A New Helm – Part 2, Shaping

The helm blank is now together and it is time to light up a hot torch and start hammering.

I am using a LPG/oxygen mix to get the material hot and just hammering it down onto a ball stake.

This technique is very fast once you get it going, as in “holy crap that was fast”. I managed two complete heating passes on the helm in the first session. The basic shape is already there. I should have been able to do a clean up pass under heat to have the main shaping done at this point…



A few issues emerged. I pulled up the keel as the first thing. This was a mistake and I should have waited until I had the basic shaping passes done. Pulling up the keel will ‘lock’ the from to a significant degree and make it very difficult to majorly change the shape after you have put it in. It also resulted in a major stuff up.

The other big issue I had was the helm was way too big. I am used to being able to size down a helm as I go. This is not that easy with this technique. I was going to spend a lot of time and effort working the helm down. As it was at this point, it was about one inch too big in the side and about two inches too much front to back.

Fortunately it is just a matter of working the form down to reduce the size.

I was also going through O2 at a furious rate, this is partly using too much heat in places and having to do extra passes.

Working it down on the big T-stake. Unfortunately I lost some of the nice shape in the skull.




Working it in. You can see where the keel is not coming down with the rest of the skull.




The black lines are me working out where the occularia will end up.




At this point it was time to work down the front and start pulling up the chin section. I have done this in some ways with the full visors on previous projects. As your work the visor (or front part in this case) down you end up pushing up a ‘wave’ of material as you go. So you just work it down to where you will have the occulaia and you have the basic form.





I then use a fluting stake to define the shelf.







Once I had the face looking OK I did an initial planishing run. The grid is so I can keep track of where I am up to.




I was having issues with the keel. As I mentioned, I brought this up too early and it hampered me in the sizing. In an effort to get it looking right (you can see in the photos it is way too tall) I managed to fold it over at the front. 



To fix this I decided to cut out the metal where I had folded it under, hammer in the remaining keel bits and weld it all back up. I was a bit disappointed that I needed to do this, but as the entire helm was welded anyway I should not be that bothered by this. I did not take a photo of the fix up. I also tidied up the keel over a fluting stake and a bit of heat.

So here is the helm in the process of being cleaned up/planished. (Before anyone asks, the red on the table is me making up some red leather belts, not a sacrifice to the armour gods.)


Planishing is one of the more tedious processes. It just takes time. You also need to be aware of getting to a point of diminishing returns. Yes you can hammer the piece to being very smooth, but you can also just cut things back with a sanding belt. 

That now is the primary work completed. I had to adjust and then square off the bottom edge. Cutting out the occularia was done with a angle grinder and jigsaw and then files to clean it up.

Now onto finishing!



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