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Dan D'Silva





Joined: 28 Apr 2007

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PostPosted: Thu 18 Jun, 2015 4:08 am    Post subject: A couple questions on targe construction         Reply with quote

I'm working on one right now, and I'd like to make sure I get it more-or-less right apart from certain conscious artistic liberties.

- Is dark red an appropriate color for the facing leather? I've got this bottle of red leather dye, but all the historical examples I've seen appear to be brown.
- Is either a sueded or grained leather appropriate for the back, or does it need to be a hair-on hide?
- Is this or this a correct type of brass tack? Is one better than the other?
- How is the grip attached?
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2015 11:39 pm    Post subject: A couple of questions on targe construction         Reply with quote

For the colour of the facing leather I recommend you either brown or bright red.
Sueded leather, I guess.
Use the high dome tack.

Actually I am not good in recommending somebody when they are making swords or other weapons, Dan.
When your targe is finished do show its photo.

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Sun 21 Jun, 2015 8:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I will, but it may be a while. Key details are hard to find...

Is it plausible that a targe backing could be something like German-tanned deer skin? I.e., de-haired, de-grained and tanned with oil, being off-white or light tan, like military buff leather of the time.
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Bruce Cass Cameron




Location: Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2015 2:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All the targes I saw in Scotland when I was there last year had hair-on red deer hide on the back.
Where are you? I've got a spare piece that would be big enough to do the job here. You can have it for free if you pay the postage. Big Grin
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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2015 4:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for the offer. I'm in the States though, so shipping would probably be high. It's a very small shield; I'd actually use a rabbit pelt (they're super-cheap), but... I like rabbits too much.

The Shield: An Abridged History of its Use and Development says that leather targe grips were attached with "a metal staple or nails," and most repros seem to have their grips attached with large domed tacks. Is there any concern that they might pull out in use?

I figured on hardening the facing with hot water. Does it seem likely that facings were made from dyed leather? The cheap veg-tan I have is very pale, but I know some vegetable tannages can produce a natural dark brown. If I use a brush-on alcohol dye, it'll need a sealer to keep the dye from rubbing off onto whatever it touches, but if a natural wax-based sealer needs to be melted in, I'd worry about it making the leather easier to cut (I've tested plain versus wax-impregnated leathers and this is indeed what seems to happen).
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Tim Harris
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2015 8:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was more concerned with functionality than period accuracy when I made mine, Dan. I used 3/8" ply, faced with uncoloured veg tan leather, decorated with off-the shelf upholstery tacks. Sheepskin seems perfectly adequate for the lining. I used screws and washers to anchor the straps. The arm strap was solid, but I found the hand grip tended to come adrift. I replaced it with a capital i-shaped strap which allowed for two screws at each end and had no more problems.
https://www.facebook.com/TimHarrisSwords
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Neal Matheson




Location: sussex UK
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2015 11:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is quite a good thread somewhere on the internet about targe construction (highlanders and hanoverians?). I've made a few and found that stitched on straps are very secure but have had no problems fencing with straps that are just tacked on. I have some pictures of historical targes which show some features, I'll try to first: find them and then: work out how to post them on the forum.
If rabbit is "artisitic licence" then fair enough but rabbits didn't live in the highlands (or indeed Scotland) when historical targes were being made. Goat was used but as far as I am aware deer hides were not, plain leather is the best bet.
Good luck with the project.

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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jun, 2015 6:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you. Sorry for the delay.

Well, to be honest, I had no idea about the absence of rabbits at that time; I was just thinking of it on the assumption that a hair-on hide would be necessary. So plain leather was also used? I don't mean to start an argument but I'm getting mixed answers here.

I've since found a few pictures of the staple method; it looks sensible for a double-gripped shield.
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Neal Matheson




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jun, 2015 9:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sorry, my reply got eaten. Historically we know that William Lindsay used goat hides to construct targes for the Jacobite army. So goat hide would be fine. I'm sure deer hair would be fine too. Roes (capreolus capreolus) and Reds (cervus elaphus) (Scotland's native deer) are a bit redder in colour than North American species.
Have fun with it and like others I'm really keen to see what you make.

http://www.seeknottheancestors.com/
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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2015 11:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hair-on goat hide? I'm kind of casting around here. You mentioned plain leather earlier; is it documented?
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Neal Matheson




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jul, 2015 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes William Lindsay invoiced the Jacobite army for goat hides. Goat hides are documented. I will look around for the plain leather source but Paul "tod" Booth of Lace wars might be a good source of info.
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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2015 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you. I'm writing to him as we speak.

I've tested some water-hardened leather with a beeswax finish. It seems that brushing on a thin layer of wax and then re-melting it when it thickens doesn't have quite as bad an effect on the leather's resistance as if it were saturated in wax. The finish does make the surface easier to slice up, but only the surface. However, it doesn't seem to seal dye in that well either. And carrying your shield out on a bright sunny day would probably melt the wax again, as it did with my leather bottle.
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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2015 3:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again. My local hardware store stocks brasses in six-inch 20-gauge and two-inch 14-gauge... I would prefer something in between (in both width and thickness) but circumstances care not to cooperate with me, so should I go for heavy little bosses or larger, thin ones (which I can probably make deeper)?
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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jan, 2017 8:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the last leg of construction now.

Two last questions: Is Gàidhealach Armlann the correct translation for "Gaelic Armory," as spoken in the 18th century? With "Gaelic" in the sense of "of the Gaels" rather than "the Gaelic language."

Also, I'd like to pair it with an a la mousquetaire-style infantry sword rather than a basket-hilt. Would either a French one or a British one make more sense, if at all? I have heard claims around the Web that the Jacobites received French swords during the '45; otherwise I'd use a British one.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jan, 2017 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't know about the Gaelic, but of the two swords--I like the looks of the French better. But, me personally, I'd go with a basket-hilt for that all-out roarin' pissed-off Scotsman look. Wink Laughing Out Loud ......McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2017 3:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I know that's the classic combination. But I prefer the extra leverage afforded by finger rings. Also I don't like the oversized baskets on most low-end broadswords.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2017 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Who said anything about 'low-end'? Wink Besides, the basket on the Hanwei backsword, the 'ribbon-hilt style', is actually quite small compared to, say, the Cold Steel basket-hilt or the Windlass. But...where ever your comfort zone is. Wink Happy .....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan D'Silva wrote:
On the last leg of construction now.

Two last questions: Is Gàidhealach Armlann the correct translation for "Gaelic Armory," as spoken in the 18th century? With "Gaelic" in the sense of "of the Gaels" rather than "the Gaelic language."

Also, I'd like to pair it with an a la mousquetaire-style infantry sword rather than a basket-hilt. Would either a French one or a British one make more sense, if at all? I have heard claims around the Web that the Jacobites received French swords during the '45; otherwise I'd use a British one.


Some swords were sent to Scotland by the French. So far as I know, there was no description of what they were in the records. It is certainly safe to assume that these swords were put to use at some point, so if the sword fits the time frame it could be carried with some historical accuracy. Swords were not all that plentiful in the Jacobite army and one would expect that the officers of the Clan Regiments/ tacksmen, who could afford to buy them, would be the ones carrying them. The rest would have muskets, fowlers and perhaps bayonets and pole arms.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 6:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
Who said anything about 'low-end'? Wink Besides, the basket on the Hanwei backsword, the 'ribbon-hilt style', is actually quite small compared to, say, the Cold Steel basket-hilt or the Windlass. But...where ever your comfort zone is. Wink Happy .....McM


What ribbon hilt Hanwei sword are you talking about? Is that something new?

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 6:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin, I was referring to the backsword. Not especially a 'ribbon hilt'....I think it is referred to as a 'sterling hilt'. The style without the large forward guards. The one described in ads as having a "terrible beastie" or a "grotesque face" on the basket. C'mon....you know what I'm talking about. I have trouble loading pictures, or I would. Happy ....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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