It’s costume season again! Last year I was asked to outfit a group of friends with weapons for their Roman god costumes. It was a lot of fun and a huge success. They all loved the weapons so much, they asked me to do it again this year for their barbarian/viking theme. I gladly accepted and fired up my carving forge.

After some googling for research, it became obvious real quick that axes were going to be important. Using several images for reference and inspiration, I designed a couple axe shapes and added some engravings to make them look more authentic. I found an old broomstick to use as the handles and prepared a board for carving.

Viking Axes

Dane Axe and Bearded Axe Heads

Dane Axe Pattern – $10
Bearded Axe Pattern – $10

While those axes were carving, I began working on a ULFBERHT sword design. I saw a documentary on the Ulfberht swords awhile back. It looks to be a bit of 10th century product branding for a “new” type of crucible steel sword that was vastly superior to the others of it’s day. Ulfberht is presumably the blacksmith’s name that developed the process. They have, however, found many swords engraved with Ulfberht that are not the superior steel, proving that cheap knock-offs aren’t a new phenomenon. I definitely had to make my own knockoff of this storied blade. While I was at it, I made a quick belt dagger to go with it.

Viking Ulfberht Sword and Belt Dagger

Viking Ulfberht Sword and Belt Dagger

Viking Ulfberht Sword Pattern – $10
Belt Dagger – $5

These weapons were all pretty specific to viking so far, but there were some that were looking at more of a Conan type barbarian costume. Of course I would need a big double headed battle axe, but the women asked for something small. I went stone age and came up with an obsidian knife.

CarveWright Battle Axe

Barbarian Battle Axe

CarveWright obsidian knife

Obsidian Daggers

Barbarian Battle Axe – $10
Obsidian Dagger – $10

I kept my two machines carving for two days getting all these pieces made.

carved axes and daggers


viking weapons carved

Once carved, they all needed to be separated from their boards and glued.

viking axes glued

I added an 1/8″ piece of plywood in between the halves of the Dane axe to give it a little more thickness.

belt knife glueing battle axe gluing

After the glue is dry, the pieces need to be sanded and shaped as needed.

drum sanding

After glueing the halves together, use a drum sander to smooth the sides.

Using a forstner bit sized to my broom stick (.75″ diameter), I bored out holes into the axe heads. Then I sprayed them with primer and used Bondo glazing putty to smooth and fill.

viking weapons bondo viking sword primer battle axe primerobsidian knife primer

sanding mops axe head

The sanding mops help polish primed surfaces to be glass smooth.

I used a piece of PVC pipe for the axe handle with a rubber foot I had found for the pummel. I glued it together and then primed the entire assembly.

Full Battle Axe assembly

Full Battle Axe assembly

The first coat of paint is a hammered metal spray paint.  It really gives a convincing surface when making pieces look like metal.

hammered metal spray paint

Then I painted over the hammered metal surface with a steel paint from Sophisticated Finishes. I used a darkening wash to make the recessed and engraved lines darker.

Then the axes were glued to their handles. They’re almost ready for battle!

What really sold the weapons last year were the leather wrapped handles, shoulder straps, and other leather details I added.  Like last year, I raided the local thrift stores for every leather belt they had and started wrapping.

wood carved obsidian daggers

I just used gloss black spray paint for the obsidian daggers. They look great!

CarveWright carved viking weapons

The barbarian arsenal

I had several weapon designs to choose from, but something seemed to be missing. A viking shield. In the process of searching for weapon ideas, I had come across some steel shield bosses for sale on amazon. My brother and I bought some and set out to make some shields. Using a drawing program we created a DXF with the inner and outer circle lines. Then using the exact same jig and process from the fence carving tutorial blog, we cut out the pieces for three shields.

shield section cutting

Each section of the shield is cut and the next board is loaded into the jig.

shield glue up

Shield sections glued up.

viking shield painting process

Using masking tape to create a design for painting.

viking shield assembly

The shield bosses and handles are bolted on.

viking shield edge

We used raw hide to edge the shields by wetting it and stitching it on with sinew.

Finished shield

Finished viking shield

Viking Warrior costumes

Viking Warrior Poses!

barbarian girls

Don’t want to mess with these barbarian women!

Everyone loved their weapons and we all had a good time. Another successful prop season!

I wonder what I’ll make next year?

4 thoughts on “Viking Weapons

  1. These are great, Joe! I love how you made the weapon metal look so realistic. The leather detail was more icing on this cake. Excellent and inspiring work!!

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