Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Homemade Morning Star

Flails were originally used seperate wheat from chaff, but like many medieval-period agricultural tools, eventually developed into a specialized war implement. They came to be known as morning stars, holy water sprinklers, etc. Basically, a handle, a length of chain, and a smooth or spiked ball. Their puncturing, crushing effect was useful on armored opponents where swords may be less effective. They were also considerably easier to build.

I made a morning star for my bro (for christmas), he's into swords and knives and likes to shop from the bud k catalog. So I decided to write up what I did in case anyone wanted to make one too.

The shaft is made from oak dowel, stained and polyurethaned, and is capped with cast iron pipe fittings. The fittings were screwed onto the wood dowel and for the top one I drove several long screws deep into the dowel to expand it out into the pipe fitting. The decals on the pipe fittings have been ground off, nothing screams "unauthentic" like CHINA imprinted on your weapon. I wrapped the handle in leather string soaked in more poly to keep it rigid and waterproof. The spiked cylinder is made from 2" diamter 1018 cold rolled steel, drilled to accept the spikes. I chose a cylinder because sourcing steel balls of sufficient diameter was difficult, and I don't have the ability to cast metal.

The spikes are 4130 chromo bar turned in my lathe, and I hardened and tempered them too. This is easy to do - first I started with a foot-long peice of 1/2" 4130 which I cut into 8 equal sections with a reciprocating saw fitted with a metal cutting blade. Then I tapered them to cones on my lathe. Heat treating simply involved holding the spikes in my vice grips and heating till it was cherry red, then quenching in the hot brine solution (hot tap water and salt). At this point they can scratch pretty much anything, but are very brittle. So they had to be tempered by sanding back to bare metal with some emory cloth, and then heating them back up until the oxide colors appear. I stopped at blue (spring temper) and allowed them to air cool. I decided to also leave the oxides on for effect.

The chain is galvinized and I brazed it to both ends with silver brazing wire. The method was as follows - I cut the chain to length with bolt cutters and drilled holes to fit the U-shaped peice of chain I had left to both sides. After a little grinding, I cleaned the drilled parts and the chain peices with WD-40 then acetone to get all the grease off. Then I coated them with flux, and hammered the half-links into the holes I drilled in the peices. Heating it up to a light red heat, the silver solder flowed into the gaps and gave a nice strong bond. I cleaned the flux off with a wire brush and kerosene afterwards to prevent any rusting.

Then I simply jb-welded the spikes into the cylinder head and fitted some metal rings I found around them for effect. The JB-Weld had to be carefully added to one side of the spike before it was inserted, otherwise an air-piston effect ocurred and the spike could not be pushed in flush. Smearing it only on one side allowed the air bubble to escape and the spike to fully seat. The spiked cylinder is attached the chain via the metal plate and 4 bolts, which I had to drill and tap holes for. Before tightening it all down, I smeared JB-weld on both surfaces to give good adhesion and more strength.

After it was all done I lightly coated the metals parts with some poly to keep rust away.

It goes without saying that actually using this thing is pretty dangerous - if one were to swing and miss your intended target, you'd probably get spiked in the face or crotch - that'd be no good.

But, it is built strong enough for actual use.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful job! Where did you acquire the spikes you used?