Friday, July 12, 2013

Mediaeval Scabbard (Old)

The mediaeval arming sword I forged under the direction of Owen Bush was in want of completion.  It was naked, unfinished, and lacked the whole package befitting this thing that wanted no longer to  be a part of me but to seek its own fortune and adventure.  I knew I had to fit it for its journey and send it on its way.  

I started with two materials in mind: poplar and goatskin, hand-dyed with indigo leaves by Jeff Pringle

After I had caved the profile of the blade into two slats of poplar, I glued them together around the edges and shaped the outside of the scabbard.  With file and sandpaper, I matched the fit of the scabbard mouth to the curves of the crossguard.  Next, I cut the leather to a size that wrapped around my scabbard core and used an awl to punch holes along both edges for sewing the seam on the back. 

Adhered first with rabbit-skin glue, sewn on the back with waxed linen thread (which took hours), waterproofed with a beeswax and turpentine mixture, and tightened by contraction over a gentle flame, the scabbard was ready for its belt.  I used a thin burgundy leather for the suspension knot and sewed it to stouter leather belt-stock for the baldric/sword belt. 

I hadn't much experience in coppersmithing, but I was able to whip up the below belt buckle with some inspiration from a Gotlandic original in Jeff Pringle's collection, some light hammering, and quite a bit of tweaking with pliers and files.  The fit turned out nicely, and I'm rather proud of it! 

It was also my first practical application of rivets, and I take a lot of joy in that kind of simple mechanical fastening.  The chape at the bottom of the scabbard is brass, patinated with ferric nitrate.   It is constructed of two halves like the scabbard core, but soldered instead of glued.  This was also my first application of silver soldering, and I found that I liked it very much!  There was a lot of technique introduced to me in this work, and it helped that Jim Austin had a wonderful batch of his own homebrew oatmeal stout on tap!

Rather proud of the rivets on the sword belt terminal:

Less proud of those on the buckle.  I have to confess a much less than sober state during their completion.  It was a merry night. 

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