Viking Wood Crafts


Trees were a key resource for the Vikings. They used wood to create tableware--such as cups, bowls, plates and spoons--tools, buckets, game boards and pieces, toys and furniture. Nearly everyone in a Viking community had some degree of craftsmanship in the area of woodworking. If you are looking to create wood crafts in the tradition of the Viking Age, here are a few things to keep in mind.


Viking woodworking tools do not differ much from those used today. Saws, including wood saws and hacksaws, and axes were used to fell trees and size the wood. To bore holes, the Vikings used a tool called an auger; this tool is similar to the spoon-bit drilling tool of today. Draw knives, similar to a wood plane, were used to smooth or hollow out wood. Molding irons were used for decoration. Finally, planes, gouges, hammers, chisels, files, knives and rasps were used to shape, smooth, join and add ornamentation.


To woodwork like a true Viking, you must know your timber. When selecting the desired piece of wood, Vikings first selected the type that would best suit their needs. Then they would find a piece that matched the basic shape of the object they were planning to make. For example, they would choose a piece of willow with a circumference similar to the size of the bucket they were planning to carve.


To join pieces of an object together, think primarily in terms of design. Design techniques used in the Viking Age include tongue and groove, mortise and tenon, wedge tusk tenon, compound or dovetail joints. However, iron nails and wooden pegs were also used.


Ornamentation should be an important aspect of your Viking wood craft. It can be anything from a simple mark to a more skillful high-relief carving or wood burning, known as pyrography. Vikings carved nearly every wooden surface in some manner. Be aware that the V-shaped gouge was not used and chip carving was not practiced in the Viking Age.


When it comes to finishing your Viking craft, go organic. The Vikings would have used finishes made of ingredients found in nature, such as linseed and walnut oils, and varnishes made of resin and oil or alcohol. Paint recipes were also used, but mostly for art pieces--not objects of everyday use.

Keywords: Vikings, crafts, wood

About this Author

Amy Brueggemann is a freelance writer based out of Boise, Idaho. With over 10 years of experience, she has written on a wide variety of topics - from vintage fashion to photovoltaics. Brueggemann holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/writing from Boise State University.

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