Instructables

Basic Spangenhelm (Viking Helmet)

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The helmet made for this tutorial won TechShop Austin's Best of Metal 2013 competition!

In this tutorial we will make an authentic Viking helmet (Spangenhelm) using the Basic Helmet Frame as the base.  After finishing the steps in that tutorial, return here and we will finish the helmet in the style of a 6th century Viking.  We will be cutting and shaping the dome plates, riveting the piece together, and adding padding.

If you want to use your helmet in SCA combat, you'll need to follow the SCA Marchall's Handbook in the design.  In particular, you need to make the frame and dome from 0.06" thick metal (brass and stainless steel) as both the strength and mass of the metal are what protect your head from blows (i.e. don't make it from aluminum, titanium, or other ultra light materials).  In addition, SCA combat regulation specifies that your rivets are no more than 2.5" apart and your padding needs to be a minumum of 0.5" thick of closed cell foam padding.  In order to make the helmet SCA combat regulation, you'll also (eventually) need to make a face mask, but we won't be creating a face mask in this tutorial.

I made it in TechShop.  You'll need to take the MTL103: Basic Metal Shop SBU and MTL201: Sheet Metal - Organic Shapes SBU classes in order to be qualified to use the tools in the TechShop for this piece.  The best thing about TechShop:  there's a Lowes right in the shop!  If you need more supplies, you don't need to drive 45 minutes to the hardware store, you don't even need to step out into the rain.

Tools I used:
- Electric drill
- Cobalt or titanium drill bit (sizes 9/64" and 1/8")
- Beverly shear (or you can use a hand shear)
- Electric grinder or sander
- Buffer and buffing compound (white is fine for both the stainless steel and brass)
- Armoring swage (or you can use a leather sand bag)
- Plastic (polyethylene) mallet
- Riveting gun
- Measuring tape
- Marker

Materials I used:
- 0.06" thick brass sheet metal (type 260), cut from about 6 inch by 6 inch section. (However, you can use mild steel, stainless steel, or aluminum instead)
- 0.06" thick stainless steel sheet metal (type 304) about 1 foot by 2 feet (However, you can use brass, mild steel, or aluminum)
- (12) screws (#6-32)
- (12) wing nuts (#6-32)
- a box of rivets (1/8" diameter by 1/8" long)
- another box of rivets (1/8" diameter by 1/4" long)
- a few more rivets (1/8" diameter by 1/2" long)
- some rivet washers, if needed (1/8" diameter)
- 1/2" closed foam padding, about 2 foot by 2 foot
- Beacon's Quick Grip adhesive (or some other glue to attach the padding to the inside of the helmet)
- some card stock or manilla folders to cut out your template (about 2.5 feet by 1 foot)

 
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AtomicPete8 months ago
Is this for decoration or is it usable?
sircorvus (author) 9 months ago
The helmet I made for this tutorial just won TechShop Austin's Best of Metal 2013 competition!
Congratulations.
A good effort, but pop rivets are a no-no when you say authentic, and brass can be argued ;-)
sircorvus (author)  charlesian20009 months ago
I couldn't disagree more. Welding is not authentic for the time period, as helmets were bolted together. Pull-rivets are simply the best way to bolt a piece like this and they can withstand the rigors of combat. Brass was very much available to the Vikings of that time period, and I like the contrasting steel vs brass alternating design of this piece.
Okay, sircorvus, I'll help you out here. You can disagree as much as you like, but please listen, I am only trying to help you.

Spangen helms were riveted together using iron rivets. Pop rivets had not been invented in the Dark Ages. Helmets were not bolted together either. Whoever told you this has misinformed you.

Brass will be argued as it was not common, so uncommon in fact that at one time in England it was valued and used to make coins. The metal that was more common to use was bronze, which consists of copper and tin, not copper and zinc like brass.

I like contrasting metals also, however you will find that just a little is enough.

The helmet you have made is close to the Benty Grange, albeit without the bore on top.

What you need to do to make your helmet more authentic is to lose the pop rivets, and replace them with standard iron rivets. Lose the brass and replace it with steel. This will make a much stronger helmet for combat, also an added bonus will be that your helmet wont rust as fast due to the galvanic reaction between the brass and the steel.

A note about welding, welding is authentic for the Dark Ages, it was how large pieces of metal were created, so that you could make swords.

The process is called forge welding, and this process was used in not only sword construction, and utility construction, but it was also used in helmet construction, in particular the cross bands.

I am more than happy to help you with information, as I have been making authentic replicas for over 30 years. I also teach Dark age weapons combat, also for over 30 years.

I don't use sticks to fight with, I use real swords.

I can support every thing I have said with documents and references.

Kindest regards Charles
sircorvus (author)  charlesian20009 months ago
I'm aware of forge welding but it just isn't authentic enough. Nothing screams "Dark Ages" like big bold rivets. I stand by the design.
If you are interested in authenticity then attaching the plates to the frame you should be using irons rivets, not pop rivets (blind rivets). Pop rivets were not invented in the dark aged, pop rivets were invented in 1916 which is almost 1000 years later than the dark ages.

If you want to be closer to authentic get rid of the pop rivets.

If you need references to the archaeology, or people to contact who live in the same country as you, I'll be happy to provide the references or introductions. They will be only too happy to help you with historical resources.

For SCA combat where authenticity is a little looser so that many people can play, your helmet is fine. For live steel re-enactment it only needs a few modifications.

It would be easy to replace the rivets, just drill out the pop rivets one at a time and put in some "real" rivets.
This helmet is not SCA legal either. SCA helmets require face protection and pop rivets are not allowed in the constriction of helms.
Grunambulax9 months ago
Got my vote. Great execution and and well-written. You're a good Tech Writer.
sircorvus (author)  Grunambulax9 months ago
Thanks so much! I checked out your work too, very nice!
1inspirit9 months ago
BEAUTIFULLY DONE ! It is, however, beyond my skill level. Certainly makes me jealous of such talent.
sircorvus (author)  1inspirit9 months ago
Thanks so much! But it really wasn't too complicated, you might want to give it a try. It was really just time consuming.

The hardest part was dishing the dome sections, that took me a couple hours to figure out. The second dome section took me an hour and the last two took me a half hour each. They may have gone even faster, but my arm was getting pretty sore by then. lol
Nice job ,but I have to agree the pop rivets really distract from the beautiful work you did with the rest ... you could still replace them.
altomic9 months ago
Nice.

instead of beating the stainless into rounded triangles (work) , why not just get a silver salad/mixing bowl from a $1 shop/thrift store? find one in your size and then give it that ye olde authentic look by kicking it around the back yard whilst wearing safety boots. some tailoring with an angle grinder to get rid of the rim.

For a decorative helmet, that would probably work fine.
But the SCA standards mentioned in the instructions require 0.06" (1.524mm) or about 16 gauge metal. An industrial mixer bowl might be this thick, but it is unlikely a dollar store find would.
RDChilders9 months ago
How cool and surreal. I just saw this helmet the other day at TechShop in Round Rock/Austin Texas.

It looks great in person too.
sircorvus (author)  RDChilders9 months ago
Cool, thanks! See you there!
Fogl9 months ago
Great job! But for love of Odin, use old style copper or brass rivets!
sircorvus (author)  Fogl9 months ago
I actually thought about looking for brass rivets, but I like the contrasting steel vs brass alternating design of this piece. I wanted each component to stand out individually and highlight each other. And the steel rivets can take a massive beat down from an axe.
Leela_C9 months ago
Beautiful!
Charlemagne79 months ago
Let's test it with my mace! ;) Nicely done.
longwinters9 months ago
Blind rivets were invented much earlier than I thought
Honus9 months ago
Nice job!