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Alexander Hinman

Location: washington, dc
Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Reading list: 50 books

Posts: 180

PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2006 6:05 pm    Post subject: My first spear         Reply with quote

Well, I've had this bugger for a good while (2-and-a-half years. Yes, that doesn't seem like a good while to some of you more experienced fellows). I made it out of a railroad spike with some help from the fellow who taught me blacksmithing, as well as Bruce Blackistone, who put the basic steps for making a spearhead online. Funnily, even though he's a member of the guild to which I belong, I never got a chance to thank him for it, because both he and I don't often come to our guild meetings.

I love my spear greatly, and though it is short (Three inches short of 5') and its name is 'Birger the Ugly', it still is a mean weapon, if somewhat misshapen.

Since it's made out of an HC railroad spike, it's probably actually medium-carbon steel, around 40 point. As such, I did not temper it because it's meant to be tough. I've thrust it through various mediums, and because I'm not very concerned about keeping the 'finish' on it pristine, I quite happily use it to cut through soda cans. The cuts are ragged, seeing as the edge itself does not have a very acute bevel. I also only used files, which do not help to give an even edge.

One of the more noticeable imperfections in the spear is the twisted gap in the socket. Normally it's supposed to be straight, but while curling the socket around a bick, I did not hit it properly, and so my blows bent the socket in but also twisted it.

I eventually stuck the finished head onto a pine dowel (1 1/2 inch). Knowing it was pine, but wanting to see how well the head cut, I put it up against 3/4 inch bamboo. Guess who won?
I recently re-mounted it on a shovel handle, which is why the spear shaft looks a little funny.

Now, on to images!

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Birger the Ugly, with 12 inch ruler for comparison.

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The head, with ruler again.

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A side-view. Like I said, ugly.

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A younger version of myself and my teacher forming the 'neck' of the spearhead with a top and bottom fuller.
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Alexander Ren

Location: Florida
Joined: 18 Apr 2005

Posts: 153

PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2006 6:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like how rustic and unrefined it looks. Much better than I probably would have done on my first try. Big Grin


"The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle."
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Allan Senefelder
Industry Professional

Location: Upstate NY
Joined: 18 Oct 2003

Posts: 1,563

PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2006 6:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex H. if you can find yourself some real old RR ties they used wrought iron for spikes. We used one pulled out of some ties for a neighbors retaining wall for exactly this project . The forgewelding in the hacksaw blade to create random pattern pattern weld worked fine but we sorta blew the socket making part. Nice job on that by the way. Wrought iron works like butter compared to the steel spike you worked from so its a fun switch up.
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Alexander Hinman

Location: washington, dc
Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Reading list: 50 books

Posts: 180

PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2006 7:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote


Thanks very much. Of course, as I said, I had some help.


Actually, my guild has a number of very old wrought iron bars. Some 19th century ship or other was recently dredged out of a canal, and the ties or whatever that held it together are wrought iron. So one member of our guild asked if he could take them, and now we're free to use them. Mind, their heavily rusted, but if you weld them back together (which is easy enough, being iron) you get a nice bit of Fe. I'm already a third-of-the-way through one of the two-foot ties, and it looks fairly uniform thanks to the flatter I used.

What I'm thinking about doing is making a throwing-spear or javelin of some sort, so a shorter neck is in order.. I just don't know how easy of a time I'll have welding two different grades together. We've got a number of old files, so higher carbon scrap will be easy to come by.

Of course, my biggest issue is find a base javelin off of which to pattern it.
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David Martin

Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Joined: 11 Apr 2005

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Tue 09 May, 2006 4:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It may be a bit rough around the edges, but I'd bet that it would kill someone just as dead as an expensive model. What really makes it special is that you made it. Kudos!

Suggestion: You can probably make your spear's shaft look less like a shovel with a little work with a plane. As an alternative, Purpleheart Armory ( sells high quality hickory. I bought a 6' shaft from them for a spear that I'm working on.

Best wishes,

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Greyson Brown

Location: Windsor, Colorado
Joined: 22 Nov 2004
Reading list: 15 books

Posts: 790

PostPosted: Tue 09 May, 2006 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

About a decade ago (has it really been that long?), I had a Deepeeka spear that I mounted on a shovel handle. The spear head died as a result of me trying to determine how feasible it is to strike with the edge (answer: would probably work quite well, but this theory should not be tested on 2 foot diameter trees), but I was actually fond of the shaft. I am short (an was shorter then), so the length wasn't as much of an issue. The "waisted" nature of a shovel handle made for a really secure grip!


"So long as I can keep the path of honor I am well content."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company
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Korey J. Lavoie

Location: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 06 Apr 2006

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Tue 09 May, 2006 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ugly, yes. However, I must compliment you on your choice of material. I have a dozen or so rail-road spikes tucked away in an old boot in my closet just waiting for a chance at the forge. I'm thinking that I'll forge a war-hammer design that I thought of with them. It's great to see you as a young man learning something from a Blacksmith Alexander: It reminds me of the War-Fan I made with the help of Cocord NH, area Blacksmith; Garry Kalajian. It was a beautiful instrument . . . Yet wouldn't you know it, it vanished on me without a trace! I don't have any pictures of it either.
There needs to be more opportunities like that for young men to learn an artistic and important trade that will give them a sense of dignity and of the importance of the past.

From the hundred year war
To the Crimea
With a Lance and a Musket and a Roman Spear
To all of the Men who have stood with no fear
In the Service of the King
-The Clash: The Card Cheat
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