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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2016 7:45 am    Post subject: Leather covering a scabbard         Reply with quote

Hi,
I'm building a scabbard and so far i've been learning leather working by messing things up so I thought I'd go get some advice for a change. I've finished the core and am about cover the thing with leather for the second time since I messed up the first one a bit. Does anybody here have experience with this?

  • I What do you guys use to punch the sewing holes in the leather? I tried an awl and a spiked hole marker wheel but the holes ended up not quite matching which resulted in a crooked and messy seam. Should I be using a fork-chisel? It makes slits instead of holes but they are regularly spaced and easier to sew.
  • Should I soak the leather or can I just sew it on while it is dry? It looks to me as if the only part I might have to soak and wet-form is the chape area.
  • The first time I tried my hand at this the I made the leather about 10 cm longer than the scabbard and soaked it but it shrunk to the point where it was about 1 cm too short but there seemed to be little shrinkage breadth wise across the scabbard. Does it matter in terms of shrinkage whether you cut the leather strips head to tail or back to belly?

So far I've got the leather cut down perfectly so that the edges of the leather just barely touch down the entire back of the scabbard and plenty of material left over at the top but this time I'm going to be more careful.

Edit: There are no fancy raised decorations or lines on the scabbard, just a plain leather covering.



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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2016 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congrats on your scabbard, looks great so far.

Everyone has their own preferences as far as technique is concerned.

Never try something on your scabbard that you haven't practiced first on scraps. Your scabbard is not for experimentation and practice. Make a mock scabbard and try some different techniques until you are comfortable.

I use a pricker that marks holes every 3/16 to 1/4 inch and then I punch holes with a diamond shaped awl. I don't mark or punch the entire edge, I work in sections so that the holes stay aligned.

You can sew wet or dry, as you please.

Wet leather is a joy to work with, but it is very susceptible to scratches. Also you cannot use waxed thread because your fingers will transfer wax to the leather and then the leather won't dye properly. Most people seem to sew wet and they dye the leather, but on occasions you may have to dye first and then sew dry.

I never pay any attention to which direction I cut the leather, head to tail or back to belly, I don't see a difference.
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
Joined: 24 Aug 2011

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2016 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Your rear seam cut looks damn near PERFECT Happy.

As others have said - work in sections (about 4" long). Mark a line on each edge about 1/8 inch US from each edge BACK. Run your stitching wheel down ONE SIDE. Punch your holes with an awl, but STAY ON THE LINE.

Don't use the wheel on the other side - instead, make a small mark on your line DIRECTLY OPPOSITE to the holes you just punched on the other side.

Stich. Do not stich the last set of holes. use these as an index point for you next run with the marking wheel.

FREE STUFF:

http://findlithui.deanandsandy.dyndns.org:808...ore1.1.pdf

Start looking around page 46.... Happy.

Sample?





That's an older one - as I've gotten a little better at "wiggling" my thread, adjusting tension, & checking alighnment as I go? I can now shine a laser down that line Happy. The only problem I have to work out these days - compensating for varying leather thickness on the two edges.

In edhil, hai edhil. In edain, hai edain.
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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2016 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dean F. Marino wrote:
Your rear seam cut looks damn near PERFECT Happy.


Yes, I measured the scabbard's circumference every 10 cm and the chape end every 1 cm and then made a paper template. My first mistake was to assume this would could be transferred directly to leather, it can't. The leather covering ended up being too small so now I cut an excess of 5-10 mm on one side of the leather, fix it to the scabbard with rubber bands so that it overlaps and then use a leather marker pen to mark exactly where to cut. Then I trim it down with a very sharp pair of scissors. It is tiring to apply all those rubber bands for every test fit of the leather but the seam ends up looking very nice. It also helps to draw a datum line down the length of the wood core with a CD marker (I varnished the wood) to make sure the seam is centred when you are sewing

Dean F. Marino wrote:

That's an older one - as I've gotten a little better at "wiggling" my thread, adjusting tension, & checking alighnment as I go? I can now shine a laser down that line Happy. The only problem I have to work out these days - compensating for varying leather thickness on the two edges.


That is the same stitch I'm using, in fact the scabbard looks pretty much like what I have in mind except I'm using a locket. Did you water shrink this scabbard? I'm wondering if I can sew the leather on dry and then shrink it by applying water with a sponge. Since the core is varnished to keep water away from the blade, soaking the scabbard is not a problem for me


Edit: That's an awesome tutorial...


Last edited by Kristjan Runarsson on Thu 03 Mar, 2016 3:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2016 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Congrats on your scabbard, looks great so far.

Everyone has their own preferences as far as technique is concerned.

Never try something on your scabbard that you haven't practiced first on scraps. Your scabbard is not for experimentation and practice. Make a mock scabbard and try some different techniques until you are comfortable.

I use a pricker that marks holes every 3/16 to 1/4 inch and then I punch holes with a diamond shaped awl. I don't mark or punch the entire edge, I work in sections so that the holes stay aligned.

You can sew wet or dry, as you please.

Wet leather is a joy to work with, but it is very susceptible to scratches. Also you cannot use waxed thread because your fingers will transfer wax to the leather and then the leather won't dye properly. Most people seem to sew wet and they dye the leather, but on occasions you may have to dye first and then sew dry.

I never pay any attention to which direction I cut the leather, head to tail or back to belly, I don't see a difference.


What surprised me was how much the leather shrinks when it dries out. The length of leather I cut for my second attempt must have shrunk by 10 cm (4 inches) or more. Somebody told me that leather from the belly stretches more than leather from the back so that's why I started wondering if a strip of leather cut from belly to back could maybe shrink more at one end than the other.
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2016 4:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've never had leather shrink more than a few millimeters. I always use vegetable-tanned tooling leather. What are you using?
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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2016 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
I've never had leather shrink more than a few millimeters. I always use vegetable-tanned tooling leather. What are you using?


I'm not sure what it is called in english, It's kind of beige-pink 1-1,5 mm thick rather stiff and soaks up water like a sponge. I think the English word for it is "tooling leather" but I might be wrong about that. I have some other leather that is similarly thick but much softer and it is factory coloured and treated. That stuff is basically similar to the stuff Dean was using in his tutorial. That stuff also soaks up some water but it does not shrink anywhere near as much.
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
Joined: 24 Aug 2011

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Thu 03 Mar, 2016 8:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kristjan Runarsson wrote:

...My first mistake was to assume this would could be transferred directly to leather, it can't.
.


Must comment on paper templates in general. What you experienced is very common - it has to do with the PAPER being far THINNER than even 2-3 Oz leather, and the fact that the leather wraps around.. Try to make a shaped throat locket from, say, 4-6 Oz leather? It gets worse. Paper templates are great as long as everything is FLAT.

When in doubt - take a scarp of the leather you plan to use, wrap it AROUND the core area you are working with, mark the ends where the leather meets. Now use THIS measurement on a paper template. Repeat (probably many times). You will end up with a paper template that accounts for your leather thickness.

In edhil, hai edhil. In edain, hai edain.
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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Fri 04 Mar, 2016 1:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dean F. Marino wrote:
Kristjan Runarsson wrote:

...My first mistake was to assume this would could be transferred directly to leather, it can't.
.


Must comment on paper templates in general. What you experienced is very common - it has to do with the PAPER being far THINNER than even 2-3 Oz leather, and the fact that the leather wraps around.. Try to make a shaped throat locket from, say, 4-6 Oz leather? It gets worse. Paper templates are great as long as everything is FLAT.

When in doubt - take a scarp of the leather you plan to use, wrap it AROUND the core area you are working with, mark the ends where the leather meets. Now use THIS measurement on a paper template. Repeat (probably many times). You will end up with a paper template that accounts for your leather thickness.


Heh... hadn't thought of that, it's a good idea. Thing is though that one has to account for varying leather thicknesses. The thickness of the hide I got varies from ~1mm to ~1,8mm and the thickness of the leather strip I'm applying to the core can vary by that much across it's length. Generally I don't think that the gap in the seam cut should be more than ~1,5 mm or you start getting stretched punch holes.
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Fri 04 Mar, 2016 6:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I make a template from tinfoil and masking tape, wrapped around the scabbard. Cut that up the back and use it when marking out the leather. I allow an additional 3mm seam allowance and then, once I've stitched it, I trip off the excess and rub the seam flat (early medieval scabbard seams are serpentine, so this is perfectly authentic).

I stitch dry and then case the leather after stitching, to perform any moulding.

So far, so good.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Mike O'Hara




Location: New Zealand
Joined: 10 Jul 2010
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Fri 04 Mar, 2016 11:45 am    Post subject: Leather scabbard         Reply with quote

Something that has worked quite well for me, especially with thinner leather and decoration under the leather, is to wet mould the leather to the scabbard and then make the seam at the back by pulling the leather up and clamping it with bulldog clips.

This allows you to adjust the seam as you go, exactly as described here.

If you let the leather dry and then stitch you also avoid the problem of misalignment and the tearing of wet leather.

it does leave a raised seam but with practice and some trimming, a small one.

cheers
mike

MIke O'Hara
Location: Plimmerton, New Zealand
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
Joined: 24 Aug 2011

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Fri 04 Mar, 2016 3:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Let's talk about templates in general....

I rarely use them. Not for grips, or for scabbards.

Instead, I tend to glue leather, well oversized, DRY, sectionally (with tension) when wrapping a grip, or scabbard core.

Now, that approach may not be to everyone's taste, and may upset several as being "non-historical". I DO use exterior grade Wood glue when I do this - and all stitching really becomes a mostly decorative effort within the final 1/2", each side, of the leather.

Leather varies in thickness... no paper template is going to duplicate what leather does EXACTLY. Beyond Thickness? It varies in "flex", "spongeness", "body", and all the other stuff that is hard to define in quantitative terms.

So - for me? The best template for leather is the SAME LEATHER. It's just a matter of how I use it Happy. We ALWAYS have scrap....as I PAID for that scrap? I use it to death Happy.

Now, folks.... I get that my style of work is not something all of you like. That's fine - ignore the style, focus on the methods. Wrapping a scabbard, or grip, sectionally - with final cutting at the END of the process, actually works well.. Your final form does NOT need to look like MY final form Happy.

Mine often look like this.....



Please - steal this.... not the end all, be all. .It does, however, seem to work.... and can be used to produce a more historical piece, if you desire.

http://findlithui.deanandsandy.dyndns.org:808...ore1.1.pdf
"Leather Wrap a Scabbard Core"

In edhil, hai edhil. In edain, hai edain.
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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Sat 05 Mar, 2016 4:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well I sewed the leather on dry which went rather well apart from a few misaligned stitches. The chisel worked great. There were a few bulges in the leather, especially at the cape end so I wet the whole thing down with a sponge without completely soaking the leather. This caused it to shrink a bit and the bulges went away. It also had the side effect of letting me slide the leather over the varnished surface of the wood core to straighten out most of the crooked seam sections. It's not a great seam but considering this is my first stab at building a scabbard I'm pretty happy.


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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good job!
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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Good job!


Thanks, but now I'm stuck on how to attach the chape and the locket. I was planning to just drill them and use a nail but then somebody told me to glue them on but I want them to be easily detachable so I can change the leather covering quickly.
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I usually make my scabbard such that the chape is so tight that I have to tap it into place with a rubber mallet

Same with the locket
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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 1:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
I usually make my scabbard such that the chape is so tight that I have to tap it into place with a rubber mallet

Same with the locket


That's the way it was probably done back in the day which is probably also why chapes are sometimes solitary finds. This being my first scabbard I seem to have messed this part up a bit as well. I'm going to nail them into place and if that don't work I'll use Epoxy. Also, my chape is pierced and the metal scratches the leather so If I made the chape fit super tightly the scratched leather would show through.
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
Joined: 24 Aug 2011

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kristjan Runarsson wrote:
Harry Marinakis wrote:
Good job!


Thanks, but now I'm stuck on how to attach the chape and the locket. I was planning to just drill them and use a nail but then somebody told me to glue them on but I want them to be easily detachable so I can change the leather covering quickly.


Let's consider this.... if you wish to change the leather on the core QUICKLY? EPOXY the chape.

Heat to about 300F with a torch, and pull it. Epoxy breaks down under heat. The LEATHER, that you were going to replace anyway, will suffer a bit. I still have a good 4 scabbard cores in my "graveyard box" - three are HT Fiberglass Happy. I removed the epoxied chape from each core as described..... it works Happy.

In edhil, hai edhil. In edain, hai edain.
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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Sun 06 Mar, 2016 2:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dean F. Marino wrote:
Kristjan Runarsson wrote:
Harry Marinakis wrote:
Good job!


Thanks, but now I'm stuck on how to attach the chape and the locket. I was planning to just drill them and use a nail but then somebody told me to glue them on but I want them to be easily detachable so I can change the leather covering quickly.


Let's consider this.... if you wish to change the leather on the core QUICKLY? EPOXY the chape.

Heat to about 300F with a torch, and pull it. Epoxy breaks down under heat. The LEATHER, that you were going to replace anyway, will suffer a bit. I still have a good 4 scabbard cores in my "graveyard box" - three are HT Fiberglass Happy. I removed the epoxied chape from each core as described..... it works Happy.


I'm not sure I can heat the set I'm currently working with since they are silver plated.
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