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Hello all,
I have been kicking around the idea of making a pilum, and with all the experience here, I figured I'm not the first, so of any you good ol boys, (or gals) have had your way with one, I'd like to pick what's left of your memory of the project, wood included. Thanks
Oh by the way, any diagrams would be greatly appreciated.

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  • 3 weeks later...

An interesting tidbit about the pilums: unlike Norse/Germanic throwing spears, a pilum was made with a relatively weak shaft, so it would deform when it hit an opponent's shield or another obstacle. This ensured that the barbarian hordes couldn't throw the spears back at the legionnaires.

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also a shield with a lodged spear in it is a problem, and once you drop the shield, well then you have a problem, and once the battle is done, the blacksmith could easily pound the shaft back to semi straight for the next run in with the Gauls. I have pretty much finished the first one, and the second one is 3/4 done.





An interesting tidbit about the pilums: unlike Norse/Germanic throwing spears, a pilum was made with a relatively weak shaft, so it would deform when it hit an opponent's shield or another obstacle. This ensured that the barbarian hordes couldn't throw the spears back at the legionnaires.
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  • 6 years later...

Reviving an old thread, here are WIP photos of a couple of pila I'm making for a couple of priests I know, to be carried in Good Friday processions. 

They're not 100% period correct, but they're not too bad. 

IMG_1024.JPG

IMG_1026.JPG

IMG_1027.JPG

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  • 3 years later...
On 4/10/2017 at 8:16 PM, JHCC said:

Reviving an old thread, here are WIP photos of a couple of pila I'm making for a couple of priests I know, to be carried in Good Friday processions. 

They're not 100% period correct, but they're not too bad. 

Nice!

Which size stock did you use to forge these out, was it round or square?

Also, did you forge that tapered iron socket that goes over the wood and holds the shank in place?

If so, how did you do it?

Ive seen people bashing away at square pipe and cutting to a finished product giving me no idea how they actually did it.

Any info would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Edited by Mod34
Excessive quoting
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I made these from a couple of railroad spikes, actually, as that was what I had at hand. That involved quite a bit of drawing out by hand.

I didn't make the square ferrules, but if I had, I probably would have tapered down some round pipe and then shaped it over a square tapered mandrel. I don't know how the originals were made, but I'm guessing that the Roman smiths forge-welded a round collar and then squared it up.

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So thats what those things are called, thanks.
I saw on another post that you used rr spikes, that seems like a lot of work though :)
I havent done any forge welding myself, so Im stuck with forging out of a pipe. But I agree that would be the most logical method of production back in the day.
Thanks for the info, Ill look around the forum to find how I might do that with the limited tools I have.


 

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Forging down a taper on the end of a pipe isn't particularly difficult. Just go slow and rotate between hits. You could actually taper and square the pipe at the same time without too much difficulty.

Standard safety warning: if you're working with pipe, make sure that you point it AWAY from you before you quench it. If any water gets inside, it will flash to steam and come shooting up the tube. You do NOT want that coming at you.

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So I dont need any tools other than a hammer and an anvil?
Ive watched tutorials on forging pipe tapers before, but nobody seems to be aiming in the direction Im leaning towards.
And literally every video on pilum making mysteriously skips the ferule, which is mildly annoying.

Could I per say, start from a square pipe, forge one side a bit wider by thinning the walls and then finalizing the shape by inserting a tapered bar stock of appropriate size and hammering the piece around it till it sits flush?

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That's right, a hammer and an anvil is all you need. You want the angle between the face of your hammer and the face of the anvil to match the taper you want. Keep the pipe angled so that it runs down the midline of the desired taper. Hit once, turn ninety degrees, hit again, turn another ninety degrees, etc. Don't try to go too quickly, as it's pretty easy to collapse pipe by hammering too much in one direction. Make sure you're not turning the bar too much or too little, as that will get your taper out of square.

You could do what you describe, but I don't recommend it. A lot of pipe has a line of weakness on the weld line, and you don't want to split it apart. However, a tapered mandrel is good for finishing, once the basic shaping is done.

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Tapered pipe ferrules are much simpler if you start with already tapered pipe.  I keep my eye open at the scrapyard for 1950's and 1960's kitchen tables that had tapered pipe legs---painted not plated. Cut the correct size for your preform.  I also use them for bellows nozzles.  (Yes I am renowned for both my laziness and my cheapness!)

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Sorry Thomas, I didnt get a reply notification. 
I might be able to, but thats a longshot. They dont keep steel scrap here, its collected and sent elsewhere to be recycled.

I can buy regular structural steel in many forms from a depo nearby. That will have to suffice.

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