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Aspis Build Thread
Hello everyone! I thought it was about time for me to stop being a lurker and join! Tongue
I would like to thank Chris B, Matt Amt and everyone else who has posted information on the topic as it has been very useful! Big Grin
I have decided to build an aspis using the ring method (exact measurements on Matt Amt's hoplite page fit me so I went with those. I did build templates to try first though.) using ash boards. I guess I should explain first however that my woodshop teacher has been kind enough to let me use the machines in our shop to build the aspis (keeps me from trying to make wooden swords!) This has been a huge aid in making it! Anywho... I used four ash boards to make the rings. Why four? The thickness planer in our shop can't take boards greater than 16 inches (or something like that...) so thats why I used four boards of 15 inches to get all the rings. The first two boards had layers 1,3,5 and the latter two had 2,4,6. I then used a compass to trace out the layers and cut them out on the bandsaw.
*If I did this again I would most definately mark out the layer that will be on top with a dashed line since this would make it much easier to assemble and glue.
I now had a whole bunch of semi-circular rings. I holes and inserted dowls into layer one (remembering that material would be sanded off of course!) and started gluing the rings together.
Sorry I don't have photos of the beginning! I wasn't thinking of doing a build thread!

Layer 1

Layer 2

Rings in the closet! Tongue





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Welcome to the forums!

I like your Aspis, look forward to seeing more pics!




I was originally using a spoke shave to remove material from the edges of the layers to get into a bowl shape. THIS DOES NOT WORK!!! No. It works but it is REALLY slow. Really, really slow! I was then allowed to use an angle grinder and wow! A not even a couple of hours and the outside was smoothed down and inside was pretty well smooth!

Currently I have been working on finishing the inside so I can continue. But it has been slow. The belt grider our shop has hasn't really worked well. I have been using a Dremel Multi-Max tool with a saw-like attachment and this has made it faster and easier to remove material in difficult spots.
The cardboard porpax is looking fantastic no? Tongue


For the antilabe I have a metal gate handle that I am thinking of using just for simplicity and durabilities sake. Thoughts on this?
Any comments and thoughts on the build would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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I have some more pictures!!! Big Grin



Here's the Dremel Multi-max tool that has been great for removing material from the inside.



This is the handle I am thinking of using. I was thinking about the antilabe and have started to wonder... If the antilabe was a solid thing (such as this metal handle) and an impact occurred (on the edge of the aspis), would it be more likely to come loose or rip out than a leather throng/rope antilabe? The reason being that the rope taking some of the force and decellerating the shield better? (I know that sounds strange...) I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around why a metal antilabe wouldn't have been used. :unsure: (maybe just my imagination running rampant... Tongue )
I want to try and keep the aspis fairly historically accurate.

OH! Before I forget! The weight for the aspis! It has actually become a very nice weight.
Weight once completly glued (No Sanding) - 18lbs / 8kg <---At this point everyone was telling me to make it a table. Waaaaaay heavy! (Needless to say I ignored them!)
Weight after sanding - 13.5lbs / 6kg <---At this point everyone was telling me to finish it!!! Big Grin
Now? I've taken a bit more off so I estimate 12.5lbs? This is a really good weight. Feels really good.

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Great work.

I am curious how you plan to make the outer rim?

Will it look like the pic below?


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Joe Balmos
This is what I've done so far.


It's a piece of 3/4 inch (I think) ply. Very light considering actually.
Since our shop didn't have plywood that was large enough to make a rim out of one solid piece, I made the rim into 4 parts. From here I traced out approx. 3 inches from the edge and cut out the pieces. Once I got the pieces set up the way I wanted, I got out the dowling jig and placed 2 dowls into each joint.(the pic is without the rim glued. Just loosely fit together) Since the rim was to small a diameter on the inside I placed the shield on the rim and traced out what little extra material had to be removed. This was sanded off and the rim fits like a glove!! Big Grin
This method, by the way, was probably the most ineffiecient, most time consuming way to make the rim. My teacher was actually skeptical about if what I had done would work. Somehow it did though!! Tongue
The more effiecient way to go about this would be to have layers 5 and 6 wider like in your photo Joe. (Too bad my rim doesn't look as nice as yours though!) :-( Tongue Then it would just be a matter of sanding it to a pretty shape.
Incase anyone was wondering where the rim sits on my aspis, it sits next to layer 6. (As opposed to being attached like another layer to the bottom) There was some confusion when trying to explain this to some people who were asking what on Earth I was doing in my class.
I'll see if I can get a pic of the rim on the aspis. It still has some gaps between but its fairly minor. I am planning on putting the rim on first and then covering after (once I get the inside covered and porpax mounted) . Any ideas about this? I've just seen it done (and when I say 'seen' I mean 'read') placing the rim on after as well as before. Just trying to get ideas on where to go with this! I can hardly wait till I finish it! It'll be awesome! Big Grin Cool (hopefully...) :unsure:

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I think it's finally time I update this.





I first pre-drilled holes through aspis into the rim. I then used 3" wood screws to fix the rim in place.
*Important! I only tightened the screws enough to just barely flex the aspis. If I would have tightened the screws all the way, the edges of the shield would start to warp and would probably have cracked if it was even bumped.





The strange substance on the inside is a construction adhesive that was smeared to help smooth out the gap between layers and fill the gaps between the rim. It worked moderately well but when I used a slightly different adhesive it bubbled. (pics not shown) A bit of sanding helped to correct this.
One of my teachers has graciously given me some flax canvas to use for covering the aspis! This looks like great stuff! I plan to use an acrylic primer to 'glue' the canvas to the face of the shield. I did a test piece first (on a seperate piece of wood) and it turned out well. I know this isn't really a historical way of doing this but meh. I am still a little stumped on what to do about my porpax. I have had to remake my cardboard template because the last one was thrown out. Looks better but now it just needs to be in metal and on my aspis. Tongue Has anyone done one in steel? If so what gauge? Any info/experiences on making one would be appreciated.

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Pics of my 'new' porpax.



Does this size wize look ok on my arm? I think this should be ok but just looking for confirmation that this looks fine so I can sleep at night! :lol:

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Make sure you leave some room for a leather liner inside the porpax for support and comfort.
Joe Balmos
I think that you need to trim the rim to about half that width. The surviving examples all have substantially narrower rims than most reenactors' shields. The Vatican shield for instance has 4,5cm wide rim, with a total diameter of 82cm. Your rim should be no more than 5cm wide.
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
[Image: -side-1.gif]
It has been too long since I have been on here! I have made some progress with the aspis but school has kept me busy so I haven't been able to get "that" far. Here's what I've done so far.


I have covered the inside of the aspis with the flax canvas I was talking about before. To glue it on, I used a acrylic primer. I know that isn't exactly historically accurate but it sure works wonderfully.
*Note- The primer needed water to penetrate the fabric and bond to the inside so a fair amount of water and primer is needed. I just kept dumping rather larger quantities of water in at a time and worked it in with a brush a bit at a time. I didn't have a knife or cutting tool of sorts to fix any folds/ wrinkles in the fabric that formed while working. Fortunately, there are only a couple that formed and were not too noticable. Gives the aspis a bit of character to be honest! Tongue

I then painted the inside with a several coats of red acrylic paint. The rim part was left unpainted because of bad wrinkling. I intend to cut the wrinkles and put another layer over later to make it look neater.


I have also cut down the rim to around 5.5cm by your advice Giannis and boy does it make a difference! Before, the rim would cover most of my face when holding it and when people would gently bump it, it would basically smack my face pretty good. Now that it has been cut down, I can manouver it much better and it doesn't smack my face! Big Grin I can see this as the reasoning behind why the rims were smaller. Having a rim that will knock you out if you take a hit to your shield is not exactly the best design. I still have some material to cut off in the pic. I will see if I can even sand a touch more off if possible. *The limiting factor to how much i can remove is due to the fact i used screws to hold the rim on. I will be just on the edge of hitting a screw at 5.5cm :|


I also put two coats of finish on the front because this was starting to happen...


The finish should help slow down shrinking of the wood which lead to the crack. *I filled the crack with epoxy first.

A metal porpax may be out of my abilities to make. I have some THICK leather used in horse saddles though. Its about an inch wide so I was thinking of running 3 strips and securing them the same way one would with a metal porpax. My teacher and I were looking at using chicago bolts or copper nails with roves to secure the "porpax". Any thoughts on this? The nails and clenching is more historical but the ability to possibly swap my porpax to a metal in the future with the chicago bolts is very appealing to me. I feel pretty freaked out when thinking about drilling/nailing/clenching things in my aspis... But the end is in sight then! :woot:

So that's about all that I've done so far and hope that I eventually get this done! Slow and steady wins the race as they say. Thanks to everyone that has contributed to this so far. I really appreciate the comments and tips that you all have left.

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In Osprey, it says 'The core of the shield was made of wooden planks about 20~30cm wide, glued together into a block. This block was carefully turned on a lathe until its shape resembled a bowl'

But I can't understand what does this means.
Does it means a ring method?
[Image: fd..PNG]

what is this picture about Aspis means?
Osprey says <It(Rim?) was reinforced by wooden laminations running along the sides at right angles to the grain.> But i can't understand... Sad
Quote:Osprey says <It(Rim?) was reinforced by wooden laminations running along the sides at right angles to the grain.> But i can't understand... Sad
The wood grain of the shield corpus runs horizontally, whereas the wood grain of the curved reinforcement laminates that were fixed to the rim runs vertically.
Holy necro-thread Batman! It's time for an old thread revival! I couldn't just leave you all with a cliffhanger ending!  Tongue

The shield has been completed for quite some time but I haven't found time to sit down and post. Life gets busy! 
I do believe I have some more detailed photos of the porpax and antilabe but for now I will explain how the shield was finished and edit pictures into the thread when I get my hands on them! I will post the pictures I do have for now however.

So I left off with the inside of the shield covered with the flax canvas, primed and no porpax in sight. It seemed like the shield was a project never to be completed... But persistence pays off!!! The inside of the shield was finished with a red acrylic paint. I was very choosy not to pick a red that was to garish or overbearing and I think the result turned out fairly well. (The colour was very similar to the red Matt Amt used on his aspis.) 

The large hurdle of constructing the porpax remained however but I purchased some 18(?-will confirm and update) gauge steel steel from the local hardware store and traced out the template I made onto the steel. I did make some adjustments to the template before I traced however. (I will pull out my template and make a scan of it for others to use if asked. The template does have to be changed in length slightly to adjust for your forearm size so keep that in mind.) To cut out the steel was a... it was honestly an ordeal. I used tin snips that were hardly tough enough to easily cut through the steel (maybe they were just old). Quitting does not come naturally for me and I am a stubborn bugger, so I found setting up the shears along the template line and throwing my whole body weight down in a quick impulse was enough to get the cut started. From there, it was a comical event to watch me throw all my body weight into the shears to slowly cut through the steel. After a bunch of little cuts, a ton of sweat and cramped and sore hands, the metal cutout was done. Next was the process of filing down all the sharp edges of the cutout. This took a fairly long time as I wasn't keen on having my arms sliced up with the aspis on me! I then put the ends of the porpax (where they flair out) into a vice and bent them 90 degrees. A hammer was used as necessary to achieve a nice bend. I then worked to porpax into a semicircular shape and used an anvil (20lb barbell) and cold chisel to flair the edges. I used painters tape on the surfaces that were contacting the weight to stop the porpax from getting chewed up to badly. Finished result below!

*** Safety Disclaimer! - Cutting metal is dangerous. I used thick pigskin gloves and wore safety glasses and even ear plugs as the banging on metal in my basement was really loud. If you are planning to follow this with intent to build an aspis, please take appropriate safety precautions. I am not responsible for your injures! Be safe!!! 



Now that the porpax was complete, it was time to mount it into the aspis. I picked spots to drill holes in the porpax where there seemed to be the most material around to reduce the chance of the metal tearing out. There is a little bit of finesse to mounting the porpax to the aspis. If ones was to simply mount the porpax perfectly centered in the aspis, it would be fairly maneuverable as you are at the centre of its mass but I chose to mount to porpax slightly higher up for two reasons. 

1. Mounting the porpax higher ensures the aspis will not be top heavy and try to constantly fall away from you. It is difficult to guarantee that the geometric centre of your shield is where the actual centre of mass lies (your aspis may be thicker in some places and thinner in others resulting in an imbalance). Mounting it slightly higher eliminates this issue and still results in a very neutral feeling shield.  

2. Where I mounted my porpax allows my shoulder to fit perfectly into the top edge. This means I can actually rest the aspis on my shoulder when carrying it distributing the load better. 

Holes were then drilled through the aspis and yes... I was bad... I used historically incorrect screws to secure the porpax. They stuck out on the other side and were trimmed to fit correctly. This is where if you wanted to go more historically accurate you would clinch the nails into the aspis and that would be that but I did want the ability to remove the porpax if necessary to construct a new one, make adjustments, etc. Clinching the nails will not allow you to remove the porpax should you so desire once the front is covered!
I will be posting the continuation of this in a little bit so just hang on!  Big Grin

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