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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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PostPosted: Tue 10 Nov, 2009 11:34 pm    Post subject: Making my first real sword         Reply with quote

Hi guys, I'm new here.

Perhaps you'd like to have a look at my current project and give me some comments.

Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C10lACi3GN8




Also, here's a few pictures...
















"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm skipping ahead a bit since I haven't been in here for a while. The grip now has silver wire so the sword itslef is all finished.
Anyone interested in what else happened with the sword project in between can PM me.



The scabbard is covered with snugly watershrunk leather stitched end to end in the historically accurate fashion. The inside is covered with short cropped lambs pelt like viking scabbard finds suggest, and I greased it up with a mix of wool fat and olive oil before further assembly. Because of the sword locket and chape shapes and because I like leather I've gone with the leather covering scabbard variant.
Because of the nature of lambs' wool and added wool fat the sword was initially very hard to draw, just like in some of the old sagas. The grip of the wool loosens over time and some extra added oil and about three weeks sitting in the scabbard it's now easy to draw but won't ever fall out by itself even when shaking it upside down. It also whispers when you draw it, it doesn't grate or make the normal metallic singsong from drawing the blade. Clever vikings.





I found out the hard way there's an art even to the binding of the loop. This is the first try with the linen thread binding of the belt loop and it got loose and unraveled. I've re-done it since tying it in every time I go across so it's secure.



Since these pictures I've darkened the leather to get a more uniform color, see smudges visible in picture #4 above for the reason why.

Right now I'm working on the sword belt.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a typical Oakeshott type X blade fitted with a reproduction of the furnishings of the "Dybeck" find, found around 1890 in Sweden, Skåne, in a bog close to Östra Vemenshög.
"Östra" is east and "Hög" in Swedish means Mound, as in funeral mounds of kings and other nobles of mainly the iron age. It was found in the bog close to it, on the Dybeck family estate grounds. Several generations later the sword was donated to Historiska riksmuseet, or Riksantikvarieämbetet, which would amount to the same thing in practice, then it was restored and put on display in Historiska Riksmuseets permanent Gold Room display here in Stockholm. This is where I first saw it as a small child.


http://mis.historiska.se/mis/sok/fid.asp?fid=108809

Skåne is in the south of Sweden. This part of Sweden used to be part of Denmark and is the same general area as the Beowulfsaga originated from, just for general reference. That saga is from vendel age, as in earlier iron age possibly around 4-500 AD or earlier even, and the Dybeck sword has been dated to around 980 AD. But other sagas may be connected to it as it seems to be a royal or at least highly priced sword.


Handling a sword and scabbard reconstruction this authentic isn't exactly what you think it'll be like. It handles different, it feels different from handling a sword with wood or leather without an inner lining. The closest I can compare the draw to it to is a quality japanese Katana, but practically soundless and completely smooth. The balance is also different from any rebated sword i've held, better control and more graceful in the cut.
A wire wrapped handle feels odd when holding it with your bare hands at first, you think it'll be slippery with that metal, but it's not. And it really comes into play when you use a leather glove. It feels like it's glued in place. The viking sagas mention silver thread wrapping as common for warriors on several occasions, and it prevents slippage when the handle gets soaked in blood. I haven't tested that one yet and hopefully I never will. But it seems plausible.

The type of convex shaped crossguard and pommel make wrist movement comfortable even with the large pommel. That feature is attributed by Petersen to very late viking period, bordering on early medieval. Same basic shape as the typical norman sword and many types to come in later ages.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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David Sutton




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 4:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice job you did there Johan, looks excellent. Cool

Did you use a Hanwei/Tinker Viking sword blade?

'Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all'

'To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing'

Hypatia of Alexandria, c400AD
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Jan, 2010 12:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I already said so in my PM to you.
But yes, it's the Hanwei Tinker line viking spare blade.
Broze parts are from Merica Sveiter, in the UK. The sell a package with the handle parts and scabbard ends. No belt loop though, but they have those seprarate too.

The scabbard wood is Fern I think, the leather is 1 mm natural treated and dyed italian top grade from a friend of mine in the coture leather purse design business. Lambs' skin is from Gotland. Sword handle is Birch and the silver thread I bought locally but that should be available in any well stocked crafts store, otherwise it can be bought in various webshops that specialise in bulk metal thread rolls. The wire length for the handle wrap would have to be about 20-25 meters long if using this thickness, 0.4 mm. Sorry, I'm from a metric country. I could re-calculate it in ft and inches if you want.
Sewing thread is waxed natural colored linen thread, the wrapping for the beslt loop is brown dyed waxed linen thread, thicker type than I used for sewing togehter the leather covering with.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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David Sutton




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Jan, 2010 2:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Think you have the wrong guy there, I haven't recieved a PM from you. Confused Happy

Anyway, thanks for the info, I thought it looked like the Hanwei blade. The bare blades that they sell really open up a lot of possibilities for future projects.

'Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all'

'To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing'

Hypatia of Alexandria, c400AD
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Mar, 2010 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'ts been a while and now I'm working hard on finishing the sword belt because it's going to be part of an exhibition in mid April.

I got the strap divider from Mercia Sveiter, polished it with my dremel and it looks amazing. Just look at this beauty. Sorry about the poor lighting and the resulting off colour, I'll take some better pictures later.



I decided to go for extra support tabs of leather sewn in at the joints and double sewn leather for the rest of the belt. This one is meant to be able to go either slung as a baldrick in the migration/ early viking style, because I prefer it with armour on, or on the waist in the later viking style since the original sword is dated to around 900-950 AD and I prefer that when not wearing armour.
I don't know how often I'll wear a sharp sword with aromour on, at some demos perhaps and it's cool for cutting demonstrations. Anyway, with this setup I can change around.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Steve Lister





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PostPosted: Tue 23 Mar, 2010 8:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicely done!
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Ole W.




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Mar, 2010 3:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If Hanwei/Tinker made the sword blade, and Merica Sveiter made all the fittings, which part of the sword did you make? I hope you will give credit where credit is due when this exhibition you speak of comes around.

I was quite impressed with your work as I read through the thread, until it was revealed that the sword mostly is an assembly of pre-fabricated components. You have essentially made a handle, the organic parts of a scabbard and the leather part of a sword strap. I'm not trying to come across as harsh, but claiming that you "made the sword" is an exaggeration at best. The credit should mostly go to Hanwei/Tinker and Merica Sveiter.
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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Mar, 2010 8:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

it may be off-colour, but that purple is absolutely gorgeous...

*but then, I've been a goth since the 80's. I cant help like purple. its like someday (that "when I have time" thing that never happens) I want to make a saxon cloisonne hilt, only instead of gold with red garnet cells, I want silver with black whitby Jet cells... Happy
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Apr, 2010 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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Ole W. wrote:
If Hanwei/Tinker made the sword blade, and Merica Sveiter made all the fittings, which part of the sword did you make? I hope you will give credit where credit is due when this exhibition you speak of comes around.
.

I most certainly will. And if you take a look at my youtube videos they all state very clearly where the parts are from.

Ole W. wrote:
I was quite impressed with your work as I read through the thread, until it was revealed that the sword mostly is an assembly of pre-fabricated components. You have essentially made a handle, the organic parts of a scabbard and the leather part of a sword strap. I'm not trying to come across as harsh, but claiming that you "made the sword" is an exaggeration at best. The credit should mostly go to Hanwei/Tinker and Merica Sveiter.


The credit for making great quality parts yes, and that was given in full. The sword and scabbard is what I made out of those parts.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge


Last edited by Johan Gemvik on Fri 02 Apr, 2010 5:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Christopher Finneman




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Apr, 2010 12:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Grats on this sword.
And while I agree with you even taking pre existing furnitures you made a sword yourself and some people possibly wont find the time or the know how to do it.
Even if one takes furniture from other swords they still have a idea what they want in a blade and not a everyday run of the mill sword. You have your effort time and sweat into something that is unique in its own.
Grand job at this. I do have a few projects in making a few swords from parts I have lying around.

Proudly it stands until the worlds end. The victorious banner of love.
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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Thu 01 Apr, 2010 1:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:

The credit for making great quality parts yes, and that was given in full. The sword and scabbard is what I made out of those parts. For my first sword for my own use.

Actually, aren't you a bit ignorant about what it takes to assemble a sword from a spare blade and some cast parts into this? Why don't you get back to me when you've done it yourself. Let me give you a clue, it's going to take about 20 hours of skilled work.


I'm going to agree wholeheartedly with johann, that even with pre-existing parts, it takes craftsmanship and skilled care to produce anything. that said, the tone in which he's put that is a little inappropriate - but as is the tone in which he was in turn addressed. there's no need for that sort of tone, really.

I'd be interested to know just how much adjustment and modification was needed for the mercia sveiter parts to fit the blade. Was it a case of fortunate co-incidence, and the hilt slipping together without any work at all, or was it the case that you've had to slave away with a needle file and the patience of a saint, slowly working the tang slot down to the exact proportions?

from my own experience of making hilts, I know how insanely tough it can be to get bronzes to fit.
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Apr, 2010 5:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JG Elmslie wrote:
I'm going to agree wholeheartedly with johann, that even with pre-existing parts, it takes craftsmanship and skilled care to produce anything. that said, the tone in which he's put that is a little inappropriate - but as is the tone in which he was in turn addressed. there's no need for that sort of tone, really.

I totally agree, I was out of line with that comment and as you see above I've edited it off that post. As some may have noticed I'm a bit of a hothead and rough around the edges sometimes, I'll tone that down as best I can.

JG Elmslie wrote:
I'd be interested to know just how much adjustment and modification was needed for the mercia sveiter parts to fit the blade. Was it a case of fortunate co-incidence, and the hilt slipping together without any work at all, or was it the case that you've had to slave away with a needle file and the patience of a saint, slowly working the tang slot down to the exact proportions?

from my own experience of making hilts, I know how insanely tough it can be to get bronzes to fit.


I don't think there's any hilt parts out there that really would fit the Tinker Viking replacement blade except the stock Tinker viking hilt parts of course. So needle file and patience of a Saint would be accurate, no shortcuts around that I'm afraid.

Of course it depends on the blade and tang you want to fit it to, but the tang hole is simply a standard square hole on the bronze pieces that need adjustment to fit this blade. The Mercia Sveiter parts have been around long before there were Tinker viking spare blades after all and meant to be able to fit on any number of tang dimensions. The crossguard was a fair match but the 2-piece pommel was far from it.
I'm used to making knives and daggers, but this being my first sword hilt and with massive metal parts it took me many hours of work to get the fit right. Not just filing but also to find the right tools for the job and the technique to file the hole to fit the tang to get it straight. I'm currently sculpting a Gaddhjalt pommel from scratch out of a steel piece for the next sword I'm making now, and the experiece from the first one makes that job considerably faster, an hour or so even though it's a tougher material to work with. The trick is to use files custom made to fit the slot and very sharp and put it in a secure vise in a way that you can still get at it. And a dremel ceramic cutting wheel to make the grooves the blade base slots into just so with a snug fit.

Also note the clean surfaces where the mould edges would otherwise be visible and the mirror finish polish. It's not what it looks like straight from Mercia Sveiter or Paul would have to charge a fortune for them. And the niello inlay to really bring out the designs. This is the full extaordinary potential in the bronzes Paul makes, not what it would usually look off the shelf and it's a time consuming process to make them yeild that beauty.

Working with bronze is more like working with organic material than uncompromising but sturdy steel, Pauls bronzes can be bent and adjusted with a rubber mallet wihtout cracking, at least to a higher degree than other bronze and brass I've worked with and feels more alive. if that makes any sense. It takes a while to get used to but it's a joy when you get the hang of it.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge


Last edited by Johan Gemvik on Sat 03 Apr, 2010 5:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Apr, 2010 6:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Ole W. I'm sorry if I was a bit harsh to you.

No one forging their first sword blade would stand much of a realistic chance of producing this quality in a blade. So I thought that was obvious to anyone on this forum when I posted that it would have to be a purchased blade. And Mercia Sveiter bronzes are commonly used by basically all the professionals today making scabbards so I thought they too would be familiar enough not to need an introduction. Sorry if that wasn't as obvious as I thought and it could be construed as me taking credit for other peoples' work. My bad. I had no such intentions, if anything I wanted to show what could be done with Pauls Craddocs' bronzes and some work.

I'm sorry if I was rude to you and if this sword project failed to impress, perhaps my next sword project would be more to your taste? It's a Gaddhlajt where I'm using another of the excellent tinker viking replacement blades but this time I've made all the hilt parts from scratch and copying one of the swords in the book Weapons & Armour by C.Guillot.

This sword is for my brother, he says it's good to be put together now but I'm a bit a of a perfectionist as you may have noticed and it's not ready until I've faithfully copied the original form exactly.

After that I plan on makling another that's a migration sword from the Valsgärde 6 find. From scratch brass plate, horn, wood and perhaps leather if my research shows it was used for that hilt. I saw a similar one in Le Cluny (Musee de moyen Age) in Paris recently that did use leather spacers between bronze and horn plates for the crossguard and pommel.

I'm not an accomplished sword blade smith, although I've forged a few knife blades, my main skill lies in other things like cold armoursmithing and leatherworking. If I was to make a blade of this quality it would mean I'd have to do 10 years of swordsmithing before it got anywhere close to the quality I'd want in any kind of real sword. Perhaps far longer. I'd much rather do what I'm good at instead and leave that mastery to great artisans like Peter Jonsson and Paul Binns.
Or the actually quite good chinese smiths working at the Hanwei forge. With these tinker line blades they've really outdone themselves. I would not presume to make my "first sword" blade anything comparable to any of theirs, so I thought it pretty obvious this wasn't my own made blade I was using.

Bronze casting is different, I'm actually starting with that.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Apr, 2010 6:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a few pictures I didn't include earlier.


Short cropped lambs' wool glued to the inside of the scabbard of course, just like on recent finds showing either lamb or goat skin on the inside with the hair side short cropped and inward and with the halves parallell to the sides rather than a convex inside. I don't have the link, but I'll find it again and post it. That's really for a Migration era Seax found in Sweden but the closest thing found in scandinavia with an intact scabbard. The report is in Swedish but it has some nice pictures.

I added extra wool fat dilluted with olive oil for a secure fit but still an easy draw. It won't fall out but can be drawn alomst as quick as a japanese Katana. It had to sit in the scabbard for a month before it got easy to draw while still retaining the snug fit.
Some have said that olive oil isn't suitable and would go bad but it seems to hold up just fine. I've used it on knife sceaths before and they haven't gone bad even after several years. Perhaps it matters how it's applied and what type of oil. Petroleum based oil would most certainly ruin leather, maybe that's what they're thinking of.



Fitting the leather.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Apr, 2010 11:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:

No one forging their first sword blade would stand much of a realistic chance of producing this quality in a blade.


Well, while I have only done knife sized items due to limits on heat treat oven and such, I have been really pleased with my first few pattern welding and forging attempts, as have those who received them as gifts. (I added a couple to the show off your home made blades thread. I just did an experimental pattern this morning, and may add it if I like the way it turns out.)

I really have enjoyed your thread Johan. I would say you are a "cutler", or one who assembles swords and fittings rough fabricated by someone else. As some of our career professionals have said repeatedly elsewhere, that is how it was commonly done historically. Even today, casting, heat treating, and several aspects of fabrication are outsourced or delegated to specialists by our primary reproduction producers. (It just isn't efficient to build your own ore mine, smelt, cast, do jewelry grade work, etc. all as a single person production approach.) Today, it is normally the cutler who puts his name on the finished blade. If I had done the same work you have done so well, I would be finding an engraver to have my own mark put on it! I look forward to hearing about your progress with casting.

I am curious how you prepared and affixed the wool to the inside of the scabbard slats. (Did you shred it yourself and use a particular glue?)

Sincerely,

Jared

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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2010 3:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:

Well, while I have only done knife sized items due to limits on heat treat oven and such, I have been really pleased with my first few pattern welding and forging attempts, as have those who received them as gifts. (I added a couple to the show off your home made blades thread. I just did an experimental pattern this morning, and may add it if I like the way it turns out.)

Great! I'd love to do that too. Everybody loves pattern welded knives. My absoulte favorite would be modern pattern welded rough handled bowie knives, but that's just me.
Why I say 10 years to learn the sword forging craft is because as far as I've gathered a long seax could be made the same way as a smaller knife with about the same skillset, while a sword, a proper double edged sword with the right tempering for flexibility and finesse detalils like a distall taper or even a hollow diamond cross section requres other skills. Perhaps 10 years is a bit pessimistic for someone who already is good at making knives, but 5 or 6 then? And there's always exceptions to any rule.

Jared Smith wrote:

I really have enjoyed your thread Johan. I would say you are a "cutler", or one who assembles swords and fittings rough fabricated by someone else.


Many thanks for specifying this as I couldn't. Yes, Cutler has a nice ring to it all its' own and is far more accurate in my case.

Jared Smith wrote:

As some of our career professionals have said repeatedly elsewhere, that is how it was commonly done historically. Even today, casting, heat treating, and several aspects of fabrication are outsourced or delegated to specialists by our primary reproduction producers. (It just isn't efficient to build your own ore mine, smelt, cast, do jewelry grade work, etc. all as a single person production approach.) Today, it is normally the cutler who puts his name on the finished blade. If I had done the same work you have done so well, I would be finding an engraver to have my own mark put on it! I look forward to hearing about your progress with casting.

Actually I could etch something into the blade myself, you just use wax covering and lemon acid and patience. "Ulfberth" , with the intentionally wrong spelling typical of the copies would be fun on several levels. Wink

I'll be sure to get an update wihen the casting shows some results. So far it'äs in the planning stages with brass since my friend with the smelting oven got sick from copper poisining last time she did real bronze casting, and neither of us want to try Arsenic Bronze for obvious reasons. I've heard that recent finds show that most scandinavian migration and viking age finds are more brass-like anyway.

Jared Smith wrote:

I am curious how you prepared and affixed the wool to the inside of the scabbard slats. (Did you shred it yourself and use a particular glue?)

I cut the pelt short with a scissor, actually a small iron age sheep shearing scissor I had lying around. Wasn't planning on using it but it was what I had in my tool kit at the time when I realised tha no way was it going to work with a full length thick curly pelt, and it seemed appropriate. This makes it only slightly curly and looks like golden lions' fur since the roots are usually blonde on most lambs and synthetic coloring usually doesn't go all the way in.
As lambs are small creatures the pelt is often not long enough for a full sized sword. So what you do is you cut a short strip for near the tip and as long as you can for the rest of the scabbard side and add some extra length to go beyond the top opening of the scabbard, then shave the top inch of the shorter piece and cut off the top layer to thin it out even more with a razor blade or sharp knife. Then you overlap with the longer piece that still has the hairs in the direction that'll compress the seam with the blad egoing into the scabbard. Next scabbard I make I'll make sure to show this with a photo.
Then you glue the tip piece in, make sure to cover the entire back of the skin with glue to get it sto adhere to the entire surface. Using a glue that won't stick immediately helps a lot here. Then glue the overlap, make sure that's secure, then turn over the rest of the long piece and glue that too and adjust it in the scabbard slat groove for a good fit. I kept gluing the skin out the top side, so there wouldn't be any way to accidentally stick the blade between the wood and the skin when sliding the sword point in. I don't know if this is accurate, but it made things much easier and looks cool.

I posted it before but this is the only picture that I took that shows some of it:


I actually cheated and used modern Methyleacetate glue, typical modern universal sticky glue. I'd have used epidermic or cheese glue if I'd known more about them at the time. I do now so next time it'll probably be the cheese glue because it's water resistant and quite strong, and historically accurate. Cheese glue is also called Kassein glue and is a base for a lot of indoors paints and the glue itself is still used today for mainly traditional renovation work. It's still being produced industrially as pure glue, as easy to use as the more common synthetic glues, and you can by it in a bucket ready to use.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Julien M




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Apr, 2010 3:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's really nice work Johan, thanks for sharing the process here with us.

You didn't do things half way since you went into details you could have easily overlooked for a first attempt, such as using wool inside the scabbard or choosing wire for your grip. Since you made it all the way it's too bad you didn't dye the leather yourself, as it does affect the final look of the scabbard in my opinion. Pre dyed leather as this "modern" and all too even look, while when applying the dye yourself you can create a slightly more "worn out" effects...Try undyed natural veg tan next time you won't regret it.

Cheers,

J
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Apr, 2010 2:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually, it's not as even in the colour as it seems in the pictures, it's traditionally vat dyed vegetable tanned calf skin leather, not a painted on surface after all. It will have a certain degree of texture to it but again, calf skin, not cow, makes a difference in smoothness and also makes for a more even vat dye coloring.

Vat dyeing is a process that's been around since ancient times and can produce a very evenly colored leather, in a way that applying dye by hand to the surface never will. Neither is any less historically accurate, just different ways to dye leather.

Wear and tear will come all of its' own as an item is used. I'm not a fan of antiqueing things unless it's supposed to look like something that was old with a great deal of patina. Say if I was re-enacting a medieval person wearing my grandpas viking sword or my great grandpas migration era sword -like there were in the movie Valhalla Rising.
This is supposed to be a brand new sword, as it looked when the original was new, not an antique. It all depends on what you're aiming at making.

Anyway, I did darken the leather with vegetable oil since the pictures were taken, making it dark brown rahter than red. I'll take some new ones to show what that looks like but it's more of a deep dark patina now.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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