Introduction: Pallet Wood Viking Shield (Make It Medieval-Ish)

About: I am Jake and I make. Knifemaking, metalworking, fashion design (AKA the duct tape tie), writing, filming, prop making, fire. Typical teenage maker. Check me out on Youtube.

Ah, yes, the Viking shield. Hard to think of shield more iconic, or in recent times, more popular. That Vikings TV show has really popularized this thing. Funny how a centuries outdated object can suddenly come back into style.....

Anywho I decided I had to make one. (NOT cause of the TV show) (which I haven't even seen) I just decided that life was too short to live without a giant round shield decorated with half of a space-wolf's head on your homemade weapons wall. Logically.

Hey, it's my shield. If I want a Mandalorian wolf on it (the red stuff ain't paint by the way) then by golly it's gonna have the grandest half-wolf's head this side of Dathomir.

It's medieval-Ish, remember. Ish.

This shield is unique to all the others i've seen made, as I am building it completely out of scraps I have laying around. (sound familiar? no?) The wood is pallets, the boss is a frying pan, the sheet metal I stole from my brother when he wasn't looking, and the strap was a demolished leather purse-thing from a flea market. Wow, now that I think about it, this sounds like the perfect entry for the Trash to Treasure challenge. (hint hint) What a coincidence eh?

Also, before I get into the build, this is a part of the MIM-I (Make It Medieval-Ish) series, which is a collab between myself and fellow Instructable-er Brokk Hrafnsson. Here is a collection of the projects we've done so far, if you feel like following our series:

Step 1: Video

I have a YouTube channel. Every project is a an adventure. You should subscribe.

Come on. Try, right now, to think of one reason not to subscribe. No, that reason doesn't count. Be reasonable. Can't think of anything? Huh. Thats funny. Neither can I.

Step 2: Gather Yo' Junk

Materiales: (mispelt on porpoise)

-A couple of half rotten pallets

-A small frying pan (missing a handle)

-Some scraps of leather

-2 feet or so of 2x2"

-Some sheet metal. (stolen from my brother) Aluminum, steel, or funny alloy in between whatevs it don't matter. Unfortunately I'm not sure of the gauge, but it was thin. Obviously, the thicker the material the harder it will be to work with.

The tools I can remember using:



-Sawzall (for bustin' up de pallets)


-Belt sander

-metal snips

As usual, you could probably figure out a way to do it with less if you are both insane and have way too much time on your hands.

Step 3: Bust 'em.

My pallets had seen too much o' the great outdoors. When I tried busting them up with a hammer and pry bar they were too soft and only cracked, threatening to derail my project. So I resorted to the big guns and pulled out the sawzall, cutting each pallet down vertically between the slats, and then beat out sections holding them together.

Then I let them dry out in the shop for a few weeks.

If I was you, I'd use pallets that are already dry-ish.

Step 4: Prep the Pallets

Pallets have a nasty habit of being imperfect junk boards that are only useful as shipping containers.


Yeah they aren't perfect. I say that just makes the finished product more rugged. Nuthin wrong with that. But I do recommend getting them as good as possible, so do what you must. I contented myself with just running a belt sander over every side of the boards, which got them fairly good. Not perfect. As you can see in the finished shield, there are small gaps between the boards, due to them being unevenly cut. (junk boards good fer nothin, remember)

To get rid of that all you probably need to do is just run them through a table saw real quick.

Step 5: Layering. Glueing. Screwing. Screwing Up.

So, my idea for this shield was to double layer the boards, one layer vertically stripped and the other horizontal. I then proceeded to glue-in-screw em up.

Which....ended up being a bad idea. Actually in terms of mechanics it worked very well, but I did not realize that double layering the pallets would add SO much extra weight. The unique thing about a viking shield (historically) is that they were very large (average 36" in diameter), but were also very lightweight (for it's size). They accomplished this by being made of ONE layer of wood strips, held together by a few wood or metal cross braces. You would think that only being made of one layer of wood, they would be rather weak. Which was exactly the case. The smarty-pants norsemen combatted this by covering the fronts of the shields with leather or canvas, and edging them with iron or rawhide. Thus they were able to keep them relatively lightweight and still strong enough.

Smartypants Jake thought he knew better than history and decided to double layer the pallets. Guess who now has a shield WAY too heavy to use?

If you were to build one of these, I'd recommend a more traditional approach.

Step 6: (Optional) Grind Off Bottoms of Screws. Because You Used Screws That Were Too Long. of Course.

Smartypants strikes again.

Step 7: Draw You Some Circles

Drive a small nail (or screw if yo' a fancy pants) into the center of your new million pound board and attach a string (connected to a pencil) with a length equal to the radius of what you want the finished shield size to be. For a 36" shield, that would be an 18" string. (for the mathematically impaired) This allows you to draw a perfect circle the exact size you need.

Then do the same for the inner circle. The size to make your inner circle will depend on the size of your boss, my frying pan was 8" in diameter, so I went with about 6 & 1/2" inner circle. Logically you need a certain amount of clearance so you have something to mount the boss to.

Step 8: Cutting Out De Aforementioned Round Things

You know what I write for self explanatory steps? Nothing.

(if you are not only mathematically impaired but also a just plain Ig-no-ra-moose, the tool used above was a jigsaw.)

Step 9: Shaping the Handle

Cut to the length your heart desires, then make it look the way your mind's eye envisions it.

Oh, and make it comfortable to hold.


Step 10: Attaching the Handle

Pilot hole the 2x2 so it doesn't split, then screw it down. (you don't want to screw it up)

Step 11: Prepping for Finish

It still was a bit rough at this point, so before painting and staining I went over it once more with an orbital sander.

Smooth as a baby's b*tt.


Step 12: Staining

Do I have to explain? There are instructions on every single can, for crying out loud. We are breeding stupidity here folks......

Step 13: Clear Coat Finish

Stain needs a sealer. I used some sort of spray seal coat. Probably polyurethane.

Step 14: Paint!

The only black paint I had laying around was a flat black, which looked okay. Might just be me, but I think it would look just the tiniest bit better if the paint had a little sheen to it. If I were to do it again I'd probably go with a satin or eggshell. Whateva.

Step 15: Shaping the BOSS

This pan is the boss! Literally. (no apologies for really good puns) (i know you laughed) (on the inside at least)

Time to make it look more like one. Start by beating down the edges, to round them over. Then, to round out the bottom, go outside and beat on it on the dirt. The dirt will compact, allowing the metal to dome. I wasn't able to get it super round, but much better.

Step 16: MAking It Look Purty.

Grab you some sandpaper and work out all those hammer marks. I also used a wire wheel.


Step 17: Trace Out Design

For some reason I had trouble coming up with an original design for the design on my shield face. (I normally am artistic enough) Thus, the only thing to do was steal someone else's original idea. I found this sweet half wolf half Mandalorian design on google images. BOOM! Perfecto!

No clue who did it, but dude, you are awesome. Here is the image:

Using that as my reference, I drew the outline of the space-wolf onto the shield.

Step 18: Paint Design With the Blood of Your Fallen Foes...... or Former Friends

Then I began painting. Be forewarned, this process takes anywhere from 2-6 years, not counting coffee breaks.

Step 19: Edging the Shield

I really love the look of shields with a metal banded edge. They look, to me at least, EPICAMOSO.

Obviously, I just had to do it on my shield.

The process is fairly straightforward, though it is time consuming. First, you want to cut the sheet metal into strips. I cut mine into strips 3" wide, which was enough for the roughly 1" thick edge, leaving an inch overlap on either side. (if you do only 1 layer of wood, you will need to fudge the measurements) Then, you need to make a mark every four inches down the length of the strip. At each mark, make two cuts a third of the way through the metal, one cut on each side. (I didn't make all the cuts at the beginning, but as I worked along the edge) This gives you the joints where you will bend the metal.

I found it best to do it by attaching the end of the strip onto the face of the shield, bend the first section to the curve, and then bend the flap over onto the face. I used a hammer to crease the metal well, and then pilot holed and screwed it down. Two screws in each "flap".

I am well aware that my description just destroyed any amount of clarity you may have thought you possessed upon first seeing this step. Apologies, my dear sir. See pictures to slightly lesson any confusion I may have caused. Thank you.

Step 20: Attaching De Boss

The Boss is the Boss. Stick him in a nice prominent location. Preferably the dead center of a slick VIKING shield. (VIKING must be in caps)

Drill some holes, (i did five evenly spaced around the diameter) then screw him down. Oh yeah!

Step 21: Optional-ish: Strap

Traditional "historically accurate" viking (VIKING) shields were not the strapped on type, but rather center-grip shields. (once more the necessity of making the shield lightweight) This has both advantages and disadvantages, but the cool thing about it is the center-grip allows maximum maneuverability. Pretty much just a super sized buckler. And you can throw the shield, or quickly let go of it, which prevents an enemy from hypothetically grabbing onto it and using that grip to partially immobilize you. (can't use the arm if it's strapped to a shield you can't move)

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, my shield was far too heavy to call it "historically accurate", and any advantage gained by leaving it a traditional center-grip was lost. So I decided to add a strap, cause it would make it easier to wield that 20lb monster. Oh, you hadn't heard? Yes, my shield weighs 20lbs. I actually even cut it down a few inches, rather than the 36" diameter shield I had planned, I chopped it down to 32", to try and minimize the weight as much as I could. Ha! Nope, still weighs a metric ton.

Step 22: Finished!!

Congratulations! You now have the coolest (and heaviest) round shield this side of Greenland. Put it to good use. A plaque for your axes, perhaps. Or the most epic coffee table ever....

The choice is yours.

Until my next project, check out Brokk's ibles, and our MIM-I (Make It Medieval-Ish) series:

Oh, and vote for me in the Trash to Treasure challenge and i'll send ya a million bucks. (i almost usually always tell mostly true truths)

See ya ;)



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