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Sam Byford




Location: Essex, UK
Joined: 09 Dec 2007

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon 10 Dec, 2007 7:12 am    Post subject: The best wood for a scabbard?         Reply with quote

Greetings all, and well met!

I am new to this website and furums, but I'll first of all say WOW! What an expanse of knowledge and information! Happy I'm so glad I found it.

Anyway. To business:

I am into LARP (Live Action Role Play), which you do not cover here, however through doing this I have discovered a talent and love of leather work, wood work and the like. I've already made a leather quiver for my LARP arrows and while it is not perfect, for a first attempt I am more than happy with it, and everyone (including re-inactment/larp traders) have said it is a fine piece of work.

I had a friend of mine bring me a sword - a real metal sword, not a latext LARP one - that he uses in real life rituals (he's a pagan) and asked me if I would be able to replace the scabbard for him. The old one is made of solid leather, not very nice, and falling apart at the seams. I said of course I would, thinking initially to do a all-leather one.

However having chanced upon this site and the Albion Swords site I fancy doing things properly with a wooden core covered in leather. I have until Christmas to do this as I'd like to present it to him as a present. I have no idea what wood would be best to do the core from however! Can anyone give me any ideas? I'll post a photo of the sword and the two types of leather I have already to hand (i'm undecided which of these to use yet) with this post.

Thanks in advance, Sam.



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The Full Sword

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The Two leather types

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Sword Hilt
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Dec, 2007 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Poplar seems to be the consensus (and historically appropriate) choice. You can find poplar slats at most home stores (Lowe's, etc.). Be sure to search through the fora here. You'll find lots of detailed information about properly shaping the core. I use chisels and coarse sandpaper to hollow the interior, then shape the exterior with a block plane, Surform tool and sandpaper. The main thing to keep in mind is that the walls of the scabbard should be very, very thin and the piece should not have a rectangular section. Rather, it should be of flattened diamond or lozenge section.

Your challenge will be to shape an historical-type scabbard around a decidedly non-historical blade. Don't let anybody tell you that this is wasted effort. Every project will teach you something, and you can commit to making this scabbard as historically authentic as possible.

Since the blade in question is long and straight I'd encourage you to look at ancient spatha or migration era scabbards for inspiration. Check out Patrick Barta's site:

http://www.templ.net/english/news.php

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Dec, 2007 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam,
Looking at your attributes, I am guessing you are in England?
A "fairly good wood" is one low in tannins (acidity) that is machinable. Avoid Oak, Pine, and fruit tree woods.
Depending on what you can get , Sycamore, Walnut, or Poplar would all be reasonable choices. From there, it is mostly a question of what can you find that is already planed down to fairly slim thickness (about 1/2" thick slats) to avoid excessive work! Even if you don't have fancy Dremel tools and such, a couple of short 1/2" thick blocks of wood wrapped in sand paper do an acceptable job of shaping and hollowing out "half scabbard" wood cores with an extra hour or so of time compared to the savings of more elaborate tools.

Some people on this forum report completing a covered scabbard in 10 hours. Since I laminate mine, it always takes me around 40 calendar hours. Regardless, your goal is achievable.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Sam Byford




Location: Essex, UK
Joined: 09 Dec 2007

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu 13 Dec, 2007 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My thanks to you both on your replies, they were both helpful.

I had to ring around a couple of Timber Merchants, neither of whom stock Hardwood but have to custom order them, however the second company gave me a name and number to ring who is a specialist and he has Poplar in stock and will cut two slats for me which I will pick up Monday morning. I'd love to pick them up soon so I can start work quicker but full-time work stops that. But I'll have all of Monday and then the evenings leading up to Christmas to get the work done.

A few questions: What's the benefit of a hardwood like Poplar compared to the others (sycamore or walnut) or any other wood. I've already picked up that it cant be an acidic wood but any other reasons? Any links to sites with a good explanation?

I'm looking at making the belt fastenings of my scabbard to be like the one here:
http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...abbard.htm

However i'm not sure how all that attaches to your body? Why is one bit above the sword and the other bit below? And why does the bottom thong splice into two? Does that go up and over a shoulder, with one of the double thongs under the armpit and then both of them lace back through the slits in the top belt and knot together? Are there any drawings on the 'net anywhere showing this in use?

Many thanks.
Sam.
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Greg Griggs




Location: Houston, TX
Joined: 31 Aug 2005

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PostPosted: Thu 13 Dec, 2007 1:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Sam,
I'll see if I can't answer your other questions.
Poplar is good because it generally has few knots; is easy to work for a 'hardwood'; and as already mentioned, ages quickly with little or no acidic sap residue; and last but not least is more reasonable on price. Hense, the reasons most of us who make a number of scabbards like to use it.

The belt arrangement you see from the Albion site is called a 'split-end(or thong)'. The split pieces you see on the long side of the belt which wraps around your waste, go through the two slits in the short side and then knot together. Infinite adjustment and historically correct up to around the 11th C. (give or take a hundred years). Don't know if you have Peter Johnsson's 'how-to' on scabbard making, but here it is. He shows how to do either the buckle or split-end.

Hope this helps!


Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
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Sam Byford




Location: Essex, UK
Joined: 09 Dec 2007

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu 13 Dec, 2007 11:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Greg,

I had already found that superb drawing yes, thankyou. It is very helpful and informative! Thanks for your answer about its name and that it goes round the waist too as I'll be able to work out how long to make the thong now also.

My hands are kinda itching to get started but can't due to not being able to get the wood till Monday! lol.

I'm hopeing that after people see this Scabbard I may get requests for more from my Live Action Role Play (LARP) group and be able to turn a small profit (this one is a present for a friend). I'll post photos of the finished product.

Sam
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Dec, 2007 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Keep track of your time, and your materials (dye, leather, thread, wood, glue, etc.) You might find that a "campaign line" scabbard is not such an expensive deal!

At least one former do it yourself maker (Aaron Schnatterly) went Pro as he is now a scabbard maker at Albion. Some of the better step by step photo and text "how to" examples we first received on forum posts here are from Aaron's first attempts. They turned out great from his first tries.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Sam Byford




Location: Essex, UK
Joined: 09 Dec 2007

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2007 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi folks.

Well, After realising that I actually had to work today (I thought I had the day off!) I had to send my Dad in to pick up the wood order. Apparently they don't normally do orders over the phone (the guy who answered my call never said that and it seems a tad silly to not take orders over the phone hehe!).

The wood they have cut for me turns out to be "Tulipwood". Their site states their Poplar as being "Whitewood, American (Tulip Tree, Canary Wood) Liriodendron tulipifera" so I need to know if any of you have knowledge of Tulipwood and if it's okay to use as a Scabbard.

Now after a few minutes 'net surfing it says that Tulipwood is sometimes know as Tulipwood Poplar but will this wood damage my friends sword (stainless steel as far as i can tell)?? I know from the 'net that it won't be the easiest of woods to work with but I should be able to manage.

Can anyone give me guidance and information??

Many thanks.
Sam.
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2007 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam,

I can't comment on the suitability of poplar for a sword scabbard but I can tell you that tulip, tulipwood, tulip poplar, and poplar are different common names for the same wood. It works pretty easily with hand or power tools and is fairly light and strong. Good luck on your project.



Ken Speed
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2007 3:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam,
Tulip wood is a nice medium hardness wood that several of my local woodworking friends like to use for a variety of things (turning, small craft projects, etc.) I have a small shoe shine stool I made from Tulip wood around 30 years ago. It should be o.k. as far as acidity, strength, ease of machining, etc. are concerned. Once you have hollowed out the area that the sword will rest in, consider coating the inside surfaces with boiled linseed oil (dirt cheap at the hardware store, used to protect machine tool surfaces at the time of shipping...) If you are gluing felt inside the core, lightly coat it with gun oil before assembling the core.
Good luck!

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2007 3:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tulip wood: http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpi...erican.htm

From here, good site about exotic woods: http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/

Hope this helps.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2007 4:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Byford wrote:
The wood they have cut for me turns out to be "Tulipwood". Their site states their Poplar as being "Whitewood, American (Tulip Tree, Canary Wood) Liriodendron tulipifera" so I need to know if any of you have knowledge of Tulipwood and if it's okay to use as a Scabbard.


The common description of "yellow poplar" is fairly misleading.

Actual Tulip Tree species are very different from "mutt grade" plain poplar. Its not even the same speices. True tulip tree wood grain often looks more exotic (bigger patterns), its flowers are not found on any regular poplar. I grew up with a true Tulip tree (flowers somewhat like a magnolia family) in the neighbor's yard.

All of that technical classification stuff aside, the tulip tree wood may be slightly more difficult to work, and seem a little more coarse grained. If you plan to cover it in leather, I can't see this as being anything to worry about.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Sam Byford




Location: Essex, UK
Joined: 09 Dec 2007

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue 18 Dec, 2007 11:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi to the three of you.

Many thanks for those replies! I can start work on this scabbard now without worries.

I've borrowed my Dad's Workbench for the week etc etc so I'm all ready to get going! Anyone interested in photos of it (I know there's been many threads on here that have done this already so i'll only do a blow by blow photo story if asked.)

TTFN
Sam
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