Tools Used by Vikings

Updated March 23, 2017

The term Viking is a generic term for people of Scandinavian ancestry. The word Viking often referred to a personality type such as a pirate or seafaring raider. The Scandinavian people or Vikings, generally from northern Europe, used material at hand such as wood and stone to build homes, boats and utensils for daily life. The Vikings had numerous tools to help with construction and household tasks.

Rough Woodworking

Early Vikings built their homes and boats from wood. To make rough cuts, they used tools such as axes and adzes. The lumberman would chop away at a piece of wood until he had a piece that fit his needs. He also used axes to chop away the bark of trees for the tannins (astringents used in leather working) as well as for the fibres found under the bark to make ropes. The Vikings used saws for cutting planks and other more precise cuts. According to Regia Anglorum, a national society that researches the history of the area, saws were rare. In 1086, there were only 13 actual saws known in the entire Saxon kingdom, or northern Europe.


The Vikings used numerous smaller tools for precision woodworking. Knives, chisels, wedges, hammers, awls, planes, spoon augers and gouges were all used to create items like wooden bowls for eating and serving. To keep the metal edges of tools sharp, the Vikings used a whetstone. The stone is a type of granite. The worker would use water to wet or whet the stone and then grind the metal blade against the stone.

Cooking Utensils

Early Vikings cooked in the fireplace or hearth. Typically, a household would have a kettle made from iron or clay. Most meals were cooked in this pot. Cooking stones sped up the process. The person cooking heated small stones in the ashes and then added them to the pot. When the stones cooled down, they were removed. The stones cracked and broke up after several uses and needed to be replaced. Ladles or spoons were made from wood or bone. A stone grinder was a necessary tool to grind grain for bread making.


Making clothes never ceased. Shearing sheep, spinning, weaving and sewing remained a continuous event in Viking life. According to String Page, a website dedicated to fibre arts, the Vikings used iron shears, a slickstone -- a piece of glass used to smooth linen, spindles, needles, and a linen smoothing board to help make clothes. Needles were considered very important tools and were often kept in a needle case, sometimes with a cord attached. The needle case could often be found attached to the girdle of a woman's clothes to keep it near at hand.

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About the Author

Debbie McRill went from managing a Texas Department of Criminal Justice office to working for Compaq and Hewlett-Packard as a technical writer and project manager in 1997. Debbie has also owned her own businesses and understands both corporate and small business challenges. Her background includes Six Sigma training, and an Information Development career with journalism and creative writing as her passion.