Jump to content
Luke Shearer

Viking age smithery

Recommended Posts

I have a project for my Humanities class I'd like to do on viking age metal working. For this project I plan on making a small Viking age smithy. I would like to be a bit more educated on the topic before I begin. From What I have gathered, Vikings used small forge made directly in the ground using charcoal for fuel powered by a double bellows with a soapstone wall to protect it,some type of stone for their anvil and hammers and tongs similar to those used in modern times. I would like more information about bellows construction as well as stone type for the anvil. Also if there was any kind of tuyere extending into the "fire bowl" itself. Thanks in advance!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

general viking blacksmithing tools

http://forums.dfoggknives.com/uploads/monthly_01_2008/post-1272-1200738293.jpg

viking bladesmithing tools, not sure if anvil is spiked or not

http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=15752

continental style blacksmithing tools, similar construction but closer up.

http://homepages.tig.com.au/~dispater/celtictools.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks for the links, could anyone suggest a quick little smithed object I might make that utilizes some of these tools? Maybe a Brooch, axe, spoon,or fork?

Edited by Luke Shearer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks for the links, could anyone suggest a quick little smithed object I might make that utilizes some of these tools? Brooch, axe, spoon, fork?

brooches were typically bronze or copper, spoons would have been bone or wood, and forks weren't evidenced yet except as cooking implements (as in a roasting fork) so probably of the listed items an axe would be best. personally, however, i'd go with an S hook which is evidenced in the record as being made of iron or a mono-steel sax blade as its easier (at least for me) than something like an axe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd go with the mono-steel sax too. Doesn't involve any welding (which could be tough at first in a new forge), and they look stinkin' cool. Post some pictures when you're finished! I would love to see 'em.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was planning on doing some casting and non-ferrous metalworking as well so perhaps a sax and a brooch... As for the axe it was because I wanted to use a punch like the one in your link.

 

This shall be fun!

 

Oh yeah, and how should I make the brooch? (casting or forging)

Edited by Luke Shearer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can the intake valve on the bellows be on the top, or would gravity prohibit it from performing its function? I can't see this working though I know it does based on the viking age carving in Mr Florianek's Thread. Could someone with more experience explain how this works? I have done extensive research and can find this information no were else as of yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You'll probably hate me for this (because of the sheer volume of information), but: http://warehamforgeblog.blogspot.com/

Darrell Markewitz has been researching and reenacting the Viking Age encampment at L'anse Aux Meadows in New Foundland, which became an historic site in 1997. He has excellent information, in particular about steel smelting. Keep us posted on your progress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Luke (and all reading)

 

Yes - there is a huge amount of related information on my blog (http://warehamforgeblog.blogspot.com/). Your best bet is to key word search or use the lables.

 

On Bellows:

The problem is that there are NO artifacts, and only two contemporary illustrations.

 

There is a trick to using the top intake valve bellows. You give the plate a fast downwards snap with your wrist at the start of the down stroke (Mark Pilgrim from L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC showed me that). Also you should be starting the next down stroke before the end of the last one on the other plate. This ensures that the air is always a continuous stream. As far as I can tell (from building a good number of these style bellows) there is no downstream valve on the Norse type. If you do not use this method, you risk sucking hot air back into the bellows from the fire end.

 

On Tuyere:

There is not one. The charcoal is piled directly up against the bellows stone. This set up works best if you work in a shallow bowl, remember to leave space bellow the air blast hole for ash to accumulate. The resulting heat zone is effectively about 4 -6 inches (about 2/3 what you normally achieve with 1800's coal fires).

I have found that using a short section of leather tube between the bellows and the bellows stone (joining two sections of black steel pipe) is a good idea. This reduces vibration from the bellows action from effecting the stone.

 

On Tools:

The main difference is the raw size of the anvil. Typical VA anvils run about 10 cm cubes (4 inches). Hard, flat stones may also have been employed. Nothing at all like later metal vices. The small anvil size will effect directly the difficulty of the work!

 

On Projects:

There are a number of existing samples of simple C shaped (penannular) brooches. Typical 'working class' objects, use square or rectangular stock, drawn the ends to a flat taper and loop these over to form a bit of a nob. Simple straight pin. Typical size is about 5 - 8 cm (2-3 inches), made from 4 - 5 mm (3/16) square or slightly rectangular stock. This is a very accurate and relatively simple first project. Forming the curve evenly with no horn (!) is a bit of a trick.

 

Note as well that VA axes are most typically punched for the eyes, not folded and welded as is the case with latter patterns. (There are several articles on various VA axe replicas on the blog as well)

 

Good luck!

 

Darrell

 

ketill.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! thanks alot, This is a huge help. I will begin on the bellows as soon as possible. So there is no valve on the outward stream of air? I guess that it wouldn't be necessary with two bellows going at once. Again: thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

her I have begun work on the bellows. The boards are pine:

 

rough top plate.jpg

 

Here is the top board of the bellows rough cut with a chop saw.

 

bellows top plate.jpg

 

And here I have rounded it off with a rasp and sandpaper.

 

 

Now just three more to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished the top boards:

 

belowas.jpg

 

The handle is attached with copper pins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gues i´m a bit late, but I would definately put the valves on the bottom of the bellows. Even if you can make topp mounted valves work fine, its sometimes hard to get other people to work them the right way. The fact that the valves apear to be on the top in stonecarvings only means that the valves are impotant in the picture, not that they actully were placed ther. There are lots of stone carvings that show things that are not realy where they chould. For example there are animals whith hart and lungs showing (ston eage) and there are horses pulling carts with the reins in a bow over ther heads (bronse age) because you wouldent see them otherwise.

R

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found an anvil stone, and I'm going to finish up the bellows today.

 

rock.jpg

 

Not sure what this is exactly, or if its historically accurate, but I think it will serve. I chiseled my initials into it in the lower left corner.

 

bellows.jpg

 

Here's my bellows, almost done. I'll finish it up later today.

 

carving.jpg

 

I did some carving on one of the top boards, but it took me a long time so it isn't going on the other one, and don't mock me if its ugly because it was done in pine :wacko: (for those of you who can't carve, pine is really spongy and not fun).

 

Well, thats all I have for now. Hopefully, I'll have some smithied objects to show next week from my Viking forge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gues i´m a bit late, but I would definately put the valves on the bottom of the bellows. Even if you can make topp mounted valves work fine, its sometimes hard to get other people to work them the right way. The fact that the valves apear to be on the top in stonecarvings only means that the valves are impotant in the picture, not that they actully were placed ther. There are lots of stone carvings that show things that are not realy where they chould. For example there are animals whith hart and lungs showing (ston eage) and there are horses pulling carts with the reins in a bow over ther heads (bronse age) because you wouldent see them otherwise.

R

 

Thats a good point. Too bad I already made them. If I ever do this again I think I'll take that into account.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gues i´m a bit late, but I would definately put the valves on the bottom of the bellows. Even if you can make topp mounted valves work fine, its sometimes hard to get other people to work them the right way. The fact that the valves apear to be on the top in stonecarvings only means that the valves are impotant in the picture, not that they actully were placed ther. There are lots of stone carvings that show things that are not realy where they chould. For example there are animals whith hart and lungs showing (ston eage) and there are horses pulling carts with the reins in a bow over ther heads (bronse age) because you wouldent see them otherwise.

R

It makes sense for the valves to be on top, as the bellows on the rock carving are placed on the ground. If you put them on the bottom, you have to make sure the bottom of the bellows is always raised of the ground, which can be difficult. Valves in the top part can work just as well as long as you design them well. Valves are the first thing to fail in a bellow design though, which is why I particularly like bag bellows, which don't need them :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I built my forge and made a few things, but my bellows was far from reliable or ideal so I used a hair drier instead( I know, cheating but I wasn't happy either :( ).

 

forging.jpg

 

forging 2.jpg

 

smithied things.jpg

 

I made a flint/steel striker, a brooch, and I started a small sax.

Edited by Luke Shearer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I built my forge and made a few things, but my bellows was far from reliable or ideal so I used a hair drier instead( I know, cheating but I wasn't happy either :( ).

 

forging.jpg

 

forging 2.jpg

 

smithied things.jpg

 

I made a flint/steel striker, a brooch, and I started a small sax.

Those are some nice clean lines on that seax. I've always respected those old Norse smiths, but I'm quite surprised the stone is working that well for an anvil. Very awesome! (By the way, I'm new to the forum. First post. Glad to be here!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't, I used the horn on my anvil. Thats how the VIkings did it, I figured. But yeah the stone worked really well as an anvil besides that.

Edited by Luke Shearer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't, I used the horn on my anvil. Thats how the VIkings did it, I figured. But yeah the stone worked really well as an anvil besides that.

i'd be willing to bet even the most meagre viking smith had an anvil similar in shape to the ones jeroen was making of bronze with different horns, bicks and mandrels on it. there is literally no way you can do most of the stuff they did on a block anvil with squared corners. i've tried.

 

 

well, i'm sure SOMEONE can do it. but i cant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'd be willing to bet even the most meagre viking smith had an anvil similar in shape to the ones jeroen was making of bronze with different horns, bicks and mandrels on it. there is literally no way you can do most of the stuff they did on a block anvil with squared corners. i've tried.

 

 

well, i'm sure SOMEONE can do it. but i cant.

You can do quite a lot with a block anvil. But they had lots of other tools as well. Bicks were generally loose, or the anvil sometimes has a beak included. You can find examples here:

http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=8471

http://www.netlabs.net/~osan/Mastermyr/ImageLib.html

 

I believe in those days quite a lot of the work we do now on anvils was done using hand held tools. F.e. you now cut with a hardy, then you did it with a chisel. Same thing probably for a lot of shaping. Downside is that you will need an extra pair of hands :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I figured that, which is why I went ahead and did it instead of trying it first on my rock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...