Monday, February 24, 2014

Viking Age Forging Hammers?

On 22/02/14 2:09 PM, Zachary wrote:

I had a question on Viking era blacksmith hammers that I was hoping you could answer for me. In your research and experience, what would you say the average weight of a forging hammer was? I have read that the weights the Vikings used were different from 19th century North American smiths, but I have not yet been able to find what that weight was.

The primary reference for this is always :
the Mastermyr Find
Arwidsson & Berg

This volume was rare at one point. but was re-issued through the action of Norm Larson Books in the early 1990's. Now available through various booksellers (but try contacting for Norm)

Norm Larson Books
5426 E. Hwy. 246, Lompoc, CA 93436
805-735-2095 Evenings

I have also looked at a number of individual tool (burial) groups. These also show the same general types and sizes best illustrated by Mastermyr.

The Mastermyr Tool find is a wooden box, full of a working set of blacksmithing and woodworking tools, as well as some additional metal objects. There is some discussion as to just what the find represents, as the whole box is packed with iron objects and massively heavy (!!).

Included is a full set of metalworking hammers, ranging from specialized jewellery / raising types through to several (long handled) sledges.
Generally, these hammers are *lighter* than the range used by many contemporary blacksmiths.
This is also echoed by the general weights found in blacksmithing hammers from the other finds from the Viking Age.

Cut together direct scans from Arwidsson & Berg

The basic size seems to run about 800 gms, with a second class in about 1000 gms. (That translates to roughly 1 1/2 and 2 lbs for Americans.)

An easy way to duplicate the Norse common hammer profile is to take one of those cheap 'Chinese' square face cross peens. then re-forge the peen down to the straight line profile of the Norse type. Re-harden in oil. (I've done this several times, and had good results visually and performance wise.)

By (not unexpected) co-incidence, my main forging hammer has always been 800 gms - with my second 'heavier' hammer chosen at 1000 gms. I personally find a 1.5 kg hammer a bit too heavy to easily control. Admittedly, I am lighter in physical build (at 5 foot 11 inches / 1.75 m and 155 lbs / 70 kg).
Might be something there?

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