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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2015 5:57 am    Post subject: Calling all scabbard makers         Reply with quote

First off: Happy New Year to our edgy community, may ye all stay sharp through the year and only be dull when you choose to be because of reenactment safety rules.

Second point : I have two nice slabs of ash ( frêne in french), and they would be just the right length fo a scabbard prject I have in mind. I made one previously from cherrywood and it was a disaster, blade started rusting within a month or so, so I presumed it was some kind of acid interaction at work. I know of balsa, which I don't like that much, and of poplar, which I haven't found in my local wood suppliers, but then I came upon these pieces of ash. Since ash can be used for spears, can it also serve for scabbards ?

Thanks in advance.

Bon coeur et bon bras
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Terry Thompson




Location: Suburbs of Wash D.C.
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2015 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I keep forgetting that woods I get locally, can be completely different from what is available 500+ miles in any direction. What we in the mid-Atlantic region of the US often refer to as ash is "white ash" (Fraxinus Americana). Faxinus Americana grows from Texas up to the mid-west and all the way up to Nova Scotia.
If you're using the carving method, you could use ash. But ash is pretty tough stuff and may not steam bend well. And it will be more laborious to sand evenly then the softer hard woods. I've never had rusting of steel for being contact with ash. Perhaps the cherry you had was still green (?).

As a side note, many woods can share a common name, but vary greatly in characteristics (poplar for instance). Aside from color though, ash actually is very similar in characteristics between European common (fraxinus excelsior), and American white ash. Both of the woods are relatively strait yet coarse grained, dense and durable. For purposing, both woods are used for tool handles. In the United states, white ash is used for baseball bats, tool hafts, pole-saws and wheelbarrow handles. In Europe, the Ash was historically used for weapon and spear poles, arrows and today is used for tooling as well as hurley sticks. The European ash is a bit heavier per cubic meter.
I also have some Australian white ash, which other board members here have told me in the past is actually a eucalyptus, that also has very similar appearance, strength and weight to Fraxinus Americana. A professional woodworker could probably tell them apart, but I make sure to keep the Australian wood separate and clearly marked when stored as I would easily confuse it with my native (fraxinus) ash slats.

As far as your access to 'poplar', you might have to research and see if there is another wood locally which actually has similar characteristics. The tree that the eastern half of the USA call "poplar" is actually a magnolia tree or tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and is not even in the same order much less the genus as the tree that Europeans call poplar (populus). Tulip Poplar (US) grows almost 150 ft. tall and 10 ft. diameter. The closest relative to European Poplar (p. alba or p. tremula) that we have in the US is the Aspen (p. tremuloides) or cottonwood (p. deltoids) tree. The aspen grows to about 50 ft. and has a 2 ft. diameter trunk, similar to it's European cousin. Sitting in the hardware stores, to the untrained eye, the woods look very similar in board form. (But they work very differently!)

Another thing that you may have gleaned is that aspen is often found in hardware and large warehouse stores here in the U.S. but the tulip poplar (which is a bit more expensive) is seen as a superior wood for carving and shaping, as it is tighter grained, takes stains more evenly and can even be easily sanded and polished to a shine with fine sand-paper and cloth.

I apologize if that was a bit long winded. looking back, I feel like I probably did nothing to answer your question there.
-Terry
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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2015 11:31 am    Post subject: ash         Reply with quote

I gather that ash gets the green light, great, and thanks for all the extra information. By the way, the cherry was not green, and had a beautiful colour to it, but the blade suffered as previously mentionned. By the way, had to take down an ash tree on the side of my driveway this fall, was over a hundred years of, four feet across in diameter. A mill owner came by and bought two eleven feet sections, I'm cutting down the rest into sections gradually to split and feed the fireplace. Hell of a job, whenever ther is a branch stem, the wood curves and is a sob to split.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2015 12:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Calling all scabbard makers         Reply with quote

Jean-Carle Hudon wrote:
and of poplar, which I haven't found in my local wood suppliers,
Thanks in advance.


Have you tried looking at Langevin & Forest for the wood type(s) that might work for scabbards ? They might have poplar ?

This is where I buy all my exotic woods for my walking stick projects.

http://www.langevinforest.com/fr


Oh, and " Happy New Year ". Big Grin Cool

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2015 4:13 am    Post subject: langevin         Reply with quote

Thanks Jean, but that is where I bought both the cherryand the ash. I'm a bit of a regular over there, since 1982...but no poplar, everything you can imagine in exotic woods, great tool selection, but... no poplar. The hunting knife crowd seem to all gravitate towards leatheror kydex for their sheaths... et bonne année a toi aussi.
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2015 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've used both Poplar and Aspen and had good results with both - perhaps aspen is more readily available near you? I get both of those from Lowes, so perhaps a hardware store would be worth a shot.

Cherry wood is acidic as far as I know, so not a great choice for unlined knife/sword handles or scabbards. It's a shame, as it's quite beautiful. Storing swords in any scabbards will often lead to rust, though, just because they trap moisture well - I live in the desert and it still happens from time to time (though not nearly as bad as when I lived in Scotland). Some coat the inside of the scabbard in oil (not where you'll be gluing, of course) or line it with an oily/waxy material like untreated fleece to try and protect the sword. I have no experience in lining it, though.
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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Jan, 2015 7:25 am    Post subject: thanks         Reply with quote

Peter, thanks for the reply. Hadn't thought of aspen, up here it's a bit of a throwaway wood, fireplace material . I think I will try lining this time, I'll look for some fleece, there are a few sheep farms north of here, so it should be possible, and as no one has indicated that ash has some reason to be avoided, I'll go with what I've got. Again, thanks to you Terry and Jean for the thoughtful replies.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Jan, 2015 8:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd say you can use ANY wood for a scabbard.

Just depends what you want out of it. For me only the best straight grained and historically accurate wood is suitable. Even if its covered up with leather etc never to be seen again the thought of having something that's not accurate makes me shudder but there again I'm often putting them over a blunt sword that's been machine made so I'm obviously mad.

The only two scabbard cores I've ever made myself (and in my own style, never finished) have been from local ash, its fine to work with although the grain can be a bit coarse.

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Jan, 2015 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would avoid any wood that is high in tannic acid full stop. So oak, chestnut, horse chestnut for starters - all will rust your blades rapidly. I was not aware cherry had issues, but it may be tannic acid, it may be something else. I am sure there are other woods you shouldn't use for other reasons. As Brian says there are suitable wood glues and ones that aren't. Regular PVA (white wood glue) here in the UK works fine for a scabbard if the sword never touches the glue; if it touches it, it will rust quickly - so basically avoid. I have not found a wood glue that fulfils my needs for scabbards, so I use epoxy.

Ash is fine and won't cause problems, but it is relatively hard to work - I occasionally use it. Poplar and lime/linden are easy to work and don't cause problems. Tulip wood is often sold interchangeably with poplar here in the UK and that is fine. Dense pine (joinery grade redwood, here in the UK) is also fine and readily available.

I am not sure about the benefits of varnishing the core. I store swords in unvarnished scabbards in a fairly damp environment with no problems for years. The core breathes. If you varnish it, it will help keep the moisture out, but when its in, it will stay in. Not saying its wrong, just saying I don't and it works fine for me.

Tod

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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
Joined: 16 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2015 6:12 am    Post subject: tannic woods         Reply with quote

I agree , but have often wondered about some finds which indicate that the wood used for a scabbard was oak, which seems a bit counter-productive to me as oak is one of the most acid woods around. Maybe this was counterbalanced with the use of animal skin within the scabbard,which broke down eons before the thing was recovered . In any case, thanks for the input re: ash, which will do me fine. I will check on the ''tulip'' wood though, I have a few other projects in mind. It's going to be a long winter, so might as well keep busy.
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