Instructables
Picture of How to make a Viking Age wooden comb
Examples of wooden combs from 800-1200 are very rare but they do exist. In this example we will be looking at what sort of combs were used in that time period and picking one to replicate, where possible we will use replica tools or approximations. This is not meant to be the bar all end all reference in comb making, being an ancient art and globally diverse there will be a host of methods. Wood is not the best material for a comb, horn or antler because of their smoothness when finished and durability probably is, but wood was something everyone had access to and probably was used by folks who couldn't afford the better products. 
 
It is a fact that the first thing that people notice even beyond body shape is hair, smooth well kept hair speaks of good health social abilities, while unkempt wild and tangled hair can mean that one is ill, or not being taken care of. So combs have played an important roll since they were invented.
 
Lets take a look at historical combs
 
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Step 1: Historical Combs

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The oldest comb that I have reference and photography is dated to the 1rst Century BCE in the Dead Sea region, after that they begin popping up all over the world, Ireland and Scandinavia had a booming trade of making and selling bone, antler and horn combs, maybe wood too
 
Here are pictures of combs that I have amassed from all over Europe, on the internet and from friends, I've lost track of their sources.


Most of these are made from antler but there are some wood ones mixed in.

Looking at the historical ones we find clues to technique and construction methods, there are also clues to what tools were used.  Put on your investigator hat and take a close look at all of them then move on to the next step
Eldalote6 months ago

That would be a pleasure to use on my beard :D

mbecks12 months ago
amazing instructable. it deserves more credit and more favorites. The break down of the the comb in step two shows the passion.
NooleanBot1 year ago
I've started work on a Bloodwood&Oak comb. I still need to do some rounding, sanding and oiling.

Here's what I have so far:
http://nooleanbot.blogspot.com/2013/03/wooden-viking-comb.html
Rune Cutter (author)  NooleanBot1 year ago
Great job on the comb!

Not sure why your tooth tool didn't work, I used .125 in 1075 steel fully annealed for the marker and then the same steel to 80% hardness for the saw, but ended up using a comercial dovetail saw..

There is a lot of confusion and bad information on the net about Runor (Runes) check your resources stick to reputable sources, runes are not ideograms they are phonetic also refering to them as Futhark is wrong on many levels like calling our own alphabet Abcdef.

You're using a lot of power tools so your results are going to be different than mine.
Never knew that Vikings were recognized for their personal grooming skills.
The Viking Answer Lady has all the details,
http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/hairstyl.shtml#PersonalGrooming
In addition to combs the vikings carried a "toilet set" that comprised an ear spoon, tweezers and pick carved from bone or antler. Vikings in Iceland and many other areas wintered with their livestock indoors, so daily combing may have been necessary to remove fleas, chiggers, ticks etc. The English complained that the Vikings in the Danelaw seduced high born English women by grooming often, bathing weekly, and changing their clothes, (presumably to launder the dirty ones).
Rune Cutter (author)  Mr. Potato Head3 years ago
Somewhere there is an entry in a book of hours that complains of the Danes vanity, something to the effect that "they are always combing their hair and bathe daily" I heard the reference 30 years or so ago and haven't been able to document it but it seems credible.
cheeserdane3 years ago
Thanks for the history lesson. I think more instrutcables should follow that example.
Rune Cutter (author)  cheeserdane3 years ago
You are welcome, I hope to get some more instructables out in the near future
Phil B4 years ago
We take things like combs for granted.  It is interesting to learn how people from millenia back in history handled such things.  I made an example of a combination square and level used by the Egyptians at the time of Ramses and published it as an Instructable.  Many of these things involved clear thinking about basic processes more than fancy tools.  Thank you for publishing this.  I think it deserves to be Featured, but I am not an editor.
Kiteman4 years ago
This is great, but I think the copper-riveting process itself should be expanded into a more detailed Instructable.


Rune Cutter (author)  Kiteman4 years ago
Thanks, I agree.

I had the time to get this up but not the camera, I'll edit in more details as soon as I can either with art or pics
Cool.

Just a thought - I don't know how available copper wire is in the thicknesses required.  Is it possible to substitute copper tubing?  Or brass?


Rune Cutter (author)  Kiteman4 years ago
The first rivets I did were made from 10 gauge grounding wires, the next batch I did were made from 14 gauge single strand, and lately I've settled into 16 gauge.  The key is go slow and not to hard when your peening it into a rivet head.  The ends need to be as flat as possible and you hammer straight down, it takes practice, it's best to just practice on some scrap wood instead of an actual comb that you have bunches of hours on.
Ninzerbean4 years ago
 "the grain was weird and I was in experienced, during assembly the blade split." Don't you mean that you were weird and the grain was inexperienced? Just kidding, please finish this 'ible, it is going to be great.
red-king4 years ago
 great instructable! I've been trying to figure out how to make a wooden comb for a while now.
Rune Cutter (author)  red-king4 years ago
I'm going to be redoing this one and anew comb in a month or so that gets more into how to cut the teeth
Oh. OK. I was wondering about that. It didn't seem like there was much information on that.