I finished thinning down the shield in Viking Shield, part 2, and then it was time to see if I could get the handle carved and attached.

I had started with a basic design intent – a tapered handle that would lift up a bit to accommodate my hand, and be slightly offset from the center so that the shield would rotate around my wrist rather than the center of the grip. My instructor provided me with a 2″ x 2″ x 36″ piece of basswood (which I cannot for the life of me find online or elsewhere; I think he conjured it), and started fiddling with concepts, and then just took the plunge and attacked it with a jigsaw.

I tapered the thing from left to right, making the roughly trapezoidal top-down look. Then I again cut a tapered profile from end to middle.

For the handle, I decided that I wanted to try something: I would leave the spine centered on the thickest part of the circle, but offset the handle by a bit by carving. It wouldn’t be quite as offset as above, but it would give maximum reinforcement of the shield while accommodating the grip.

Then, I designed an ergonomic handgrip that would be friendly to grasp, and be symmetric so that when the shield gets reversed in my hand (which happens constantly), it would still be a friendly grip. It’s got a large radius where it fits into my palm, and a short one where my fingers wrap around it, and then it’s mirrored on the other side.

At my instructor’s suggestion, I carved this into a piece of scrap first. It felt great. So, mission accomplished there, and it was time to finish up the handle. I used a hand-held drawknife for the rough shaping, and an orbital sander for finish.

Continue reading “Viking Shield – Part 3 (handle and assembly)”

Made a bunch of progress on the viking shield.

I thinned down the entire thing – it was far, far too much work with a router, but all the drawknives I have access to are flat rather than curved, and I’d need one with some curve to it in order to shave off of a flat piece. I’ll need some specialized carving tools if I’m going to do this by hand in the future. Also, start with 3/8″ basswood sheets, which are less expensive: a shield for me would be $57 in materials for this one, rather than the $73 with the half-inch stock. And much, much less to remove – taper from full-thickness in the middle by 1/8″ to the edge ought to do it.

I did make a fairly collossal mistake, though – a “measure twice, cut once” fail. I used my string-radius technique to mark the hole in the shield but really should have measured the absolute radius with a tape measure. As it is, the shield boss I have is a bit too small for the hole. Arthur tells me it should be possible to flatten the boss and widen the flange a bit, both, of which will get me the extra maybe spread I need. I can also look around for wider bosses. The ideal hole would have been 6″ in diameter; I got 7.25″, so I need to spread the thing by quite a bit.

Still: rookie mistake. Continue reading “Viking Shield, part 2”

As part of my research and interest in Viking culture and fighting that I developed when researching Dragon Heresy, I got involved with Asfolk, a Viking re-creationist martial arts and crafting group (mostly martial arts, but the instructor Arthur is also a traditional weaponsmith and has done some pretty cool experimentation).

They’ve got lots of equipment, but one of the things that’s encouraged is to make your own. I finally got a good start on that this weekend, as some of the pieces of what will become a viking shield came in, and I finally have/took the time to get going.


I ordered a basic shield boss from Viking Shield: the semi-conical Shield boss, for $20.

I also procured 6 half-inch thick, 6″ (true) x 36″ basswood planks. This cost basically $75.

Note that a plywood shield with this boss costs $100 or so. The only shield made of actual planks on that site is poplar, not basswood, and costs over $600. A 4′ x 4′ plywood sheet made of alder (which will be large enough to make yourself a shield if you’re over 6′ tall) costs $45 or so, so if you want a plywood shield, just get a boss, a handle, and save $30-40 and it’ll be sized for just you.

Anyway, I still need a handle; the handle on the Danish two-handed axe from Arms and Armor seems like a nice fit, but I will likely see if I can procure a nice hardwood (hickory or ash) piece of lumber about (true) 1″ x 1.5-2″, and cut it down to provide the required stiffening, as well as a handle more tailored to my needs. I’m going to maybe make a bit of a D-section oval, with a few flats for my fingers and thumb, and oriented a bit more like the weapon it is. Continue reading “Making a Viking Shield”

As always, my family hit Comic Con in Minneapolis. We have, for the last two or three years, made it kind of a thing, where we go all three days. That wasn’t in the cards this year, since my wife was in Chicago having a meet-up with an old friend, and for a while it very much looked like few folks of interest were coming.

But . . . that changed a bit, and we made plans to pick up Alina from the airport, and go directly to the con. My daughter picked an unusual hero this time – Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire, probably since she’s been watching the Green Lantern animated series, but she’s got very good breadth of knowledge for a 7yo in both Marvel and DC, so even without that, perhaps she’d have landed there.

The costume was fairly simple – purple leotard and tights, and iron-on inkjet heat transfers. I put too much heat on the first attempt at the blaze , and so my details washed out. She didn’t care. The embellishment I did for her abdomen was modeled from a champion female fitness model with great abs, used as a mask to outline a purple nebula image taken at high resolution from Hubble. With more time, I’d have put armor places on her thighs, knees, and gloves (which we had but she left at school, alas).

Go-Go’s Wonder Woman costume is off-the-shelf.

Anyway, we went, and the kids got to knock around for a few hours. They always love it, but the convention had been laid out differently this year . . . in order to (seemingly to me) hide the fact that it was freakin’ tiny. Far fewer artists and crafters there, so you could walk the floor for a half-hour or an hour, at most, and see everything. Especially since there were some repeats – three booths selling the same “sword-like object” video game replica weapons.

Anyway, while hopefully next year all four of us will have a theme for costumes, this year we went autograph hunting. Continue reading “Brief Visit to ComicCon Minneapolis (Wizard World)”

Not too much going on.

It’s ComicCon (technically Wizard World Minneapolis) this weekend, and unlike most times when we spend the entire weekend there, my family was helter-skelter this weekend, with my wife in Chicago, me needing to attend a few Viking planning sessions to build curriculum for classes, and generally playing single-dad with young kids in activities. Plus the toddler/preschooler being . . . her charming self when balked.

This phase really can’t end soon enough.

Anyway, I did see minor progress on the game building front. Venture Beyond saw some discussion, and Michael continues to work art for the covers in the background. His prelim sketch and coloring work is very much in the Dungeon Grappling style of brushing, but obviously different subject material. My feedback to him was very brief, ’cause he’s on point with nearly everything. One comment about how to hold an axe (and I need to get him a reference picture) for fighting, one more about foot position when using a viking shield, and a suggestion but not a correction on a dwarf spear-tip. One comment about overall coloration. But it’s going to look good, and I can’t wait to see how the final covers turn out.

Still waiting for writing and editing on both projects.

Otherwise, it’s about time to go swoon and blush and act like a complete fanboy in front of Charisma Carpenter, and introduce my daughter(s) to Nichelle Nichols. My wife will probably have palpitations over John Barrowman (fortunately for me, he’s not his character).