Introduction: Brass Penannular Brooch/ Viking Cloak Pin

About: Love outdoors, climbing, cycling, longboarding, kayaking/canoeing, woodworking, food, recycling/up-cycling.

Cloaks have warmed the weary far back in our distance past, right up to the 20th century, when more accessable sewing machines made coats and more fitting garments easier to produce at home. The versatility and effectiveness of a wool cloak meant that it was a garment worn by all king and pauper alike.
But, how do you stop the bugger from falling off?
The answer is a pin or brooch. This simple article turns a rectangular blanket into a garment fit to brave the elements. Made most famous by the Vikings, Saxons and Scots the penannular brooch is the medieval equivalent of a safety pin. It allowed the cloak to be pinned to itself with ease and little risk of coming undone, stabbing one's self or loosing its components.
Pennanular means partial circle, which a description of this horseshoe-esque pin.

So, if you wish you could permanently walk around with a blanket but want your hands free, read on.


You will need some simple hand tools but power tools are suitable if you have them.
Flat and round Files (grinder if you have one)
A hack saw
Bullgrip pliers
A hammer
A blowtorch, fire or BBQ

6mm diameter brass
A bucket of water
A Sharpie (other brands are available)

Step 1: A Warning

Brass is a fickle mistress, it doesn't like to be hit with a hammer(understandably), nor does it like to be heated that much either. As such, there is a chance that your piece will fail, crack or break. It's frustrating but it is avoidable. Just remember to anneal often!

Step 2: Making the Ring

The penannular brooch is comprised of 2 parts, the ring and pin. To make the ring you need to bend the brass into a 'U' or horseshoe shape. The easiest way to do this is to form it round a round object like a log or metal pipe. Alternatively, you can bend the brass using your hands or pliers into a ring.
When you have your ring shape, cut off the excess leaving a gap around 1cm-2cm wide.

Step 3: Widening the Ends

The next step is to widen the tips of the horseshoe, this stops the pin from falling off of the ring.
This is when we need to anneal the brass, I found that the best way to do this was to heat the brass until it darkens/browns slightly using a blowtorch (a fire or BBQ would probably work too). When the metal changes colour slightly, quench the piece in water. This will soften the metal.
Hammer the brass cold and anneal often or the brass will crack as it work hardens.
Hammer lightly, heavy hits will crack the brass.
Do not overheat as the zinc in the brass will off-gas and cause the piece to crack.
I told you brass was fickle.
Using a hammer flatten and widen the tips of the horseshoe till they are 2x as wide and half the original thickness.
Then file the tips to a round.

Step 4: Making the Pin

To make the pin, cut a length of brass roughly 2x the diameter of the ring in length.
Using a file or a grinder flatten a 2-2.5cm section along the side of 1 tip of the rod. Then flatten the other side of the same tip with a smooth transition to the rest of the rod. The tip should be flat on both sides and 2-3mm thick .
Now anneal the flattened tip.

Now, using pliers and a hammer round the flattened tip into a hook, the opening of the hook should be wider than 6mm so you an insert and remove the horseshoe ring.
Now, using a file or grinder, sharpen the other tip of the pin to a point. The pin should be a smooth continuous taper. It's easier to shape the point of the pin before you attach it to the ring.

Now insert the horseshoe ring into the eye of the hook and carefully close the hook around the ring using light hammer strikes. The eye of the hook needs to be tight enough to stop the ring falling out or sliding off the end but wide enough to freely move around the horseshoe.

Step 5: Finishing Up

First, bend the pin to give it a slight curve, this will stop the point from standing proud and catching the user.
Now, lightly hammer the tip of the pin, this will work harden the tip making the point last longer. The metal will be shinier and resist the hammer strikes.

Now break out the files and sandpaper and file any sharp edges and tool marks.

Step 6: Done! Wear Your Cloak With Pride and Venture Forth Into the Unknown!

To use the penannular brooch, place the blanket over your shoulders, over lap the corners and push the pin through the fabric and back out again. Now the pin will be sitting flat, fold the horseshoe over the pin, so the tip of the pin is in the gap.
Now rotate the ring so the tip of the ring slides under the pin locking it in place.
Ps, please excuse the shocking selfies.

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