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Forging war hammer


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Hey all

I have a good friend who is very much a practitioner of the old Norse religion of Odin and Thor.
I recently discovered that the hammer he uses for ceremonial purposes is just a regular 5# sledge you would buy at Home Depot! :o

Since I started my smithing class, and have access to a real hot forge/power hammer, I figured that he needs to have something more suitable :D

After asking him about it, he says that I should just forge whatever design I am able, but the ideal weight will be somewhere between 9 and 13 lbs.

The easiest way I see is to get a chunk of steel, pound it into hammer shape, and then punch a hole in the center

My only concern is where do I get a block of steel that big?

I do have a welding practice piece made from 2 hefty 4" x 6" chunks of 1" plate welded together down the center with a backing strip behind it.

I was thinking that I could use the industrial cutter at school to chop it up, stack the chunks and start pounding away at it with the power hammer, perhaps adding more plate steel to add mass as needed.

That's my plan.....

I welcome any thoughts, comments, suggestions

Let me know if my idea is on the right track, or poke it full of holes and let me know where I am going wrong.



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My first thought is that your a hardy man to do this.

Second Thought is that you need to think about what your going to use for tongs.

The heavier the object you are hiting the stronger and better fitting the tongs need to be.

My third thought is I would go to my steel service company and try to buy a piece of heavy plate that I could cut the basic shape out of.

Stacking and forge welding a 13 lb {+ scaling +grinding losses) billet is a real chore.

Fourth thought Is Good Luck and send pictures of the process.

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here's a thought...If its just for show and ceremony, why does it have to be so heavy? Could you not fabricate something from round or square pipe of appropriate size, cap the ends and make it "look" like a hammer? Fill it with sand for added weight if hollow is too hard to "act" heavy :)

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Hey Fellas

There's some great advice here....Thanks!

Steve Sells, do you have any pictures of your hammers?

This hammer needs to be the real deal, and I know it sounds crazy, but he's basically a modern-day Jedi who rides a Harley.
This is a perfect opportunity to further my knowledge of smithing and make a good friend very happy at the same time.

I don't remember seeing any large round stock at my school, but I will talk to my instructor and ask if there's anything hidden away in the scrap pile.

But seriously, is it *really* that difficult to sandwich one flat piece to another?
I know that it's tricky and requires skill, so I'm willing to bust my butt if I end up learning something!

In our shop we have all manner of industrial metal cutters, a power hammer, welders and a forge that gets near nuclear temperatures, and my teacher who has been smithing for quite a while is there to guide us with whatever projects we're doing.
I'm thinking that my chances at success are pretty good, but it never hurts to ask around ;)

If worse comes to worse, I'll just bevel those plates on the track machine, arc weld a bunch of filler in the beveled groove and then pound it into submission.

Seriously fellas....I really like the input I've gotten from you all and it's no doubt going to be very helpful in the long run.

Take care, and I'll keep you posted.


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Having made hammers in the 8 - 20 lbs range in hammer head weight...my 2 cents says he ain't gonna carry let alone swing a 13 pound hammer very far or long. But, if that's what he wants, go with a solid piece of 3.25" or 3.5" square bar, 4.5 to 5 inches long...forge whatever shape you want in to it and put a long handle on it. I have a 10 lb war hammer sitting in my shop waiting for Godzilla to come pick it up. Photo is of that and a 4 lb one w/ spike.


Edited by rthibeau
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I never said forge welding was hard, I said forge welding a billet large enough for your hammer would be hard. I don't make hammers, I make billets for my blades, and for others to make things, Ask Rthibeau for the photo, my last hammer billet I made was for him to use. as I was warned by JPH here, making a 2x2 billet is a lot different than a 1.5 x 1.5 inch billet, he was correct .

Edited by steve sells
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Mjolnir wasn't a war hammer, it was Thor's blacksmithing hammer. It was "probably" square but I'm not certain on that point by any means.

Look up a machine shop and ask for what you need.

Slit and drift the eye first, then forge the hammer. If you get a round piece of stock forge it square, then slit and drift.


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We actually gave this a try for a client. We used a piece of 5" solid square stock. It was indeed more than we bargained for. After getting the first 3 drifts stuck we had to blow an eye in it and mill the rest. Good luck

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I imagine there're a few tricks involved in punching or slitting and drifting eyes in hammer heads that size.

I'll bet drilling and cleaning up with a die grinder would be technically less difficult let alone using a mill.


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Most of us never get close to 13# of forgewelding temp steel. The radiant heat off that billet will be more than most of us are used to. The one advantage of a billt that big is that you don't lose the heat near as quick. The other issue is getting a billet that big hot to the center. and as Charlotte notes the tongs will have to fit well, and allow you to move that big billet to he anvil without dropping it or frying you hand/arm that is close to the billet when carring it.

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The Norse did not use 13# warhammers. War hammers that big only exist in fantasy movies, World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons.

I also have a deep interest and affinity for Norse culture and history and if I had to sum up the Norse culture in one statement from all my years of casual research, it would probably be that the Norse were a very practical people. If you used a hammer to make ship rivets it was a smithing hammer, if you used it to bash the brains in of an attacking raider, you could call it a warhammer but it was the same hammer.

Aside from the challenge and attraction of smithing something that big, it is really not practical from a Norse perspective and historically inaccurate, not only to the culture but to the religion as well. To be true to the "ceremony" of the religion, it would be more religiously meaningful for a follower of Thor to use the hammer he/she actually uses everyday in their ritual rather than make a ritual object. Thor was the patron of all craftsmen, so a ship-builders maul, or a carvers mallet was just as significant as the smith,s hammer.


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Hello again!

You guys are giving me some very good reasons as to why I shouldn't make such a huge hammer.
The reasons why I gave the weights I did is because my Jedi-Viking friend said that it *should* be between 9-13 lbs.
My black smithing experience is quite limited, and after reading your comments I have a feeling that reality differs (more than I am aware) than the forging that happens in little smithy operating in my head :D

It will depend a lot on what kind of materials I can scrounge if I don't use that chunk of 1" welded plate steel. I really like the idea of drilling a hole through a solid chunk of square/round stock.

Eddie, when you say "blow an eye in it" are you talking about using an air carbon arc machine?

Anyways, I have my class tonight, and I will discuss what you all have explained to me with my instructor, and see what happens.

I have much more to write, but I'm getting booted off the computer here :mad:

Thanks so much!


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Hey all

I figured I would let you all know how the project was coming along.

I did find some large chunks of steel at school including a longish bit of round stock which is about 2 1/2"-3" thick (about the same diameter as a croquet mallet)

I did also find a solid block of steel which is 4X4" by 5" long. All of your comments relating to how big of a job this is really struck home when I picked that sucker up!
That block weighs a hefty 23 1/2 pounds!

The design of the proposed hammer was cropped and made much smaller when I swung a conventional 8 lb sledge hammer around for a while........gets you tired after just a bit!

I'm thinking now that best way to do this is to start with the round stock and cut it into the rough shape using a saw or torch.
It will probably be easier to drill the eye hole and then drift it open larger to bulge it out.

After that, I'll heat it up in the forge and beat on it to flatten out any sharp edges and give it a more rounded appearance.
This hopefully will also disguise the fact that I "cheated" by cutting it into shape rather than forging it ;)

As always, I'm open to any comments and suggestions you more experienced smiths choose to share with me regarding my plan of action.

And thanks a lot....you have all been a big help


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I researched warhammers before I made one about a decade or two ago.

The *REAL* ones were fairly light and the horseman's hammers (closest to a motorcycle rider) were VERY LIGHT indeed made for use one handed with the speed of the horse providing some of the motive power.

Heavy is SLOW for such a weapon and slow is DEAD on the battlefield. Generally when I get folks who want fantasy weapons that are several times the weight of real ones I will try to educate them and if they still want one refuse to put my mark on it and tell them that I will build it for a price but that a fighter with a 4" eating knife would be able to kill them---all they have to do is avoid the slow swing and then dart within the reach of the person and pokity pokity poke as the other person will not be able to change direction with such a heavy weapon fast enough to defend themselves.

Look at the hammers in the Mastermyr find and on the stave church and make a real one!

Edited by ThomasPowers
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Actually, with a 2 1/2 inch diameter round it would be just as easy to forge it to shape as cut it by torch or whatever seeing as how you plan on heating it up anyhow. Use a spring fuller to fuller a groove around it on each end, drill and drift the eye hole.

I have to agree with Thomas about the size and weight of a real one. As you found with the 8 lb sledge, it's not feasible to use a heavy hammer for long.

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Hey Thomas

Thanks so much for steering me toward the Mastermyer tool kit!
Not only have I aspired to forge a lot of my own tools for reenactments, (looking at that old kit is giving me TONS of ideas) I think my friend would really appreciate it if I used a 1,000 year old sledge dug out of the muck in Sweden as inspiration for his hammer.

I will have to see how everything goes in the cut and/or forge with this hammer. Since the decision to make it a lot smaller has already been made, it will be a lot less time consuming to forge than the original #10+ size I had in mind.
I don't remember seeing a spring fuller in my school's shop, but rather a fuller that operates similar to a guillotine.

I've been looking at the pictures, and can't find any dimensions or weight listed for the #69 or #70 hammers, but think a weight of about 5 pounds should still have plenty of heft to it and swing nicely.

Once again, your comments are golden!
Thank you


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Hey all, I've never posted pics on here, but let's give it a shot


Here is the hammer as it is right now. I very carefully read the advice you all gave me, and decided NOT to bite off more than I could chew and scaled the hammer down.
Right now it's about 10.5 lbs, but started with some extra material on each end to allow more room for shaping and potential mistakes. I will be happy if this hammer ends up in the 6-8 lb range.

I scrounged a hefty chunk of 1 1/2" mild steel plate and cut it down to size using the track burner. I then cooled it off and drilled a 1/2" hole down the center to aid in hot punching the hole wider.
I went over to the welding machines and tacked on a length of 3/4" round stock to act as a handle (Charlotte, they didn't have any tongs big enough at school)

When I was moving that chunk of bright orange block of searing heat, man was I glad to have that bar to hold on to!

I had help from a couple classmates to do the hammering and punching out of the hole. We used a tapered mandril which goes from about 1/4" up to a little over 1". After pounding that punch in the hole and sticking it back into the forge about 10 times, we're a little over halfway done :o
(I get help from them, and in turn I will put handles on the tomahawks they're making..A good swap of services I think.)

The good thing is that we all had a lot of fun doing it, and got progressively faster and more efficient with the process.

I will keep you guys posted on the progress

Thanks again


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You have a nice shaped head to make a traditionally shaped head like the odinites pendants are shaped..There are many odinites in the various prison systems Ive worked in and all wear the traditional Mjolnir pendant..Ive been the officer in charge of chapel services before and saw there cerimonies but of course they were not allowed hammers there..(NOTE: Im not comparing inmates religious practices to traditional norse mythology..I noticed that the inmates tended to twist the mythos to suit their own needs and often did not follow the original mythos and practices)
Mjolnir was made by the dwarf blacksmiths Eitri and Brokkr along with several other items as gifts to the gods in a bet with Loki..Thor was not a blacksmith, he was the god of thunder, weather and war in norse mythology..Mjolnir was depicted as a hammer, not a warhammer or a blacksmiths hammer..Just a large one handed, heavy headed hammer..It was intended to be two handed but Brokkr was tricked into taking it out of the forge to soon by Loki and Mjolnir ended up with a short haft..This is how it is described by Snorri's Edda..I studied germanic and celtic mythos a lot in high school and college..Its a literary hobby of mine..
Truee war hammers are about the same weight as a framing hammer with a fairly long haft..A sharp beak on the back side "ala Bec De Corbin" and a somewhat small hammer head on the front..It was designed to defeat plate armor..

Edited by KYBOY
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