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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Sun 17 Apr, 2005 9:49 am    Post subject: Laminated scabbards. Also help needed for DIY chape.         Reply with quote

I have made a good quality and nicely shaped core for my Albion Crecy Grete. I have the materials to cover it with leather, but no access to a forge or investment casting type processes. Does anyone have experience making attractive and functional chapes with typical home tools?

I have made 5 very similar wood core scabbards, all 36" long to fit the same blade. My objective in making all of these cores for the same sword was to end up with one lined core for storage with good oiled cloth to blade contact, and an unlined core for more traditional presentation. Additionally, I wanted to experiment with lamination over the exterior of the wood core. I believe the combination of leather and wood construction could have resulted from rather poor historical performance of hide glue for permanently bonding wood to wood, while historical performance of hide (both from animal and fish skin) glue for bonding leather and sinew to wood was excellent (good enough to make laminated bows.) I do not have an interest in making my own glue from fish skin (is water proof and was done all over the world by 1000 AD) but felt that fibergloss cloth and epoxy would work well, and not be noticeable underneath a leather cover. After 5 trials, I had the two cores I was after with very good fit. This left me with 3 extra cores (too loose or too tight a fit to offer to someone else) that I chose to use for destructive tests.

Of the three "extra cores" one was a cloth lined core with about 1/8" thick poplar wood and two layers of epoxy fiberglass lamination. The two solid cores were about 1/4" thick wood (one walnut, and one poplar) and neither were laminated, simply glued with yellow carpenters wood glue after hollowing out of the halves. My simple test was to support the ends of the 36" long scabbards on two logs (Osage Orange sections left from a tentative bow project.) I stood on the center of the scabbards and judged how much of my weight they could bear. The two solid wood core scabbards were obviously going to fail under my weight, but my 50 lb (22 kg) son could stand on them with creaking and groaning sound of impending failure. If he jumped, the scabbards failed. The much thinner but laminated core bore my weight. I decided to test it for resilience and found that it made a pretty good trampoline. I got bold and had my wift take a picture since I was not sure anyone would believe this. I was attempting to spring very high into the air, when the laminated core made that little sound like paper tearing (nylon threads within the lamination tearing) and suddenly cracked.

My conclusion that I wished to share on this post is that using lamination over the core of a scabbard obviously increases strength significantly (at least in this one instance by more than a factor of 4.) We know that scabbards for katana's were sometimes laminated with shark or ray skin and fish glue. I would be logical that in wood/leather medieval scabbards, the leather was not just decorative, but an integral part of the scabbard structure.

Jared Smith



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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Sun 17 Apr, 2005 1:09 pm    Post subject: Geometry of core to be covered         Reply with quote

I did not give any comments on the scabbard tip area where I need to create a chape, so I am adding a view of the core I kept for covering. Some of the views in the photo are intended to illustrate a few points (may be good or bad points depending on various peoples opinions!)

The wood core tip is a 1-5/8" diameter semicircle about 1/2" thick, and has about 1/2" length additional length solid wood beyond the tip of the sword. This would permit a tack to be driven through the chape in the tip region, but I don't know if it was ever done. Some historical chapes that I saw being auctioned on the internet have mentioned a small hole, which the offerers' described as a drain hole.

The interior shape of this core is easy to create using a router and some sanding blocks (the sword itself was the sanding block for the mouth area.) The perimeter grooves provide relief such that cutting edges do not contact wood. Complicated geometry near the fuller seemed to cause shuddering during insertion/ withdrawl and did not seem like a great feature to me. I have speculated that period scabbards for commoners may have been simple steam formed slats, with a resultant canoe type cross section. The only friction and contact between the sword and scabbard is against the flat surfaces on the faces of the cutting edges, yet it inserts reliably without binding.

The mouth of the slats were left with a little interference (about 5 to 10 thousandths of an inch). The wood halfs of the scabbard were glued from the tip up to within about 5" of the mouth. With the sword inserted, the mouth springs like a giant clothes pin. If not laminated, the glue joints on the slats would certainly fail over repeated use. In this case, I laminated over the slats with the sword inserted. The lamination has some elasticity as you may deduce from the previous photo. I theorize that some period wood/leather scabbards may have had a similar elasticity if they were laminated.



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Glen S. Ramsay




Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 12:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting post, Jared. Thanks for sharing...
The pic of you standing on the scabbard is impressive! I didn't realize laminating it could add so much strength
As far as chapes, take a look at this thread: http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s...light=Eric
Eric said he had to heat the brass to red hot before hammering it to shape on an anvil. I know you said you have no access to a forge, so maybe this method isn't doable for you (although the metal could be heated other ways).
There's also the kind of chape Tom Carr did on a scabbard here: http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s...t=scabbard
That one looks to be fairly straightforward, just cut out of a flat "][" shaped piece of metal, bent around the tip, and pinned. Not sure if the bending part would require heating the metal up, but it's probably the simplest form that coud be done.
If something fancier is desired, you could try something like John Lundemo did on the chape for the scabbard for David Stokes' sword, Gwailas, pictured below. Just cut the four connected "sides" of the chape out of flat sheet metal and "fold" them up from the connected part at the tip to meet the scabbard. If you cut smooth edges and get a precise enough fit, you could even braze them together where they meet and end up with a solid chape.
Well, that's my two cents...

By the way, nice job on the scabbard...



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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 8:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe some Viking scabbards, at least, were made with a layer or two of cloth wrapped around the wooden core, underneath the leather. This would produce a similar, if not necessarily quite as strong, laminated structure.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 4:35 pm    Post subject: cloth covered scabbards         Reply with quote

I may go with a brass chape since I can purchase relatively thick plate at a hardware store, and heat it with a torch. Alternatively, I guess I could just grind and grind on some very thick stock.

I too had heard that viking scabbards were covered with linen cloth and lots of glue. I don't know of its sources but this web site mentions viking swords being covered with several wraps of linen and lots of glue....http://www.regia.org/sword.htm.

To me, the liberal amounts of glue over cloth on surviving scabbards is a tip off for anyone who has used hide glues. Plenty of people who are around 75+ years old today and who have used older hide glue are aware of how poorly it performs long term for binding wood to wood (works great at first, then fails over a few years if subjected to weather fluctuations.) In contrast, many bows from all over the world were based on lamination of leather and skin to wood (some how the glue turns out much better giving the parent ingredients in the leather) survived from various regions of the world, and can be viewed in the 3 book series (The Bowyers Bible). Glueing of wood to wood (grip area, limbs to riser, etc.) was never depended upon for construction of any non-modern bows that I am aware of.

I strongly suspect that glueing of wood scabbard halves togather would only have been counted on as an assembly technique. Additionally, the above referenced web site and some others regarding the scabbard(s) of St. Maurice have mentioned that the leather covering was very thin (like calf skin - just millimeters thick), which would be appropriate if the construction philosophy were actually based on lamination. Stitching one of the scabbards (there are two claimed sword's of St. Maurice) is actually a side seam, pointing to sock like sewing and tightness of fit.

Jared Smith
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2005 4:47 pm    Post subject: Re: cloth covered scabbards         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
... Additionally, the above referenced web site and some others regarding the scabbard(s) of St. Maurice have mentioned that the leather covering was very thin (like calf skin - just millimeters thick), which would be appropriate if the construction philosophy were actually based on lamination. Stitching one of the scabbards (there are two claimed sword's of St. Maurice) is actually a side seam, pointing to sock like sewing and tightness of fit.


Even though 1) we have the benefit of wicked-strong modern wood glue, and 2) our modern scabbards won't see anything CLOSE to what those in use then, I am still counting on the leather cover to provide the bulk of the security of the core halves. I think you are on target here, Jared.

-Aaron Schnatterly
_______________

Fortior Qui Se Vincit
(He is stronger who conquers himself.)
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Apr, 2005 2:47 am    Post subject: Re: cloth covered scabbards         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I too had heard that viking scabbards were covered with linen cloth and lots of glue. I don't know of its sources but this web site mentions viking swords being covered with several wraps of linen and lots of glue....http://www.regia.org/sword.htm.

There's also "Viking Weapons and Warfare" by Kim Siddorn (himself of Regia Anglorum, so the sources are probably the same as for that site). A very good book, IMO.

Even with modern glue, I don't think I'd trust a scabbard to hold together without a cover of some sort, be it leather, cloth, metal or other. Wood chips too easily; I can see it cracking under stress if not at the seam, then right next to it, ie. the glued surface sticks to the other half while the body itself is detached. It's happened to me with furniture...

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Risto Rautiainen




Location: Kontiolahti, Finland
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Apr, 2005 2:56 am    Post subject: Re: cloth covered scabbards         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Glueing of wood to wood (grip area, limbs to riser, etc.) was never depended upon for construction of any non-modern bows that I am aware of.


First a little off-topic stuff... An Ostyak recurve bow's back is made of birch and belly of pine that has grown on a swamp or otherwise in harsh conditions. The bow is glued together with IIRC fish skin glue and wrapped in birch bark.

What comes to scabbards, I've noticed that if you glue the scabbard halves together, wrap linen around it with glue and then glue leather over the whole thing, you'll have one damn durable scabbard. I haven't tried it with any traditional glues, but would think they work just as well.
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