What are sword scabbards made of?
Instructions for a sword scabbard
"Outside of training, a beautiful sword belongs in a suitable scabbard."
For live weapons, this principle should be self-evident, if only for safety reasons. Personally, I've been inclined to apply it to blunt training weapons for a long time, for a variety of reasons.
Reasons for a sword scabbard
Why do you need such a thing anyway? Well, you really only "need" a sword scabbard if you want to wield a sword on your belt, e.g. as part of a historical event. But there can be other reasons. On the one hand, I admit to being a sword snob: I invest part of my material budget in the purchase of high-quality training equipment, and I prefer to use medium to high-priced equipment. And it doesn't do swords well in the long run if they are constantly shaken with other steel weapons in the same transport bag. Sure, I also throw a sword, pen, rapier, long knife and left-hand dagger into the thick pocket (the buckler in the back), then just close the protesting zipper and then throw the clattering package into the back seat with a swing . But: I do this with a pinched weight and a guilty conscience when I think about how the blades scratch each other. Sure, they'll scratch each other later during training anyway ... but somehow I can't help thinking that my treasures deserve better treatment. On the other hand - and this is probably the most important application in addition to guiding - a sword scabbard is ideal for the well-protected storage of the weapon between training units. It protects the blade from rust, especially when it is lined and the lining is soaked in a few drops of oil, so that the blade is greased every time it is pulled.
Third, I am an esthete and, like most fencers, a bit history buff. I just like the thought of seeing in the sword not just a mundane piece of sports equipment, but also an art object and a testimony to historical craftsmanship. A folklore traditionalist scolds me: But for me a sword is only complete with a scabbard and belt mount. At the same time, of course, I understand that this claim cannot be transferred to every broken rumble spring (in general: feather swords probably had no scabbards and were probably simply stored in drawers and chests by the fencing master ... at least I am aware of corresponding mentions from the writings of the Marx brothers). But at the Steel Academy we train in regular training with significantly more sword-like simulators and I confess to being a collector with my more than 20 swords. If you spend over € 500 and more on a sword of a certain historical accuracy, you can also have a scabbard attached to it. Unfortunately, most blacksmiths do not deliver their products together with a sword scabbard, not even for an extra charge. And when it does, it is often the dreaded “leather condoms” that offend the eyes and the blade.
And there we come to the last argument: If you want to run around with this thing at a historical event, it would be nice not to be constantly reminded of the embarrassment of a fantasy sword sheath.
That's why I've now started to simply build my sword scabbards myself. I enjoy handicrafts, especially when you can still let off steam artistically.
The following instructions show step by step how to build a sword scabbard with a wooden core based on historical models and methods. My design was inspired by sword scabbards from the 15th century. Unfortunately, very few original sword scabbards from the Middle Ages have survived, so that I had to orientate myself mainly on paintings when it came to optics. As far as the construction is concerned, the few remaining pieces offer interesting insights. I myself was able to study weapon scabbards from the 16th to 18th centuries and deduce their construction. The memories of these handling sessions, e.g. in the Viennese court hunting and armory chamber, were helpful to me.
I am aware that the reenactor scene now sets the highest standards for the concept of historical accuracy, which is why I do not call the following work "historically correct", "A" or "replica". That doesn't work because I built this scabbard for a blunt training sword by Paul Bins and not for a sharp sword replica that was made exactly from an existing original.
Nonetheless, I have tried to get as close as possible to a historical “look and feel” and will present methods and steps here that solve some of the typical hobby craftsman problems that reenactors with museum demands are also confronted with, such as: “How do you get a sword scabbard sturdy and yet filigree slim? ”,“ Why is my seam not straight ”or“ How do I carve decorations into the leather? ”.
Wherever I cheat with modern methods and materials, I will state this and refer to the historically verifiable solution, based on current knowledge and if known. Historical actors who delve deep into the matter will be able to take over only what is useful to their cause from this blog article anyway.
Are you all ready and on board? Fine, then let's go!
1. Cut 1 mm birch wood panels
The sword that needs to be “bagged” is a one-handed training sword from Paul Bin from England, roughly based on the Oakeshott type XIV. Since Bins wanted to guarantee a comparatively original handling of the weapon despite the massive striking edge and round location, he did it with the Hollow fillets meant very well and the result is a cross between Cinquedea and the late Middle Ages sword, which I retrofitted with a late medieval cross leather. Of course, I recommend historical performers to use a (semi-sharp) sword replica, fencers simply take their favorite sword.
Sword scabbards have always consisted of a wooden core, which is then covered with leather. In some (but by no means all!) Cases this core is also wrapped with strips of linen. My goal was as flat, elegant scabbard as possible, which contrasts with the somewhat brawny appearance of the weapon, which is why I did without the linen strips.
There are few originals that are suitable for studying the wood core. Most consist of two elastic halves that surround the sword on the flat sides and are connected to one another by a strip on the cutting edge. I think the same way, but I don't use two thick boards, instead I build up the walls from several layers of very thin wood in layers. Such a veneer is known to me sheaths of hunting knives from the 17th century and it is perfect for building sheaths that are as flat as possible, graceful and yet stable. Fortunately, such a wood is available e.g. from aircraft model making. In general, model making is generally a better source of supply than carpentry. The Architekturbedarf.de website, for example, has fine wooden slats of all possible types, thicknesses and sizes.
For this scabbard I use birch wood of 1 mm thickness, linden would have been a typical sword scabbard. I strongly advise against using balsa wood, which is also popular in model making: it is not only unhistorical, but breaks much too easily. Thin wooden slats come in many thicknesses and lengths. Unfortunately, I didn't have the patience to place an online order, instead I took sheets with me that were too short from the model shop. That doesn't matter, however, I simply constructed the whole thing from two panels and glued them offset.
Determining the shape of the scabbard is very easy: I first draw the blade and then add an 8 mm margin. The extended place of the scabbard is drawn harmoniously. Important: If you want to attach a metal chape, its dimensions must already be taken into account here, in the very first step!An accurately drawn and cut piece acts as a blueprint for everyone else. Another advantage of the very thin flaps: You don't need a saw to cut out the shape. A good pair of scissors is enough and the work is extremely quiet and clean! In total, each side of the wood core consists of two layers, so I have to create the complete shape four times. The desired thickness of the wall of the later sword scabbard is determined by the number and thickness of the veneer layers. I basically have sheets that are too thin and more layers, if you want to bend the wall, more on that below.
2. Gluing the wall layers
The wood must be glued cleanly and without delay. As you can see, I am lazy and use modern wood glue. Anyone who claims to only use historically verifiable materials for the non-visible parts must look around the net for the recipes for glutin glue (glues made from animal products such as bone glue) and experiment with them. Gluing only works with a sufficient amount of screw clamps, because the moisture causes the boards to swell and bend away from each other. It is also essential to ensure that the clamps are offset to the side so that the weight of the clamps is evenly distributed and nothing bends permanently: Caution: In the "original state", such thin woods are fragile. Work calmly and take your time.
3. Mark the inner lining
The inner lining has three tasks: It takes care of the blade when it is inserted and pulled, it separates the blade from the wood and it makes the sword scabbard so tight that the sword is held in it. The lining is (allegedly) sheared lamb and cat fur, but the originals I know are simply lined with fabric. You can't go wrong with a simple, not too thick wool fleece. Fabric fanatics can of course use the hand-dyed fabric of their choice here. Of course we need the same piece of fabric twice. The shape of the blade is transferred to the fabric with tailor's chalk, then the lining is cut out.
4. Gluing in the lining
As you can see, at least ME doesn't find it easy to cut straight lines with fabric scissors. I'm sure you can do it better ... The lining is glued to what will later be the inside of the respective half of the vagina. As you can see, I use a modern glue, you don't feel prevented from gluing “authentically”. As can also be seen, there is some wood protruding from the later vaginal mouth and the layers of veneer do not fit together exactly here either. This is due to the fact that I planned the sheath a few mm longer in order to have a little more space for the later shaping. Nothing would be more frustrating than if I gave the scabbard mouth its final shape and then the sword no longer fits completely because I removed too much material ...!
5. Before gluing: protect the blade!
Most wood glues are highly corrosive and cause significant wounds in polished steel even with brief contact. The final gluing of the scabbard should, however, be carried out directly around the blade in order to avoid warping. Since glue often gushes out of the joints when gluing, we have to tape the blade at least on the edge (where the joints will later be). Simple crepe is enough. Incidentally, the fully set glue is no longer harmful to the blade.
6. Construct the edge
There are people who insist on building sword scabbards from exactly two boards, which they then laboriously hollow out with chisels. You can do it, but the sandwich construction shown here is no less historical and far more convenient. When cutting the two halves to size, we took an additional margin into account. On this edge I now construct the edge-side filling of the sword scabbard from appropriately cut strips of wood. This strip can also be made of thicker wood, I'm concentrating on the thickness of the sword edge. The practical thing about it: Because I still have the 3mm wood left over, I can add material until the height fits exactly. The sword serves me again and again as a reference and I keep adding material until I can put the "lid" on and have the feeling that it fits. If you want to be on the safe side, you can even fix this lid for a test with a few screw clamps and pull the sword out. The grip of the scabbard around the blade should be palpable without using it as a test of strength.
What unfortunately cannot be seen in the photos is the construction of the vaginal tip. In front of the location of the sword, the “sandwich insert” of the wood consists of a solid piece of plate in the shape of the sword scabbard, equivalent to the edge. The place of the scabbard that extends beyond the blade is therefore not hollow, but massive
In the following graphic, the construction principle is illustrated again schematically and is actually self-explanatory. I would like to draw your attention to the slight curve in the wall. Thanks to the use of very thin boards in the millimeter range, it is very easy to adapt the shape of the sword scabbard to the cross-section of the blade. The final shape therefore also depends heavily on the blade used. A sharp sword with a high average degree will logically require a different scabbard shape than my beloved “cake server” here. Another advantage of curved walls is that they fit very tightly and put some tension on the blade so that it is even better edged. If you want to get a slight curve in the walls, the edge strip must be correspondingly flat. Incidentally, it is completely OK and even welcome if the edge on the side protrudes beyond the panels, because it will also protrude the furthest later, after the final shape.
7. The final gluing
Now the lid is finally glued on. Here, too, nothing works without screw clamps, especially because the bending of the plates opposes the process. Those who do not have enough clamps should relocate them every 5 minutes and apply great pressure to each area of the scabbard at least once. The workpiece should now be left to rest in this state overnight so that the glue sets completely.
The next day the glued wood core is stable and can already be used as a container for the weapon. It still looks extremely ugly, but that will soon change. The masking tape on the blade can now be removed.
7. Shaping by grinding
For me personally, this is one of the work steps that I find most satisfying. On the belt sander, the misshapen block of wood becomes the elegant, rounded shape of the later scabbard. Of course, the edge gets the most attention, here you have to try to hit the most elegant parabolic angle without accidentally bunging a hole in the good piece. The tip can be brought into a shape that harmonizes with the later chape and can be easily inserted into it. The thickness of the leather must of course be taken into account here. The mouth of the scabbard should line up neatly with the cross of the weapon.
When the edges are sanded down, the fiber structure in the wood may break down. This creates unsightly furrows that may later be visible through the leather. These furrows should be filled with putty. You can buy modern wood putty in hardware stores. If you want to solve the problem traditionally, you can collect the wood dust that arises from sanding and mix it with your bone glue until you get a solid paste that you can roll with your fingers. These rolls are brushed into the wooden joints to be cemented and smoothed with a few drops of water and a wet finger. After a few hours you can sand the treated area and you will be pleased to see that you have produced an even surface, the color of which even matches that of the surrounding wood.
Here again the construction scheme already shown, additionally with the desired cross-sectional shape. Actually very simple:
Finished! Personally, I like wood and the grain of the edge particularly appeals to me ... I'd like to only apply linseed oil and shellac here, but of course that doesn't work. Its a lot to do.
Again the wood core from the front. The walls of the sheath are only 2 mm thick and yet the layered construction already ensures stability. This photo also shows the final shape of the cross-section.
8. Application of 3D elements
Depending on the time frame and template, you may want sidewalls, longitudinal ridges, etc. realize. The sidecut I am considering are five in number. Two pairs are later used to better fix the belt mount, the fifth is a little thinner and simply decorates the sheath closer to the place.
Outstanding elements must be applied directly to the wood core (or to the linen cloth wrap, if any) and will later be visible under the cover leather.My urgent advice on this is not to overdo it! It is easy to underestimate how much such elements will later be imprinted on the leather and how much the thickness of the leather will add to the waistlines. It all too quickly looks clumsy and bulky. I advise you to stay in the low millimeter range with such structures. In this example I have unfortunately exaggerated it, half as thick leather strips would have been sufficient. I also round off the edges with a carving knife.
9. Choice of leather and cut
Before that, a word about leather: If you buy cheap, you buy twice. Cheap leather, split leather, suede, etc. produce ugly results. Anyone who wants to orientate themselves on historical models cannot avoid undyed natural leather anyway. For this sword scabbard I use undyed Spanish goatskin, specified by the dealer with a thickness of 1.2-1.5 mm with a beautiful skin structure. I advise against using thinner leather, such as that used for sword handles, for sword scabbards, especially if you want to shape the whole thing a bit. A good and reliable source of supply for suitable natural leather is the Lederversand Berlin.
Medieval purists should make sure to use leather with a tanning technique (chamois and tanning) that suits the desired time frame.
The cutting is definitely one of the most difficult work steps. I myself have had to complain about some waste in my sword hilts and dagger sheaths. The aim is a straight, butt-sewn seam over one of the two sides of the vagina. There is only one correct, ideal cut: If you leave too much leather, the seam becomes too knobby, and the entire cover becomes loose and wrinkled. If you cut away too much, you can confidently throw the whole piece to the leftover leather. In my experience, cumbersome measuring and complicated drawing are of little use, you always make a mistake somewhere, because such a slowly tapering scabbard is, geometrically speaking, a pretty bitchy object.
I achieve the best results, without joke, with the "always-re-create-and-correct-method".
To do this, I draw the shape of the scabbard once on the inside of the leather and then approach the ideal shape by carefully cutting it several times. I test the individual radii again and again by turning one side down to the middle of the sword scabbard and then putting on the other side "on pull". It is extremely helpful if you have previously marked the center line, which will mark the later seam, on the wooden core. This constant "try-and-error" seems cumbersome, but so far I haven't found a better method ... especially since the wood core (at least for me) is not geometrically perfect and the leather cover has to be adapted to the slight fluctuations.
Due to the sidecut I am aiming for, the cutting is made even more complicated, because this locally increases the radius, here a little more leather (but not too much!) Has to be left over.
10. Pre-stitching the seam
The seam should be pre-stitched before sewing. On the one hand this makes sewing a lot easier, on the other hand it ensures a much more even distance between the seams. I place the edges of the leather exactly on top of each other and then puncture it with a straight graver that has a handy handle. The whole thing goes much faster if you just put the awl on and tap it once with a hammer. Please note that the two sides of the leather have a slight curve towards the location and both sides are likely not perfectly symmetrical if you followed my donning method. You have to readjust again and again while pre-stitching the seam and adjust the two halves a bit so that one side doesn't get more holes than the other. It helps to basically think of the coating as a three-dimensional object with its curvatures. The leather can be briefly wrapped around the wood core at any time to check.
10. Gluing and sewing the leather
A sturdy circular needle is used for sewing. The traditional material is the same as when sewing most leather goods, e.g. medieval shoes: "pitch wire", i.e. waxed cobbler thread made of linen thread. Usually you take the natural-colored one, I used the pre-colored one because I ran out of the first one. If the historicity is not so important, the shoemaker's thread made of synthetic fiber is recommended, which is many orders of magnitude more tear-resistant and probably lasts longer than the rest of the sheath. Natural thread can tear when sewing if you pull too hard with the needle. The inside of the eye of the needle then has a cutting effect on the yarn. The length of the sewing thread should be at least four times the total length of the scabbard. It is very annoying when the yarn is not enough towards the end.
When I sew, I start with the place where I put the knot on the inside of the seam and hide the end of the thread under the leather. While researching sword leather seams, I came across only two very simple stitches: The simplest stitch of all, namely the simple hem stitch (from above through both sides and out again above) and a semi-hidden stitch (from above through one side through the gap on both sides and then from above through the other side). Here I decided on variant one because I don't like the slightly wavy look of the concealed stitch.
While I sew the leather onto the wooden core, I glue it to it at the same time. Here, too, the choice of glue is primarily determined by historical standards. If you glue with modern glue, Pattex or Uhu do it perfectly, but there are also special leather glue. Unfortunately, I don't know which of the glues used in the Middle Ages is the best for this purpose, you should definitely carry out a few experiments in advance or ask someone who does something like this more often.
This ensures additional stability and also ensures that the leather does not slip under the tools during the later ornamentation. Contrary to popular belief, the leather is not watered before it is sewn (at least for me). It is true that wet leather can be shaped and modeled better, but it can also be fatal when building a scabbard if the leather stretches too much and suddenly we have a lot more material than we originally cut. I sew the leather largely dry and only use water in certain places.
11. Modeling of edges and borders
Where the sidecut under the leather appears, it naturally tensions and creates unsightly cavities at the edges. Here, the cover leather has to be remodeled, directly after we have passed and "secured" the relevant point during sewing. I used to achieve this by setting the sidewalls, but now I know better: The relevant edges are moderately moistened and processed with a rounded modeling tool. Corresponding plastic tools are available in every craft store, traditional craftsmen swear by bone tools, something that I absolutely have to take a closer look at. The leather is massaged to the waist with gentle pressure and adapts to the shape. This should happen while the glue under the leather has not yet fully set.
Incidentally, this method can also be used to remove unsightly folds, bubbles and knobs that should somehow creep in while sewing.
The mouth of the sword scabbard also has to be shaped, because of course I don't want the leather to simply stop and the wood to be pulled. Basically, when cutting, I leave some leather on the side of the mouth and first sew everything starting from the place towards the mouth. The safety margin is important because you never know exactly how a stretchy natural material like leather will react and whether a few millimeters might be missing in the end. Only when I have reached the end with the seam do I cut the leather, in this case so that 3 millimeters protrude from the wood. A small cut on the edge makes it easier to fold over and the leather is glued over the wooden edge. While the glue sets, I moisten the edge and work the leather with the modeling tool to round the edge and give it a little more shape and smoothness. The result is a vaginal mouth that nestles softly and precisely into the slightly curved shape of the cross.
12. Interim result
The piece that we see below could already pass as a finished scabbard and is fully functional. If you like it simple and puristic, you can rub the leather with linseed oil and leave the scabbard in the sun for a day or two to “tan” it. The leather then takes on the natural red-brown color that one is used to from natural leather impregnated with oil.
The back of the scabbard shows the seam, which is sufficiently straight. If a clear seam bead has formed, this is the result of an inaccurate cut. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take your time with the cutting! There has been a bead in the seam, but it can be remedied with a few drops of water and the modeling tool. A small hammer can also help with stubborn bulges. In this case, it is essential to ensure that the sword is in the scabbard, if you do not want to risk breaking wood!
13. Plan and mark the ornamentation
As already mentioned, you could lean back at this point and look forward to a finished sword scabbard. For artistically inclined fumblers like me, however, the fun really starts. Ornaments are needed! Many people who work with leather resort to hallmarking and create long rows of uniform stamped patterns. This is certainly pretty and has been documented many times, but I prefer the organic, creative forms and would like to decorate my sword scabbard with a vegetable (plant-like) tendril pattern. Finding the right style here is not that easy and you always have one foot in the fantasy trap.
I can recommend this document by Antje Helwing Grewolls to readers who are enthusiastic about medieval decorations.
Some readers will know the term "acanthus", one of the most famous plant decorations in art history. Acanthus means a certain genus of plants with leaves that are heavily frayed on both sides. Acanthus leaves are originally an antique decoration and only came into fashion with us with the Renaissance. My chosen tendril pattern is therefore a "palmette" with borrowings from the "bulbous leaf tendril". As I am a reasonably accomplished draftsman - and am also familiar with various tendril styles - I drew the decor freehand "from my stomach". If you are less sure of your cause than I am, you should sketch out your patterns on a piece of paper and then transfer them by copying. I do NOT recommend the ballpoint pen I use for drawing on the leather. There are washable pens (also on leather) such as the “Lumocolor non-permanent omnichrom” from Staedler. Craftsmen with maximum historical standards will probably want to mark with a charcoal pencil or with iron gall ink (the latter is permanent, however).
After sketching, I trace all the important outlines with a leather carving knife. These knives are very popular with saddlers. Hold it between your index and middle finger and support your hand with your index finger on the arched finger rest. The tray is rotatable, which means that you can turn the blade with your fingers under your hand when cutting. So you can get into the tightest corners without having to turn the leather under the knife. An unusual system, but once you understand it (Youtube videos help), you appreciate the advantages. I assume that such knives were not owned in the 15th century and I recommend any fine, sharp carving knife that is comfortable and secure in the hand as a historical replacement. The leather is NOT moistened before cutting!
14. Scorching of the outlines
The cuts with the carving knife are hardly recognizable, all photos shown here already show the burned lines. The flame drawing reinforces my outlines and creates depth. For this purpose, the leather is moistened locally with a swab or just the finger. A few drops are enough. Then I put a suitable tool (in my case a small, profane screwdriver) over a flame. Peter Johnsonn, from whom I copied this technique, recommends a blue gas flame for this, I only had one candle and had to wipe the soot off the tip from time to time. After the tool is heated, I run it along the cuts. The edges of the invisible cuts purr together with a low hissing sound and a deep, clearly visible furrow with hard, slightly beveled edges is created. I added the English term so that interested hobbyists can find more information on the Internet.
In the past I would have drawn the lines with small leather bevels. Edge planers remove a thin strip of material from the surface and create similar looking furrows. Readers will perhaps remember similar tools from the linocut experiments of their school days. However, the disadvantages of digging are firstly soft edges and secondly a comparatively uneven, rough guidance, especially on tight bends. Below we see the burned out outlines of my tendril.
15. Beveling of the outer edges by hallmarking
The ornament is still very two-dimensional. A very popular, but also complex, way of emphasizing the pattern and making the background the background would be the punching with stamps that create small round "knobs", which is very popular with some reenactment craftsmen and armourers. Unfortunately, if you go looking for leather hallmarks, you will only find the cheap products in the “Western style” and pseudo-Celtic patterns, so that this time I was denied this opportunity. In the meantime I have found a suitable supplier and will try out the technology as soon as possible. Since I still want to emphasize my tendril more clearly, I use another technique that can be found on the internet under “Beveling”. I also do that with a hallmark, a simple rectangular one that is clearly bevelled on the underside. The leather is moistened locally. With the deep edge, I put the punch exactly in the groove, with the flat facing outwards, away from the pattern. With light hammer blows and careful guidance of the punch, I press the background around the design downwards and create a kind of gently sloping trench around the design and within the outer boundary. This video may be helpful at the beginning.
Now the ornament looks much more three-dimensional. Could be a little cleaner, but I'm still in the middle of the learning process:
16. Detail modeling by means of heating
Finally, the ornamentation is about the details, because a handsome palmette includes the many folds and arches that harmonize with the curves of the tendril and the foliage.
As with burning in the outlines, I work with locally moist leather and heated tools. What exactly I do depends on the desired effect. Furrows and folds are pressed or painted into the leather with the (hot) blunt edges of various steel tools. Raised arches can be achieved either by lowering the surrounding leather or by using the "cutting-burning-lifting" technique, see picture below. To do this, I cut diagonally under the damp leather with a jerky awl and stretch it upwards. The heat of the awl dries the leather immediately and solidifies in the desired shape. The remaining opening has an additional decorative effect. This is how I lift leaf edges and tendril bifurcations. The exact procedure, the dosage of water and heat, the setting of the cuts and in general: The whole modeling process is a "matter of feeling" and the more historical decorations you have looked at in advance and tried on test pieces, the better the result will be.
And that's exactly what we see in the picture below. The depth of the decor depends not only on the (in my case modest) skill of the craftsman, but also simply on the thickness of the leather. The thicker the leather, the more 3D effect can be created.
Dyeing the leather, like ornamentation, is also not a must. Most of the sword scabbards that can be seen on historical paintings are somewhere between brown and black. Where a sword scabbard reveals lively colors, it was probably not covered with leather, but rather with a colored material, e.g. red velvet. I don't want to go on the ice now, gossiping about historical leather dyeing techniques ... others know their way around better. But I lean out of the window and write: You can't go wrong with iron black (unless the leather is ala-tanned) and you can easily create most shades from natural brown to deep black.
In this case, I once again confess my laziness and use modern, dark brown leather paint ... simply because I still had it there and wanted to use up the stuff. However, I would advise against the product shown here: The paint is based on some terribly strong-smelling solvent, is extremely opaque and sets very quickly. Large areas can hardly be evenly colored with it, the color is more for emphasized details. However, due to its restlessness, it also creates a very special, aged-looking "used look" that I actually really like.
18. Attaching the chape
I think that a chic chape makes a sword scabbard really noble. There were very simple and simple chords that only served to protect the tip of the sword scabbard or to enable the weapon to be put down. In contemporary art, however, one sees again and again very elaborate, decorative bracelets, which look like little cathedral turrets and reflect the status and wealth of the sword-bearer.
On the German market you can only find the very simple version off the shelf and may have to commission a craftsman with the elaborate production of more beautiful chords. The design, the production of a wax model and the subsequent bronze casting are time-consuming and such work quickly costs more than the whole sword!
The chords and scabbard fittings by Tod Cutler from Great Britain, whose work, Facebook page and webshop I would like to shamelessly advertise here are beautiful and still affordable. I am not aware of any other manufacturer who produces such beautiful "Sword Fittings" at these prices. Let's hope that continental residents will continue to have this shopping opportunity despite Brexit ...
If you want to build a scabbard with a chape, I strongly advise you to buy it FIRST and then start building it. The wooden body must be planned and shaped accordingly if the chape is to fit later.
Simply sticking it on is not sufficient as a connection, because the chape is also used to put the weapon in its scabbard. For the best possible stability, the chape must not only be glued, but drilled and secured with two small nails.
The drilling was not a problem and was feasible with a small turning tool. Caution: Plan the drilling so that the nails are driven through the solid wooden part of the place, not through the part in which the weapon is stuck. Also check the length of the nails beforehand, your sword scabbard may be flatter than you thought.
18. Done! Use, care and storage
So there it is, the finished scabbard. It looks pretty massive, despite the thin walls. On the one hand this is due to the wide weapon, on the other hand also to the slightly too thick sidecut, which is probably also a matter of taste. Overall, I find the impression very harmonious, the sword scabbard goes well with the weapon. I tinted the handle and cross leather of the sword with the same color to further emphasize the togetherness. Until then, I didn't have the time to mount a belt, I beg your pardon for having to postpone this topic to another time.
For the care of smooth natural leather I recommend a good leather grease, I have had good experiences with the Elephant Leather Preserver from Colourlock, a few thin creams a year are enough. The recommendations of historical purists range from various mixtures of turpentine, beeswax and animal sebum to “not fat at all!” Because they fear saponification of the leather.
It is important that you protect your sword scabbard against extreme moisture. The leather also does not like long-term frying in the sun too much, especially when it is on the fly with moisture.
Below is a close-up of the vaginal mouth. You can see once again how slim the piece has become.
A quality feature of a well-fitting sword scabbard can be seen here: If you hold the scabbard upside down, the weapon does not slip out.
That brings us to the end of my little how-to. I hope I was able to provide motivation and input to one or the other reader to try building their own scabbard for themselves. Thank you very much for reading! For criticism, questions and suggestions I refer to the contact section of this website. Finally, thanks to the great Peter Johnsonn, who has reconstructed some of these methods and has no reservations about sharing his knowledge with us mortals. His skill is unmatched and he is one of the best sword makers in the world. Be sure to check out his website.
Finally, a summarized list of sources of supply follows. I have deliberately not given prices in the individual texts because they can change at any time. Have fun browsing and planning!
Sources of supply
Thin plywood panels: Architekturbedarf.de
Ahlen, burin, thread and stamp: Rickert-Werkzeuge.de
(Modern) colors and leather care: Lederzentrum.de
Metal fittings for sword scabbards and belts: Todcutler.com
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