Making Viking Age Tool Steel

This year I will be teaching a class on the making and use of a common type of tool steel which was forged into tools and weapons in the Viking era. It is now often called “Shear Steel” to denote its high quality, i.e., suitable for demanding use in the blades of shears. The process will give the students a fascinating look into the relationship between heat, carbon, iron and steel, which is the fundamental basis for the Iron Age. The material we produce will have all of the characteristics we would want in a simple, modern carbon steel except one – boring homogeneity. It will be very close to the the tool steel a Viking blacksmith would have been familiar with. One of its remarkable and historic qualities will be its watery, layered structure – not seen in any modern steel. When welded into the blade of a tool or knife, then hardened and polished shear steel will have a beautiful grain like fine wood which is both decorative and evocative of the lively and earthy materials created and used by our ancestors.

4 Responses to “Making Viking Age Tool Steel”

  1. Mike 17. Dec, 2016 at 7:35 am #

    Neat! Great post. Love seeing how the folks back then forged their steel.

  2. John McLellan 18. Dec, 2016 at 3:52 am #

    Hey Jim…great series of pictures!!! Very well explained.

  3. Shelley Anderson 20. Dec, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

    My 18 year old son is very into blacksmithing. He has been doing it for about 8 months and has made 12 swords and countless knives, axes and other big crazy looking blades. How much would it be for him to take this class? We live about 1.5 hours away. Thanks~ Shelley

    • jaustin 10. Jan, 2017 at 4:04 am #

      Hi Shelley: The Viking tool steel class costs $325. It runs on Saturday and Sunday, April 8th and 9th, from 10am to 6pm. Thanks for your and your son’s interest! Jim.

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