Turn a Washer into a Quatrefoil

corby's picture

Quatrefoil washer

What you need:

Big washers to fit your 1/4" bolts


A chisel for metal or masonry, not for wood

A hard surface, preferably an anvil

Eye protection (my lawyer made me say that)

A ball peen hammer

Basic eye-hand coordination

A grinder makes them even better, allowing you to more distinctly shape the circle into a petal.

Start and finish

Here's a perfectly ordinary washer from a perfectly ordinary hardware store,
and on the right, the final product--a quatrefoil that looks every bit
as beat up and medieval as any that has been attached to a belt, thown away
and buried for 500 years, then dug up and pictured in the V&A's Dress Accessories book.

Hold it with pliers on an anvil

Hold the washer on the anvil like so. This is not demonstrated in the following
pictures because I only have two hands and one needed to hold the camera.

Score it with a masonry or metal chisel

Place the chisel on the washer like so. Imagine you are starting the process of
cutting the washer into 4 exactly, perfectly equal quarters.They won't
end up exact or perfect, but neither are the medieval originals we have
to emulate.

Smack the chisel with the hammer once or twice on each of the four points you
want to score.

Scored four times

Now it should look something like this, but hopefully without the extra mark
that this one has.

work it with a ball peen hammer

Remember to hold the washer with the pliers while you now hit one of the quarters
with the ball of the hammer. If you don't, it will fly up and hit you in
the eye protection.

Work from the inside to the outside edge, or just whack it about as you care
to. Try to get a bulge out from the middle of the outside edge of the quarter,
but don't hammer it so much that the edges get sharp, because then they'll
cut the leather that you're trying to protect.

one quarter done

See here that your first quarter has bulged out from round. This is the effect
we want in order to turn the washer into a quatrefoil. To enhance this,
do not hammer near the score marks.

Repeat the hammering of each quarter as you did for the first.


The Finished Quatrefoil. Fancy tool users might consider running a file around
the edge to make sure there are no sharp bits, or even cutting in a bit
at the scores to enhance this quatrefoil's quatrefoiliness. Once you've finished
the eight of these you need for your shield, attach them to your new shield.

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Is it just me, or have the

Is it just me, or have the pictures disappeared from this?

corby's picture


not just you.

I'll fix it.