Picture of How to Build a Spangen Helm.
In the past People have asked me to put up an Instructable on how to build a helmet. So, for all you people, Here goes.

As the title says, this Instructable will deal with building a Spangen Helm. Since I wanted something a little more unique I went with a 5 panel instead of the standard 4, and used shaped bands rather than straight ones.

Although the finished helm has a bar grill I neglected to add a bar grill step to this Instructable. The reason for this is that it was my first bar grill and I had a surprisingly difficult time making it. Until I've gotten a little better at them I don't want to try and teach someone else how to make one.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies I Used

Here's a list of what I used for this project. Not everything here is mandatory, a lot of these tools could be dropped entirely or else have other tools substituted for them.

Patterning supplies
- A Sharpy
- A Meter Stick or Straight Edge.
- A Fabric Tape Measure
- Scissors
- Empty Cereal Boxes, Bristol Board, or something of that nature.

- 14 and 13 gauge sheet metal.
- About a foot of 1" flat stock
- About a foot of 1/2" flat stock
- About 3 feet of 1/4" round stock

Cutting tools.
- A Jigsaw
- Aviation Shears
- A Chisel
- A Drill and 1/8" Drill Bit

Shaping Tools
- A Deep Dish
- A Shallow Dish
- A Dishing Hammer
- A Cross Peen/Machinists Hammer
- A T Stake
- A Ball Stake
- An Anvil Shaped Object*

Riveting Supplies
- A small Ball Peen Hammer
- Nails
- Side Cutters
- Cleco temporary rivets and pliers
  OR Small Nuts and Bolts.

Finishing Tools
- A Belt Sander
- A Bench Grinder
- Files
- A Planishing Hammer

*most any large hunk of steel will work for this.

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pcaspian17 days ago

omg this is f-ing ridiculously cool. so impressed

Jan-ErikA made it!7 months ago

Profoundly influenced by your design, I set out to create my first real metal project by simplifying what I saw here to suit my lack of tools and experience. This turned out to be my stepping stone into further metalwork and historicalish fighting as I'm now working on a harness of my own design.
Thank you, and keep going!

armourkris (author)  Jan-ErikA7 months ago

Awesome!, the looks like it came out really well. I like the 2 piece cheeks.

FAllegri222 years ago
How about instructions on a simple ROMAN RED PLUM Helmet???
Methelas4 years ago
Good to see more SCAdians here on instructables. I thought i was one of very few.
Which reminds me, about how much would you sell that helm for, i'm looking to buy a new one.
armourkris (author)  Methelas4 years ago
I know there are a few of us kicking around here, but the more the merrier. i think there is a group of SCA related instructables even.

I've actually still got that helm for sale, I'm asking 300 for it. For custom work the price goes up a you get fancier, and down to 150 for a bare bones 4 panel spangen.
Do you know where the scadian list is on here?
armourkris (author)  southerngent4 years ago
I'm afraid I;ve never been able to find it on purpose. I just stumble across it by acident once in a while and never remember how to get back to it when i want to.
you may have mentioned this in the instructable, but are your rounding dishes/swages made of aluminum or lead? did you make them? and how? I'm working on maille for a replica of the Gjermundbu helmet. you also may have mentioned this, but what is the best gauge of steel to work with, for a "battle ready" helm? or even armour. I have plenty of 16 gauge and some others... Thanks :D
armourkris (author)  OldOwlIronworks4 years ago
I've got 3 dishes, deep, medium and shallow. I made the deep dish by welding a sheet of 3/16" steel over a section of 4 inch pipe, then I heated it up and bashed it into a dish with my shot-put on a stick. I used the backside of it as a mold for my medium dish and poured down melted tire weights into the backside, let it cool and knocked it out, the shallow dish is just the bottom couple inches of a coffee tin with melted tire weights poured in then i just bashed away at it with my dishing hammer till it was about 1/4 inch or so deep. the tire weights are some kind of lead alloy. it's harder than straight lead so it holds up pretty good for dishing into. plus, with a bit of time you can scrounge them up for free off the sides of roads and whatnot.
As for what thickness of steel you want to use, well, that depends on a few things, what kind of use will it see, how hard will it get hit, are there pre-set requirements you need to meet. MY sca heavy helmets are all made from 14ga, my rebated steel helmet is 16ga, and my bike helmet is 18ga.
for a bit of a general guideline, assuming you're using mild steel, I'd go with...

Helmets 16 gauge minimum if you plan on getting hit, 14 gauge is better still. the weight is what stops you from getting a concussion after all.
For gorgets(neck armour) 18 gauge is usually a safe bet.
for 1 piece breastplates i use 16 gauge
back plates i go with 18 gauge
faulds and tasstes i use a mix of 18 and 16 gauge.
multy-plate breastplates and coat of plates style armour i use 18 gauge
spaulders/pauldrons(shoulders) i use a 16 gauge main plate with 18 gauge lames
elbows/knees are usually 16 or 14 gauge, with 18 gauge lames
vambraces (forearms) i use 16 gauge for the bottom half, and 18 gauge for the top.
rebraces (upper arms) i usually use 18 or sometimes 16 gauge.
cuise(thighs) I use 16 gauge, sometimes with 18 gauge wrap plates
greaves(shins) i use 18 gauge
sabatons(feet) 18 gauge, maybe 20.
gauntlets i usually mix 16 and 18 gauge

scale and lamellar armour i use 20 gauge, 18 at the thickest, but weight adds up fast with these.

in the end you're trying to find a ballance between coverage and weight. My current harness covers me from head to knees, minus my upper arms. it weighs about 60 lbs, i figure that adding greaves and finishing off the upper arms will bring my up to about 70 lbs. I only weigh about 150. I feel this is pretty reasonable for a full suite of plate armour, then again, i also like throwing 3 or 4 days worth of gear on my back and slogging up steep mountains, so what works for me may not work for you.

wow, thats a long comment now, hope something in there helps.
Oh yeah another quick question :D
I have my templates traced on the 16 ga. steel, and in the book "medieval armor reproduction" it said to use a beverly shear Or a jigsaw...can I use a plasma cutter? I have a small jigsaw, but in short, it sucks, and I do have access to a plasma cutter.
armourkris (author)  OldOwlIronworks4 years ago
yea, go for the plasma cutter, they're fun tools. really you can use anything that'll cut your metal, I usually use a jigsaw, tin snips and cold chisels, but only cause I don't have anything better.
I was also thinking about Acetylene, but I am kinda afraid that'll take a bit too much metal off, I guess it can't hurt to try on some scrap
armourkris (author)  OldOwlIronworks4 years ago
I wouldn't bother using acetylene for cutting sheet metal, you'd need a tiny tiny tip for the thickness you'll be cutting, and you'll probably be left with a lot of cleanup. in my experience oxy fuel cutting isn't really worth wile for anything thinner than 1/4". That said, if you put down nice welds with it it's great for welded pieces and bar grills.
Thank you! That helped quite a lot! I will have to make some dishes now; scrapyard trip :D
A Whitney punch is the only way to fly for me. Center punch the holes, then punch them with the Whitney. No burrs to clean up, and no file scratches to smooth.
Mrballeng4 years ago
Have you ever tried your hand at making a container. Some type of chest, box, or keepsake? Good work.
I've thought of it, but no, I've never actually gotten around to making anything that wasn't armour
armourkris (author)  Rozarius4 years ago
and i should really start to check whether me or the room mate are logged into instructables before replying to questions
JP505 years ago
Great job!  I need to ask what type of rivets are you using  and  where are they available?  I have done lots of welding,  gas and mig,  but have never seen that style of rivet.  Thanks.
armourkris (author)  JP504 years ago
since i cant find anywhere in canada selling affordable rivets i just use plain old bright finish nails, i get them is the shortest lengths i can in 1/8" and 3/16" diameters, i know 6d is 1/8, but i cant remember what the 3/16 is off the top of my head. from there i just clip them down to length and peen them like any other solid shank rivet.
check out my riveting instructable for more retailed info.
armourkris (author)  JP505 years ago
Just what pietseekoe said. they are 6d nails cut down to length and hammered down.
pietzeekoe JP505 years ago
i think he just uses nails that he cuts and then hammers down
Rune Cutter5 years ago
What may help you on your bar grill is a wooden swage plate, I'm going to write an instructables on one one as soon as I get pics, but I drew one up for you.

It's just layered up plywood glued together, mine's about 10 years old and has seen weekly use.

If you lay your bar grill out flat and weld it together first, then shape it, things are alot easier, use the swage plate to get specific arcs, make yourself two or three of various sizes.  They are great for shaping vanbraces and grieves or anything else with a uniform curve.
armourkris (author)  Rune Cutter4 years ago
hat is a brilliant idea, I;ve been wishing I had something like this for a long time, but it never occurred to me to make one out of layered plywood. I guess I;m going to have to scrounge up some plywood now
wulfric4 years ago
Wow your spangen is quite good, but if the marshals have a good look at your rivets they may not pass inspection. There is a company in the States called McMaster Carr, They sell solid steel rivets that one can't seem to find in Canada. The problem is they don't ship up here, but if you have a friend or whatever to ship them to they could forward them to you, or bring them across for you when they come up for a visit. The iron in nails is just too soft to hold up to SCA combat. Very good looking work keep our fighters armoured and on the field.
armourkris (author)  wulfric4 years ago
I've built all my own kit for the last 10 years, and built gear for a number of other people as well. I've never had a rivet fail, or had a marshal say anything bad about my rivets, I;ve even told a few of them that they're made from cut down nails. it may just be my part of the world, but i gather it is a fairly accepted practice. I also tend to over build things though, so that may be weighing in on my favor. I believe current regs state that rivets can be no more than 2" apart on helms, but on this one they are spaced at just under an inch apart.
that said, on moving parts like elbows and specially knees I'd move up to a 3/16" nail.
Thanks for the heads up though
awesome. Great work
domamir4 years ago
I have a question. Is this a SCA legal heavy combat helm?
armourkris (author)  domamir4 years ago
It is indeed. now i just need to find someone to buy it.
Where are you located? All you really need to do is go to your local fighter practice and you may find some who would want it or some other type of helm, or arrmor parts.

Have you ever thought of making small ones and selling them at craft fairs? You could make them out of tin that would reduce on the cost and the time spent on making them being that tin is enormously softer than steel. I am currently making a full sized one out of copper that i had laying around so i hope it comes out the same. Over all this is a great Instructable it is very detailed and has a lot of good quality pictures which is good for a visual learner like me. Keep up what your doing i hope to hear more from you.
unanonymous5 years ago
awesome now if only i could convince my dad to let me make this(i use his account)
hmmm I wonder what gauge sheetmetal that is used for making duct work is.

my dad has like 300 plus square ft. of scrap metal.

I know you don't entirely need a dish but how would I get or make one?
armourkris (author)  the_burrito_master5 years ago
most duct work steel I've seen is around 20 gauge, that said there isn't any reason you couldn't make a dress helm out of steel that thin

the dish that i made the majority of this helm with was made by melting down a bunch of tire weights i scrounged up and pouring it into a coffee tin. Once it had cooled off i just cut the tin off about 1/4" below the level of the lead then i just hammered stuff into it untill a shallow dish formed. i think it;s only about a centimeter deep.

other ways of building a dish range from carving or cutting a bowl out from a stump. I used to have a chunk of cherry wood that i cut a bowl into by repeatedly plunge cutting into it with a skill saw, I;ve also got a dish made by welding a piece of 1/8" steel over some 4" pipe, then I heated it up with a tiger torch and bashed it into a dish with a shotput. the deep dish i use in this instructable cast lead again, but using the pipe and steel dish as a mould. Another common way is to call up some compressed gas companies and find out what they do when they dispose of old tanks. most places cut them in half and toss them or sell them for scrap. if you can get the bottom half of an old cylender they usually have a nice ready formed dish in them, just weld a bottom on, or stick it in a barrel of sand, use a dremmel to clean up any lettering sticking out form the dish section and you should be good to go there.

so yea, dishes arent to tricky, most anything bowl shaped and tough enough to hammer steel into will work.

For shallow cirves like in this helmet you could also probably go the sandbag route. just take a pair of old jeans, double up the legs, stitch one end shut really good then fill it 3/4 or so with dry sand or bb's, or buck shot or anything like that and stitch the other end up. lay it out like a pillow and you can do light dishing into it,
Finally got around to making a dish!

I cut the bottom of a refrigerant tank off and hammered the bottom into itself. it dishes amazingly ,I  cant believe how easy it has become. only problem is it had 3 nubs on the bottom that I had to hammer down and they made little warps in the dish I didn't notice any problems as I dished a little piece of metal...
duct work steel is about 20 g  your correct, it is a bit thin for anything except a dress helm and difficult to dish without crinkles. I found sheet steel cut outs from a custom van place and it is 16g. and dishes nicely
I was out at one of my local auto wrecking yards and found several "dead" H tanks the big type they use for welding and Co2 fire control banks. These had been drilled and dumped for scrap. I had them cut off the very end of the bottom about a foot from the bottom actually. The bottom of these tanks are very heavy and have a perfect "dished" end in them. A little work with a wire wheel and it was perfect. I have an anvil so cut two notches out on it so it sits down in a little slot there on the Anvil. I make helms all the time on it as well as shoulder pauldrons and Knee and elbow cops.
whoa! Dude thanks my dad has a few gas tanks! I cant believe I never thought of that. Thank you so much.

A tree stump sounds good to me too

Copying this into note pad.

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