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Joshua Stolarz




Location: Oregon
Joined: 16 Sep 2013

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed 23 Oct, 2013 5:01 pm    Post subject: A Few Questions On Shield Construction         Reply with quote

I am interested in making my own 13th century heater shield, and have a few questions I would like some help hashing out. I am tend to be a purest whenever possible, so I don't want to make a shield out of plywood, as some instructions I have seen have shown. To my understanding a 13th century heater shield was constructed in a similar fashion to the older round shields in that they're not make from a single piece of wood, but several glued together side by side. One obvious problem I see with that is how would you go about putting a curve in the shield? If you steam them and put them on some sort of a form to give them the shape it doesn't seem like they would bend effectively, and if you glued it first and then tried to put the bend in it, logic would say the glue would just break.

At this point what was being used for glue? Is it a dairy based glue, or as I read somewhere was it a glue made from fish swim bladders?

The other question I have is in regards to what covers the shield once you have the wooden form together. I have read several places that they were covered with a leather or a canvas, neither of which seems like it would be that effective in giving the shield sturdiness. It seems that covering it with a rawhide like older round shields were, would be more effective?

I did try doing some searches on the message board to find answers to my questions, but I wasn't able to. I did love the topic where many of you showed off your shields though, some of them are beautiful.

You can't get a cup of tea big enough, or a book long enough to suit me. - C.S. Lewis
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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Wed 23 Oct, 2013 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Plywood's actually not far off, shields were often made of several layers of strips, laid in different directions to add strength. Considering the thinness of the individual strips, building in a curve is somewhat trivial. Any sort of facing also adds strength, whether it's linen, rawhide, leather or thin metal. Don't discount textile coverings, they're pretty much brushed over with generous amounts glue or resin and then painted and become quite hard, like a sort of fiberglass.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Oct, 2013 8:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tyler Jordan wrote:
Plywood's actually not far off, shields were often made of several layers of strips, laid in different directions to add strength. Considering the thinness of the individual strips, building in a curve is somewhat trivial. Any sort of facing also adds strength, whether it's linen, rawhide, leather or thin metal. Don't discount textile coverings, they're pretty much brushed over with generous amounts glue or resin and then painted and become quite hard, like a sort of fibreglass.


I don't know if it's historical or not, but I've built up knife handles in the past using layers of paper soaked in white wood glue and it dried into a very fibreglass/micarta like mass.

I would think that paper or parchment saturated in glue would give a very cut resistant surface and also keep splits in the wood due to hard impacts from growing in length and make the shield as strong and split resistant in all directions instead of weak in the same axis of the wood grain in a simple plank.

If the composite alternating slats of wood surface reinforced by the glued top layer remains sort of flexible strikes would tend to bounce and deform a shield that would spring back to shape and be much more difficult to cut or break at a very light weight.

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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
Joined: 25 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Oct, 2013 11:58 pm    Post subject: Re: A Few Questions On Shield Construction         Reply with quote

Joshua Stolarz wrote:
I am interested in making my own 13th century heater shield, and have a few questions I would like some help hashing out. I am tend to be a purest whenever possible, so I don't want to make a shield out of plywood, as some instructions I have seen have shown. To my understanding a 13th century heater shield was constructed in a similar fashion to the older round shields in that they're not make from a single piece of wood, but several glued together side by side. One obvious problem I see with that is how would you go about putting a curve in the shield? If you steam them and put them on some sort of a form to give them the shape it doesn't seem like they would bend effectively, and if you glued it first and then tried to put the bend in it, logic would say the glue would just break.

At this point what was being used for glue? Is it a dairy based glue, or as I read somewhere was it a glue made from fish swim bladders?

The other question I have is in regards to what covers the shield once you have the wooden form together. I have read several places that they were covered with a leather or a canvas, neither of which seems like it would be that effective in giving the shield sturdiness. It seems that covering it with a rawhide like older round shields were, would be more effective?

I did try doing some searches on the message board to find answers to my questions, but I wasn't able to. I did love the topic where many of you showed off your shields though, some of them are beautiful.


This book:
www.amazon.de/Der-mittelalterliche-Reiterschi...iterschild

It covers all your questions. It is unfortunately in German, but shows you how to do a curved planked construction, coverings, decoration, strapping and shows extant examples.

But as for glue, either bone- hide- or fish-glue can be used. And all of them are still quite available. They are used by cabinet makers, upholsterers and instrument makers to name a few.

Shields are fun. But my advice is to make your first one in plywood. Just make sure to cover both front and back with linen or leather and no one will know. And you can practice getting shape, size, surface, edges and strapping right. You will probably have a bit of a learning curve and want to make another one that is "just right" after the first one anyway Wink

There is nothing quite as sad as a one man conga-line...
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Oct, 2013 12:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And avoid putting an edge on it, it will catch any weapon tips and turn it into a liability. And never forget that shields are disposable items.

I experimented using some felt, like the earlier eastern shields on a canvas covered ply shield and the shock absorbing abilities were fantastic. I could cut down the thickness of wood a fair bit and let the felt take the blows. It was partly an experiment of efficacy but I was taking it abroad so needed some weight saving.
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Oct, 2013 3:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@ Bjorn Hagstrom,
Unfortunately I don't have a word of German, so I can't read the book you linked to. If you have read this book, could you tell me are all the shields made from butted planks, or are any made from multiple layers of wood, similar to plywood?

Éirinn go Brách
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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Oct, 2013 3:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All described ones, where it is possibly to tell is from butted planks.
The examples range in age from 12th to 14th century and are all heater-shields (mostly from the german-speaking parts of Europe, but also the Black Prince one)

A topic you might be interested in lookin closer at is the following:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...light=kite

The method Elling used for the kite, would work equally well for a heater.

There is nothing quite as sad as a one man conga-line...
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Oct, 2013 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks very much Bjorn. That's what I thought, but always nice to have some confirmation.
Éirinn go Brách
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Joshua Stolarz




Location: Oregon
Joined: 16 Sep 2013

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I appreciate all your responses. Really too bad that book is all in German, because it looks extremely interesting. Thank you also for the link to the other topic on the kite shield, I think I will take some of those ideas and adapt them. Starting simple and experimenting the first time is also probably a good idea instead of ruining better more expensive materials haha.
You can't get a cup of tea big enough, or a book long enough to suit me. - C.S. Lewis
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D. S. Smith




Location: Central CA
Joined: 02 Oct 2011

Posts: 231

PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I haven't made one myself, but this seemed like the best directions for making one:
http://yeoldegaffers.com/project_shieldpress.asp

And I got the link from reading this thread from the myArmoury forum:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19445

Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place among them,
In the halls of Valhalla!
Where the brave may live forever!
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Joshua Stolarz




Location: Oregon
Joined: 16 Sep 2013

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had seen that website and like what they had. The problem I had with it was the plywood construction.
You can't get a cup of tea big enough, or a book long enough to suit me. - C.S. Lewis
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D. S. Smith




Location: Central CA
Joined: 02 Oct 2011

Posts: 231

PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 5:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua Stolarz wrote:
I had seen that website and like what they had. The problem I had with it was the plywood construction.


I hear what you're saying. I've heard the same thing that Tyler mentioned, which is that plywood may be fairly accurate. I'm far from an expert on history, but according to Wikipedia Laughing Out Loud ...plywood was invented around 2,000 BC.

Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place among them,
In the halls of Valhalla!
Where the brave may live forever!
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Joshua Stolarz




Location: Oregon
Joined: 16 Sep 2013

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 7:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

D. S. Smith wrote:
Joshua Stolarz wrote:
I had seen that website and like what they had. The problem I had with it was the plywood construction.


I hear what you're saying. I've heard the same thing that Tyler mentioned, which is that plywood may be fairly accurate. I'm far from an expert on history, but according to Wikipedia Laughing Out Loud ...plywood was invented around 2,000 BC.


Interesting. Apparently I need to research plywood history Wink

You can't get a cup of tea big enough, or a book long enough to suit me. - C.S. Lewis
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