Reconstructing the Amsterdam skate, part 1

One of the oldest metal-bladed skates found to date was found in Amsterdam. It dates to around 1240 and consists of a metal bar wrapped around a chunk of wood. More about the skate, including pictures, can be found on I’m working on reconstructing it using the equipment at CIADC. This post is about making the blade.

The Amsterdam skate, sourced from

Based on the pictures, it looked to me like the blade was about one square centimeter, so I started with a piece of 3/8″ bar stock. I stuck it in the forge to heat it up and then, pounded away to get it into the shape shown in the pictures.

Bar stock in the forge.
The heated skate blade, ready for shaping.
Mostly finished. When I’ve made the wood part, I’ll finish up the heel (left) end and grind the whole thing smooth.

Making the blades turned out to be very easy despite my lack of experience. It makes me wonder whether the Amsterdam skate could have been made by an apprentice. It’s quite small—only about 20 cm long—and children are known to have made their own bone skates. Making metal blades would have been more difficult 800 years ago, because the nice bar stock that’s readily available today didn’t exist back then. The most difficult part was probably shaping the metal into the bar that was bent into the blade.

Next, I need to make the wooden base that connects the metal blade and the skater’s shoe. That will be part 2.

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