How to Build a Spangenhelm
by Ron McWilliams
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Click on the spangenhelm pattern below to enlarge and print it.
Some tools used on this helm. Dome stakes, dome bowl, calipers, tape measure, files, lead scuba weight, snips, gloves, safety glasses, ear plugs, rail road anvil and spike, dishing and planishing hammers, ball pein hammer, rubber mallets, hack saw, vice grips and clamps, center punch and chisels, ink marker, right angle grinder with wire brush, buffing wheels and sander disks, electric shear, electric drill and bits, buffing compounds and shallow dishing stump. The wood work bench and lamp is a must! (see also: An Introduction to the Skill of Making Armour)
Decide on your style, size, and material. This one has a headband of 26.3″ in circumference by 2″ wide, with 1.62″ wide top bands. Make pattern from poster board. Cut metal out. Shown are the electric shears. Lightly dish the head band. Shown is a small shallow dishing stump and a rubber mallet, with a curved face on one end. It gives it a natural curve. (see also: Spangenhelm Pattern, How to Make a Sinking (Dishing) Stump, and Facts and Myths about Armour Patterns)
Shape the head band, it is an oval. This one is 9″ front ot back and 7.5″ side to side. Rough dish the panels in your dishing form, and hammer out the wrinkles as they occur on the dome stake. I sort of use a cold sinking and raising at the same time, alternating between the dish and dome, removing any big lumps if they occur. Note: do not dish the bottom of the panels, only round it to fit the head band. Make a smooth transition between the dished upper pointed portion and the lower band portion by hammering the inside on a flat surface with the rounded hammer.
Dishing. The dishing is done here with a stripped and sanded dumbell, into a steel dishing form (your dishing stump will work also). A shallow depression carved into the flat end of a hardwood “stump” is a cheaper, relatively easily accessed alternative.
Planishing. A flat-faced hammer is used over a smooth, rounded surface to even out the rough dished surface. The dumbell from the above step, locked in a vice, can be substituted for a proper planishing “stake.” A machined dome is used here.
Drilling first assembly holes.
Assemble bands with #6 bolts. Mark the panels as you shape them to fit, “left front,” “right rear” etc., as they are asymmetrical.