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Artur Zima




Location: UK
Joined: 11 Apr 2016

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2021 11:27 am    Post subject: 9th / 10th Century Viking Scabbard Build DIY         Reply with quote

Hello,

I'd like to share with you my most recent project - a scabbard for my Viking age sword (made by Vladimir Cervenka). Hopefully this might help someone trying to do a similar thing and also I'd love to hear your thoughts or tips, so I can improve my workflow in the future.

I wanted to base the overall configuration and some of the decoration on the Cronk Moar and Ballateare scabbards. I was aiming to make it fairly authentic with the exception of modern glue and tools. It was going to be a wooden core, lined with wool, wrapped in linen and covered with leather.

I started off by carving out the wooden core, which was made of beech wood. This was probably the longest part of the whole process as I was doing it by hand and trying to get a good fit. It was a bit tricky fiting the sword due to the lining being loose but after long hours and frustration it finally fit. Next, I used a coping saw to cut the boards to a rough shape and then finished it off with a belt sander. I tried to make the core quite slim and rounded, in the end the boards were about 3 mm towards the top.



After the core was done, I cut out the pieces for the lining from wool fabric. I experimented with a few glues to stick the fabric and I ended up using Titebond original. In fact, that's the only glue I used for the entire project. It bonds fabric to wood fairly well without causing any corrosion to the sword. I later used it to glue two core halves together as well as the linen wrapping.





Gluing the linen wrapping wasn't too difficult, but you have to make sure to keep constant tension on the fabric to avoid it bunching up or creating bubbles. I did it in small sections to make sure it all adhered correctly. What I found quite useful for this step were velcro strips, normally used for cable management. They are great for clamping the core!



Once the linen was glued I added thin strips of leather (around 2 mm by 2 mm) to create risers in the leather cover. Based on my research the scabbards from that period were not richly decorated in contrast to the seax sheaths, so the risers were the only bit of decoration I was going to do. I loosely based it on the Cronk Moar example and some York finds as well. It wasn't mean to be a one to one replica so I made it a little more unique but still using similar shapes to the originals. Hopefully it wouldn't stand out too much back in the 9th century.

Later, I rubbed the whole thing with beeswax, just enough to work the wax into the fibbers. It's an extra step but it does make it more waterproof, flattens any linen fibbers and fills any gaps in the fabric, so I think it's worth doing.



Next, I covered the scabbard with a 1.5 mm veg tan leather. I soaked the leather in water to make it soft and then used a bone folder to impress the shapes. Before doing this I also wrapped the core in cling film to prevent adding unnecessary moisture to it. I found it quite difficult to get a good fit around the tip, I trimmed the leather while it was still moist only to realise later that it shrunk more then I expected. Unfortunately, I couldn't stretch the leather to cover the tip fully. Luckily that part was going to be covered by the chape. Lesson learned for the next one! To dye it I used Fiebings Pro Dye Mohogany.




To stitch the leather I used a waxed linen thread. I've read the most stitches in the period were done using grain-edge stitching. However, based on my tests I couldn't do it without ripping the leather, so I used a grain-flesh whip stitch. I imagine historically some scabbards were stitched this way as well. If anyone has any tips how to do a grain-edge seam, do let me know!

Finally, I made the belts and attached the fittings. All the fittings (except for the buckle plate and square washers) are made from bronze by Pera Peris, which are based on Gotland and Birka finds.

Sorry for not getting into too much detail about each step, but the post is already quite lengthy. If you have any questions or comments let me know. First sword scabbard complete, hurray! Here's the final product:








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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 55

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2021 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, looks really nice! Some day I will probably attempt a basic scabbard, so seeing this definitely helps.
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2021 6:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very impressive

The hidden edge-grain stitch is not something that I have not figured out either. I would have to use a leather that is much thicker than I am willing to use.

For your next project, may I suggest natural period dyes to take it one step further? Though I admit that I know nothing about Viking-age leather dyes.

You did a great job.
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P Ullrich





Joined: 26 Apr 2013

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2021 8:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicely done! Thank you for the details and pics
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
Likes: 5 pages

Posts: 830

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2021 11:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really nice! Well done!
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Likes: 110 pages
Reading list: 18 books

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Posts: 1,214

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2021 12:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice work.
Éirinn go Brách
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Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
Joined: 04 Mar 2012
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 370

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2021 3:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That looks absolutely great...really well done work.
The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,270

PostPosted: Sat 09 Jan, 2021 1:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

WoW, that looks great and the whole explanation of the process really interesting.

One problem expressed by some who have tried to make a wood core scabbard is that even a perfectly fitting one can unfortunately shrink and make the sword difficult or impossible to to get into or out of the scabbard ?

Just an idea: Making the scabbard a little loose and then adding small strips of thin wood glued at the throat of the scabbard to finish fit the blade to the scabbard for a good fit.

One can alway shave down these strips of wood should the scabbard shrink more, or add/replace them later with a thicker strip of wood should the scabbard become too loose ?

I did years ago have a custom made scabbard made at the same time with a dagger that became too tight for the blade to be inserted fully, very frustrating, but I managed to use a thin sharpened home made tool to slowly scrape the inside wood on the fully assembled scabbard to make the dagger blade fully fit again.

Well, I said dagger but more precisely it's more a narrow bladed Bowie knife with a slightly convex grind on the main edge and with the false edge 1/2 the length of the blade having a narrow but deep hollow ground false edge ..... The blade is sort of a cross between a Bowie, a Scottish Dirk and a bit of a Japanese aesthetics of my own design .... Not historical by the way.

Note not a fault of the maker of the knife and scabbard, just that a different climate had the wood of the scabbard change dimensions which can be an issue that one should keep in mind.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Michael P. Smith




Location: Muncie, Indiana
Joined: 11 Jul 2018
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 106

PostPosted: Sun 10 Jan, 2021 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Very impressive

The hidden edge-grain stitch is not something that I have not figured out either. I would have to use a leather that is much thicker than I am willing to use.

For your next project, may I suggest natural period dyes to take it one step further? Though I admit that I know nothing about Viking-age leather dyes.

You did a great job.


When is your book coming out so we have some recipes?
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 14 Jan, 2021 10:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael P. Smith wrote:
When is your book coming out so we have some recipes?

I have not yet found a publisher who is even remotely interested
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