My new snavelschaatsen

Yesterday I put the finishing touches on my snavelschaatsen. I started them back around the end of February or the beginning of March, so it took me about 9 months to make them, start to finish.

My finished snavelschaatsen.

These skates are based on a couple of Hieronymus Bosch paintings and some archaeological finds. The style is about 500 years old.

Skating on snavelschaatsen in the Hell panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1495–1505). Courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

To make them, I used an assortment of modern hand and power tools at CIADC. The blades are forged from 3/8″ mild steel bar stock and filed flat by hand. I cut the outline of the wooden footstock with a table saw, then moved to a table router, a bandsaw and a belt sander for the larger details. The smallest details were hand-carved with a chisel. I used a drill press for both the holes for straps and the hole to put a screw through the metal part at the heel. There are more strap-holes than any of the paintings or finds show because I want to try out some different strap configurations and hole positions. I finished them with couple of coats of polyurethane on the wood part and a layer of paste wax on the metal blade, except the part that’s going to contact the ice, which I left bare.

The skates in progress, as of June 2, 2021.

The really interesting thing about them is that they are the first skate model that required edge-pushing. With the earliest metal-bladed skates, it wasn’t clear whether skaters were pushing with their feet or sticking to poles, as they did with bone skates. With prikschaatsen (spiked skates), skaters could have pushed with their toes. By this point, it’s clear that skaters were pushing with their feet. The long neck on these skates would have made it impossible to toe-push.

I’ll write more about them once I’ve tried them out. I also need to make the long-toed shoes that were popular back then for the most realistic experience.


Niko Mulder. 2009. “Ten IJse 5—Snavelschaats volgt de mode op de voet.” Kouwe Drukte 13 (37): 32–34.

Hans van der Donck. 2011. “Schaatsen uit een Delftse beerput.” Kouwe Drukte 15 (42): 22–25.

Wim Molenveld and Frits Locher. 2011. “Oude schaatsijzers, bodemvondsten uit Haarlem.” Kouwe Drukte 15 (43): 11–13.

Hans van der Donck, Niko Mulder, and Kurt Cerstiaens. 2012. “Westlands houtje.” Kouwe Drukte 16 (46): 12–13.

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