Dienstag, 10. Mai 2011

At the Smithy again: Viktor´s new steel rod breaking tool

 On Saturday I rode to the Muttental again to meet with Volker, help out a bit and have a chat and some forging. There was little traffic, so not much to do. Viktor was there, and I had the privilege to talk to him and help him out a bit. I have a deep respect for him, not only for his ability to forge wonders, but for his view on life and death. I had not said much, and we sat there on a stump, and all of a sudden he lay his hand upon my shoulder and said in his broken German: You must not be afraid. Look, that tree. I cut it recently. Mankind´s the same. If we are left alone, we strive and combat and cannot be modest. Then the boss (as he called him;-)) comes with some scissors, and cuts us to size. War is not to be feared, but survived. The only thing you must do is survive, and then, "bitteschön" it´s peace again. Some 20, 30, 40, 50years, and then it´s war again. It´s always been this way. You must not fight, but live in that manner, then you need not fight. They call it "Systema", but it´s all rubbish. They talk and talk. But you must do! Simply do, and just survive, You can do that, I believe.

I had not said a word about my fears, must I mention that? Then he jumped up, said: Your bike is dirty. You must not ride a dirty bike! I answered: I rode through the woods, it got dusty, and will again on the way home. He grinned and started to wash it. I could not stand that, and did it myself. Then he looked at me and said: Did you understand?

I did. And will not ride a "dirty bike" anymore. Nor a "dirty train", as I have stopped early in my life. Viktor is a very rare man indeed. He appears a bit over the edge sometimes, he drinks too much, as many Russians do, but he has every right to get any respect I owe him. He knows to make EVERYTHING himself, from tools to Vodka to perfume, to medicine. He cut out and treated his maligne melanome he discovered one day himself. In Kazakhstan he pulled out teeth, as was the custom that blacksmiths did, too. He healed horses and people alike, what we call "bushcraft" is a commonplace to him. Making damascus: Just take some springsteel, forge it out, put a file in, weld it with new steel a thousand times, and then "bitteschön" you got some quality blade... He´s a farmer, a hunter, a fisherman, oh yes, and a major in the Russian army, and I heard he had something to do with the Speznaz, too. I will not ask him directly, for the Afghanistan war has hurt him and traumatized a lot. He taught me to make cancer soup and what herbs fit best and what you can do when no pot´s available. All this in some two hours time!

We talked about harvesting strawberries, about mowing the lane, about forging, woodworking, about philosophy and literature, about blades and tools and making coffee.

This is a steel rod breaking tool Viktor made. It´s basically a tempered plate with holes for the rod drilled through, and a strong lever with a tempered insert. Works like a cinch;-). The plate is to judge the length.

 That´s the knife Volker started. he messed up a little, so I helped him out and made this Viking style tang for him, quenched and tempered it and did the grind.
 Oh, and what might be hidden in the flames;-).
This En-Nep-style blade out of spring steel...

It´s always a wonder what people I meet at that smithy. It´s a place deeply connected with my life, deeply rooted in my heart, not only because of the opportunity of forging there, but for the people. I am very grateful for that.

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