Where to get thin slats of wood for scababrds; beech, poplar
I am gearing up to make a few scabbards, and find it surprisingly difficult to find thin slats of wood. Thus I'd like to ask in what kind of stores or businesses you get yours.

I find 1/8" thick slats for late medieval purposes and 1/16" for 18th C. swords are elusive at best.

Sawn veneer is very difficult to come by and usually starts at much higher thickness, and sliced veneer is rarely thick enough. What's worse: thanks to the way sliced veneer is made, it has it's grain considerably weakened.

So, do you folks have some good advice for sources, where to look?
When I need something made of a particular type of hardwood, I often approach my local schools. Most all schools offer woodshop classes, and they are always willing to help. I'll bet you could get some slats cut from the wood of your choice, in the width and thickness you want....and probably for free. You would probably have to buy the wood though. Just something to consider. :) .....McM
Well, I learned a woodworking trade, and in theory could make some. I even have people willing to let me use their machinery. But at those thin dimensions, it's a rather derpy and tedius task.

I was wondering, if those thicknesses were available ready made somewhere. :/
Can you find access to a planer (Holzhobelmaschine)? This will make the job quicker and fairly easy.
Yeah. but at 1/16, or nearing that, the machine just eats it...
Alexander B wrote
Yeah. but at 1/16, or nearing that, the machine just eats it...

Sanding thicknesser will do it
If you are in the US, I found Lowes carries a variety of nice wood slats in 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, 3 inches across and 24 and 26 inch lengths. Lots of Poplar, and fairly inexpensive. Woodcraft stores also carry a variety of hard wood slats.
I get mine here:

http://massiv-holz-werkstatt.de/ has a wide variety of woods and sizes, including ones you are looking for.

I'd recommend going through his ebay shop, works out cheaper and faster usually.

Also, instead of poplar, which I have found is near impossible to get in Germany, you could use tulip poplar ("Tulpenbaum").
Not really historically accurate, but it has basically the same properties as poplar and works very well for traditionally carved scabbards in my experience.
I second Michael's suggestion.
Our home centers and hardwood suppliers in the USA also sell yellow tulip poplar. They erroneously call it "poplar", but it's not the same tree or wood as populus/poplar. But it's not a bad alternative considering the price. It's light, tight grained. It steam bends well, and is lovely to carve and sand. I highly recommend it for all sorts of projects including scabbard cores.

Look for model boat builders.

they sell basswood (poplar) in sheets up to 4" wide and just 1/16th thick.
Thank you all VERY much. Especially the Massiv Holz Werkstatt sounds very promising. Are their thin slats and Boards sliced like veneer or are they made otherwise?

I have read poplar is a fine wood to work with and ever so slightly alkaline, not inducing tarnishing of the blade. For my 18th C. smallsword scabbards, I have 2 text sources, one exclusively mentioning beech the other listing beech, syccamore and pine (of all woods!)
I am rather fon dof beech, well the end products of beech, not exactly the eternal struggle of working with that metal in wooden disguise...

How do you folks prevent your blades from staining in wooden scabbards?
Just a quick note - if you're looking for poplar because of the historical significance, and don't want to use tulip poplar then try looking for aspen (Populus tremula). It's the common name of true European poplar.

As a maker of historically accurate arrows I went on a VERY long journey to locate a reliable, continuous source of true poplar because nowhere in the entire United Kingdom can you buy the real stuff, it's all labelled poplar but is in fact tulip.

Aspen grows like a weed in Scandinavia, and this is where I get mine from but it's also used extensively as planking and boards in saunas, because of its excellent resistance to rot. Try sauna supply shops (they sell it in flat boards that you would need to reduce down).

You could also try looking on American eBay pages, because they have quaking aspen (Populus tremuloids) which is so similar to European aspen you wouldn't know the difference.
At the moment, I kind of swing back and forth between poplar and beech.

The latter is a wood I am very fond of; solid, tough, smooth surface and it doesn't splinter.
Poplar I haven'T worked with before, but I hear it is nice to work with. Also, I hear it is ever so slightly alkaline, so it won't make the swords rust in the scabbards.

Beech seems to be very mildly acidic, like most woods are. And I don't know what to do to positively make sure the blades don't tarnish. I would have hoped to glue in some fabric lining to hold some oil. But it seems that was increasingly uncommon, and now I wonder what else I could do

If I could get around those acidity problems, I'd be quite content with beech.
Alexander B. wrote:
Are their thin slats and Boards sliced like veneer or are they made otherwise?

Judging from the boards i got, they are sawed and/or sanded.

Alexander B. wrote:
How do you folks prevent your blades from staining in wooden scabbards?

I have scabbards with wool lining, linen lining and no lining. When I put a sword in it's scabbard I give them the same treatment as when I hang them on a wall, if I touched metal I wipe it down with a slightly oily rag. Never had a blade show any signs of tarnish.

The most important thing for that result is to either not use acidic glue in the construction, or if you do, make sure the glue does not contact the blade and is 100% dry and hardened before you store the sword in the scabbard for long.
I plan on usung hide glue. No clue if that is acidic, But it seems it was historically used.
Popular is a softer hardwood, but it's rather fibrous and not fun to chisel

Birch is much harder but it's a dream to work with, actually easier to carve & chisel than poplar.

If all else fails, jet a thicker board and plane it or sand it down to the thickness you want.
Birch, or beech?
Are you making scabbards for a blunt reenactment blade or a sharpie?I If the answer is the former, I tried one single time to make a historically accurate scabbard by carving a channel for the blade into solid slats of wood. It was an interesting experience but rather labour intensive and so I switched to plywood. That's obviously cheating but plywood is available in any number of thicknesses, it''s easy to saw and can be glued together into layers obviating any need for carving out a channel for the blade or moulding the wood over the blade. Also it's pretty strong, I've had people stand on my scabbard while I lay on the ground pretending to be dead and so far I have not had a single scabbard break on me. Finally, once the scabbard covering is on, nobody really cares what the wooden core is made of. I normally use strips of birch plywood for the sides of the scabbard and poplar plywood plates for the top and bottom plates to save on weight. A solid birch scabbard ends up weighing about twice as much as a scabbard that is made mostly of poplar. If you want to carve your own scabbard out of two slats of wood you might want to try linden wood, it is light and flexible but strong enough to make shields out of it and it is easy to carve.

For a sharpie, I'd prefer the moulding approach to that of carving out a channel in the shape of the blade into solid wooden slats which is a lot of fiddly work. Moulding the wood around the blade is easier, just don't forget to apply some kind of easily removable masking tape to the blade to keep it from rusting since you'll have to make the wood wet or steam it before moulding. You might also want to line the inside of the scabbard with some textile or sheep fleece. A favourite wood for moulded scabbards seems to be Poplar.

There is a nice summary of all of these methods here:

About obtaining slats, I had the same problem when looking for 8-10 mm linden wood slats for a plank shield I'm planning to build. The thinnest wood I could find was about an inch thick. I eventually ended up buying a six c.a 2.5 x 18 cm linden wood planks (don't remember the exact dimensions). I took them to a wood working shop where they had a large table saw and one of those mechanical planing machines. The big table saw could saw about 10 cm into the sides of each plank creating twelve slats/planks that were about 1..2 x 20 cm thick. These slats were then planed planed down to the 1 cm thickness I needed. The slats you want do not need to be as wide as mine were, a scabbard for a late medieval sword is never more than what? 4-7 cm wide at the most so you could have a poplar plank sawn down length wise into 5-8 cm wide planks and then have those saw down into the 5-8 cm wide by 0.3 cm thick slats you need. All you need is a half hour at a quality table saw or a small wood working shop that will do it for you.

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