Introduction: A Quick and Dirty Voulge
About a year ago I built a quick and dirty spear for my friends and I to use for rebated machete fighting. Since then I've been meaning to make a second polearm. A few weeks ago I finally did. Here is how I did it.
Step 1: Mark and Cut Your Pattern.
First thing first i spent a bit of time with some cardboard and made myself a pattern. I did this by looking at pictures of assorted surviving pole-arms and finding something I liked. Unfortunately, internet pictures rarely have much in the way of scale, so I just winged it. I went on the idea that within reason there is only going to be a certain range of size and weight that is actually practical to use, then factored in whether or not I'd be willing to get hit with it.
When I was satisfied I traced out my pattern with some soap stone and set about cutting it out of my material.
I chose to make it from 10 gauge in an attempt to balance weight with durability.
My final pattern is mostly straight lines and I had a few options on how to cut it out. could have cut it slowly with my jigsaw, gone the fast and loud route with a zip disc, or, embraced my love of smoke and flame and taken the excuse to use my cutting torch.
I chose the torch, it was fast, fun, and showed me how out of practice I am with it.
Step 2: Clean Up and Shaping
Although fun, I did a bit of a hack job with the torch and left myself a lot of slag to clean up. Fortunately that's easy enough to do with an angle grinder.
To clean up the edges I clamped my blank into my vice and used a hard disc on my grinder perpendicular to the blank to straighten out and smooth up the edges. In doing so you take off the bulk of what is holding the slag on the edge. Touching up the edge like this took care of 90% of the slag, the remainder was loosened enough to come off with a few light taps from whatever hammer I had handy. Once the edges were clean I came back over them with a flap disc to round them over and make everything silky smooth.
I skipped the shaping until I had everything assembled, which was dumb. I should have done it a this point. I also forgot to take pictures of that part, stupid again.
In this case the shaping is very simple. All we're doing is running some creases down the length of the blade to stiffen it up, it is after all only mild steel and can bend quite easily if left flat.
The most important crease is the one that runs down the thrusting spike at the point. All I did was mark where I wanted it to run in soap stone, clamp it in the vice along the line and then used a hammer to bend it over some. make sure you hammer towards the body of the vice however, not towards the jaw. Unless of course you don't mind breaking your vice.
You don't need a lot of a crease, just enough to give it some shape. if I put a straight edge across the spike at the deepest point of the crease there is only about 1/8" of space between the inside of the crease and the straight edge.
Next I ran a second crease at the base of the back spike, just enough to bring it back parallel with the opposite edge
Step 3: Mounting the Haft
There is a lot of grey area and cross overs with polearms, but one of the things that makes this one a voulge and not a halberd is that it is mounted parallel to the haft with loops rather than being in line with the haft on a socket.
My original plan was to use my torch to form the loops hot then I was going to weld them onto the blade section. Unfortunately I got about 5 minutes into that before I ran out of oxygen for my torch and had to scrap that plan.
Moving onto plan B, I used a bit of round stock the size of my haft, my vice, and a lot more elbow grease than I'd planned.First I bent my remaining loop piece into a U shape, Then I used my vice to close the ends of the U together leaving me with a loop with 2 ears sticking off it to rivet onto the blade.
Unfortunately, it seems i didn't take any pictures of that. The process is simple though, open the vice jaws enough to allow for the round stock and the thickness of your material, get a big hammer, I used a 3lbs sledge, and smash it through the jaws till you have a U shape.
Now, take it out turn it upside down and use the vice to close the arms of the U until it is more of an O with ears. you may need to use a hammer and some kind of anvil like object to encourage it to close if your vice is not beefy enough. I also used a bit of scrap between the ears as a spacer to make sure there was space for the blade without needing to open it up.
Then I used a zip disc on my grinder to cut out a new second loop and repeated the process.
Once you have that O with ears shape cut them down to be even slide the blade in place and rivet them on. My main loop is about 1 1/2" wide and I put 2 3/16 rivets in it. The top loop is 1" and only got a single rivet.
I also had the haft in place during riveting as closing the extra bit of space between the blade and the ears causes the loop to tighten a bit seating the whole thing on the haft that much better.
Once everything was riveted together I drilled one last hole through the main loop over the haft and put a screw in it to help prevent it from twisting.
Step 4: Finished, Time to Go Hit Some Stuff
Thats it. this one took me maybe 3 hours total to knock out and now we can fight polearm vs polearm.
The voulge and spear are both mounted on the "finest" of hardwood broom sticks. mostly because they are easy to find replacements for when they break. Conveniently enough the voulge and spear are almost exactly the same weight, but holding them you can immediately feel that the spear is stronger in the thrust and the voulge is stronger in the cut, that said the spear is still beefy enough to thow a solid cut and the voulge stabs just fine. Both of them are right about 5'6". Definitely short for a spear, but the voulge feels good at this length. it handles a lot like a pole axe or hammer whereas the spear really runs more like a thrust oriented glaive.
If I were to make another the biggest change I would make would be to lengthen the back spike. I put it on there mostly for hooking and whatnot, and it works for that, but if it were an bit longer it would work better