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Rich Knack




Location: Charlevoix, MI
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 12:44 pm    Post subject: Scabbard core construction: thin slats vs. carved?         Reply with quote

I have a Windlass Oakeshott Type XIV on the way from Kult Of Athena. If the scabbard it comes with is the same one I have read about, it will be plain leather with metal hardware and no core. This simply will not do!

I plan to make a new scabbard for it, but i was wondering what would be historically authentic for this sword - a core made of two thin slats of veneer-thickness wood, wrapped in glue-soaked linen and covered with leather, or a core carved from two thicker pieces of poplar (which, incidentally, would be easier for me to obtain), and covered with leather?

Also, I have heard of fur-lined scabbards - is this the rule, or the exception?

This will be my first scabbard construction project, by the way.

"Those who 'beat their swords into plows', will plow for those who don't."
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 1:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Off the top of my head, I would say either would be good. I know that fur linings were at least fairly common in the Viking Age, but I don't know about the High Middle Ages. Maybe a wool lining would be a good alternative?
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Poplar slats would be my first choice, then veneer forms bonded along the edge and linen wrapped. Seperate slats were (I believe) used in earlier scabbards as was fur lining. Ocassionally a fabric lining could be used in medieval scabbards, but this was the exception.

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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Rick,
doesn't that sword come with a decent scabbard with a solid core already?
I found this review from a few years ago: http://sbgswordforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?...hread=6784

The photos there show something like reconstituted wood as the core. I can see you might still want to make a better one but from the outside at least it looks allright in shape. You might want to re-do the cover with natural leather and add some embellishing pieces of rope under it though for a really nice look.

Anyway, both 2 piece carved out core and sandwiched construction are both historically accurate at least for iron age (though not using modern plywood of course).
I've made a few of both types of scabbards over the years and it all depends on what look and function you want for it. Mainly how or if you want it lined.
For 13-14the century I'd imagine 2 piece was more common for at least posh scabbards since they tended to be slim and shaped close to the blade lines.

Sandwich is faster but is difficult to round off and slim down fully without reducing durability since you take off material in a way that reduces the laminated surfaces. You also end up with a box shaped hollow for the sword. This works fine for a non-lined scabbard, especially if you want it to have some box shape to it anyway.
But I don't think that would follow the lines of this particular sword.

Fur lined scabbards seem to have been most common in Viking age (at least for posh swords), you can also see Sancho IV:s sword which has the same type of liner for a later age. Fur lining is a good idea where it's cold winters and you don't want a sword sticking like that execution/escape scene from Gladiator ("sometimes the frost locks the blade...") or out at sea for extra protection from salty seas. Was it common for a later age sword like the type XIV, I don't think so but I'm not an expert on later age scabbards. I suppose some could still have had it or perhaps wool cloth lining.

If you want lamb or goat pelt inside it's best to carve out two solid core halves with a lens shaped cutout. Both box and lens shape have been used histoircally but as you need to accomodate the fur thickness a box core cutout results in a very fat scabbard or one where you have to cut down the pelt to almost nothing and that has a higher risk of becoming stuck over time especially if one adds wool fat to protect from rusting (the same as it seems the Cormac Saga sword got stuck). That happened to me on one sword that I finally had to just remove the liner in the scabbard for.
So why lens shape?
Two edged swords with a single central fuller are roughly a lens shape in cross section. If you fit lambs pelt in it the hairs of the fur grip the sword lightly so it doesn't fall out if you turn it upside down but is still easy to draw and also whisper silent. It also means you have to make the cutout larger on the flat sides of the blade to accomodate the fur.

"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 29 Dec, 2012 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I see Leo already beat me to posting and with a much simpler explanantion.
Leos scabbards are legendary. Happy

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




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:
Hi Rick,
doesn't that sword come with a decent scabbard with a solid core already?
I found this review from a few years ago: http://sbgswordforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?...hread=6784

The photos there show something like reconstituted wood as the core. I can see you might still want to make a better one but from the outside at least it looks allright in shape. You might want to re-do the cover with natural leather and add some embellishing pieces of rope under it though for a really nice look.



No, it's just very thick, vegetable-tanned leather with no core, with a tendency to rust swords kept in it due to the tannins in the leather. That's why it needs a new scabbard as soon as possible.

"Those who 'beat their swords into plows', will plow for those who don't."
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Rich Knack




Location: Charlevoix, MI
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 5:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:
Poplar slats would be my first choice, then veneer forms bonded along the edge and linen wrapped. Seperate slats were (I believe) used in earlier scabbards as was fur lining. Ocassionally a fabric lining could be used in medieval scabbards, but this was the exception.

Tod

By poplar slats, I assume you mean the 1/4" thick pieces and not the thinner veneer stuff?

Out of curiosity, I wonder just how well thin balsa wood would work for a veneer core?

"Those who 'beat their swords into plows', will plow for those who don't."
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Terry Thompson




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 5:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just did 8 wood cored sword scabbards and a few daggers over the past 3 weeks working in the evenings after work. I would have done multiples simultaneously, but I didn't have enough clamps to do more than 1 at a time. Like Leo suggests, the curved slats are the way to do it.
The "Ye Old Gaffer" website gives an idea of what to do. Mine were all done in the second "Slat" description of steaming and clamping on that website:
http://www.yeoldegaffers.com/project_scabbard.asp

I used 1/8" poplar slats. On two of the swords (a small MRL coustille and an Albion Poiters) I tried 1/16" slats. The 1/16" looks slick but it was trickier to work with.
I wouldn't do balsa wood. The first wood cored dagger scabbard I made, I used bass wood, and it was very soft and brittle. It worked, but I wouldn't trust it to hold up. The balsa would be even more iffy.
The poplar 1/8" is really perfect IMO. It will bend well when steamed and is durable to put up with the handling. But it's soft enough to sand easily to shape. And it's not very expensive per linear foot.
A personal tip: Make sure it's completey dry (I kept mine by a very active air vent in the house for 16+ hours) before you pull undo the clamping and pull the sword out.

Pictured below are 4 of the swords. A&A Black prince, Albion Sovereign, Vassal and a Windlass Short Sword all with 1/8" thick poplar cores prior to lacquer.



 Attachment: 98.97 KB
wood cores small.jpg

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Chris Louth




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2015 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I realise this is an ancient post, but it feels like an appropriate one to revive.

Where can I (in the USA) get my hands on 1/8" poplar for building a scabbard? I can only find poplar that's either too short (e.g. 24" long) or too thick (e.g. 1/4" thick(.

I don't have any tools to plane the wood down.
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David Clark





Joined: 10 Feb 2009

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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2015 4:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@Chris: I had the same problem when making the core for my long seax scabbard. I ended up using the thicker but longer style. I just had to do a whole lot of sanding and dremel work carving it down.
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Wed 27 May, 2015 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Louth wrote:
I realise this is an ancient post, but it feels like an appropriate one to revive.

Where can I (in the USA) get my hands on 1/8" poplar for building a scabbard? I can only find poplar that's either too short (e.g. 24" long) or too thick (e.g. 1/4" thick(.

I don't have any tools to plane the wood down.


EBay. You can get a plane for as little as 99 cents that will be quite appropriate for scrubbing 1/4" wood down to 1/8". Just sharpen the blade up, make sure the sole is straight and the blade secure and handle sound, and have at it. Try searching "wood block plane"; there's scads of wooden jack-planes on there.
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Wed 27 May, 2015 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Louth wrote
Quote:
realise this is an ancient post, but it feels like an appropriate one to revive.

Where can I (in the USA) get my hands on 1/8" poplar for building a scabbard? I can only find poplar that's either too short (e.g. 24" long) or too thick (e.g. 1/4" thick(.

I don't have any tools to plane the wood down.


If the US is anything like the UK, just call up a couple of carpentry shops who do have planer/thicknessers (at least they are called that in the UK) and offer them $10 to run them down. It will be the easiest $10 they will make, will take 5 minutes and save you loads of grief.

Tod

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Chris Louth




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PostPosted: Wed 27 May, 2015 3:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some good ideas - I far prefer the idea of planing it myself, but there are probably some shops out here able to help out.

Thanks!

I suppose the next problem i'll have is that of buying leather in small quantities. I've done hilt wraps before, but those quantities are easy to find (shoe repair shops will be thrilled to get rid of leather pieces!!)
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Terry Thompson




Location: Suburbs of Wash D.C.
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PostPosted: Wed 27 May, 2015 6:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I got all of my slats from D and D hardwoods online

www.dndhardwoodsonline.com

They ship anywhere in the USA. I found them to be very affordable.
-Terry
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