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Michael A. H.




Location: Earth
Joined: 18 Feb 2015

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2016 11:59 am    Post subject: Scabbard reproduction (DIY project)         Reply with quote

Greetings everybody, and a very happy new year!

I want to make my own scabbards for two swords (Albion Reeve, and Agincourt), complete with belts and fittings, using instructions from "yeoldgaffers.com", using what he calls the "historic method", meaning bending the two wooden slats to make the scabbard core.
I am pretty handy, and learn quickly, so no worries there (I think).

I am looking for information on the basic materials (wood and leather), as well as suppliers of chapes, decorative scabbard fittings, and belt fittings, and maybe some links to websites that describe techniques such as leather working, embossing etc.
I live in Sweden, so I am mainly interested in European suppliers, because of import duty and red tape etc which irritrates me greatly.

Question topic (1), wood for scabbards - I have read that some woods, like oak, promote oxydation or discoloration. Below are the wood types, mainly veneer type cuts, that are available to me here, and their thicknesses.
My questions: (a) which woods are known to be best, i.e. the most inert for the steel blade, and (b) which thickness is best? My guess 2.5 mm is best.

elm 2.5 mm
redwood (swedish) 2.5 mm, 1.5 mm
birch 2.5 mm, 1.5 mm
beech 2.5 mm
cherry 2.5 mm, 1.5 mm
red beech 2.5 mm, 1.5 mm
european ash 2.5 mm, 1.5 mm
Norway maple 1.5 mm
Teak 2.5 mm, 1.5 mm


Question topic (2), Leather - the "yeoldegaffers.com" site recommends 3-4 oz veg tanned leather. So my questions are: (a) how does 3-4 oz leather translate into thickness (1 mm is a little over 1/32 of an inch) ??? Also, listed below are the types of leather and their thickness available to me for the moment. So questions (b) which types and thicknesses have been used successfully by forum members here and are best and/or most durable? and (c) what is the best thread to sew the leather? I know that dental floss is used by people that stitch together "skin on frame" kayaks, so its pretty sturdy and reliable, but I wonder what forum members here have used.

goat, vegetable tanned, 1 mm, natural
goat, vegetable tanned, 0.7 to 0.9 mm, dyed black or brown
kalv, vegetable tanned, 1.4 mm, natural
raindeer, vegetable tanned, 0.6 to 0.7 mm, aniline dyed black or cognac brown,
raindeer, 0.7 to 0.9, vegatable tanned, natural

Question (3), fittings: other than the supplier listed by "yeoldegaffers.com" for scabbard chapes, which other suppliers for chapes, decorative scabbard fittings, and/or belt fittings in Europe are known to be authentic, reliable, and relatively affordable (I am not Bill Gates, and SWMBO will not tolerate extravagance)? I am also interested in suppliers of leather working tools, but that is not so urgent.

Thank you all in advance for your wisdom, I could really use any info you have .
Cheers, and tack så mycket!

Michael

"Its just the laudanum speaking." Stephen Maturin
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2016 12:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Michael,

Birch and maple are both good and local to you, go for 2.5mm

I also have no idea what 3-4oz is in mm, but sewing 1mm can be tricky but fine if you are gluing it, 1.2-1.5 is good for sewing. Many scabbards were sheep, so goat would be fine but many were also calf, so calf or cow is also good. Veg tan is much easier to work with and decorate, so go with that, un-dyed is best.

Dental floss will not take dye, so I would avoid that, but in the UK you can buy 'linen mattress twine 18/3', basically 3 core linen thread.

Buckles, chapes and fittings I would of course suggest myself here in the UK......

For tools and materials try Dick in Germany and Brisa in Finland and I would guess eBay will have a bit.

Not sure where to find decorating and working information but youtube I guess.

Tod

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Lloyd Winter




Location: Los Angeles
Joined: 27 Aug 2011

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PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2016 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

according to Tandy 4 oz is about 1.6mm

http://d2ch1jyy91788s.cloudfront.net/tandylea...rUsage.jpg
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Michael A. H.




Location: Earth
Joined: 18 Feb 2015

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2016 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

wow, thanks Lloyd and Leo for the info, very useful!
Tod (leo) - thanks for the info, and yes I will look at your website for scabbard/belt hardware - not sure you remember, but I got your Arn scabbard for my Oakshot, and it does fit really well, and boy its absolutely gorgeous ... but I wouldn't mind trying to make one myself, specially since SWMBO will not let me buy another one for a while ;-)

Looking at my post I realize I have many more questions:

Wood glue for the wooden core - Which one is least dangerous for the blade? (I have read somme horror stories ...) Also who sells this good glue in Europe?

Coloured stain for the leather - which to use and where to get it?

Thanks, and keep the info coming.
Cheers and beers,
Michael

Michael

"Its just the laudanum speaking." Stephen Maturin
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Leo Rousseau




Location: France
Joined: 27 Dec 2013

Posts: 19

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 2:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You have several option to stain your leather :

The first and obvious one is leather dyes and finishes (Fiebings, Tandy Eco-Flo, Aniline based stains ...)
The main difference between these is the solvent : some are oil based, some water based and some alcohol based. It is a matter of personal preference, but I would recommend you to stay away from alcohol based dyes as it has a tendency to stiffen and dry the leather. Water based dyes are really good for mixing color and really easy to apply (I like the Eco-Flo pro products). I can't speak for oil dyes as I have not experienced them yet.

Secondly you can use old recipes such as vinegaroon, which is a solution of ferric oxide that will react with the tannin in the leather (vegetable tanned only) and turn it black or blue grey depending on the concentration of the solution. Then you have to neutralize the reaction with a bath in sodium bicarbonate. You will need to finish it with several coats of oil such as neatsfoot oil as it drys the leather quite a bit.

There are as much recipes of vinegaroon as there are leatherworkers who use it, but the simplest way to make it is to throw some steel wool in a bottle with white vinegar and forgot it several weeks to let the wool dissolve.

Another way is to use a stain made from walnut fruit bark but I know only its French name (Brou de Noix) that will give a brown color to the leather. You can thin it with water to get a lighter shade of brown or apply several coats to get a darker shade.

Lastly if you like the natural color of the leather you can darken it a bit using oils such as neatsfoot oil or linseed oil.

All theses method will work only with undyed vegetable tanned leather and it is generally a good idea to test the dye on a scrap piece before going for the main part.

PS : the American Oz system for leather thickness doesn't make any sense to me either !


Last edited by Leo Rousseau on Thu 07 Jan, 2016 4:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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M. Curk




Location: Slovenia
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PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 4:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael, I must say I highly appreciate your effort to find out as much as you can about scabbard making because I'm preparing myself to make a scabbard too, and information gathered in one thread like this is very helpful!

As Leo Russeau proposed walnut is a good source of brown dye. I would say using green husks that wrap the nut while growing is a great (and easy) way to go - you just soak them in water and wait as far as I know.

The Oz system is so unlogical to us Europeans mainly because it is based on the weight of the material (like grams per square meter).

Cheers!
Miha
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Michael A. H.




Location: Earth
Joined: 18 Feb 2015

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks and merci beaucoup Miha and Leo Rousseau - I like the idea of the water (and maybe oil) based dyes. The vinagaroon I probably stay away from for the moment since it requires "fixing" it in sodium bicarbonate by soaking in it; since I would prefer to stain the leather once its on the wooden core (as suggested by yeoldegaffe.com) I will put that method on the back burner. The method with "le brou de noix" sounds interesting also, but I would need to find a source for the wallnut bark, since we onle get them here in Sweden liberated from the green soft bark, so just in a shell.

For the leather I decided I will go for the veg tanned kalv (thickest) and maybe the thicker goat or raindeer for that norse influence.

Since I can't seem to find poplar here, for the wood I will probably go for birch or beech, since they both are known to not affect the blades, and again give it the nordic touch. I would like to try some of the other woods, like cherry which I know from kayak building is quite hard and tough, or even the maple, ash, or teak, but there seems to be no info on their effects on blades stored in that sort of wood, so I rather stay away from that for the moment.

So any info on glues that are inert w.r.t. steel blades, and give a durable bond?

Also, I read that some scabbards were lined with fleece or other material of some kind - I guess wool or felt? Anybody have thoughts on how to glue that inside the scabbard so that it really stays in there - one would hate to spend so much effort on a scabbard only to have the lining come loose inside and get stuffed inside so that the sword will no linger fit :-(

Anyway, thank you all for the great info,
Michael

Michael

"Its just the laudanum speaking." Stephen Maturin
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Leo Rousseau




Location: France
Joined: 27 Dec 2013

Posts: 19

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 6:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It appears the English name is simply "Black Walnut Stain". You can find it pre-made and rather cheap in small to large containers in DIY stores as it is commonly used as a wood stain.
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Ben Anbeek
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PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 8:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

for the glue i always use bone or hide glue.
It takes some more time to prepare butt it's authentic and wont stain your blade.

and I most lined scabbard are pre middle ages or very early.

regards ben

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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 12:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael

Good luck! Keep us posted on your progress.

Good historical choices for wood would be a medium-to-hard wood from the local area. Poplar seems to have ben the most popular. But I have read of scabbards made from elm, birch, oak and others. Redwood would be too soft, and exotic woods are not appropriate. 2.5mm thickness is excellent, scabbard plates were often 1.5 to 3mm in thickness.

3-4 oz leather is the thinnest leather that I would use - it is an excellent choice, though, especially if you want to add some risers to the scabbard. If you want to add tooling, I would use thicker 5-6 oz. leather instead.

The stitching patterns on the Yeo Olde gaffers site are not historical. A saddler's stitch with a closed seam, or a running whip stitch with a butted seam would be more appropriate. Here are some good references for medieval leather stitching:

http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/shoe/STITCH.HTM
http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/....HTM#SEAMS


Plain = Closed seam

The choice of thread depends on whether you are going to dye the leather before or after you sew the cover into place. If you use waxed thread, you will get wax all over your leather and then it won't dye properly. Nylon thread is the strongest but is not historical. I use undyed, unwaxed linen thread, which then gets dyed the same color as the scabbard. Alternatively you can leave the linen thread undyed.

As Ben mentioned, lining scabbards with wool (10th C) or hair-covered skins (Bronze age to Viking) seems to have fallen out of favor sometime around AD 1200 plus or minus.

For your Albion Reeve, I would not use a chape, decorative fittings, tooling or anything else except wood, leather and thread. But sure to use a tied belt, NOT a buckled belt.

You can get a lot fancier with the Agincourt.
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Michael A. H.




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PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 1:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks again to all for the very useful info - Leo, Ben and Harry.

I will look for the bone/hide glue and the premixed Walnut stain (would not know where too find walnut husk here in Sweden).

I do realize lining the scabbard is more of a migration period/early medieval characteristic, but one of the swords I want to make a scabbard for is the Albion Reeve (which I L-O-V-E) and that is supposed to be a pre-invasion Anglo Saxon / late Viking type sword (i.e. 11th century at the latest) so I thought lining it might be great, but then this being my first go at it, I will probably wait till I have actually completed a version 1.0 :-)

For the wood I am pretty much set on birch or beech, but I like the comment about the type of stitching, and I will go for the plain or maybe butt seam; they look somewhat easier to me, but then I have never sewed leather ... the thread I will use should be stainable since I will try to dye the leather "in situ" rather than before, but that could change, depending on the colour scheme I will end up with.

Is there any info btw on scabbard colours? I do like the light brown / dark brown combo I got on my scabbard from Leo Todeschini for my Albion Oakshot, it reminds me of the leather field scabbards of Victorian or WWI British sabers, but I wonder if our hard living / hard playing high medieval ancestors did not have similar taste in scabbard colours as they did for some of their clothing which was pretty "loud" by modern tastes. Are there any known speciemens of scabbard remains that show signs of more colourful leather staining - other than the ornate gold or silver plated scabbards (this reminds me of some very gorgeous late Merowingian / early Frankish swords and gold plated scabbards I saw on a recent trip to Cologne at the roman-germanic museum and in the cathedral's treasure chamber - I mean wow - photos where not allowed, and guards were ubiquitous, so no pics ...)
But given the Reeve's "utalitarian" no nonsense, "here comes business" look and feel, I will probably go with a more simple look on the Reeve scabbard as suggested by Harry (though I wonder why no chape?), but for the Agincourt, being from the 100 years war and all, I might "live it up" a little.

Anyway guys, thanks again, my bed calls, and my three small children will rise and shine around 6 am - so I must rise too, but I will not shine till my first coffee :-)

Cheers,
Michael

Michael

"Its just the laudanum speaking." Stephen Maturin
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Michael A. H.




Location: Earth
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PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Harry, I was also planning to go for a tied belt for the Reeve, seems more natural that way, but why no chape?
Good night,
Michael

Michael

"Its just the laudanum speaking." Stephen Maturin
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
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PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I understand your original post - you desire to make, and wrap, a scabbard core.

Please steal these PDFs. FREE. They are not the end all, be all. They ARE data, which you might find usefull, as opposed to what I have seen in this thread....

http://findlithui.deanandsandy.dyndns.org:808...ter1.2.pdf
"Make a Poplar Scabbard Core with a Router"

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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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 4:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael A. H. wrote:
I have never sewed leather ..

Then practice first. Never do anything on your scabbard that you haven't practiced on scraps.

Michael A. H. wrote:
but why no chape?

See if you can find a chape on a sword scabbard from the time/place of your choosing. If you can, then use a chape. if not, then don't. Chapes were rather rare in the 11th and 12th C, and chapes were sometimes absent well into the 14th C.

You can try searching the illuminated manuscripts. Try this search engine for references:
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/
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Ben Anbeek
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PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2016 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a old topic I wrote on making a scabbard including pictures.
Maybe it can help you.

http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=21972&highlight=diy

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Michael A. H.




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2016 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, thanks guys, that's a lot of very nice info (Ben and Dean), great guides to look at over the weekend and get ideas from.
And regarding the usage of chapes, thanks for the really great link Harry, something I never thought about, so I will start to look there for hints and examples ... somehow I always took the presence of a chape for granted.

Well, got to catch some Zzzzz now, home alone with three small children this weekend :-o

Cheers, and catch you all Monday (if I survive)
Michael

Michael

"Its just the laudanum speaking." Stephen Maturin
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