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Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
Joined: 27 May 2011

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Thu 04 Jul, 2013 12:11 pm    Post subject: Late Norman Lance Length:         Reply with quote

Hello all,

I am trying to build a lance for my 1194 Norman Knight kit. I have heard that, later on, the lance was typically 10-11 feet, but all references to that say it was somewhat shorter in the earlier middle ages. Now, the only 1-1/4 dowel (that's the size of the socket on my lance head) that I can find is made of poplar and only extends to 8 feet. With the head mounted onto the shaft it would be about 8-1/2 feet long. So my questions are: Would Poplar be an acceptable wood for a lance and would 8-1/2 feet be a long enough lance for a late 12th century Anglo Norman knight? Here's the link to the dowel:

http://www.amazon.com/Poplar-Curtain-Closet-C...B006L3P06Y

One other thing: Should I get a buttcap for my lance or was that not typically done?

Thank you


p.s. To all American forum members: Happy Fourth of July.
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Leo Todeschini
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Location: Oxford, UK
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jul, 2013 1:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I made a load for Dover castle a few years back and although I did not do the research it was very thorough and they asked me to make 10ft.

Poplar is totally unsuitable I am afraid, ash or elm really are the tough woods and are suited to this, though sometimes pine was used for spear shafts, but that would be good pine, not cheap builders spruce.

Go to a wood yard and they will be able to supply you with a length of square section ash and with a plane this can get turned into an octagon in not very many minutes and then a sixteen-agon in a few minutes more and that is round enough for a lance shaft. If you care to put the time in, you can taper the shaft easily enough so that it goes from approx 1 3/4 at the butt to 1 1/4 behind the head. Looks good and balances better.

Even if you have to buy a cheap plane I would think you could do this for $25

Tod

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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Fri 05 Jul, 2013 1:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

'sixteenagon'. You and your baffling technospeak Tod!

Is this going to be a lance you are going to use from horse? In which case, take some cheap dowel and experiment, but only for length. Measure many, cut once.

How you are built will have a lot to do with it, as will your ability although 12ft does seem by most to be the longest you want to play with. You can also play with counter balancing too, I have a bit of sheet lead and a nail in some of mine, just to fine tune. It also stop the end getting wet and mucky or the wood from abrading.

There is a later cent, 14th or 15th Spanish ref that basically says if you want to joust for fun with friends, use pine, but if your lance is for killing in war then oak or ash. I'm assuming the climate of spain produces straighter, lighter oak than what we have here, no doubt Tod will comment on that?

Tods method is cheap, simple and you'll have something you made, infinitely better than off the shelf stuff, possibly learn a new skill and understand the weapon more fully. Commercial dowel is dangerous, it takes a good bit of force to break it and it gets a good spring to it as it does, it then snaps with a very sharp long profile which the bendyness (to use a word from Tods lexicon of technospeak) sends pinging off into the distance to skewer people and things. Ash does a bit, pine a lot less.

I had to make loads of lances for a project (still have about 75 of the little devils here) and roughing with a power plane on a 1mm setting then finishing by hand is great. When I first looked into lances I got a decent baulk of timber, cut three shapes out and planed away. Three lances for about 50.00 for a complete novice.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Fri 05 Jul, 2013 1:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh and there are a few ms which show the lances as what can only be a type of bamboo. See my bit about bendyness and sharp splinters though!

There is a then/now parallel to that. We can assume that bamboo came along eastern trading routes into europe and via experiences in the crusades. In the 70's when jousting was taking off again the only things they could find long enough and straight enough to suit their needs was bamboo lengths being imported as the inner supports on rolls of carpet imported from the east. The great silk road is not dead!

As an aside, whilst on the subject of bamboo, there s a bit of it clearly visible as being used to light, or put out a candle in a church in a painting by a 15th cent Flemish master, forget who though.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Fri 05 Jul, 2013 1:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most modern plantation timbers are grown as quickly as possible and tend to have a lot less strength than "naturally" grown timbers. I've heard that modern plantation-grown yew is not much good for longbows for example. The best material for a lance would be a sapling or a coppiced branch with a diameter that is a little larger than that required for the weapon rather than a length that has been cut from a much larger chunk of timber.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Fri 05 Jul, 2013 1:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For the Sankt Vendel Tournament last year Arne Koets and co simply went to a plantation, selected saplings and cut them slightly thicker than needed. They were then roughly stripped down and shaped for use and we fine tuned them before use. As they were disposable tournament lances on this occasion they didn't need to be too fancy. They worked a treat, and broke pretty much in ms sources, big chunks of wood, usually three sections.

It was good to see the knights choosing lances (that weekend was so full of similar evocative moment straight from all the ms you ever read on tournaments and jousting), testing them, checking for length and straightness etc. One went for the largest and heaviest. I asked why and the wonderfully, utterly sensible answer came back 'so I'm not hit by them'. I doff my cap.....
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Rune Vildhoj




Location: Denmark
Joined: 21 Jun 2012

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Fri 05 Jul, 2013 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll second what has already been said on the suitablility of wood: Buying finished dowels from a commercial supplier, machined from cheapest available poplar or spruces, isn't really what you want. It will almost inevitable be prone to breaking or splintering even if not being particularly abused. One thing is if a lance cleanly snaps - accidents happen - but noone wants to be around a plethora of splinters which might be the result of using a dowel as suggested.
One reason is the (wrong) species of wood used as base - as Tod wrote it was traditionally strong and dense woods which were used for lances and similar. Secondly modern industrially turned dowels would be made from a philosophy of minimizing waste of the wood in terms of volume with little regard to structural strength - which in almost all cases would lead to the growth rings of the woods being off-center, thereby weakening the dowels just as is the case for most cut timber these days. The best approach would definitely be picking and cutting a young and straight tree yourself as Dan suggested (but remember the wood needs to dry out in its own pace to avoid cracking or warping ). I usually do so myself well in advance of any projects, though obviously have an advantage with ready access to temperate forest. You may or may not have that as an option depending on where and how you live, but most larger lumberyards / retailers will have some suitable woods if you take the time to go through their selection in person and picking with an eye to the grain of the wood. And, assuming you are willing to pay, can backorder most kinds of woods if asked to do so by customers. Trimming, rounding or even tapering with a planer is very easy with just a minimum of skill and makes you fully adaptable to any kind or size of socket or possible buttcap even if those are of a different diameter. Plus it makes for a much more historical look of the final lance if it is shaped by hand - one can always tell if a human touch has been involved even if the finish is very close to geometrical perfection!

And, though admittedly not particularlly knowledgeable on Normans, around 10 feet is probably a reasonably length for the period in question.
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Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
Joined: 27 May 2011

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 1:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I thank you all for the responses, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to respond sooner (my computer busted a couple hours after I made the post). The thought of making my own lance shaft out of a more period-appropriate (not-to-mention combat-appropriate) wood is very tempting. I have never used a plane before, so I am rather inexperienced with the tool. However, I am always willing to learn a new skill. I have also heard of a tool called a spokeshave which (from what I can tell) is used to make a more rounded edge. Is this a tool that would be used as a finishing touch to the already-planed piece of lumber, or would I use it in place of a plane? I noticed that Daegrad Tools makes a spokeshave (see link) and I was wondering if any of you had any experience with this type of tool. Is it something I should definitely get if I really want to make this project the best it can be, is it not really necessary, or have I completely misinterpreted its function altogether? Also, should the piece of lumber that I'm planing be 2" by 2" or is that too thin? Once again, I really appreciate all your insights. Thank you.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/anglo-saxon-viking-ro...257f72e755

p.s. Tod, I just wanted to let you know that I am a great admirer of your work. I especially love your early mace heads.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 2:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

3" if you can get it would be better for planing down just in case you find its not doing what you want. But the 'steal a sapling' method is great.

Shame you are in the states, i have about 30 10ft ash lances here going spare.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 2:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The last one I did was made with nothing but a sharp machete and two grades of sandpaper.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 3:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spokeshave

different sizes, different curvatures available. personally I don't like the modern all steel ones, wooden handled ones give a better feel and are far more preferable in a cold workshop.

If You are going to have a go yourself then i'd say getting a proper draw/shaving horse/bench made up will be invaluable, or invest in a few decent saw horses and g-clamps.

http://www.greenwoodworking.com/ShavingHorsePlans
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Leo Todeschini
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Location: Oxford, UK
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

personally I would start with the lowest investment you can and that is a bench, a vice and cheap plane, everything else makes it easier but not strictly necessary.

A sapling is a good call, but you will have to wait for it to season and that is a year an inch of thickness.....

Mark does know his onions, but I would say go for a piece of straight grained wood at 2" and there will be plenty of meat in it and half the price of a 3" square.

A spoke shave is not really the tool for this, but may be useful and ash can be a bit 'rippy'. You will in due course find out about that.

Tod

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