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Viking age wolf tooth spears, the collected thread


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First of all, great topic. It is good to see so many period spears in one place.

 

I've been searching for hours for a drawing I've seen of another seax with a wolftooth pattern, my googlefu is weak today it seems. I would dearly love to see more images of seaxes with this pattern, as right now, not including the one missing image, we have a grand total of two confirmed seax with wolftooth that we have images of. I suspect more exist, in fact the Irish seax I made a copy of is said to have this pattern but I cannot confirm it. If anyone has any other images of seax with wolfteeth to show I would be thrilled to see them!

 

The lack of swords with wolfteeth is interesting, they obviously could have, but didn't. One has to wonder if different craftsmen and traditions were in play here. We also see two separate methods used to produce the teeth. Perhaps we had one group of craftsmen making swords, another separate group making spears, and yet another making seax, with very little intermixing... we need more data to even come up with a good guess.

 

I suspect that a wolftooth weld is stronger/less likely to shear than a regular weld due to the increased surface area and interlocking nature, like a dovetailed joint...

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Hello. Not so long ago became the owner of this Viking spear. There are not many mentions of wolf teeth spears on the net. Perhaps this topic contains the largest number of images of such copies. And

Speaking of construction, I forgot to add this image from Ypey which seems to be fairly accurate for many of the pattern welded spears that I've seen   Here are some more viking age pattern welded

I wont clutter the thread with all the images, but I'll link them instead, here are the 15 pages on spears from Jan Pettersen's work, from which most of the spear typologies are based.   I dont rem

Posted Images

George, I might have missed something, but what is the other method? I know that a lot of us now a days indent the steel and the forge weld another bar into the grooves, but I don't know if this is the method you are referring to

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George, I might have missed something, but what is the other method? I know that a lot of us now a days indent the steel and the forge weld another bar into the grooves, but I don't know if this is the method you are referring to

There are two different ways to do it that I know of.

 

Method 1: the teeth are forged into one or both bars, then forgewelded together. This is the method I have used.

Yyg186_zps86bbcf5c.jpg

This seems to be the method employed on viking era spears.

 

 

Method 2: Owen demonstrated this one in Oakland at the Axe & Sax, it is based off of this piece:

wolfteeth.jpgThe teeth are separate pieces put into indentations made in the edge bar. This one blade is the only example of this method I know of, though it could have been the method employed on the Aachen seax... either method could have been used on that one.

Edited by GEzell
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Ah okay thanks George!

 

I've had pretty bad luck with the first method you showed as It always gets drawn out dramatically for me. I suppose if I were to make it tighter and on a smaller scale it could work better.

 

It does seem as though the grain in some of the spears flows as if the teeth were indented instead of inlaid out of a separate piece of iron.

 

I had always figured the second method was the one used for everything, and we were just lazy now a days :lol:

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The trick with this sort of pattern-welding is that you can't draw it out afterwards, which means you're welding tricky little thin strips the hard way.

 

As an aside, there may be a third way. My screen background at work is a slideshow of all my saved pictures, and this one came up a few minutes ago and caused a light bulb to spark a bit:

 

whawkedge.jpg

 

This is an unground file welded into a wrought iron hawk head. The pattern doesn't show up until ground. So, SOME of these, but by no means many, could have been the result of a toothed hard steel edge welded to a very soft iron body via the sandwich method and then ground to reveal the teeth...

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Good thread and lots of valuable information! Thank you.

 

Justin Mercier writes:

 

Unfortunately I can not read the text on this page

 

Maybe I can be of assistance. The language on that page is Finnish. Only the lower left part deals with spears. Quick and dirty translation:

 

 

There are many ornamented spear points among Viking-/Crusade Period* Finds. The second from left has grooves of the socket and also stripes on the blade indicating pattern welding. Two examples on the right have silver decorated sockets. Photography by Jouko Levanto.
*= early christian period in Finland ca. 1025-1300
That's it, unfortunately.
The rest of it is about swords and the prevalence of ULFBEHRT blades among sword finds from Finland (about third of the swords dated between 800-900). There is also speculation about one of the swords, with inscriptions CONSTANTINUS and REX, being a weapon of one of the "Varangian Guard".
Hope that helps.
Edited by J.S.Voutilainen
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The trick with this sort of pattern-welding is that you can't draw it out afterwards, which means you're welding tricky little thin strips the hard way.

 

As an aside, there may be a third way. My screen background at work is a slideshow of all my saved pictures, and this one came up a few minutes ago and caused a light bulb to spark a bit:

 

attachicon.gifwhawkedge.jpg

 

This is an unground file welded into a wrought iron hawk head. The pattern doesn't show up until ground. So, SOME of these, but by no means many, could have been the result of a toothed hard steel edge welded to a very soft iron body via the sandwich method and then ground to reveal the teeth...

 

I was discussing this with Jeff Pringle at Fire and Brimstone this spring when looking at my spear head with the edge worn away and the 'teeth' exposed, because the teeth are all slanted in one direction which had me thinking that maybe it was a loosely twisted bar welded into softer iron making the teeth, which would explain the slope on the sides of the teeth, being from a twist. I had meant to try something along that line this summer but never got around to it, so I dont know what the resulting pattern would look like when then tapered for the edge of the spear, but it seemed feasible to me. You can somewhat see the sloped angle to the sides of the teeth in one of my photos up top, with the grass table-mat behind it

 

That said, the image which to me seems to be the most descriptive is (reposted from page one) below. because of the cleaning job done on the spear and the distinct grain seen, to me, the construction on this looks like it was as follows. The edge bar looks to have been forged first, with notches driven into it, the teeth are not perfectly regular in either depth or width (which does differ from my above mentioned spear, in which they are VERY regular, which is not to say they were not formed the same way, but they are much more uniform in depth and width than the image below), and then after that the 'teeth' material looks to have then been forged ontop of it and driven into the notches (rather than matching notches) which explains the flat tops of the 'teeth' in the edge bar, from hammering, this also allows for the very thin connecting area of the teeth without needing excessive material to start with for those teeth, as at this time the least amount of grinding and wasteful operations was done, as steel was expensive. This to me would also explain the deformation of the grain of the teeth, into the cavities of the edge bar, where the teeth are still pointy / well rounded at the outside, even though the tops of the edge bar teeth coming back are flat. It would not surprise me if the edge steel was taken and notched, and then let to cool, and then the teeth bar taken and hammerd ontop of the cooled down edge bar while at high heat itself, and then the two bars together brought up to a welding heat for a final joining, then this joined bar, with the teeth on one side and the edge steel on the other would be welded to the core of the spear in opposed matched pairs.

 

 

wloczniawojtek.jpg

Edited by Justin Mercier
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Justin, that is a good description of my last few experiments with wolfsteeth. I suspect it will only work if the 'tooth' material is very, very soft... I used wrought iron with a 1095 edge to good effect, though I didn't preset the tooth bar before welding and used rather small teeth.

 

7dbda046-9c05-4a06-b626-012a914091ab_zps

 

With the top blade I cut teeth into the edge bar, then welded the wrought to it with great force to drive it down into the teeth. The bottom blade had the teeth forged into the wrought, then cut into the edge, then welded. Both methods worked well, not preparing the "teeth" bar and simply cutting the teeth into the harder edge bar was a bit faster. In both cases they would have looked better had I focused more on getting the cuts in the edge bar sharper, the rounded teeth bottoms are not really what I wanted.

smallsax4_zps3bd0a875.jpg

 

I have another wolfstooth blade commissioned, I am going to strive for sharper, crisper teeth this time....

 

It is important to have the length of the billet no less than 2/3rd the size of the final blade in order to keep drawing the material out to a minimum.

Edited by GEzell
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I have a theory that the edge strips may have been forged more or less at the length of the dimension they were going to be used at, and were only drawn out sideways, in forming bevels, which would make the teeth longer and more pointy without making them wider. If you look at the helsinki spear, even though you can not see the grain in the steel, on the bottom left hand side, you can see the edge steel 'teeth' are flattened on top, just as in the above image, and on the lower right side by the socket you can see where the teeth are all but eliminated by the bar having been forged flat at that transition, but you can still see the bumps where there were teeth in the bar before it was welded to the core.

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This is a great thread, Justin.


Just to throw a head-scratching monkey in the works-- a couple of years ago,Jeff Pringle sent a cross section of a nice one of these home with me, so Skip could etch it up for the microscope.


The edge pieces were all dead soft ferrite.

 

I don't know how that relates to the larger group of artifacts. ...

 




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Interesting Lee, if you're able to share any images or any other data , I'd love it. Not certain if the harden ability or not of the blade material would change too much the way it's constructed, assuming the edge steel was cold / cooled down and the teeth are formed by driving hot steel into it.

 

I took a much better close up photo of my small wolfstooth spear today , and as can be seen, even with the very small size of the teeth, it matches my conjecture from above, with the tops of the 'edge' teeth (i.e. the ones pointing tot he center of the spear) being flattened, while the outward teeth are all pointy (or roundish but not flattened) I also realized that the scale in the photos above of this spear were really bad with that clear ruler, so took this photo with a better ruler in frame.

 

EDIT: Photo was kinda large so here's a smaller one, and here's alink to the larger

 

http://www.tharkis.com/images/viking/wolfstooth/wolftooth4l.jpg

 

wolftooth4.jpg

Edited by Justin Mercier
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You draw you billets out lengthwise, George? After welding the edge bar? How much?

Those look great, by the way!!

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You draw you billets out lengthwise, George? After welding the edge bar? How much?

 

Those look great, by the way!!

Not very much, if I can help it (but sometimes things get out of hand fast with the powerhammer), I try to keep the lengthwise drawing to a minimum. The smaller blade was drawn out over twice the original billet length, the larger blade only about 120-150%... I think if I focus more on preparation before making the weld, forging/cutting/filing clean sharp teeth (instead of hogging them in with a side grinder, not that I'd do that of course :rolleyes: ), I'll get better results.

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Here are some photos of wolf tooth process/experiment that I did some time ago. Unfortunately they are on a computer that is a bit buggered, so I've only been able to retrieve a few;

 

IMG_1510_zps6b5340f1.jpg

 

IMG_1512_zps1a346234.jpg

Edited by Dan P.
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Excellent thread, thanks for the very interesting reading.

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Nice work, Justin. What are the dimension of that piece, i.e. how large are the teeth? You probably have seen these already but here are my last few experiments:

wolf-dagger2.jpg

knives.jpg

My spacing is at 1/4in per tooth at the moment with some stretching after forge welding.

 

Niels.

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This is a great thread, Justin.

 

Just to throw a head-scratching monkey in the works-- a couple of years ago,Jeff Pringle sent a cross section of a nice one of these home with me, so Skip could etch it up for the microscope.

 

The edge pieces were all dead soft ferrite.

 

I don't know how that relates to the larger group of artifacts. ...

 

 

 

 

 

maybe it was destroyed as described in this post: http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=31110

 

The same line of thought might have been responsible for the ritual destruction of

enemy arms after battle in Germanic culture. Hundreds of weapons were

destroyed and cast into bogs at Thorsberg and Illerup repeatedly in the

period between c. 200 and 450. See a few of these artifacts in the photo

posted here (now exhibited at Moesgaard Museum in Denmark) and in this

album: <https://www.facebook.com/media/set/…>

 

Dr Stefan Mäder was the first to spot an early medieval depiction of

ritual weapon destruction in the Frankish Stuttgart Psalter

(Cod.bibl.fol.23, 59r), made in Saint-Germain-du-Prés in the first half

of the 9th century. Note how the right figure heats up a sword blade in

the fire, protecting his hand against the heat from the hilt with a rag.

When a sword is heated up to a particular temperature, it loses its

hardness and can easily be bent, as seen in the photo, too. On the left,

a bow is being broken in two and a lance, shield and scabbard are

already being consumed by fire.

sorry if it has nothing to do with what you are talking about, I just found it interesting.

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Nice work, Justin. What are the dimension of that piece, i.e. how large are the teeth? You probably have seen these already but here are my last few experiments:

My spacing is at 1/4in per tooth at the moment with some stretching after forge welding.

 

Niels.

 

 

The spacing on this piece is just a little under 1/4 inch from point to

point, but I also put too much space between them when I made it.

The next one will be a bit closer, and also thinner stock closer to

final dimension of the final object.

 

Unfortunately the wrought that I've been using has been REALLY

bad at forge welding to anything (even just straight laminate) and after

taking this bar and trying to make a small knife out of it, I found

that while the wrought filled in the teeth and welded great at the

edges, after grinding in a bit I had voids where I had not pressed it

into the teeth fully and got a poor weld, so the resulting small knife

made from the above piece does not have clean welds as in the photo

above.

 

It seems the key here is working at very close to the final dimension.

 

Will do an experiment tomorrow with much smaller pieces and mild instead

of wrought to hopefully get a cleaner weld. This bar of wrought that I have

contains wonderful character... but it wont even stick to itself well, let alone

another bar of steel. Fought with forge welds using it all day and only a

few of them stuck.

 

 

You can see in the light etch below however that the grain of the wrought

follows in and out of each tooth, just as in the original examples as well.

 

wolftoothexperiment2.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Justin Mercier
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working at close to dimension , or working very very fine and allowing for stretch.

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