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Chris Goshey




Location: Fairfax, Virginia
Joined: 01 Feb 2014

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sat 01 Feb, 2014 12:57 pm    Post subject: Sword Belt and Suspension Ideal Leather Weight         Reply with quote

I am about to start my first scabbard and belt for a 15th century hand and a half sword and I was wondering what an ideal weight leather to make the belt and suspension would be. I've been thinking a 5-6 oz leather would work best since in my experience the 8-9 oz straps sold by places such as Tandy are too heavy to fit most buckles I've seen sold for the period. I would not want to go much lighter for concern about it not being strong enough to hold up the scabbard.

Would this be an ideal weight or are my concerns unfounded?
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
Joined: 24 Aug 2011

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Sat 01 Feb, 2014 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some of this is personal preference ... but you are certainly in the right ballpark for leather weight.

I tend to prefer HEAVIER 8-9 Oz leather - belts I've done in the lighter weights tend to feel a bit wimpy to me, and tend to stretch too much with time. But that's just me... nothing wrong with lighter leathers for others.

There is more - VegTan will tend to be stiffer for a given weight. But it's also the only thing worth a damn for carving. Latigo's will have more flex at higher weight - but really can not be carved well. Tradeoffs abound Happy.

WRT buckles... I generally skive my leather in this area - so original weight changes. Given two layers of leather in this area? The overall strength of 8Oz leather is not seriously reduced by skiving.

In edhil, hai edhil. In edain, hai edain.
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Terry Thompson




Location: Suburbs of Wash D.C.
Joined: 17 Sep 2010

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Sun 02 Feb, 2014 7:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm definately interested in what people will contribute to this thread.

I've seen references to deer leather weapon belts that were quite supple, but I cannot remember in what context or period that it was used. It was many years ago, but the reference resonated very hard with me as until seeing it, I had assumed that sword belts were always pretty husky vegetable tanned leather, like modern construction work belts. I had also assumed that the weight and leverage of a sword would require something of similar modern durability perhaps in Latigo. I was also confused by illustrations of sword belts that seemed much too narrow (dress belt width) to support the weight of a sword for extended use and to sustain the repeated jarring stress from riding on horse back.

Though vegetable tanning is best for tooling, it wasn't the only form of tanning that was used in the middle ages/renaissance periods. There was also tawed, brain tanned, bucked, smoked, oiled leather, among others.

It's probably worth mentioning that many european deer are much huskier than their american cousins, and the hides are thicker as well, more similar to what elk produce in the U.S. Deer skin in the U.S. is much too thin and tears easily. But if you've ever been to a leather store and seen elk or moose hide that was brain or oil tanned, and have seen how inreadibly strong and durable it is, combined with the suppleness and flexability, I think you'd quickly get an appreciation of how it could serve as an excellent weapon belt.

I realize that's really not very helpful as I can't cite references, but it's food for thought. I'm eagerly awaiting more input on this subject.
-Terry
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Quinn W.




Location: Bellingham, WA
Joined: 02 May 2009

Posts: 197

PostPosted: Sun 02 Feb, 2014 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd second what Dean mentioned. Go for a heavier weight and just skive it down to what you need where the buckle goes. With how thin 15th c belts tended to be in paintings and effigies you would need something fairly substantial to support the sword without stretching. 8-9 oz seems about right to me. Maybe even a tad more if you want to be safe.
"Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth"
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Chris Goshey




Location: Fairfax, Virginia
Joined: 01 Feb 2014

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sun 02 Feb, 2014 8:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

8 oz it is then! Enough neatsfoot oil should make it flexible enough I think, and as Quinn and Dean have said I can skive down then ends. I guess I'll go ahead and order those straps.
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