Making the Danum Shield
by Neil Lucock

Neil makes a shield using the Vicus template and patterns


  • Plywood, 4 foot by 2 foot by 6mm
  • A shield boss (bought on-line)
  • Vege-tanned leather or rawhide to edge it.
  • Coach or roofing bolts with a plain head.
  • Brass or steel strip to make washers
  • Linen thread
  • Paint (white emulsion, and your shield colours)
  • Glue
  • Wood to make the carrying handle
  • Material to cover it.
  • varnish and leather treatment (optional)

Tools needed:

  • Hammer
  • Drill & drill bits
  • needle
  • A tool to cut your leather
  • Awl
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Files and saws
  • An anvil or something heavy to hammer on
  • Paintbrushes
  • Jigsaw
  • Dremel motor tool or similar (optional)

The first thing to do is to visit the Vicus “resources” page 
Read the article and save and print out the diagrams showing the colours, the design, the dimensions and the corner angle.


I used 6mm plywood from the builder's merchant. 
Using a ruler, carefully mark the shape. You don't need to mark the design on at this stage, but you do need to find the point where the centre of the boss will be. I used the template as a guide to get the top and bottom angled lines right.

Cut the ends to shape and smooth off with a file. It doesn't have to be perfect, there's going to be a leather edge over it. I drilled a circle of holes and cut out the boss hole with a hacksaw blade. Tidy the edge with a file. Again this is going to be covered by leather. 







If you are going to cover the front and back with cloth, paint the face with glue (I used PVA to stick the cloth down). Place your cloth over the glued face and paint it with more glue, diluted with some water so it soaks in. I covered the face with a heavy denim/canvas material and the back with a darker cloth. I made a handle from piece of hardwood window frame and glued it on the back .

Leave over night for the glue to dry, cut around the hole for the boss and stick down the edges, then paint both faces with cheap white emulsion. Your shield colours will be brighter if you undercoat with white.



Once this is dry, mark the design on the front. Take your time with this.






I painted the back red at this stage, but you can do it later on. You need to drill holes around the edges of the shield and around the boss hole. I used a 1.5 mm drill and found that the needle would just go through. I couldn't get it through a hole a second time (i.e. if there was already a thread through the hole). You might want to try a 2 mm drill. The holes need to be about a centimetre apart and 5 mm from the edge. This takes ages.




I sewed on the edges using linen thread. The leather edges were 4 cm wide, 2 foot long and 3 mm thick. This also takes ages, it's best to do a 2 foot piece each evening rather than try to do it all in one go. You should also edge the boss hole for comfort.

You need to rivet through the carrying handle and the boss. I used two techniques here. For the boss, I bought roofing bolts. Ensure they have domed head, not slotted to take a screwdriver. The ones I bought had a square section under the head before the thread starts. I filed it down so it was round. 




The domed top of the bolts looked too good, so I used a file to make it irregular.






Place the boss on the shield and drill holes for your bolts. Push one through, measure how far it sticks out (I used a scrap of wood and a mark from a fingernail), take the bolt out and cut it so it will only stick out 2 mm. I made sure that two of the bolts went through the carrying handle. I filed one edge of the domed bolt flat so it sat against the edge of the boss. I drilled holes in some brass strip, then cut it out to make washers. Put a washer over your bolt, brace the head against something solid like your anvil and hammer the bolt shank so it mushrooms out and traps the washer. You can also use a pieces of steel rod instead of a bolt. Hold it in the vice and make one head, then form the other when it is assembled.




You need to put rivets to hold on the boss and strengthen the carrying handle. Once these are done, start painting.
You can get “tester” pots of paint for £2.00 at DIY stores that have a paint mixer. Buy your colours and put on the large areas with a decorating brush. I painted the face after I had done the riveting as I was concerned that I would damage the paint manoeuvring the shield while riveting. 



Use a fine brush to do the narrow lines. This takes a long time.





I painted the back red but left the rivets and washers in bare metal.








The front was given a coat of matt varnish to protect it. The edging was treated with leather cream. You can bind the handle with leather. I'll probably make a strap and some fittings later.