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Alexander O

Location: Southern Germany
Joined: 14 May 2020

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri 15 May, 2020 2:21 am    Post subject: Longsword Scabbard Fail - need Help         Reply with quote

Greetings Everyone!

I'm new to these forums. Happy Although I have been more or less regularly reading here for quite a while.

My first topic regards my second attempt on making a scabbard for my longsword (a diamond sectioned Pavel Moc), just as a DIY project during Corona-times. I wanted to follow the slat method of which I had read here and on the "ye old gaffers" page, like so many who want to make their own scabbard I reckon.

I found some 3 mm (3/16) poplar plywood, super flexible and ideal for such tasks. I outlined the length and width of the blade and added 1 cm (25/64 <- does that make sense?) to each side which was to be the surface of contact which I'd glue together. Maybe I should have given it more space than that? From previous experiences with bending poplar plywood for heater shields I also watered the two scabbard slats to increase flexibility - big mistake. I oiled my sword thoroughly and then glued and clamped (and bound with string) the soon-to-be-scabbard tight around the blade and left it for one night.

Next morning felt like christmas since I thought I successfully created a sleek, thin scabbard. But in fact I created Excalibur. Neither on my own nor with the help of my roommate was I able to get my sword out of my scabbard (we were each holding one end and pulled with everything we got)! I had to partially open one seam of the scabbard to get my sword out - which had developed surface rust almost all the length of the blade Eek! Watering the scabbard slats was obviously a mistake.

But my question is rather why was my sword so completely stuck in the scabbard? Should I have given it more than the 1 cm on each side to create a rounder bend? Or was it due to my idiotic use of water and the subsequent rusting which created a bond between metal and wood?

After I had cleaned my sword I wanted to see if I could get it back into the scabbard - not a chance. Too tight.

I very definitely want to try this method again, but this time make sure it works and that my sword dosen't come to any harm. I feel like even without watering the scabbard would be too tight, maybe I ought to give it more contact area and shape it when its glued solid to a narrower shape?

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
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Johannes Zenker

Joined: 15 Sep 2014

Posts: 159

PostPosted: Fri 15 May, 2020 4:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two issues: You'll probably need a small spacer around the edge of the sword between the two wooden slats to make room for the blade. Thickness of the edge, OR thickness of the spine of the blade. The former if you want it to be very snug, the latter if you want it to move in and out more freely. Mind the distal taper Happy

Aside from that I'd recommend the use of cling film on the blade if you're going to put it in a wet scabbard you're working on. That's how I've made leather sheaths in the past, for which I'd also had to thoroughly moisten the leather.

Pretty sure it got stuck mainly because of the rust. There are many accounts of historical swords being kept in scabbards, getting damp or wet and refusing to come out later. This could go as far as having to cut, grind and peel of the scabbard, completely destroying it and damaging the blade in the process (in addition to considerable corrosion on it).

And the reason why it won't fit anymore is probably that the wood wasn't quite dry yet when you removed the sword and thus it (partly) returned to its original shape or just warped afterwards. Forcing the blade in now will likely crack the scabbard.
Yes, don't force a sword into a tight scabbard while it's dry. And wrap it in a thin film before putting it in when it's wet. Always use protection, kids. Wink
I'll show myself out.
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Mikko Kuusirati

Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 1,080

PostPosted: Fri 15 May, 2020 5:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd also leave significantly less space to be glued on the sides, only a little more than the thickness of the slats - and bevel this area slightly so that the glued surfaces only meet when the slats are bent around the blade, otherwise the glued together edges will try to pull the slats back towards flat. You don't need the glue here to hold the scabbard together on its own, remember, it really only needs to keep the pieces of wood from shifting while the real structural strength comes from the leather covering (possibly with a glue-soaked cloth underwrap, if you want to make even surer) and metal fittings.

And don't make the fit too snug, either! A slightly loose scabbard is far easier to fix than a too tight one. Happy

"And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That's what sin is."
Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum
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Mike O'Hara

Location: New Zealand
Joined: 10 Jul 2010
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 120

PostPosted: Fri 15 May, 2020 1:48 pm    Post subject: Scabbards         Reply with quote

Hi Alexander

Unsure of the historical correctness of the following but it worked ....

After a similar issue to yours I took to making blanks of the sword that i wanted to fit the poplar slats to. I've used shellac'd/waxed MDF with some success


MIke O'Hara
Location: Plimmerton, New Zealand
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