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Thread: 18th Century Scabbards

  1. #1
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    18th Century Scabbards

    I am trying to find out how 18th century scabbards were made. I have read that they were made of wood, and I can do that, but would like to know how to replicate an original.
    “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau.

    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com

  2. #2
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    Either made of leather or wood covered with thin leather. Never made of just wood - I presume you are talking about European swords.
    Smallswords scabbards were often made of vellum.

    Chris.

  3. #3
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    Sword Scabbards.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Allen View Post
    Either made of leather or wood covered with thin leather. Never made of just wood - I presume you are talking about European swords.
    Smallswords scabbards were often made of vellum.

    Chris.
    Yes Chris, European/English. Any idea of how they were made? Were there ever any reinforced leather scabbards? The wooden one I had a go at constructing seems too chunky to me, I can only assume they were carved. A leather one would probably be easier for me to construct, but were they reinforced with wood or metal?
    Last edited by Keith Burgess; 09-07-2010 at 01:43 AM. Reason: checking options.
    “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau.

    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com

  4. #4
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    The wood would be two thin pieces glued together, rather like the scabbard liners that you would find in a later metal scabbard, and then covered in thin leather no thicker than thin card.
    The leather scabbards would be thicker but would not be reinforced in any way. They would be of one piece of leather wrapped around the blade and stiched up the centre on the back.
    It might help if you let us know what type of sword you are talking about then someone may be able to show you photos of an original.

    Chris.

  5. #5
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    The wood would be two thin pieces glued together, rather like the scabbard liners that you would find in a later metal scabbard, and then covered in thin leather no thicker than thin card.
    The leather scabbards would be thicker but would not be reinforced in any way. They would be of one piece of leather wrapped around the blade and stiched up the centre on the back.
    It might help if you let us know what type of sword you are talking about then someone may be able to show you photos of an original.

    Chris.

  6. #6
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    French scabbard

    On a Napoleonic French sword with some thin leather missing I can see that one side of the wood has been recessed to the shape of the tapered blade, forming a edge to cover the back edge of the blade. These two halves are joined by small wooden pegs distanced several inches apart, somewhat square in appearance and a iron nail or pin that most likely is a old repair. Too old to see if any kind of glue was used but it is quite possible it was.

  7. #7
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    That French scabbard sounds very cool. Wooden sheaths covered (and sometimes lined) with hide or fabric were common in medieval Europe, but have faded with modern times. It's nice to read one would still be appropriate to a smallsword. Wooden sheaths protect the sword and the humans better than leather, which a sword can cut through accidentally, and which can promote rust. They can be rather delicate in their own way, of course.

    Vellum and parchment are forms of rawhide; leather has been softened, usually with an acid (from bark or urine, for instance); rawhide has been cleaned and dried and retains the stiffness of its connective tissue.
    Some old modern European leather sheaths are reinforced by impregnation with wax. The resultant stiffened material is known as quirbolli (or boiled hide) and was used as armour in medieval europe. Scabbards were sometimes painted, though I don't know if this counts as reinforcing.

    A steel smallsword sheath would make a nice parry stick, and the smallsword, taught now as a stand-alone weapon was often taught and used with sheilds of one type or another in its period of common use. But I haven't seen such sheaths that I know of (were they leather-covered they'd be hard to spot in a display or photo, and I don't handle a lot of smallswords that still have sheaths).

  8. #8
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    Closer Look

    On closer examination, the French scabbard is of 3 wooden pieces, two sides and a bach piece the width of the blade. Pinned through both halves and the back piece are small square dowels and iron tacks for lack of a better word. I can see 5 iron tacs so they are not a repair as I previously thought, ends of two protrude slightly from the dried old leather. Most appear L shaped as if a flat piece of metal was bent lenghtwise. Two others are different in that they have elongated oval heads with their points bent over.


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