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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Feb, 2009 9:26 am    Post subject: All-leather scabbards?         Reply with quote

Can I make a functional sword scabbard from only leather? I'm asking because all tutorials I've seen use a wood scabbard covered in leather. I was wondering if I could skip the wood and just go for more leather instead.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Feb, 2009 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If your concern is for historical accuracy, then the answer depends on the period represented by your sword. If your concern is only stability/durability, I can only observe that Windlass swords come with leather-only scabbards, and those seem to be very sturdy (though not historically appropriate in most cases).
-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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Christopher Gregg




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Feb, 2009 9:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anders, ALL my scabbards for my Mad Piper claymores are leather only (plus steel lock and chapes). I've handled many period 17th and 18th century scabbards that were all leather, plus I own an early 19th century briquette with its original all leather scabbard. Also, my recently delivered Todstuff Scots Dirk has a double-thick period all leather scabbard w/metal fittings. So I would say, yes, all leather scabbards are not only possible, they work quite well. A wooden core is historically correct for certain time periods, and not as much so in others, so it depends on the time period your sword is from.
Christopher Gregg

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Sean Belair
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Feb, 2009 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

take a good thick hide. trace your blade on it. draw the outline of your sheath around it. leave about a half inch around the tracing of your blade.

cut out your outline and the tracing of your blade. this will form the center of your scabbard.

take that core and use it as a template to trace and cut out two sides.

put all three together and sow them together. the sheath will be tight at first, but will break in with use
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Feb, 2009 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally as a maker I don't like all leather sword scabbards. For knives and daggers I think they work very well, the dirk menttioned by Christopher Gregg for example, but I have encountered 3 principle problems with larger scabbards.

1 generally you dampen the leather to work it, over a sword length this means that any increase in size say 2% due to absorbtion, means that on drying you get the shrinkage back down and that may equate to half an inch/12mm. ie you make the scabbard fit and it ends up 2 days later 12mm too short. I know this, I account for it and still I cock them up.........

2 they tend to bind the blade much more and I wonder if they ever got wet in a rainstorm etc, how easy it would be to draw the sword

3 chapes and lockets are harder to fit and to fix.

That being said they don't break when you fall on them, they are easy to make and they can work very well, just in my experience it is harder to make a decent leather/leather scabbard than a leather/wood one.

Tod

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Robert W Tucker




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Feb, 2009 6:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have read in A few books about vikings that they would sometimes use just leather but with wool glued to the inside, fur touching the blade the natural oil of the wool helped protect and probably help with pulling the sword from the leather scabbard if the outside was wet.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Feb, 2009 8:22 pm    Post subject: Re: All-leather scabbards?         Reply with quote

Anders Backlund wrote:
Can I make a functional sword scabbard from only leather?


I can't quote any formal reference, but when just leather is used knife makers call it a ""sheath" today. These can be immersed in hot 150 to 160 F (65 to 71 C) wax-oil solution (usually beeswax based, knife or sword inside of it while immersed in the harmless heated oils) and made to dry quite rigid, and surprisingly weather resistant with a long lasting precision fit. The wax-oil treatment seals the leather in a way that leather contact corrosion against a water soaked blade is not a problem. That is actually my own preferred method for a fixed blade utility knife.

Attached, my everyday kitchen, backpacking, fishing, etc. do it all knife sheaths for all weather conditions. These are several years old. (I can't even remember their age.) The guards and contours still neatly "snap" into them and stay firmly placed inside when inserted.



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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Tue 24 Feb, 2009 9:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:

2 they tend to bind the blade much more and I wonder if they ever got wet in a rainstorm etc, how easy it would be to draw the sword

Tod


Would it be possible to line the leather with wool or felt or something to stop this?
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Feb, 2009 1:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Taylor Ellis wrote:
Leo Todeschini wrote:

2 they tend to bind the blade much more and I wonder if they ever got wet in a rainstorm etc, how easy it would be to draw the sword

Tod


Would it be possible to line the leather with wool or felt or something to stop this?


Not period materials but I glued black acetate cloth to the inside panels of a leather scabbard I made decades ago and the short sword inside the scabbard has no corrosion in spite of being stored in the scabbard for months or years at a time.

One flaw with a leather scabbard is that if one bends it and creates a creases in it the scabbard will lose stiffness at that point
and easily bend at that point when the blade isn't there.

A flexible sheath is O.K. I think but one must be careful when inserting it as a sharp blade might go through the sides of the scabbard when the blade is inserted: I think we are generally talking about stiff and rigid leather.

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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Feb, 2009 1:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have had fair luck with leather only sheaths as far as sword storage and the occasional outing. However, if you have a sharp sword and you construct a leather scabbard with no welt - eventually you will have cut through. This has happened on some of my older Windlass sharps.

In my personally experience, building a wood-core scabbard with a leather cover is easier than leather. Of course, you could take the easy way out and have Mr. Fletcher make you one of his for $100 then customize it yourself to your liking. Wink

J.E. Sarge
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Jon Terris




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Feb, 2009 4:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have made a few scabbards with a leather core and a thinner leather cover.

The secret is to dry the scabbard ON the sword (using protection to prevent rust) to get a good fit.

All of these have been used in re-enactment combat (in most weathers) with no major problems of rust or binding.

I have found them to be easier to use than wood cored scabbards as they don't trip you up or break when you fall on them.

Obviously this is for blunt swords, I couldn't comment on what would happen if you made such a scabbard for a sharp blade, then again my eating knife has a leather sheath and is still going strong!

JonT
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Christopher Gregg




Location: Louisville, KY
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Feb, 2009 7:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wonder how much risk of cutting through a leather scabbard over time there truly IS? My early 19th cenury briquette has its original all leather sheath, and the leather broke near the point long before there was any sign of the sharp side's leather being cut.. Also, my sharp Mad Piper claymore's leather sheath is VERY thin and extremely flexible, and it's been to reenactments with me for 8 years, and no signs of cutting the sides, despite fairly rough battle reenactment use.

If you carry this thought through to knife sheaths, they pose the same supposed risk, but several of my antiques are in their original all leather sheaths and no sign of the sharp side being cut through is evident, even after 150+ years. I think the idea of an all leather sheath being somehow less durable is a bit of a myth. The main reason I can see for wooden cored sheaths, whether they be for knives OR swords, is rust prevention. And since there are other methods of this (sheep or wool lined, etc.), it should be only a matter of period appropriateness or personal taste to shoose one system over the other.

Just my oberservation. Wink

Christopher Gregg

'S Rioghal Mo Dhream!
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Feb, 2009 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies, everyone. Sean, my concern was stability/durability. I've never really cared for historical accuracy. Whatever works, basically.

To be more specific, I'm imagining a rigid scabbard made out of layers of stiff leather, possibly with some kind of coating to make it more resistant to water.

JE Sarge wrote:
I have had fair luck with leather only sheaths as far as sword storage and the occasional outing. However, if you have a sharp sword and you construct a leather scabbard with no welt - eventually you will have cut through. This has happened on some of my older Windlass sharps.


This was actually my chief concern. I was going to use hardened leather, but I'm not sure that will be enough.

Quote:
Of course, you could take the easy way out and have Mr. Fletcher make you one of his for $100 then customize it yourself to your liking. Wink


Now, now. If I did that, next I'd be paying someone to make my swords for me as well! Razz

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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