Some Of My Armoury Tools

Under construction

DIY Offset Planishing Stake

(click for enlargement)

This was a two-pound dumbell, from Wally-World ... er... Walmart. I cut the rubbery covering off of the ends, and ground them down (4.5" angle grinder, with grinding wheel and then a flap-wheel) to domed faces with different radii. That way, I can choose the slightly flatter end, or the rounder end. I think I went from #50 up to #600 (wet) sandpaper to finish the surface. I keep a piece of #600 next to my workspace and periodically give the ends a few wipes to reduce recent scratches and dents.

At first I just clamped one end of the dumbell or the other in a small bench vise, but when it came time to do my poleyns (knee cops) I could not do the sides because the vise got in the way of the opposite side of the poleyn.

I didn't have any welding skills or welding equipment, so I came up with this Rube Goldberg device of an offset mount for it. I went to Home Hardware to hunt for a tee, an 8" stub, a flange, a 90° elbow, and a short stub, all in the same thread size, hopefully 1" thread diameter. The best combination I could find that day was all in 3/4" size, so I got those.

I cut the tee joint lengthwise, so I could get a fairly snug fit for the handle of the dumbell, put the cutoff 1/2 pipe section on the outside and secured it with two hose clamps. The tee joint is just tight enough that it doesn't move around under the work, but I can twist it around when I want to use the other end.

For now, I clamp the flange in a small unmounted bench vise, and clamp that to a small empty cable spool. Eventually I'd like to bolt it to several layers of thick plywood or MDF, and mount that on a sturdy stand so I can work the piece at elbow height while sitting down.

It may be funny-looking, but it got me started. I don't use it for raising, only planishing. My planishing hammer is only about 12 ounces and I don't have to hit it very hard, so even though it looks flimsy, it seems to be holding up. The rubber covering that I left on the handle might help reduce the shock that passes to the pipe joints, and maybe the inertia of the mass of the dumbell provides most of the resistance to the hammer blows.

I'm thinking of making the faces a bit rounder, and getting a 5 pound dumbell for larger radii.

Vintage Anvil

No photos yet

Once owned by Merlin Estabrooks, in Sackville, Nova Scotia. I bought it from Julia Filmore (Sackville) at one of her glorified yard sales. I say "yard sale", but it takes place in a small barn, filled with all sorts of wonderful old stuff. I have seen a very similar-looking anvil in an old photo in a brochure about the history of the Tantramar area. I think it was taken in one of the foundries, or maybe the Carriage Factory in Middle Sackville.

I can't read the lettering on the side, but I'm guessing it's somewhere between 75 and 100 pounds, with a single horn. The top is in rough shape, but at least it's a genuine honest-to-God anvil, and unlikely to break on me now.

Dishing Hammer

No photos yet

I got this cross-peen hammer for Cdn$3.00 at a flea market, not usually a venue for selling new high-quality tools. This was one of those cheap no-name imports. The cross-peen end isn't even straight—If you hold the handle vertically, the cross-peen has about a 5° tilt from the horizontal.

I've ground the flat face down to a dome and polished it up to #600 grit. It seems to work fine for me, and certainly much better than the un-modified 3-pound ballpeen hammer I made my buckler with.

Dishing Stump

No photos yet

I must confess I stole this piece of firewood, during a camping event at an undisclosed location. ("Pirate!!!") It's a length of poplar, a lot softer than usual for a dishing stump, but, like the offset planishing stake I made, it got me going so I could make my first project, a steel buckler. You get what you pay for.

I had read of various methods for creating the depression, but never the one I came up with. I took it to the carpentry shop at my workplace (after hours, of course) and set up the table saw with two fences. One, the regular rip fence, I positioned half the diameter of the log away from the blade. I clamped a 2x4 at right angle to that, the same distance away from the centre (highest point) of the blade. I cranked the blade down until it was just below the table top. I stood the stump on end on the saw table and butted it up against both fences. I turned the saw on, and while holding on to the top of the log with my left hand I slowly cranked the blade up with my right hand. As soon as it started to bite into the wood, I used both hands to rotate the log slowly around it's vertical axis. The saw teeth cut sideways through the end grain, sort of like a milling machine, right in the middle. After one rotation, I cranked the blade up an eighth of an inch and rotated it again. Eventually I ended up with a nice concave hole, with the same curvature as the sawblade. No chiseling, now drilling, no burning. It isn't perfectly circular around the edge of the depression because the log itself wasn't, but it's close enough, and was just the right diameter and depth for the umbo of the buckler I wanted to make.

On the other end, i chiselled out a smaller hole about 2 inches across and three quarters of an inch deep. I use it more than the bigger hole.

If I want to make a small dishing adjustment, I just put the piece on a flat part of the end grain, and whack it with the dishing hammer. The wood is soft enough that it compresses under the metal.

Trailer Hitch Ball Stake

Like this page, still under construction

Railroad Spikes

(No photos yet)

I haven't used them yet, but I expect they'll come in handy sometime. I picked them up near the Sackville Via Rail station, in an area where the line to Cape Tormentine had been taken out and converted into a walking/bicycle trail. half a dozen in 5 minutes, plus a "fish plate" that I hope to uilize someday. Two of the spikes were brand new, in the sense that they had never been used in a tie or struck by a hammer. They're nice and straight, so I decided just to grind the rust off them, to see how they come out. They looked pretty cool all shiny, like they weren't real railroad spikes. My younger son asked if he could have one for a paperweight or something. I've since ground the tops down a bit to use for a small mushroom stake some day. I showed them to Lord D'unstable Perigrinator, and his first reaction was "Oh, spoon stakes!". He's a silversmith.

I'm thinking they might be useful for something like fingered gauntlets, or embossed figures in breastplates or bucklers. For a short time, I experimented with using them as small hammers, just holding them in my hand like a stencil brush. (More on that later.)

Hew's Armoury Stuff (one level up)

Hew's Medieval Stuff (two levels up)