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”

I’ll be at GenCon this year, which means all of Gaming Ballistic, LLC will be in attendance. That second one sounds much more impressive.

My fate was sealed when I pledged to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter, and opted into the Saturday 1-5pm session with Sean Punch. Doubly sealed when I decided I’d try and go there under the auspices of the Indie Game Design Network, as both an exhibitor and table fiend.

But . . . that meant I could take the time to do a bit of hands-on demonstration, too.

Grappling Smackdown

From 10am to noon on both Friday and Saturday, I’ll be running a two-hour one-shot session designed to show off how Dungeon Grappling plays at the table.

Right now, each game will be using Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition rules. It isn’t PvP – it will be a normal romp through a limited dungeon, but designed to highlight the grappling rules as modified by Dungeon Grappling.

What does that mean?

It means that a gaggle of kobolds might score enough control points to worry a high level fighter. It means a web spell does control damage. And it means that a Barbarian or Monk got real interesting when optimized around the wrestling skills.

Grappling is Combat

Grappling never really gets the credit it should, because folks usually insist on invoking complicated or non-optimal subsystems to resolve it. Dungeon Grappling is both new and old, in a way that will become instantly apparent when you play.

Come find out what a smooth grappling system can do for a game. Sign up as follows:

Friday 10am to noon

Saturday 10am to noon

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”

Just a reshare over at the Dimicator Patreon.

Nifty video taken by Western Martial Arts practitioner Roland Warzecha looking at cutting clay with the “cast blow” technique using a viking sword. As always, “all models are wrong; some are useful,” but it was a great weekend and a fun test.


Here’s the text from the patreon post itself, by Roland Warzecha

Death of the Clay Ogre
Apr 27 at 4:35am

This cutting test was conducted by my shield brother Thegn Thrand, and I am proud to have been part of it as the camera operator and clay ogre sculptor (starring in the second half of the clip). If this is the kind of experiment you enjoy as much as I do, please consider supporting Thrand’s work and become part of it, too.This is the first of a number of exciting videos recorded during the Grand Opening of Ásfólk Viking Martial Arts in Eagan, Minnesota. This school founded by Arthur von Eschen is absolutely unique, giving students the chance to learn about the material culture of the Viking Age and learn e.g. forging or building authentic shields, as well as regularly practicing Viking fighting based on true martial arts concepts and sound research.