Make a Viking Shield From a Wine Barrel




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

This instructable shows the basic steps to make a viking shield from a wine barrel top and some staves.  This is not a definitive guide but more a method. My usual shield base is 3/4" solid core plywood lacking a wine barrel top this is a good substitute.  The spike can be cut from any hardwood a 2" x 2" x 6" piece will do.
  I found the slight curvature gained by the flex in the doweled oak wine barrel top  interesting when the attached to a barrel stave. The spike is removable and sheathed  on the back much like a Scottish targe.

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

  Drill and bits
  Band saw or jig saw
  Razor knife
  Propane Torch
  Wire Brush
Leather Tools ( Not completely necessary but handy)
  Strap end punches
  rawhide mallet
  edge beveler
  saddle stitch groover
  #0 Grommet setter

  Hair on Cow hide
  Tooling Leather 10 - 12oz.
  Latigo or Bridle leather 7 to 9 oz
  Double cap rivets
  Upholstery Tacks
  Copper Brads
  5/8" T-nut
  5/8" x 4" Hanger Bolt
  Trim Screws
  #0 Grommets
  Titebond 3 wood glue
  Old Wine Barrel Top
  Wine Barrel Staves
  Amber Shellac, Varnish, or a water based clear coat

Step 2: Measuring & Cutting the Leather for the Front

   Measure hair on cow hide 2" wider all the way around. The wine barrel top was 22 " diameter the cow hide was cut 26" in diameter. 
   Important , mark the center on the leather as well as the barrel top, the center index marks aid in the alignment process throughout this Instructable
    The Latigo is cut at 1 1/2 " wide and placed on a 5" grid the lengths are randomly longer than needed They will be trimmed later.
  The cow hide is "Petaled Out" with a strap end punch and cut on the outer line. If you don't have a strap end punch points can be cut out with a razor knife.

Step 3: The Cross Brace

Cut the widest stave about a half inch shy of the barrel top. Bevel the edges prior to burning and brushing the stave. Finish the stave with shellac or any of the other mentioned top coats I use at least 4 coats.
  My Viking / Barbarian War Hammer Instructable covers burning and brushing wood. 
   Find the center of the stave and drill a hole for the t-nut. The hanger bolt is threaded into the t-nut and the depth is marked with a sharpie.

Step 4: The Spike

Glue the pieces together that were left from cutting the cross brace, drill a hole the length of the marked hanger bolt smaller in diameter, centered in the glued block. This one is 1 1/2" x  2" x 6". Screw in the hanger bolt and shape the spike. The spike should fit flush to the cross brace.
  Burn and brush the spike and clear coat it.
  Put some contact cement on a scrap of latigo and on the bottom of the spike. When dry put them together and trim to fit. This makes a nice leather washer that insures a snug fit when threaded into the t-nut.

Step 5: Front Assembly

Rivet the latigo grid down.  Place and rivet decorative studs or conchos.  Coat entire front of barrel lid with titebond 3 glue. Find the center of the leather and barrel lid match them and flip upside down let this dry several hours or overnight.  On the back side use contact cement on both the petals of cow hide and the barrel, allow to dry and pull taught.

Step 6: Measuring & Cutting the Leather for the Back

The leather for the back is cut 2"  less in diameter ( 20" ) out of latigo the center is indexed.
 Use the pattern for the arm support. This is also cut out of latigo and riveted on to the back. A Shearling liner is also cut.
  A sheath for the spike is made by wetting a scrap of tooling leather, forming it around the spike and clamping  till it's dry. Tooling leather is used because latigo does not wet form well.  The sheath is then dyed to match the back and sewn on.

Step 7: Assembling the Back

Center Index the cross brace and screw it  in from the back.
  Coat the back with titebond 3 and center the arm piece leather on it.  Run some additional screws through the arm piece prior to gluing  on the shearling.
  I riveted a hanging strap on at the last minute.
  Use the dividers set at 1" to pattern out the edge for the upholstery tacks.
  Trim the long latigo straps and secure them with upholstery tacks.
   For all purposes this shield is done, but I wanted to try a new technique on the front for more detail.

Step 8: Woven Celtic Knot Out of Tooling Leather

This application has a lot of possibilities.  I ran some square drive trim screws at the cross points of my Celtic knot pattern. I used these screws because they keep the leather suspended above the pattern for easier weaving and the small heads allow the finished knot to be removed easily.
  Cut a 1/4" strip of 10 / 12 oz. tooling leather and soak it in water for 10 minutes. Start the knot and follow the weaving pattern. Leave the ends long they can be trimmed later. Allow the leather to dry overnight before removing from the form to retain the shape of the knot. Dye the knot allow to it dry again
 I used copper brads to tack the knot down ( I think they will patina nicely ). Start in the corners and tack down at all cross points.

Step 9: Finished

 Run some lacing through the arm piece and  now the shield is done.



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    24 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I like the concept of making a shield with leather strappings and stuff...but I'm not sure why you have fur on the face of your shield...fur is good as a cushion for your arm in the back but it seems a terrible idea to put it on the front...
    Also, you want a shield to be as least clumsy as possible. Having hefted a few shields myself, I can tell you the more wood/leather you put on...the more uncomfortable and less practical it gets

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago


    Its a Functional Viking Barbarian Bling Shield. Yes its heavier than I like but the last time I had to heft it against a pack of rogue berserker Orcs I came out on top. Still got some Goblin on me spike too.......


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thats a pretty cool shield. Its a little barbarianish to be considered viking but would definately be a great feature piece for a wall or mantlepiece.

    This is also an awesome instructional on how to make a shield. Its a little easier to understand and has diagrams. Also it is an authentic type shield. :)

    ninja of suburbia

    8 years ago on Step 9

    My compliments on a truly well done 'ible. this is clear and concise, and would easily be adaptable to a fully combat-grade shield, simply by employing armor-grade leather and iron strapping in place of the hide and bridle leather, and using metal for the knots and spike. Once again, congrats on a truly excellent 'ible!

    2 replies
    bevmo63ninja of suburbia

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 9

    Thank you, You are absolutely right about the strapping. I guess this ended up being more of a functional "Ceremonial Shield" Than a true battle piece.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    The sheild is not very viking looking, trust me im from Västerås. But most people do actully think that vikings look that way, If you actually consider making a helmet please make it look like the real deal Vikingahjälm It looks very nice though like it came directly from a fantasy movie

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yes We Silly Americans with our pre-conceived viking notions. Perhaps it would have been more traditional making it out of a mead barrel. Free license reigns in the realms of ignorance. I still like it...


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Even thoug its not quite "historiskt rätt" its a pleasure for the eye to gaze upon and dream that I one day would make one my own, but then more "vikingish".
    Great Job


    Great workmanship !  The spike and the celtic decorations may not be historically correct, but the Vikings were piratesand could very well have looted those items from their victims and decorated their shields with them.  Your next project should be a Viking helmet.

    Best Wishes

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    This is not a true "period" viking design. The Vikings would have used a mead barrel instead of a wine barrel. The screw in spike was adapted from a Scottish Targe and the woven knots are Celtic.  I probably should change the tags for the purists in the audience.


    Not to sound pretentious or anything, but where do you find an old wine barrell?  I dont know about where you are from, but wine barrells arent exactly just laying in the gutter where I live.  Where did you get yours?

    Nice ible btw :)

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I Found Mine. Failing that, the plywood mentioned in the beginning works just as well. The cross bar could be made from any wood.

    sweet this will make a good addition to my viking arsenel i made a hammer styled like the one in your previous ible and i also have a large wood cleaver that i got for an axe

    1 reply