopping is not all there is. I will spare you all the martial aspects of non - Gorkha legends, but even apart from that, its history and morphogenesis is fascinating. This will not be the last about these knives you have read on this blog. For sure. I want to sincerely thank Mr. Ambar Bahadur Bishwokama for all the input and information and maybe you think I am going a bit over the top with my enthusiasm about these knives. But in a world that is becoming increasingly brutal, one can not overestimate the value of craftsmanship, and these guys deserve a lot of respect for the work they do, each and every day.
Here is a video of the process:
They are currently looking for a distributor for Germany. So, if you own a business over here (but also in other countries as well), drop them a line. Other than that, you can also get a knife directly via their website.
Alas, long time, no post again. Not because I had nothing to say or nothing to do, in the contrast... This is one of my latest and most time - consuming projects. On a dark new moon´s (sickle moon´s night, to be exact) I wandered home from a visit at my old mother´s and found a tiny piece of ancient chisel... enough to make this "Jagdnicker" style knife from it. I like the idea of the Drudenmesser (http://www.fuhrmannsmesser.de/html/drudenmesser.html) an apotropaic style of knife that was common in the Alpine regions of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Italy. It served the purpose as a ritual knife to ward off the "Drud", a mythological figure in folk lore which was sometimes a human witch and sometimes a "night-mare", in the sense of the word. Only that the witch is me and the apotropaion I really need has to work against a very special kind of nightmare-some human beings. And I am NOT talking about necessarily sticking a pointy object into other people, not at all, to be precise. But having been a subject of mobbing, deadbashing and other totally socially acceptable demeanour by my fellow human beings has made me feel more at home in moonlit woods than in the neonlight of cities. Humans, generally speaking, are this planet´s nightmare. So the concept is situated in my local mythology. How would the apotropaic knife of the fair folk in my local mythology look like, I ask?
The owl is a nocturnal creature, swift and silent, as are the Dhiudha na nIamparai...
And the fox is a psychopomp in their spirituality. Dhiudha who practice spiritual exercise (magic) and a special kind of "magical" martial art are called "*vautiskibareannai" (borne by the fox/vixen) in the Dhiudha language round these parts... sorry for the blurry pics...
The fox is an ambiguous creature, sometimes cuddly, sometimes cruel, but always wild and striding in the night.
The knife is selectively tempered. I estimate the hardness of the edge to about 58 HRC. Handle is stag antler (flea market find). Blade length is 100 mm, tapering from 4-2 mm. The grind is a convex bevel, 1mm abovethe edge it is 0,3mm thick. The steel offers a very fine grain and a structure of refined steel or crucible damascus (Wootz). It will be in for a buttcap and sheath now... Mine, all mine... :-P
This is the time of year when all things know that all things will end - except mankind, that is, which still thinks itself invincible because of its imagined superiority. People call themselves "Homo Deus", because they invented a new game of hide and seek, each one respectively and on their very own, and there they dominate the rules. But the rules are not made by man.
These people are highly intelligent. And incurably insane. They don´t know anything anymore about the simple joy of harvest. Their joys are complex and ever more complicated. It is not sin, for there is no such thing as sin, in which they indulge. But the complexity of their pleasures falls back upon them. They yearn for simplicity and do not know where to find it.
I do not know how to put it in words, exactly, that is. The more time I spend in the woods, the harder I find it to tell it to humans. I am not rich, far from that, and time was when I had issues with that. In fact, I am poor. But when I find an apple by the trailside, and some walnuts, and then I sit on a stump with a cuppa tree, this is like a feast to me.
Trees care for each other. It has now been scientifically proven that they communicate with each other via mushroom networks and nutritional exchange. This communication is complex and alien to man. And we can of course make our measurements and calculate our economic benefit from that knowledge... but we will not understand.
Maybe you can feel it. Maybe not. Either which way, any words would be futile.
I think I can feel it, sometimes. Something great moving through the woods, something which I would call peaceful and serene, but that does not do it justice. It uses no words, and words therefore are no use in describing it. It has no body, but I could tell a great many tales about the bodies it had through time.
Sometimes I think it now has mine, and lives in my heart and my soul and my spirit, and it feels good.
This is a strange time. We experience the fall of the kingdom of man, and we will be bereft of all we cherished so dearly... but we do not want to hear. They do not want to hear, because I listened, and I learned.
Ancient trees told me their tales, and I should say that if we will still have a chance, it lies therein.
A dark season it is. It is the realm of the holly king, of the twilight and the cold, cold nights of winter. Things we thought lifeless spring to life, and the living things that were so vibrant in spring go to their sleep.
Dark things instead come out, the monsters of the mind and of the tales. But that is not all there is.
The moon shines more brightly, or so it seems, but that is not all there is.
It is the season of stealthy walks through the thicket-but that is not all there is.
For it is also the season of the tales, huddled around a fire or the oven, of hot tea and cocoa and what goodness you can afford. It is the season of the dark, that much is true. But it is in a dark room that the candles shine more brightly. And even while dark things of the mind come up to the surface, so do the lighter and brighter tales. Of Tomte and troll, of Chrismas or whatever you call it.
And it is in the darkest hour of the darkest night that the light is born anew. This is the message of this season.
It has been a while coming, and it drove me mad somehow. That knife was sitting on the bench and I just could not make up my mind how to complete it. That handle is made of a special reindeer antler from a very special place. The blade is, compared to other knives I have made, not so special. I took a Roselli Wootz UHC blade with a claimed carbon content of 1,8% or so and a claimed Rockwell hardness of 64-66 HRC (which is a more realistic and absolutely great 62HRC in fact). It´s an industrial made blade that comes in relatively cheap. You do not get Wootz blades for 70 €, period. It has a short tang (about 85mm long), that, when processed in the right way ist way strong enough. I polished the blade a bit and etched it as I do with my damascus blades, and a beautiful pattern showed. To you owners of Roselli knives and blades, this might be a hack you might want to try... for that knife is way better than it looks. I am not one for lookers alone, but hey, no harm done, innit? :-)
When you put a blade with a short tang into a handle, I found several things to be crucial and always try to act accordingly. First you have to keep in mind what makes a short-tang knife fail in hard use. The tang is a kind of lever. If you e.g. baton the knife through hard knotted wood, you put a great force onto the other side of that lever. To prolong the crucuial end of this lever, you have several options. First, there should be a coherent flow of force vectors. This can be achieved by choosing a material that is dense and non-porous. For instance, if you want a stag antler handle, you wat to be very sure that there is little to no marrow in the middle to give that lever (the tang) a firm base to "move" against. If the material at hand is porous, you have to drill that away, fill the "tube" you have made that way with a strong epoxy (look on the package) or liquid metal, let it dry, and drill the hole for the tang with as little tolerances as possible. You might even want to add some reinforcements, such as glass strands or even carbonfibre or metal strands into the hole along the direction of stress. Another method would be to add a bolster cup made from copper or bronze (you can get those from your local plumber´s shop). You could also make a mock full tang out of aluminium or steel and fit the short tang into that, rivet it into the aluminium tang and fit scales to that mock tang. Or you could just use a decent material in the first... :-), that said, this piece of reindeer antler had no marrow whatsoever, and I carefully filed out the tang hole to fit the tang really closely. In fact, since the antler tends always to compress a little, I filed it out somewhat smaller than needed and then softened the antler a bit internally by rinsing with a bit of water, then tapping on the butt of the handle with light blows of a peen hammer. Then I let the handle dry out completely separately from the blade and glued it on with a strong dual component glue. The bolster I made from bronze sheet.
Of course you have to keep in mind that a knife can be but a very poor excuse for a prybar and might snap in abuse. I am pretty confident with my one-of-a-kind-knives, which I can test very thoroughly, but industrial making is a whole different matter.
That said, the knife lay on the bench, and I tested it from time to time and found it a real good cutter and a nice carry. The blade, measuring in at a really agreeable and dexterous length of 85 mm bites like your little sister and keeps an edge exrtraordinarily well, and I really love it, of course. Now the knife should be used in reenactment and bushcraft, and be suitable for a variety of time epoch enactments, so choosing a motif for a carving is not at all easy, and so until now it has none. Maybe I get off my rocker and simply carve a knotwork into it or some zoomorphic ornament, who knows... I will also fit in a piece of agate or amber into the butt end, just because I like the idea.
Now those were the contemplations I subjected to, and one of the reasons it was sitting there idly.
The sheath should also be a versatile design, and I have taken to wear really loose clothing in the woods with no belt, for better flexibility and the ability to do some movements not many people do. So it needed a solution to keep it on my sorry bum without moving about too much. That was the simple part... just a leather thong did the job exceedingly well, and the knife is still light enough to be worn around the neck.
The leather I used also was a novelty for me. Normally I use uncoloured veg tan leather. This one I got cheap from a good and very old friend and fellow writer and medieval craftsman reenactor, Christian from www.dragal.de. It is absolutely top-quality. I was not quite sure whether it would take a decent snap when hardening it, but, soaking it in a solution of soda and spirit, took a really enjoyable hardness to it. Hot - waxing it with a mixture of fir resin, beeswax, birch tar, linseed oil and spirit finished it off so that the "snap" actually is just a tiny bit softer than that of a Kydex sheath. So, job done... ;-)
It has quickly become one of my favourite knives for the woods. There are better knives for batoning, but I can take one extra for that task in my backpack. Where it excels, however, are precise cutting jobs. Processing food, snacking, whittling, harvesting plants and mushrooms, you name it. It does not weigh me down and does most of the jobs I need a knife for very well.
That blade is a really good performer for the woods. I am not so pleased with Roselli´s marketing policy, though. I strongly suppose that the advertised hardness refers to the hardness before tempering, and I fail to see the point why one would want to claim an absurd hardness in marketing. For 66 HRC would be extremely hard to sharpen in the field. To make that comparable: A good file comes at that hardness, and with 67HRC you can scratch glass. 62 HRC, however, is not only more than adequate, it is even more than ayone could wish for. So, there would be no issue at all, if Roselli simply told the truth. This is a most excellent material, period, and needs no boasting up.
On a recent fair in Marburg, I got myself a cheapo Laguiole, and it rides in my pocket quite frequently now. Having a carbon steel blade, it´s razor sharp, and while it has the one shortcoming all Laguioles seem to have (the blade makes contact with the back spring when closed), it also has one advantage many Laguioles share. Originally being a sort of backlock mechanism the spring has a propriety called "cran forcé". Similar to a backlock, there is an indention, a small rounded cavity in which a rounded nub on the spring fits. This makes for some added safety due to the resulting higher degree of stay. I have used it to make my snacks in the office, due to its civil appearance it does not make my colleagues jump for shelter crying "HE `S GOT A WEAPON!" :-P It´s a nice knife and adds atmosphere to any meal.
But so does this one. It´s a Hungarian shepherd´s knife, which I got cheap, as well, on the Jagd und Hund expo. Contrary to the Laguiole, the blade does not make contact with the spring, when closed. It has not an indention in the blade´s root, but the very special layout of the handle together with a stiff spring makes for a safe handler, too, when used for reasonable tasks...
Seeing both types of knives pared I could not help noticing the strong similarities of the blade shape. It is called a "Yatagan" shape.
Now the Yatagan was a knife or short saber of Turkish make. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yatagan shows you some examples. These blades have a very sleek and slender recurve blade . I would rather call the Laguiole and the shepherd knives´blade shape somewhat of a clip point, but it is clearly evident that there also is at least some evidence. For instance, the Laguiole, native to the Massif Central of France, most certainly derives from an Arabo-Hispanic (or "Mauric") predecessor of the Navaja and the Navaja folding knife of the 19th century. The Yatagan was also common in Hungary... et voilá: There also was a strong influence of Turkish culture, being a commonplace amongst Historians.
The message is simple: France and Hungary are quite a distance apart. But there´s still a lot they have in common, apart from humble blade shapes.
Look to what we have in common... and enjoy your snack. ;-)
Long time, no regular posts, and yup, my faithful readers might be a bit disappointed. Now my absence has reasons, of course. One is that I simply had little time to write, and even updating my facebook account was a bit of a hassle. Another is.. well, how to put that in words?
I might put it that way: I was always reluctant to acknowledge the existence of human beings that are utterly and completely Evil. I believed that persons commonly tauted "evil" simply were a bit misled, and, with some empathy, could be persuaded to see things maybe a bit different. And of course, that still applies to many people.
But, finally, I encountered someone who not only is utterly and completely useless as a member of society, and life taught me the hard way that there actually ARE completely and utterly EVIL persons, of a variety that can only be referred to as a sort of madness or frenzy. Sort of disgusting and terrifying that such a thing exists, and it turned my view of the world upside down. Sort of Lovecraftian, too. Now such a thing as "the elder ones" or "Cthulu" makes a lot more sense to me as a myth. There is such a thing as a cosmic madness that befalls weak characters turning them into something utterly abominable.
These beings, that I will refuse to refer to as human, draw each and every drop of energy out of you, feeding on your virtual life - blood, thriving and relishing in their own fell deeds, until they have turned you into something like to themselves, and they will not stop until each and everything light and wonderful about your soul is perished. They install hate into your heart and soul by purpose in order to speed up the process and prey on everything that is of value to you, from friendship to valour to dreams to everything that elevates the human soul.
And as you can see by these lines, they have nearly succeeded. Only by a hair´s breadth did I escape and I needed some time to nurse my wounds. I was alack of inspiration and motivation to write anything but self-pitying rubbish. And this is a symptom that I nearly fell prey to the Grey God, the primeval snake of doom.
And I did not want to molest you with that, for it is like spreading a pestilence.
But a writer I am. This is not to say I am a good one. But it seems to me that I am no bad one, either, for still people read this blog, after all the trials and tribulations they had to suffer... ;-).
I am a writer, and the pen is also a weapon. It is just as good as a sword in many ways, and I know how to handle both. How did I manage to get out of the fix?
Now what applies to writing, applies to smithing in no small manner, too.
Again, I dove headlong into working for others, which to them serves as an excuse to mob me out, as usual. I do not understand this, but I simply cease to want to understand now.
I have realized that in order to survive this shitty world you have to be tough. You have to show your enemies (and just about everyone in human society is one) why they fear the dark again. And I know that there are a lot of you out there who have made exactly the same experience. Most of you out there are capable of getting cozy in situations where the all-too-common men ( and women) would not be able to survive. You dress up funny, you love to walk barefoot through the woods, you don´t care about hairdos and you have dirty fingernails.
They shun you, and they mob you, they try to perform ontological murder on you in telling you you were not adequate-while they themselves even fail in successfully open up a choco pops package in the morning, can´t even cook the basest of recipes and collapse after running for the bus. No wonder many modern shoes come with velcro straps, because they are not even capable of reaching that far down, and, provided they even did manage by accident, were not capable of tying a proper lace-knot.
I will tell you the secret (or one secret) about them: They fear you. One last shred of instinct tells them that you are what they have forsaken. That you are still in connection to the wild. They fear your laughter and your smile and your childlike endeavours, your vibrant colours and your prowess and creativity...
I make this fear my ally now. I make my mishap their downfall.
´Nuff said. Course, what I did these last months is riding my bike. It always helps to get things into perspective, to get out to places that are wild and adventurous. I saw some small wonders along the way, of course, and it is in seeing these wonders and clinging to the sense of awe that you can smite the serpent of primeval Evil, the Hátislar of doom... and the small wonders are often nothing special.
This is wild. This is a BMX track someone built very well under a remote bridge, and no, for the life of me I would not tell you where. It is illegal, of course. But someone took a lot of love and energy building what was prohibited due to lack of profit, and did it well. Went to the lengths to carry big bags of concrete out there and making some stunts fpor nothing else but plain old fun and play. All over the place there were graffitis saying "I love my little BMX" and "BMX, sonst nix" (BMX, nothing else).
Someone who loves what he or she does. Nothing special. Nothing elevated. Certainly no politics or other hatemongering. Plain old fun, and I hope the folks don´t mind that I used their stunts a little. Was a bit awkward, for my 26 was a bit too big for the stunts and I have become a right chickenshit and an old fart... ;-) but it was plain old fun indeed.
But urban is as urban does, and I had a craving for the hills, as I have so often, for a simple reason: Less people equal a smaller total percentage of morons.
Nothing special, really. Just some fireroads. Sun, and a light breeze. My ohsogood bike and myself.
And on top of one of my favourite hills one of the carvings I so much like... and it has inspired me...
...to take up carving again. Now the thing with carving is that you don´t need much. Just a whittling knife and a piece of wood. No smithy equals less people equals a lower total percentage of morons. And carving is somehow meditative, and I love to do this sitting on a stump in the woods. My muscles just start to remember the movements, but they are still there... No wonder: The first carvings I made when I was four years old, nothing to be proud of, to be true, but still.
And there are trees, old and gnarled trees, and young trees swishing in the wind... and no Hátislar of doom can take that from me.
And then I look over those hills, and the sky is so close, and I take a deep breath and smile.
Just a bike.
Or a hike, of course. Late summer trails and woods that simply wait to be discovered.
Relsihing in ripe berries and the sweet scents of late summer and just a faint hint of autumn inj between the tiny space between the brambles.
Bright blue skies we so often forget, where the merlin circles above with his eerie cries...
Or dark and cool crevices in the earth, looming full of ancient secrets and primeval terrors and the horror of the unseen; and yet the strong scent of the earth oozes from below and gives new strength to one´s soul.
Or, another wonder, as simple as it gets... just a wafer and a cuppa coffee at my favourite trailside restaurant. Just sitting there in the morning, when there are not many people around and you can have a nice chat with the few around; for for the most part, those are quality people who shun the mainstream and the ruckus.
And you have time and leisure to communicate with the rabbits nearby in the stable, and it is surprising that they communicate back.
And over more hills you ride in solitude and a sense of peace in your heart.
I very much find these pictures tell more of what heals one´s soul than many words; and of course I took it all in in long breaths.
It is funny how much things like these arm your heart against the constant attacks you encounter; for your mortal enemies might be able to kill you... but they will not kill the fact that you can experience this moment.
And all their endeavours are futile. They will die, they already have, and simply did not notice that they are already dead as stone.
They will not see the marvels of the woods anymore.
They cannot walk the trails you walk; even if they would walk the same path geographically, they will not be on the same path.
They know not exhaustion, and so they can never rest. They have no passion, and so they cannot feel tranquility.
But it is no longer my business pitying them.
My business was having a cuppa tree above the lake...
...and whittle away.
Loads of times I also just sat in a dense wood. I brought some good bread and cheese and some fruit and pickled cucumber and sausage... and, being deeply grateful for al these treasures, took my long time savouring, I mean REALLY tasting the food, while there was no sozund around but the breeze in the treetops and the song of birds and wild rams in the distance and some roe deer.
On one or the other occasion I went foraging for nettle seeds and leaves for soup and tea.
And there is a lot of life, and there is a lot of death in the woods. And it all makes sense, for everything has its time and place.
People are going mad over the latest catastrophies and fashions of doom... and they know not a thing.
There is one truth no influencer can change. No product will change this truth, nothing ever will. There is life and there is death.
Up springs the well and renews itself always.
And the trail leads where it has always led. they cannot change it nor do anything against it. Not against its power, nor its existence.
And they lie their way through life, and ultimately they believe themselves what lies they have told; but the trees know no lies.
Under crown and under leaves a weft is woven. From the well springs a creek that murmurs the runes of the forest. It sings songs of the wild. Always the warp is moving, weaving a web so delicate that it is, for the most part, left unseen. But still, it is there. It is truth, and can never lie. It consists of small wonders, of joy and pleasure and lust, of terror and horror, and awe. It has no name and many names.
Ever onwards onto itself the warp moves through the weft...
..and onwards the trail leads through the thicket.
The spider sitting in ambush...
...and the wind and sun upon the leaves...
The weaver of death...
Of decay and the horror of the void...
...cruel yet according to the law of the universe...
...up springs the well and renews itself forever.
And layer upon layer of the fragrant soil gathers upon the rotting steel of human pride.
And the trees will grow.
And the wicked will be forgotten. Their soul will die with their spirit. Their rotting flesh will be part of the soil, and stories will be told about their hate and greed and violence to warn of their downfall. They shall be peaceless through unrest. Three furuncles I sing and I curse upon them: Shame, maculosity and unseemliness. I sing the highest curse: May the void befall them. May they get what they so much desire. By all the wonders I encountered I render all their strife futile. By sun and life and wind and death, may they be doomed in any world, in any life. may they be reborn a million times and a million lifes shall they suffer, from the bginning to the end of the universe and in any universe that will be born. May they die a thousand deaths and encounter what they have sown. Evil they did do, lewd did they live: May they agnize what is their making.
And may I simply forget them in favor of the beautiful light on a forest´s hillside.