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How-to Make a Wooden Stand for a Viking Drinking Horn

Updated on February 2, 2020
Nathanville profile image

Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.

Intro

Just before Christmas my wife bought me and my son a Viking drinking horn each from the Exeter Christmas Market; as stocking fillers for Christmas.

Obviously, to display and use the drinking horns you need a stand. I could have bought a couple, but making your own from scrap wood is a lot cheaper, and rewarding.

Therefore shortly after Christmas I searched the web for designs and then spent an afternoon in my DIY workshop to quickly make a couple from a piece of scrap wood.

Viking Stall Where We Bought Our Viking Drinking Horns

Choosing the Right Design

There are a number of designs to choose from; some quite elaborate. However, the ones that appealed to me are the simplest, most basic designs; just a flat piece of wood with a hole in it. Such a basic design would be the easiest and quickest to make. Well within the scope of most DIY enthusiast; and something that can be made quickly and easily for next to nothing.

Choosing the Right Wood

I would have preferred to have used hardwood, but I also wanted to recycle scrap wood from my wood store, rather than go out and buy the wood specifically for the project.

I also wanted the wood to be thinner, rather than thicker; ideally, around 8mm (5/16 inch), and finding a piece thin enough, that was also wide enough (except for plywood) would be difficult; especially hardwood.

I have plenty of 10mm (25/64 inch) plywood, which is close to the thickness I was looking for; but I was keen to use real wood rather than plywood for this project.

Having searched through my stock of scrap wood all I could find that was close to what I was looking for was a piece of 12mm (½ inch) pine wood (softwood); a bit chunkier than I wanted, but doable.

Scrap wood I found in my workshop, ideal for making the drinking horn stands.
Scrap wood I found in my workshop, ideal for making the drinking horn stands.

Step-by-step Guide

Below is a step-by-step guide on how I made a pair of wooden drinking horn stands from scrap wood.

Sanding the Wood Smooth

The wood plank I found for the project was a bit rough and ready and would need a lot of sanding to get it really smooth.

Therefore I held it in a wooden vice and used the belt sander on it, on both sides:-

  • First with course grit sandpaper to get back to the bare wood, and then
  • Finished off with a fine grit to get the surfaces really smooth.

Anyone who’s used a belt sander knows that they eat through wood like butter, so by the time I’d got down to the bare wood and got it smooth on both sides I’d shaved off 2mm (5/64 inch) on both sides; which by coincidence brought the thickness of the wood down to the 8mm (5/16 inch) that I originally wanted.

Using the belt sander to get back to the bare wood, and give a smooth surface.
Using the belt sander to get back to the bare wood, and give a smooth surface.

Proof of Concept

Making a Prototype Stand

Before cutting the wood to size I needed to decide what length and width to cut it, and what size hole to cut.

Although there are plenty of images of the type of stand I was making on the web, none that I found gave any measurements; so it was largely guesswork and judgement.

If I guessed wrong, and made the stands too small or the hole too large I would have to start again.

Fortunately, the plank of wood I had was long enough to make three stands, so if I cut the first one too short, or made the first hole too large, I would have enough wood to try to get it right for the other two.

Therefore, the first piece I cut was experimental, for ‘proof of concept’, and which could also then be used as a template to make the other two.

Having given it some thought (over a cup of coffee) I opted to:-

  • Cut the plank to 60mm (2 23/64 inches) wide using a bench saw, and
  • Then use a holesaw to cut a 38mm (1 ½ inch) hole for the horn in the top of the plank.

In my initial calculations I opted to make the perimeter of the hole 12mm (½ inch) away from the top of the stand, and 10mm (25/64 inch) from the sides.

When cutting the hole, to get a neat cut on both sides, it’s important to remember not to cut the hole in one go; but to turn the wood over when the hole is part way through, and then finish cutting the hole from the other side.

With the hole cut, and tested fitted with the horn, I could then better judge a suitable length for the prototype stand; which I concluded should be 60mm (2 23/64 inch) wide by 160mm (6 19/64 inch) long.

I then used a mitre saw to cut the experimental stand to length and test fit the horn properly.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The prototype standUsing a tape measure to set up the bench saw for cutting the wood to the desired width.Using a bench saw to cut the wood to the desired width.Set of hole saw cutters I use.The 38mm hole saw I used for the prototype stand.Using a square, pencil and tape measure to locate and mark out the centre point for cutting the hole.Hole saw cutter attached to the electric drill.For a neat finish, cut part way through, and then turn the wood over to finishing cutting the hole from the other side.Hole cut in the test piece, to test fit the drinking horn and help determine the desired length for the stand.Measuring and marking the desired length for the stand.Using a mitre saw to cut the wood to the desired length.
The prototype stand
The prototype stand
Using a tape measure to set up the bench saw for cutting the wood to the desired width.
Using a tape measure to set up the bench saw for cutting the wood to the desired width.
Using a bench saw to cut the wood to the desired width.
Using a bench saw to cut the wood to the desired width.
Set of hole saw cutters I use.
Set of hole saw cutters I use.
The 38mm hole saw I used for the prototype stand.
The 38mm hole saw I used for the prototype stand.
Using a square, pencil and tape measure to locate and mark out the centre point for cutting the hole.
Using a square, pencil and tape measure to locate and mark out the centre point for cutting the hole.
Hole saw cutter attached to the electric drill.
Hole saw cutter attached to the electric drill.
For a neat finish, cut part way through, and then turn the wood over to finishing cutting the hole from the other side.
For a neat finish, cut part way through, and then turn the wood over to finishing cutting the hole from the other side.
Hole cut in the test piece, to test fit the drinking horn and help determine the desired length for the stand.
Hole cut in the test piece, to test fit the drinking horn and help determine the desired length for the stand.
Measuring and marking the desired length for the stand.
Measuring and marking the desired length for the stand.
Using a mitre saw to cut the wood to the desired length.
Using a mitre saw to cut the wood to the desired length.

Modifications to the Prototype Stand

In testing the prototype, I concluded I needed to increase the size of the hole slightly, and possibly modify the length a little. I decided to increase the size of the hole to 44mm (1 ¾ inch).

Therefore I cut the remaining plank in half (so that the two pieces could be shortened to the desired length later) and then placed one of the halves underneath the prototype, in a wooden vice, to give the drill bit for the hole cutter something to grip. I was able to not only enlarge the hole in the prototype, but at the same time cut the hole in one of the two final pieces.

On retesting I concluded that the length of around 160mm (just over 6 inches) is a good size. Making it a little shorter wouldn’t hurt, but you wouldn’t want to make it any longer. Therefore I aligned both final pieces together (one on top of the other) in the mitre saw, and cut them to 160mm.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The 44mm hole saw cutter I used to enlarge the hole in the prototype stand.Placing one of the pieces of wood for the final stand underneath the prototype so as to give the hole cutter bit grip.
The 44mm hole saw cutter I used to enlarge the hole in the prototype stand.
The 44mm hole saw cutter I used to enlarge the hole in the prototype stand.
Placing one of the pieces of wood for the final stand underneath the prototype so as to give the hole cutter bit grip.
Placing one of the pieces of wood for the final stand underneath the prototype so as to give the hole cutter bit grip.

Shaping the Stands

To give the stands a bit of shape, and therefore style, using the image of a drinking horn stand I found on the web that I based my design on, there was three parts of the stand that needed to be separately shaped:-

  • The Sides
  • The Top
  • The Bottom

Creating the Side Curves

I used a pencil to freehand draw the side curve on one side of the prototype, and then used it as a guide to cut the shape with a band saw.

After a few minor tweaks (until I was satisfied) I then used the first curve as a template to mark out and cut the same curve on the final two pieces of woods, and then flipped one of them over (mirror image) as a template to mark out and cut the same curve on the other side of the two final pieces of wood.

Using a band saw to shape the sides
Using a band saw to shape the sides

Creating the Top Curve

The top curve is a gentle, therefore a large circular object, like a 5L (gallon) tin of paint, makes an ideal template for marking out the curve, which can then be cut in the band saw.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Using a 5L tin of paint as a template to mark the top curve.
Using a 5L tin of paint as a template to mark the top curve.
Using a 5L tin of paint as a template to mark the top curve.

Creating the Bottom Curve

The bottom curve is essentially a large segment of a small circle. Therefore I clamped the two final stand pieces together on top of a piece of sacrificial wood (plywood), so that the drill bit of the hole cutter had something to grip. Then I used the 38mm (1 ½ inch) holesaw to cut a part circle in the base.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Using sacrificial wood for grip for the drill bit, so as to use a hole cutter saw for creating the curved base of the stand.Test fitting the Viking drinking horn in the near complete stand.
Using sacrificial wood for grip for the drill bit, so as to use a hole cutter saw for creating the curved base of the stand.
Using sacrificial wood for grip for the drill bit, so as to use a hole cutter saw for creating the curved base of the stand.
Test fitting the Viking drinking horn in the near complete stand.
Test fitting the Viking drinking horn in the near complete stand.

Sanding

Using fine grit, the three different types of sanding I employed were:-

  • Orbital sander
  • Dremel sanding disks
  • Hand sandpaper

Orbital Sander

I used the orbital sander to round off all the outside edges that the sander would reach e.g. everything except for the bottom curve.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sanding the outside edges with an orbital sander.
Sanding the outside edges with an orbital sander.
Sanding the outside edges with an orbital sander.
Source

Sanding with a Dremel

The sanding disk in the dremel was near ideal for rounding off both sides, and the inner rim, of the hole. The demel might be a small tool, but it is powerful, so you need a light touch to prevent the sanding disks from eating deep groves in the wood.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The storage boxes for the Dremel I use, and its accessories.All the accessories for the dremel, including sanding disks.The Dremel
The storage boxes for the Dremel I use, and its accessories.
The storage boxes for the Dremel I use, and its accessories.
All the accessories for the dremel, including sanding disks.
All the accessories for the dremel, including sanding disks.
The Dremel
The Dremel

Hand Sandpaper

I then finished off with the hand sandpaper, concentrating on the bottom curve, but also just to finish off what the dremel did in the hole.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pack of assorted sandpaper I use for hand sanding.The Viking drinking horn in its stand after hand sanding.
Pack of assorted sandpaper I use for hand sanding.
Pack of assorted sandpaper I use for hand sanding.
The Viking drinking horn in its stand after hand sanding.
The Viking drinking horn in its stand after hand sanding.

Personalising the Stands

Traditionally, the drinking horns are associated with the Vikings; and typically many of the stands on the web are engraved with symbols that are symbolic to the Vikings or sometime Celtic or Pagan symbols.

They all look cool, but I am no artist, so I wouldn’t even begin to try doing anything as elaborate. Therefore, after a bit of trial and error on the prototype (and other scrap wood) I opted to personalise the stands with our initials.

I could have used the dremel, which does have a selection of engraving tools but, after some trial and error, I found that a pencil was most effective for my skill levels.

I first just lightly drew the initials to give an outline, and then over the initials again several times, pressing harder each time to create a depression in the grain of wood that would hold more of the wood stain and darken up when I wood stained the stands.

Inscribing our initials in the stands as a simple design; pressing hard with the pencil to indent the wood.
Inscribing our initials in the stands as a simple design; pressing hard with the pencil to indent the wood.

Cleaning and Prepping for Wood Staining

On completion of any DIY project, before wood staining, varnishing, polishing or painting, the wood should always first be wiped over with white spirit to get rid of any sawdust.

So this is what I did, and then I left it for half an hour to dry.

Then before wood staining it I wiped it over with teak oil and left it for another half hour to dry. The natural wood oils tend to evaporate overtime, as the wood dries out, so the teak oil is good for nourishing natural wood; especially exterior furniture.

The reason I used teak oil is because it replaces the natural oils in wood it would make the wood less absorbent to the wood dye that I was intending to use as a finishing touch. I specifically wanted the drinking horn stands to be less absorbent to achieve more of an antique wood effect, rather than the wood being uniformly dark stained.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Using white spirit to clean the wood; and then teak oil to make it less absorbent for the wood dye, to help get more of an antique effect.Both the white spirit and teak oil applied with a cloth, and left to touch dry for about ½ hour at each stage.
Using white spirit to clean the wood; and then teak oil to make it less absorbent for the wood dye, to help get more of an antique effect.
Using white spirit to clean the wood; and then teak oil to make it less absorbent for the wood dye, to help get more of an antique effect.
Both the white spirit and teak oil applied with a cloth, and left to touch dry for about ½ hour at each stage.
Both the white spirit and teak oil applied with a cloth, and left to touch dry for about ½ hour at each stage.

Wood Staining and Polishing

I had a choice between using wood stain or wood dye. I opted for the wood dye primarily because of using it in conjunction with the teak oil it would give the finished effect that I was after. Also, apart from it being more expensive, wood dye is easier and quicker to apply than wood stain, and it dries quicker (usually touch dry within minutes).

Wood Dye

The wood dye is just wiped on with a cloth and left to dry. Although its touch dry within minutes, the tin says you should leave it for 24 hours before applying any polish.

However, in looking for an antique effect, I just left if for half an hour (while I had a coffee) before applying the polish.

Applying the wood dye with a cloth and leaving for ½ hour to touch dry before applying the beeswax.
Applying the wood dye with a cloth and leaving for ½ hour to touch dry before applying the beeswax.

Beeswax Polish

I finished the stands off with a good waxing of beeswax polish. In any project I always use beeswax because it’s long lasting and effective. I never use any silicon based polish, which often comes in a spray, because it’s a false economy. The silicon is an oil that looks shiny when it’s wet but becomes sticky when it dries, attracting more dust. So with silicone oil you get into a vicious circle of forever polishing.

To apply the beeswax it’s just a case of rubbing it in generously with a yellow duster, waiting 15 minutes for it so soak in, and then buffing it up to shine.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The beeswax polish I use on all my DIY projects.The beeswax applied generously with a cloth and left for 15 minutes before buffing up to a shine with a yellow duster.The two Viking horn stands, polished and ready for use.
The beeswax polish I use on all my DIY projects.
The beeswax polish I use on all my DIY projects.
The beeswax applied generously with a cloth and left for 15 minutes before buffing up to a shine with a yellow duster.
The beeswax applied generously with a cloth and left for 15 minutes before buffing up to a shine with a yellow duster.
The two Viking horn stands, polished and ready for use.
The two Viking horn stands, polished and ready for use.

Display and Function

In the first instance I shall keep them hidden until my son’s birthday, which at the time of writing this is just a couple of months.

Then we’ll use the stands to keep the Viking drinking horns on display, in pride of place in our living room; and then occasionally use them as intended e.g. on special occasions, such as Christmas, birthdays, and when partying with guests, when we can then have the pleasure of using them for wine, mead and spirits.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Viking drinking horn in its stand and ready for use.The finished wooden stand for the Viking drinking horn.
Viking drinking horn in its stand and ready for use.
Viking drinking horn in its stand and ready for use.
The finished wooden stand for the Viking drinking horn.
The finished wooden stand for the Viking drinking horn.

Display or Functional

If you had a Viking drinking horn, would you use it on occasions, or just keep it for display?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Arthur Russ

Your Comments

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 months ago from UK

      This looks like a good project, well-executed. The detailed explanation will be useful for anyone else planning a similar project.

    • Nathanville profile imageAUTHOR

      Arthur Russ 

      4 months ago from England

      Thanks. The table in the first picture is one of a set of four nest side tables we bought ‘as new’ about 15 years ago. Each one intricately hand engraved and inlayed with shiny metal. They are made in India and at the time were being sold through Fair Trade.

      I just had a look on the web and can't find anything contemporary to that standard and quality now, but I did notice that a lot of these items are now being sold on eBay as ‘vintage’ for an awful lot more money than we paid for them.

      The tables are too good for practical use ‘as is’ without some protection. So to protect the tops (while still enjoying their beauty) I had plate glass cut to fit each one, and stuck rubber feet on the corners of each plate glass sheet.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 

      4 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Very nice! And the table in your first picture is especially a treasure in itself.

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