Seeing whiteforge‘s picture above in the Toolmonger Flickr pool reminded me of an imaginary game I used to play as a kid. Maybe you played it, too: We’d imagine what would happen if someone picked us up and magically dumped us on another Earth-like planet with nothing but the clothes on our back and our skills. What would we do? (Sure, you might know all about steel, but can you make it?)
It’s a fun exercise to play as an adult as well, and it illustrates why I’ve always thought blacksmithing is cool. It’s a very tool-meta interest. Blacksmiths generally make their own tools (or make them for each other), and they use the tools they make to make more complex tools. That was pretty much the gist of most of the best arguments we’d make to each other about how we’d soon be soaking in nuclear-powered jacuzzis on our fantasy planets — we’d build everything one step at a time.
Honestly, though, I’d run out of skills long before reaching the same level of technology I depend on today. But I bet I could design and construct a basic lumber mill, which would make building a house (and selling lumber to the natives) a hell of a lot easier. I’ve made a square nail or two as well, and though I don’t want to think too hard about making thousands of ’em, I’d rather do that than be without.
Anyway, take this post as yet another plug for getting involved in blacksmithing. If nothing else, you can make a killer argument to your friends the next time you play “what if?”