punching holes through steel

I spent last weekend swinging a hammer, and my arm still isn’t on speaking terms with my shoulder. My blacksmith neighbor needed some help building a bike rack. So I said, sure…how hard could it be?

It’s hard.

My arm started its revolt about 90 minutes in. And by back is still mad at me. But the biggest surprise was what it did to my hands. After about 6 hours of clutching a 1o pound hammer (think “Momma Bear” size), I could barely hold my Diet Coke with lime. (Please note: This is different than Diet Coke Lime…I like my soda with an actual lime, but real blacksmiths drink water.) Today, I’m still having trouble typing…my blacksmith neighbor calls them “grandpa hands”…and I have a new empathy for my grandpa.

Punching holes through steel is a surprisingly non-violent process. I had to practice holding the hammer loosely, swinging with my hips and going slow to go fast. Seems to me there’s a life lesson in there, but I don’t want to force it. Incidentally, that’s another blacksmithing trick…don’t force it.

The bike rack is finished and looks good. It’s sturdy and I’m proud of it. Not just the product, but the work. There’s something to be said for good hard labor, actual sweat equity, and the celebration of a job well done.

I know my arm and shoulder will start speaking again. And I know my back will forgive me. And I now that I do not labor in vain. I just know it.


Just a quick FYI for my fellow Seattle-ites complaing about this week’s heat…walking out of a blacksmith’s studio into said heat is like walking into a Dharma freezer.

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