Introduction: Making a Viking / Barbarian War Hammer

Picture of Making a Viking / Barbarian War Hammer

 This instructable will show you how to make a leather Wrapped Viking / Barbarian  war hammer. The one I have the most pictures of is the prototype. I make these 3 at a time and all are unique  so if the colors of the leather or the handles don't match from picture to picture the techniques are still the same.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

   The base I currently use for the war hammer is called a commander, a large mallet used in timber framing. These are available at The Japan Woodworker in Alameda CA (

    5 to 7 oz. Tooling leather (Vegetable Tanned) or  latigo

    Leather dyes in the color of your choice

    Antique Brass Upholstery tacks

    Heavy thread or artificial sinew and needles

    2" brass ring or antler crown for end cap

    40' of sisal rope

    Snap Clip

    2   3" Screws

    30 or so 3/4" carpet tacks


    Band, Jig Or Coping Saw

    Razor Knife


    Propane or Mapp gas torch

    Wire Brush

    Drill and Drill Bits





Step 2: Burning , Brushing and Assembly

Picture of Burning , Brushing and Assembly

 The head is coated in paraffin and metal bands bind the head  to keep it from cracking during the climate change  from japan to here. I remove the metal bands prior to burning the wax off the head. The top of the handle is shaped with a saw and then it is also burned. When both are cool enough to handle I brush them with a wire brush going along grain of the wood.  Slide the head on to the handle. The handle is slightly wedge shaped at the top so the head only fits one way properly. Pressure fit the head by repeatedly dropping  the top of the handle vertically on the ground. This will force the head to wedge itself securely to the handle. Pre drill and drive screws to secure head.

Step 3: Leather; Cutting and Dyeing

Picture of Leather; Cutting and Dyeing

 Cut out the head Wrap and Handle Wrap out of the 5 to 7 ounce latigo or tooling leather. Distress and dye them if you you wish. I use a large pear shader to produce a tortoise shell like effect on the tooling leather prior to dyeing. The Braiding piece is a strap 3/4" wide by 60" long this I usually dye a contrasting color. The Bottom Wrap is a 6" long by 5 3/4" wide piece.

Step 4: Wrapping and Stitching the Top

Picture of Wrapping and Stitching the Top

 Wrap the head and secure the leather with stitching and  upholstery tacks.  Saddle stitch handle wrap on.

Step 5: Braiding the Handle

Picture of Braiding the Handle

 I used a simple over one under one braid for this handle and secured each row with a carpet tack.

Step 6: Finishing the Handle

Picture of Finishing the Handle

 The braiding is finished 6 " from the bottom, secured with carpet tacks then cut off 3/4" from the end of the handle. The bottom wrap is saddle stitched on over the braid ends. For this hammer I stitched an antler crown button onto a piece of leather as an end cap.

Step 7: Alternate Ends

Picture of Alternate Ends

 Here are two other finished end alternatives. The most requested end is the ring and rope end. The rope is braided in a round 4 braid around a snaplink to attach to the ring. The ring is secured to the handle with a strip of leather screwed in to the handle prior to finishing.

Step 8: Finished

Picture of Finished

 Here is one style finished without the rope. The antler end is the opening picture.


Speidumb (author)2012-05-18

Just finished mine. I couldn't bring myself to pay $70 for a Commander, so I built mine out of an old fence post I had used as a caber tossing trainer. Some old gun straps I got from the discount bin at work, and a few hours of work, and I ended up with this - not quite the same, but it should work.

bevmo63 (author)Speidumb2012-05-20

Very Nicely done. You do my instructable honor sir.
Cheers Ronin

Tactical man220 (author)2016-03-25

this is awesome it's just that I am a kid and don't have the money and my dad won't do it he will screw everything up in other words he is terrible with wood

mmd2087 (author)2014-09-30

what size of commander would you recommend? on Japan woodworker, there is a 120 mm and a 135 mm

bbyrd1987 (author)2014-01-10

I wood like to contact the person who makes the viking/barbarian war hammer. I would like to make one for my self. I did not know if you had more details on how to make it or even a video. Where do I get the materials. It seems it will be difficult and I do not want to mess it up. If you have a phone # or e-mail address it would be great. If you can contact me (Brent) at rbyrd16@nc I would very much appreciate it. Thank You Brent

muskyman (author)2012-10-29

What is this end made out of?

muskyman (author)muskyman2012-10-29

The other ending not the rope and ring ending or the antler crown

bevmo63 (author)muskyman2012-11-18

I was told it is a rock drilling bit.

muskyman (author)bevmo632012-11-19

That's different. I would of never thought of putting that on a war hammer. How did you attach it to the hammer and made it stay on?

bevmo63 (author)muskyman2012-11-19

After burning out 4 HSS bits.....
I sanded the handle to a tight fit, took a " V " groove chisel and grooved the handle like a dowel pin, then used a 2 part knife makers epoxy generously in the grooves and pounded the whole thing together.
If you have a source for these please let me know, I found this one at an antique store and have been looking for more ever since.


AlienHive (author)2012-07-27

Ever thought about plaiting the leather handle like a whip? Just a thought...
BTW, Fantastic Instructable... Can't wait to get my hands on a Commander...

bobby sissom (author)2011-08-11

apon seeing this ,the sweedish part of me screamed i gotta make me one,thanks for the assist

bevmo63 (author)bobby sissom2011-08-12

Love to see a picture when you are done. Cheers Ronin

Jorthnir (author)2011-07-31

I'm confused about the whole burning thing... do you actually set them on fire? because that doesn't make sense to me.... maybe i'm missing something. I've had my commander for a loooong time and never gotten around to doing anything with it.... is it too late to burn the wax off or whatever? or will it still be fine? thanks

bevmo63 (author)Jorthnir2011-08-01

The mapp gas torch is used to char the wood it is only meant to penetrate the surface about 1/16". this is a wood distressing technique. The packing wax melts off and also into the wood. It is hard to stain over wax and this darkens the wood well. Your commander will be fine the age doesn't matter. If you are unsure about the burning try it on a 2 x4 . Burn it till it's black and then brush it out with the grain with a wire brush. Should feel like driftwood when you are done. Cheers Ronin.

charlesian2000 (author)2010-01-07

That is the best fantasy toy I have seen in a long time :-)  Do you make replicas of real weapons or just fantasy weapons like this one?

bevmo63 (author)charlesian20002010-01-07

 Thanks For The Comment . This is an actual functioning weapon based on a timber framing mallet .  Enemies Crushed To Date 3 Watermelons and 5 Ketchup Injected Cantaloupes.  We Tried Using It To Cut A Wedding Cake But Soon Found It Was The Wrong Tool.  This is the only Style Weapon To Date Others In Process. Cheers.

charlesian2000 (author)bevmo632010-09-23

This is one I made a few years back, a bit rough, but I've gotten better since. I enjoy pattern welding better than straight steel these days.

I have a question. Since quite obviously you know the difference between pattern welding and Damascus steel, do you know if anyone has perfected the process again? All of the ads claiming "Damascus Steel" are starting to get on my nerves and I'm wondering if any of them have any truth, since I can't very well buy them all and test them myself.

Hey Dude,

Well the term Damascus steel has been misused since the 70's, this is why I use the different terms.

Al Pendray has gotten a close approximation, and there are a few people making wootz pucks, or bulat pucks (all of which are very close to true damascus steel).

There are many people attempting and getting very close.

Thanks! the second site, that guy has almost got it perfect!

bevmo63 (author)charlesian20002010-09-23

Absolutely Beautiful. Do You Sell These at Any Venues? We Are Always looking for new artisan sword makers especially pattern welded. E Mail Me If This is of interest to you. Thanks. Ron Foster

browncar (author)2010-01-07

This is cool project for woodworking. What kind of wood do you suggest ? Dimensions and so forth.

bevmo63 (author)browncar2010-01-08

The Head Is 5 X 5 X 9.75 The Handle is 36" but I Would Make It 42 To 48"  Due To The Spike Which Sticks Out 3 or 4 " And The Head Size . The Head Is Japanese White Oak. I Would Use A Similar Wood And A Hickory Handle.

Greyman (author)bevmo632010-01-08

Big Thanks
I have got some Jarra wood off cuts from railway sleepers that I am going to try. I really like this one

bevmo63 (author)Greyman2011-04-30

Please send me a Jarra Wood cutoff For a mini thors hammer!

Greyman (author)bevmo632011-04-30

Where to

browncar (author)bevmo632010-01-09

Thanks for the dimensions . Also just finding a good hickory handle should work fine.

How thick is the handle.

Pretty Much The Same As A Sledge Hammer Handle

ninja of suburbia (author)2011-04-29

As I said on your shield 'ible, truly, this is well done, and easily adaptable to a battle-grade object by the simple requisite of replacing the leather strapping with steel, and in this case, the head. an extraordinarily formidable weapon, the warhammer takes exceptional strength to wield properly. Again, well done! Keep up the good work!

teckner (author)2011-04-03

Great instructable. I've been working on it (and would like to try your shield instructable as well), but I'm stuck at the braiding part. Could you clarify how you go about doing it? I mean brading on the handle, the "over one under one" pattern.

bevmo63 (author)teckner2011-04-03

Thanks I Hope This Helps. Cheers Ron

teckner (author)bevmo632011-04-03

Thanks. For some reason I thought that you were cutting individual strips and going under-over like that.

bevmo63 (author)teckner2011-04-03

It can be done either way. If you leave the top attached slightly taper the strands toward the bottom if I remember correctly the handle does taper and the leather gets bunched up. Ron

red-king (author)2010-01-27

 do you think it would be possible ot make the hammer's head in 2 parts? or should I just go get a bigger piece of wood for the head?

bevmo63 (author)red-king2010-01-28

You could make the head out of two pieces.
  I would run the grain long ways and glue them top to bottom rather than side to side, then drill or mortise for the handle.  I would also countersink and screw them together, plugging the screw holes afterward.

red-king (author)bevmo632010-01-29

 alright. thanks.

snowluck2345 (author)red-king2011-02-22

gluing top to bottom wouldn't be very strong, you shouldn't glue end grain.

bevmo63 (author)snowluck23452011-02-22

I Wasn't talking about end grain, but gluing between layers as in laminating 12 pieces of 8" x 12" x 3/4" stock top to bottom and drilling through. The end grain is the hammer Face.

snowluck2345 (author)bevmo632011-02-23

For some reason I thought you were talking about the handle, even though It says head.

Addicted2ColdTurkey (author)2011-01-02

Where do you recommend the head be drilled?

I pre drill the screws with a countersink bit offset from the middle, one each side so the leather covers covers them when finished.

Thank you! Great project

love to see some pix when you are done.

Would be my pleasure

Gunnar120 (author)2010-08-12

Do you have any Idea how to get a hammer for less than $70 US? Or at least I hope it's US... or do I? Well, 70 anything is a bit high.

bevmo63 (author)Gunnar1202010-08-13

That is 70 usd. Other than making one I Have no other sources. Good Luck Ron

razor367 (author)2010-07-25

Quick question: There are two drawings posted for the braiding up the handle, which one is accurate? One dimensions the leather as being 24"+5" in length (posted in the step-by-step) while the other dimensions the leather as being 24" in total length (posted in the comments section).

bevmo63 (author)razor3672010-07-25

It Is 24" + 5". The 5 " covers the head wrap ends. sorry for the confusion. Cheers Ron. Love to see some pix when your done.

About This Instructable




Bio: I Exclusively Work The Renaissance Faires . Quality Of Life Not Quantity Is What 's Important.
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