Viking sword hilt

I am in the process of re-hilting my viking sword, mostly because I wanted to move the POB a little towards the hilt, but also just to see how my skills would fare in such an endeavour.

I have now, more or less, completed the cross-guard and pommel, although they need a bit of polishing and a bit of adjusting once I can put them on the blade as I cut the pommel from a solid piece of steel with an angle grinder while the floor was moving up and down :-)

For the handle itself I was thinking pure carved wood, but am also leaning towards leather covered wood, and thus was wondering what, if anything, history and archaeology tells us about viking sword handles.

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If you want a PoB closer to the hilt, you might want to wrap your hilt in wire. It's historical for a viking sword.
Hi U.M,
great to see more people custom-rebuilding swords. You look well on the way of making an excellent looking sword there if the pommel work is any indication. :)

From what we can see from the few surviving sword handles from that timeframe they used plain wood, cast metal parts, wire wrapped wood (possibly with leather under it), plate metal covered wood or other organic material (the plate in this case is precious metals and the swords those of kings or royal status), just antler with no covering and we can guess at handles being covered in leather or wrapped in fabric as we see on fully complete surviving swords from the 13th century and later.

The plate metal covered gavels seem to have been more common in the earlier Vendel age in Scandinavia though, of course some swords like this might still have been in use but the more common in viking age would have been plain wood, wire wrapped wood, antler and wood with leather or fabric covering.
The wire wrap would have been plain iron, gold or silver as can be seen on finds today. Perhaps bronze or copper wire was also used, but what gets mentioned most in the Sagas is silver wire. Sometimes just spooled smoothly around the gavel, and sometimes twined or bound in twined rings and knots. These twined wires could also be found between the lobes on pommels. You could solder it onto the pommel you want or keep it just like you already have. But those I've seen do this have gotten some very nice visual results.

Now where are my pictures... I'll see if I can find them. On the other hand I'm sure there are plenty others here with good photos that'll get flooding in. Let's just say many of the favor the Norse hilts.

Last edited by Johan Gemvik on Sun 18 Sep, 2011 2:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
Luka, you beat me to it! :)

I second that. Wire wrapping doesn't add very much total weight, but what it does add usually changes the feel of the sword noticeably so it becomes more lively.

Another way to change the balance is to cut the length of the blade, in the tang end, forming a new tang from the forte or part of it and part of the old tang. I've heard this is popular in the viking re-enactment curcuit in Norway these days and especially makes tip heavy rebated swords much quicker. Swords in the viking age were anything from "child size" 65 cm almost miniature swords to over a meter long sturdy giants. So it'll still be within historical dimensions.

Check out Jimi Edmonds posts on this thread to show what I mean about shortening from the tang end.

Last edited by Johan Gemvik on Sun 18 Sep, 2011 2:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
I should have mentioned that the new pommel and cross-guard is a bit heavier than the original ones. Also I have, very carefully, moved the cross-guard a bit forward as to give me a longer handle, so all in all I don't think more weight is necessary, however wire wrapping might be nice looking so I'll definitely keep that in mind. Thank you for the nice replies so far.
I'm kind of curious as to which model of sword this is and what hilt length you've given it. Not to be discouraging, but most Norse swords are believed to have short hilt lengths, and if it was a cheap model it probably was on the large side to begin with.

I wish I had had the guts to take apart the hilt on my Five-Lobed Viking and shorten it by a half inch or so. I imagine this would have given me a very secure grip and make it very hard for the sword to go flying out of my hand. (Not that I've ever had such a thing happen, but you never know.)

Anyway, nice work on the pommel/crossguard. I await pictures of the finished product.
@ Colt

I am not discouraged at all, since the original handle actually was a bit to short for my hands, especially since it is a blunt sword that I use for combat, and therefore also wear protective leather gauntlets, so in this specific case a handle that is a wee bit longer than historical handles were is preferable, I shall of course post pics of the finished sword, but it will take a while as i am currently away from home and will be until December.

The original sword was bought from, it is their combat ready triangular pommelled sword ACVS3

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