The Secret of Making a Pattern-Welded Viking Spear

Welcome to an end-to-end from start to finish
video on making the Complete Viking Spear. In the Viking Era, the spear was the most
common weapon. It had long range and was much cheaper than
a sword. The wolf tooth spear in particular has fascinated
me since I first saw it in the ‘Swords of the Viking Age’ by Ian Pierce. In this video, you will see me recreating
a famous Finnish spear head including its wolf tooth pattern. The original spear is currently in a museum
in Helsinki and pretty much looks like the spear you saw in the intro sequence. The anatomy of a Viking Era spear is a fairly
simple. It is a weapon with long wooden shaft, frequently
made from ash, and has a pointed tip of metal and can be used for thrusting. To attach the spear point to the wooden shaft,
the spear head needs a socket. Since steel was expensive, the socket was
usually made from wrought iron. However, the cutting edge will be high carbon
steel and just like the original there will be a wolf tooth as well as a twisted star
pattern. To create the socket, I need have enough wrought
iron. I am using old wagon tires that I forged into
rectangular bars and am now forge welding together. This will give me enough material to forge
a 5 in wide sheet of wrought iron. For those of you in metric countries that’s
roughtly 12.5 cm. I need to use a sledge hammer before the wrought
iron has been reduced to dimensions that fit under the power hammer. This is also a reminder how much this project
is made easier by modern tools. I am sure many of you may be wondering what
all of this has to do with making a spear. Well, that’s a good question. Back then, even just acquiring the iron would
have been quite expensive. Most likely a blacksmith would have acquired
it in bars and would then also have to forge it out into a sheet. Similar to what I am showing here. While I hope that my videos may be interesting
as well as educational, it is difficult to capture the full athmosphere and visuals of
the process. Perhaps, this provides a different perspective. By now, we have spent a lot of time and effort
just into making a wide sheet of iron. The dimensions are about right now and it
is time to form and forge-weld the socket. Tony and I created enough wrought iron plate
for two spear sockets. Right now, I am cutting it in half and will
clean up the sides. The next step is to determine the right taper. Remember, we will form the socket as a cylinder
and that means that the width needs to be roughly the diameter times pi. The finnish spear socket had a diameter of
roughly an inch; 2.54 cm; at its base. The other dimension does not matter quite
as much now as we can taper it later. I am grinding in a scarf on both sides so
that after forge welding all seams in the socket will disapear. You might think that sounds great but what
is he doing now? Another piece of steel being cut? How does that fit into the picture. Let me explain. To help with forming the socket but more importantly
to help with the later forge-welding, I need to make a mandrel that fits insight the socket. So, what I am doing here is to take a bit
of round stock and taper it into the appropriate dimensions. While the final shape needs to be round, I
first create a square taper that I will then forge to ocatagon before finally rounding
it. The mandrel will have a limited live time
since it will be heated up close to forge welding temperatures. So, I expect to perhaps get 5 – 6 sockets
out of it before I need to make a new one. After a while I am happy with the dimensions
and the only step remaining is to do some clean up on the grinder. Thinking about forge-welding, this clean up
is actually a little bit counter intuitive. We want a lot of scale on the final piece. However, we’ll worry about the lack of scale
later. Right now, let’s actually get to forming the
socket. I will use a swage to assist with the operation. When forming a socket, the order of operation
is quite important. So, let’s look at the mechanics a little bit. As you can see I am trying to bend the plate
by supporting it in two places on the swage block and hitting it with the hammer in the
air. It is important to start bending from the
outside to the inside because the more the plate is being bent the less space the hammer
will have. Now, I am switching over to hit the socket
on the outside and will slowly bring the edges together. The important part is that the socket ends
up with an even taper and that the edges have enough overlap so that they can be welded. After a lot of fine adjustment, I am finally
happy and the socket is ready for forge welding. As we will be heating up the socket with the
mandrel inside, I coat the mandrel in graphite to make it easier to extract later. Forge welding works best when the material
to be welded is completely free of scale. That’s a little bit difficult to accomplish
when the socket is essentially closed already. We’ll try out best here. The challenge I have with forge welding sockets
is two fold. The material is thin and cools done quickly. Also, since it is thin, it is easy to over
forge it. The socket right now is not shaped right and
needs to become more slender towards its top. To taper a socket or tube, I used a V-shaped
die underneath the power hammer. It is important to hold the socket completely
horizontal to the die and rotate it smoothly. Also, the hits from the power hammer need
to be quite gentle. After I am reasonably happy with the socket,
it’s time to prepare the wrought iron that will form the core of the spear head. I am forging it roughly to the dimension of
the top of the socket to make it just small enough so that I can insert it. To prepare for welding, both surfaces need
to be cleaned and free of scale. Also to create a smooth transition from the
socket to the core, we need to scarf the socket and that will prevent a visible seam and step
we would get otherwise. Once everything fits tightly together, it’s
time to go back to forge welding. At this point, I would also like to say thank
you to Jim Austin from who showed me this technique. If you are interested in any of this, Jim
teaches great classes in Oakland. Check out his web site. Once the welding is complete, I go back to
fixing up the taper since the forge welding created quite a noticeable transition in diameter. After I am happy with the taper, the part
of the core that sicks out needs to be prepared. As with all my pattern welding, I like bars
that are roughly 3/8 of an inch thick; that’s about 9 mm. I am also forging in a small tip but that’s
about it for preparing the core of the spear. Now, we get to pattern welding. I have a number of already prepared pattern-welded
bars from previous projects and Tony and I am choosing the one that looks the best. In the pictures you saw before you may have
noticed that the twisted patterns on the spear head came from one bar with different twist
directions and a hairpin weld. Before we can twist, we need to prepare the
bars which starts by cutting them to the right length. The first step is to weld on two supports
for my twisting jig and slow motion makes that look almost magical. Once the bar is in the twisting jig, I am
using the oxy-actelyn torch to heat the bar to a bright orange and then slowly twist it. My method is to hear up roughly 2 inches of
bar and then make a constant number of twists so that the pattern stays even throughout
the whole bar. To prevent the bars from shearing in the corners,
I usually put on a slight chamfer to reduce the transition angle. With the jig and the torch twisting is usually
a fairly quick process and becomes very repeatable. Frequent brushing helps with removing scale
and keeps the bars cleaner since they need to be forge welded back to square later. I twisted left for one half of the bar and
now it’s Tony’s turn to twist right for the other half of the bar. Once all the twisting is done, we use a wire
brush on an angle grinder to clean up any remaining scale. My usual philosophy is to keep everything
as clean as possible to reduce the rate of failure. Since all of this work consumes so much time,
I really want to avoid starting over. After twisting, the bars always need to be
forge-welded back to square before they can be used any further. As with all my forge welding, I do this in
sections and make sure that the bars are hot enough for liquid flux to squeeze out easily. To maintain the same dimension, I use a spacer
on the power hammer. Any true blacksmith would be horrified by
what is coming next. I need to bend the bar precisely in the middle
and I am doing that free hand with the torch. I have many excuses for that, the side-blast
forge was not running and the propane forge does not give me localized heat. However, I don’t have any excuses for what
you are seeing here; that seems like a terribly way to bend the bar in the middle. So, let’s use the coal forge after all and
do some corrections with the hammer. To successfully weld the bar I just bent to
the core of the spear, I need a very precise fit without any gaps. As I had heated the bar for bending some of
the resulting scale needs to be removed again and small file is appropriate for the job. Everything seems to be fitting now and I really
hope that all of this is going to come together. A failure here would ruin all the work done
so far. The next couple minutes are going to determine
success or failure. I will let the action speak for itself. So far everything looks like it came together. I will just do one more light welding pass
before declaring victory. So far, you have seen 4 different forging
welding steps. There are several more to come. Some of these steps could be combined but
I prefer to do them separately since that gives me more control. In preparation for the next step, I need to
taper the tip into a much sharper end. This is necessary since we need to fit the
cutting edge of the spear over the core that we have built up so far. Now, it’s time to prepare for creating the
wolf tooth pattern. I already have a block of reasonably high
layer steel we will be using for the cutting edge. Before it can be used I need to forge it to
the right dimensions; it needs to be about 3/8 on inch thick; that’s 9mm and much wider. I want the bar to be at least 2 inches wide
so that the spear core will fit right into the center of this bar. As before, I am using my trusty sword fuller
to help with widening the steel on the power hammer. Working on the fuller can bend the steel and
sometimes corrections on the anvil are useful to get everything back in shape. I am finally happy with the bar. While it may be hard to see, this is what
will form the outer layer of the spearhead. The next step is to cut it open in the middle
for almost its entire length and start forging in the teeth. We could have done this hot with a chisel
as well but that would require extra work to square things back up. You will see why in just a few minutes. Before I continue, I need to clean up the
cut from the bandsaw with a fuller. One of the nice things when working with steel
is that when hot it can be moved around. For example, when a part of it is in the way,
we can move it somewhere else. Now comes the step that many of you may have
been waiting for. The creation of the wolf tooth pattern. I made a double chisel that I am slowly moving
down each arm of the spearhead. The double chisel gives me very even spacing
for the teeth but also has its own drawbacks. For example, when starting a new tooth, the
chisel needs to be well aligned and it is easy to double cut a tooth. This is how it looks after we are done with
one side and now let’s quickly finish up the other side as well. As the chisel is made from hardened steel,
it needs to be cooled occasionally. I am conducting a second pass over the teeth
which helps with evening out the spacing. Here is a close up on the teeth and you can
also see some that I cut twice. Some of this will be cleaned up with files
and some will disappear when forge welding. What you see now is my method that allows
me to do all the operations by myself. For this spearhead, I fortunately had Tony’s
help so could have tried to do this differently. However, this is the way I found that works
for me. The basic idea is to take wrought iron which
is very soft when hot and use the cold high-carbon steel as the form into which to fit the wrought
iron. Even when using a hydraulic press this is
still a little bit of a struggle and Tony is helping to hold one side of the wrought
iron strip with a hammer. Here is how it looks like after the wrought
iron has been formed. Once the wrought iron is hot, I have enough
time to press 2 to 3 times before the heat is lost and I need to go back to the forge. Alignment is important here and you may notice
that the bar is bending away at the end. I somewhat corrected for that and fortunately
there is enough material so that it should not become a problem. Before I can forge weld the wrought iron teeth
to the outer part of the spearhead, any scale that has built up needs to be removed again. A couple quick tack welds hold the wrought
iron in place but will not form inclusions in the finished product. Now, it’s back into the forge where I bring
everything up to welding heat. The power hammer makes this an easy exercise
and let’s me hit precisely where I need to. Without the help of power hammer, an assistant
would have to hold a set hammer. Having both arms out of each other’s way,
also means that I can forge weld both sides without needing to make any adjustments. That’s it. Our spearhead has a wolf tooth pattern now
and the mystery of how to create it has almost been explained. The wrought iron has been combined with the
high-carbon edge steel and is now being forged to the same width and thickness to prepare
for more forge-welding. I am making sure that the surfaces are straight
and free of scale. A great benefit of steel is that it is very
malleable when hot. This allows me to bend the arms back into
place. All of these manipulations are a little bit
scary since I don’t want any of the forge welds to come apart and wrought iron can be
a little bit tricky. When forge welding, it is also very important
to have a good fit. Since I cannot aggressively forge the shape,
closing up gaps will not be possible. As you can see here, the fit is not good at
the moment and it takes a couple of iterations to get right. Closing the gap at the top opens up the arms,
closing up the arms, creates more of a gap at the top. Since the adjustment was done at high temperatures
any newly formed scale needs to be removed again. We are getting closer now to the final forge
welding step in this project. As before, any failure here will doom all
the work we have done so far. So, I am having a fair bit of tension about
what is going to happen. To counter that, we are taking our time and
slowly tune everything till it’s perfect. As of now, you may still be wondering how
this misshapen construction you have watched for the last 20 minutes will ever turn into
a spear. Just have a little bit more patience. The time for the final forge weld has arrived. Because of the irregular shape, forge welding
on the power hammer is not going to be possible. So, I have to forge weld by hand which always
a little bit more difficult. However, it looks like everything came together
alright. Now, it’s time to slowly create the right
profile. I am still not entirely happy with this process
since it wastes a fair bit of material. So, instead of forge welding the material
back into the socket, I am only fullering it somewhat and will remove the rest of the
material on the grinder. The plywood form closely resembles the dimensions
of the Finnish spearhead and that’s what we are using to approximate the final shape. The grinding you are seeing here is also good
for removing any of the remaining tag welds. I am now removing the scale covering many
of the forge-welding steps so that I can see if everything has come together correctly. There are a couple remaining forging steps
and one of them is to establish the edge bevels. Another challenge is to avoid distorting any
of the pattern welding, so there are many iterative adjustments to make sure that the
edge lines flow smoothly and that everything remains centered. I hope by now you have a much clearer appreciation
for all the work required to make one of these spears. While I started with creating the socket at
the beginning, I am getting back to it now and to ensure that the taper is smooth. And here is the result. A spear fresh from the forge with magical
patterns hiding in the steel just waiting to be revealed. I noticed that the pattern was a little bit
distorted and am now forging the bevels a little bit more to correct the overall appearance. As you may notice, I am making only very slight
correction and frequently check the shape of the spear. Another area that requires final corrections
is the socket. If you look closely you will also notice that
it did not completely weld at the very end of it. That’s unfortunate, but there is nothing I
can do about it at this point. Finally, all forging has been completed and
it’s on to the grinder to remove all scale and prepare the spear for heat treating. You may notice that I am grinding the blade
on the platen. I need to be careful to not remove too much
thicknes from the spine and probably would be better off grinding a concave profile on
a big grinding wheel. Whenever I heat treat, I am trying to remove
any vertical grinder marks since they might lead to cracks when quenching. Another moment of truth has arrived. I have prepared my quench tank of high-speed
quenching oil and will normalize the spear once before hardening it. Look closely and Watch the recalescence! Did you notice the visible rise in temperature
when the crystal structure changed? If not, watch again. It’s pretty cool. Without further adue, let’s quench and harden
the spear! After heat treating, the pattern including
the wolf teeth are clearly visible. This is a great reward for all the work done
so far. Now, it’s time to create the final profile
on the grinder. I will do this with progressively finer belts. If you have followed me on my journey to create
this spear, I hope the wait has been worth it. There is still a fair bit of work left such
as creating a shaft and fitting the shaft to the spearhead and you will see all of that
in the next video. Since the spearhead has been hardened, I need
to frequently cool it down to maintain the temper. I find a slowly rocking motion of my whole
body the easiest way to maintain an even grind. Alright, everything looks pretty good so far. Before, I can place the spear in ferric chloride
to bring out all the patterns, I need to clean it and remove any oils that might interfere
with etching. I usually leave my blades in the ferric chloride
solution for about 10 minutes but let’s just skip that wait. What follows is my usualy routine after etching. It involves some metal polish and some iron
oxides. This is what works mostly fine for me but
that very much depends on the materials. For this spear, I was using a wrought iron
from a different source and it does not stand out as much against the high carbon steel
as I would have liked. Alright, here is the polished pattern. The only thing that remains is to make a shaft
for the spear and also give it some light use. At a close by lumber store, we picked up a
large piece of wenge. This is a hard wood with a very straight grain. Historically, ash would have been the likely
material but that was not at hand. Originally, we wanted to use a spoke shave
to round the wood but since was so hard, we quickly gave up on that. Instead, I am using my bandsaw to cut the
wood roughly to the right dimensions and then use the belt sander to round it. I have also lost Tony’s help and cutting these
long pieces requires some juggling. As with blacksmithing, my approach to rounding
is to transition from square to ocatagon first. The belt sander with a rough belt makes short
process of the rest. To avoid a lot of dust, I am running a big
dust collector and my powered respirator. Now comes the fun part, fitting the shaft
to the spear head. I am using some machinist blue inside of the
shaft to make it easier to find the high spots on the wood. You will see in a minute. This is an iterative process and takes a few
times before everything fits tightly. Once piece of advise, don’t stick your freshly
polished spearhead into a rough leg vise, unless you want the spearhead to look less
freshly polished afterwards. Once the wood is sanded, I am applying a couple
of layers of boiled linseed oil to finish it. This makes the wood immediately look much
nicer. There are different ways to attach a spear
to a shaft. I am using a very simple one here. I am drilling one hole and then will use a
single square nail to attach it. Other options would have been to rivet it
but ultimately the goal is to prevent the spearhead from falling off while still making
it relatively easy to replace the shaft in case it should break. For square nails to not break the wood, it
makes sense to predrill the hole. Alright, this was the final step. The spear is now officially completed. So, let’s take a look at it in its natural
habitat. I have nothing fancy to test it with, so am
sticking it into a broken tree branch just for the heck of it. To get a sense for the size of the spear,
I am providing myself as reference. Here is a final view of the finished product. I hope you enjoyed following me on this journey
and stick around for future videos. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel and
share these videos with your friends. I would also like to thank all my patrons
for their support. For more information about my work and process,
visit the link to Patreon. See you next time.

100 thoughts on “The Secret of Making a Pattern-Welded Viking Spear

  1. I have NEVER seen the recalescence. Many videos claimed, but none actually brought it across like you. That was absolutely amazing!

    Do you sell these?

  2. Well done. Appreciate what you have shown and how you work from the same conclusions I arrived at. A spearhead is on my project list for the year after some 'hawks and gladii. Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. An amazing project. Well done!! To create something from a thousand years ago must be very fulfilling. I was born in an old Viking village in England. Gainsborough, along the Trent River in Lincolnshire.

  4. for this kind of venture in the old days it would take an entire team of people to man the bellows taking turns. smiths were often provided with the materials by a lord or king. weapons needs in the 8th century grew as the desire for war grew and raids became more common, so a smith was never out of work so to speak. i guess the real problem was more getting started. getting iron from soil was a common practice as the means to process heavy ores didn't exist at the time. carburization was achieved by using the bones of an ancestor

  5. How about making something 'Bronze Age' with that metal? Yes, a Viking Spear point would be awesome, even though you have done that before with 'pattern welded' metal. Maybe a Roman gladius? Do you have enough metal? Do you fancy an history dive into Egyptian knives or swords?

  6. Was the original a combination of wrought iron and high carbon steel too? If so my mind is totally blown, from the skills and knowledge of metallurgy needed in viking age to make something like this.

  7. Man Neil's, I only wish I was closer to you so I could learn in person from you. Your teaching skills are brilliant! As well of course as your blacksmith skills. Bravo Sir, Bravo!

  8. If I didnt watch the video I would not have appreciated the look of the spear so much, but wow, excellent!

  9. Amazing job there, who would of know how much work goes into these, what a nice spear in the end. Wolf tooth pattern looks great also.

  10. I know it would be a hell of a lot of work doing this with the same technology they used back then, but I would love to see someone do that. Its hard for me to even imagine how they pulled it off. Especially given the amount of time and work that it would take without a power hammer, belt grinders and a modern understanding of iron its alloys. Also, they did not have borax for flux back then right? So what would they have used, quartz sand?

    Beautiful piece though. I think the pattern stands out really well, at least in that lighting you showed.

  11. The wolf tooth spear's socket weld line is VERY clear. Your time and effort spent blending yours in seems redundant in comparison.

  12. Absolutely magnificent! Your metalwork is amazing. And the wood you used really made this a masterpiece in my book.

  13. a great video , end product unbelievable ,a lot of time and effort to make one spear , one of the best I've seen

  14. love this video man. like how you explain what youre doing in each step as apposed to just a montage like everyone else.

  15. I am The Wolfman, and I approve of this wolf toothed spearhead. Ya gotta love the Fins. Never met A Fin I did not like. Peace from Canada.

  16. iff its norse call it a norse spear,if its not only nordic call it a spear stop abusing the word viking

  17. What kind of pencil are you using to mark the metal for the socket? Is it a special type of soapstone? I’ve never seen one like that before

  18. Viking spear copied: What skills and tech did they have to work with 1000 yrs ago that we have lost…….to make this spear, and what have we in the modern era lost over time, inexplicably we cannot, Cannot do what they did in their era, with Only their technology. Something does not add up.

  19. sauf commentaire ,de pénétration dans l état nation ,danger ,arckélais ,je veux tuer toutes sa familles

  20. qui ? LES commentaire de pingnouf,tuer les pingnoufs qui vous insulte ,ils ont voler l image de marque

  21. That is one seriously beautiful weapon. I am a historian and a history teacher/professor. I try to collect weapons such as this. Most of my collection is cheap replicas unfortunately but I do have a few good pieces. I always prefer to get useable weapons so when I show them to students they understand what it was like to actually hold and use these things. I enjoyed the video very much. Thank you.

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  23. As much work as you put into that beautiful spear head, just think what the viking blacksmiths had to go through to make it without the modern equipment you used..the presses and stuff…even more amazing when you think of that. What talent they had to do such work with only a hammer and presses, sanders, grinders, etc. Wow.

  24. Excellent video! And a great build! Always a pleasure to watch a professional work. I liked your music and the fact it didn't overpower what you were saying. What music did you use. please?

  25. i liked that you mention that your method of doing the forge weld is what works for you. great work, spear the shalft really complements the pattern welding. keep up the good work.

  26. Form follows function…that is a beautiful piece of work…I would love to see how well it would work when taking a 150 to 200 kilo boar hog…I bet that would be a great hunt!
    Thank you for a great video.


  27. your final product is very beautiful about that no argument but for that you used too much modern technology, but if you have done it in old way it will be grate job

  28. That was absolutely beautiful. I've always loved to watch artisans share their passion. I'm a woodworker hobbyist but my father was a welder by trade. One thing that I am wondering and maybe you can answer: seeing how difficult it is to make the hollow part to receive to shaft, and having to considerably taper the wooden shaft to fit it in, wouldn't it make more sense to make a tang instead or would that make for a weaker fitting?

  29. lol Niels, I google you name to see if I could buy items from your forge and was directed to your bio. You are a very accomplished man my friend. Sadly though, I will have to look elsewhere to buy since I doubt you have time to forge for retail.

  30. Dude, if you were alive during the time of the Vikings, they'd have considered you a God and would've reserved their choicest female captives just for you; and deservedly so!

  31. Hat es früher solche Schleifmaschinen gegeben? Trotz einer noch nicht vorhandenen Technologie wie eben Schleif-,Schweißmaschinen haben die Waffenschmiede eine hervorragende Arbeit geleistet Heut wird weniger geschmiedet und einiges geschweißt und viel geschliffen trotz das dies ein schönes Stuck an Speerspitze ist die man mit alten Mitteln kaum erreichen konnte ist es die Arbeit der früheren Waffenschmiede die am schönsten ist. Keinen vergleich mit Heutigen würden Sie standhalten aber die REINE Handarbeit des Waffenschmiedes ist was mich fasziniert!

  32. Although this spear is beautiful, the most common Viking weapon was the axe not the spear or the sword. Most medieval war weapons served multiple purposes as farm implements and weapons of war. The axe for chopping wood was the most common weapon used by Vikings.

  33. awesome that artists are taking the time to share there work. no mater a forge a cnc a manual lathe etc. metal work is wonderful and should be passed on. thank you for the video.

  34. great work, had to go back to the start of the vid for the best picture of the finished spear as the end ones dont show the wolf teeth as well

  35. My gods what a beautifully done piece ❤

    This is also the first video of yours that ive seen, and i love the fact that you explain each process thoroughly, and in laymans terms so that people new to forging can understand what you mean!

    Again. Incredible work! It came out great in the end, and was a wonder to watch start to finish. I cant wait to finish one of my own in the future!!

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