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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 11 Dec, 2011 11:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
But the exact nature of bronze age warfare remains a question. If you look at the Ilias, much of it seems to be fact single combat rather than shield wall combat. From Roman sources we know that the Celts also preferred individual bravery to formation fighting. .

But the Roman sources like to try and emphasise the "primitive" nature of the Celts compared to their own "sophistication". The Celts had been fighting as mercenaries for the Greek tyrants since before the founding of Rome and had plenty of experience fighting in tight hoplite formations.
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Bjorn Hagstrom




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Dec, 2011 2:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Russ Mitchell reckons that semi-tanned leather is good material for shields and armour. Problem is that you can't buy it today because tanners consider it to be reject product and reprocess it so that it is fully tanned.


Not true, it is commercially available and used for knife-sheaths, at least here in scandinavia. (If you are interested in a sample I can get you some, I think I have some scrap pieces left after making a sax-scabbard last year. just send me a PM)

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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Dec, 2011 5:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good to know that someone is making it commercially. It gets pretty stinky if you have to tan your own hides Happy
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Bjorn Hagstrom




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Dec, 2011 1:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is an image of the cross section of some half-tanned leather, you can really see the sandwiched layer of raw hide between the tanned outer and inner layer of leather. The thicker piece is 4mm in total, and quite hard to work with, dry or soaked..

I really, really like the idea of hardening leather with glue-soak. It is quite an obvious solution when you think of it. Much confusion in leather discussions come from that we must distinguish between forming and hardening. Soaking the leather will allow you to form it. Heating/baking the leather will harden it. Using hot wax to treat the leather is a way to do a bit of both. The main advantage of using hot wax is that the melting point is low, so minimizing the risk of overcooking the leather making it shrivel to crumbly brittle fragments. But as Johan has noticed, the leather then is pre-lubricated to make it less cut resistant than a dry leather surface. I will try glue soak next time I get the glue-pot!



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Cross section of half-tanned leather [ Download ]

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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Dec, 2011 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Baking leather without reducing it's natural strength is done by having it put wet in the oven at 70-85 degrees Celsius and baking it for a couple of hours until it gets hard. 85 degrees is where the leather will start to shrink and shrivel and turn hard but brittle, so never go above it, because it turns into a ceramic-like material unsuitable for armour or shields. What you want is to bake it to a woody feel that still can take bending and impacts.
Then soak in historical glue of your choice. Hide-, bone-, cheese-, or fish glue should all work, though I'd stay off the rotten egg foul smelling antler glue for obvious reasons. My preference would be hide glue since it smells like tasty fudge when you heat it and is the same bonding you already have in the leather, you're just adding more of the same to it.
Then cold wax the surface to not make it go sticky from moisture. Perhaps one could try melting it on carefully to seal just the surface layer. My method isn't fully developed in this part yet, I get sticky when wet but very strong leather pieces.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2012 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:
Baking leather without reducing it's natural strength is done by having it put wet in the oven at 70-85 degrees Celsius and baking it for a couple of hours until it gets hard. 85 degrees is where the leather will start to shrink and shrivel and turn hard but brittle, so never go above it, because it turns into a ceramic-like material unsuitable for armour or shields. What you want is to bake it to a woody feel that still can take bending and impacts.
Then soak in historical glue of your choice. Hide-, bone-, cheese-, or fish glue should all work, though I'd stay off the rotten egg foul smelling antler glue for obvious reasons. My preference would be hide glue since it smells like tasty fudge when you heat it and is the same bonding you already have in the leather, you're just adding more of the same to it.
Then cold wax the surface to not make it go sticky from moisture. Perhaps one could try melting it on carefully to seal just the surface layer. My method isn't fully developed in this part yet, I get sticky when wet but very strong leather pieces.


Ok, I have just stitched up a quiver, and will try to harden it. I just realised that I have the perfect leather-hardening device right in my basement. The quiver will accompany me in the sauna tonight, stuffed with soaked towels to get the right shape.

I'm still not sure if I will glue-soak the inside, maybe just pour some fish-glue into the very bottom of it to make it a little extra wear-resistant for the arrow-points (have already made an extra bottom imlay of 5mm sole-leather) and see if the difference in hardness is noticable. I'll let you know how it turns out!

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Mackenzie Cosens




Location: Vancouver Canada
Joined: 08 Aug 2007

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PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2012 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bjorn Hagstrom wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
Russ Mitchell reckons that semi-tanned leather is good material for shields and armour. Problem is that you can't buy it today because tanners consider it to be reject product and reprocess it so that it is fully tanned.


Not true, it is commercially available and used for knife-sheaths, at least here in scandinavia. (If you are interested in a sample I can get you some, I think I have some scrap pieces left after making a sax-scabbard last year. just send me a PM)


Not sure it it is the same thing as semi tanned but in North America you can get a rawhide side "Average size is 18-20 sq ft. and the weight is 4 to 6 oz." from Tandy. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/sea...67-01.aspx

I originally pick up a side to make a leather facing for a speculative reconstruction of a composite rawhide and wood shield. I have soaked this and used it to make shield edging for shields I used for "Viking" sword play demos. It is very tough and with suitable surface treatment to keep the moisture out, I speculate it would be excellent base material for armour or shield.
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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2012 11:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mackenzie Cosens wrote:


Not sure it it is the same thing as semi tanned but in North America you can get a rawhide side "Average size is 18-20 sq ft. and the weight is 4 to 6 oz." from Tandy. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/sea...67-01.aspx

I originally pick up a side to make a leather facing for a speculative reconstruction of a composite rawhide and wood shield. I have soaked this and used it to make shield edging for shields I used for "Viking" sword play demos. It is very tough and with suitable surface treatment to keep the moisture out, I speculate it would be excellent base material for armour or shield.


Now, semi-tanned and rawhide are not the same product. Semi-tanned once was rawhide, but tanned enough to turn into leather on the outside, while keeping a raw-hide core, kind of a sandwiched composite.

Btw, the Sauna-baked quiver experiment is now done and it worked well. It turned out hard but not too brittle (it seems at the moment anyway) it will need some nice surface treatment of wax-lanolin and then good to go.

Best thing about this method is that there is ample space for moulds, jigs and rigs that would not fit into a kitchen oven.

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