Make your own tools
The last blacksmithing class I attended ramped up the difficulties massively. In this two-part class, I'm supposed to learn how to make a pair of tongs and a hammer. Why two things at once? That's because there's a lot of waiting between heating up the hammer head.
By the end of the class, I was at a good stopping point for my tongs. I managed to make the ends. I have no idea how it will become a functional tool, but I'm excited to find out.
I got to use a power hammer to help flatten out the materials. The machine looked dangerous (and it is), but you'd have to be extremely negligent to cause injuries. That, or someone wants to hurt you. I used the power hammer to get a more uniform thickness for my tongs and make the hammer less blocky.
As I said before, it takes a while to heat up the hammer between working on it. If I recall correctly, it usually takes around 15 minutes before it's red hot throughout.
Most of the work that day was trying to puncture a hole through the head of the hammer. I got to use a sledgehammer to drive the punch into the hammer. This part is tricky, so the teacher made sure the steel punch wouldn't get stuck in the hammer by being part of the process. You don't want that to happen because it would ruin the entire project.
The can of beeswax you see there helps create a "steam shield" when applied to the steel punch. Whenever I tried to drive the punch into the hammer, flames, and flashes of light would appear.
After three hours of effort, I managed to break through the head. That was a lot of effort to get this tiny plug out! It was definitely a good workout.
A good stopping point for the class was the annealing process. The blacksmith gave me an insulated ammo box for this. It's in my car right now. The idea is to cool the hammer slowly to make it more workable the next time I come in for class.
It was hard work, but I enjoyed it. I'm still not very good at the techniques they taught me. I do plan on refining my skills over time.