Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 36

Thread: Sword stuck in leather scabbard

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    66

    Smile Sword stuck in leather scabbard

    Hi there, this is my first time posting in this forum (or any forum for that matter). Please forgive me if I have done this incorrectly...

    I purchased an 1822 pattern infantry sergeants sword at auction the other day and it refuses to budge from the scabbard. The sword sticks out of the scabbard about 2 inches (it was like that when I purchased it) and will neither pull free of the scabbard nor go down into it. The locket is also no longer attached and slides freely up and down. Any ideas about how to extract the sword without damaging the scabbard?

    I'm suspecting that the leather has shrunk. Would the Pecard's Antique Leather dressing (which I read about in the conservation section) revitalize the leather, so to speak?

    I also have the Conservator at the museum I volunteer at looking into it, but I would love to hear if anyone has any ideas...

    Thanks,

    Matt
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Posts
    320
    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Honey View Post
    Would the Pecard's Antique Leather dressing (which I read about in the conservation section) revitalize the leather, so to speak?

    I also have the Conservator at the museum I volunteer at looking into it, but I would love to hear if anyone has any ideas...

    Thanks,

    Matt
    Matthew,

    Welcome to the forum. I would talk to the conservator; you are lucky to have such access.

    Pecards is petroleum based, and while being great on newer leather, is no longer considered by some experts good for the antique leather (given the different way antique leather was cured/made). Allegedly, the petroleum base in the formula actually degrades the antique leather over time as well as the stitching. An inert museum wax appears to be favored in its place (by some).

    All opinion of course.

    Best
    Simon

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Metro D.C.
    Posts
    994
    I would be interested in hearing what the conservator has to say. I have always been told to use animal products to restore leather. I make my own leather restorer by mixing bear oil or suet with beeswax for best results. Petroleum products cause leather to crack and dry out.
    "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio."
    Elbert Hubbard

    Nakamura Ryu Batto Do, Order of Seven Hearts

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Nipmuc USA
    Posts
    12,115
    FWIW, Pecards has an antique formula that I use on everything. It literally saved a 215 yr old scabbard from cracking and turning into a pile of dust. It has not rotted the stitching, indeed has nourished and stabilized that. What is the difference between that and the regular? I dunno but the company touts it being made to reflect tanning and treatment of yore.

    Whatever grease one might use for replenishment, it is unlikely to break the bond twixt metal and leather.

    Simon, have you ever come across and read msds sheets for various products? IIRC, Pecards is fairly elusive about components. Mink oil, lanolin and neetsfoot, all popular "bests" with as many challenging as advocating

    There is an old thread here somewhere I'll try to dig up. A fancy sword in the same situation. Me? It looks like it was stuck replacing the sword to the scabbard and if mine, I would probably patiently wiggle it a bit up and down , massaging the scabbard and flexing the blade just a little bit. One should hear the bond breaking while flexing. Little bits, not all at once.


    Cheers

    Hotspur, by all means, see what the conservator has to say
    Last edited by Glen C.; 04-30-2014 at 09:28 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    North West US
    Posts
    1,230
    When restoring old saddles I use neatsfoot oil. It is made from animal fats. To preserve leather I render bear fat or beef tallow (1/2 gallon) and mix with beeswax (3x1x1inch plug) mink oil (1 can), ivory soap(1/3 rd bar) and neatsfoot oil (1 gallon). If I use the saddle in the mountains I add 1/4 cup kerosene. The kerosene keeps little critters from chewing saddles for salt content in mountains. Pure neatsfoot oil will bring old leather back to life. I have not used it on a scabbard only on saddles, billets, harnesses and rifle scabbards. Eric
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Posts
    28
    I'd try soaking it in warm deionized water until soft and gently try to wriggle, twist and pull the blade while holding the scabbard at the throat. Assuming it comes free (actually leather shrinkage and blade rust are probably the culprits) I'd carefully clean the blade, wrap in thin plastic, re-insert into the damp/pliable scabbard and let the leather dry with the blade in place. This should re-size the scabbard to fit the blade cross section. When the leather is completely dry, then, apply Peccard's or Black Rock. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Fairbanks View Post
    When restoring old saddles I use neatsfoot oil. It is made from animal fats. To preserve leather I render bear fat or beef tallow (1/2 gallon) and mix with beeswax (3x1x1inch plug) mink oil (1 can), ivory soap(1/3 rd bar) and neatsfoot oil (1 gallon). If I use the saddle in the mountains I add 1/4 cup kerosene. The kerosene keeps little critters from chewing saddles for salt content in mountains. Pure neatsfoot oil will bring old leather back to life. I have not used it on a scabbard only on saddles, billets, harnesses and rifle scabbards. Eric
    OHHHH MY DAYS!
    That's sounds truly awful! lol

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey, England.
    Posts
    13,949
    I would strongly advise against making the scabbard wet, as it will make the blade rust inside. The blade, in my eyes, is worth more than the scabbard. I had the same problem with a sword and I managed to get it free by undoing some of the stitching. Just undoing some of the stitching was enough to free the blade and once the blade is out you can soak the leather scabbard in dubbin or whatever takes your fancy.

  9. #9
    My first thought was to remove the bottom mount from the scabbard and clamp the empty bottom section of the leather in a vice (between wooden or card protectors) and pull the damn thing off!
    Try and wriggle it a bit all the way down to break any areas where the oxidisation has fixed the two together....
    But my main priority would also be the blade.
    Last edited by Gene Wilkinson; 04-30-2014 at 03:12 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    The blade, in my eyes, is worth more than the scabbard.
    Yep, that's true, however, a scabbard can add an easy 50% to the value of them together. Just use the water method I described. Don't worry about the blade getting rusty, it already is.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    L'abbaye de Theleme
    Posts
    769
    Acetone will make leather soft and increase volume until it evaporates in a few minutes. I do not think it will harm the blade. I have only used this with old leather boots, so a trial on a different sample would be advisable.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    North West US
    Posts
    1,230
    Awful I guess if you try to eat it. I have a half dozen saddles from the 19th century including one Confederate officer saddle. Some were in fair shape and some unusable. All are clean flexible and serviceable saddles now. I don't guess there is a need for kerosene for sword scabbards as they will always be inside and not in mountains or tac shed, but as far as everything else leather is leather. I have used it on cow, goat, pig and horse hide.There is a good chance the rust is minimal under the leather except in spots where air got through. Rust is just fire and requires oxygen, heat and fuel. Bluing is just a controlled burn with the fire put out.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Wilkinson View Post
    OHHHH MY DAYS!
    That's sounds truly awful! lol
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    66
    Thanks for all the suggestions!

    I have been wiggling the blade and scabbard from the start, however they seem to be one. I might as well be pulling a sword from the stone! Gently bending the blade to try and loosen I have also been doing - perhaps I need to be patient and keep working at it.

    The conservator had a couple of ideas, but she wanted to get some second opinions from her colleagues before trying anything. I am currently waiting for her email.

    While the top of the blade is rather rusted, when I slide the locket up, I can see through some of the stitching and the blade looks shiny. I realize however, it doesn't mean the whole blade is shiny, but I am cautiously hopeful.

    I'll keep you posted as to how it turns out and which method finally frees the sword.

    Thanks again for all the responses!

    Matt
    Last edited by Matthew Honey; 04-30-2014 at 07:44 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey, England.
    Posts
    13,949
    Quote Originally Posted by JOHN MAT View Post
    Yep, that's true, however, a scabbard can add an easy 50% to the value of them together. Just use the water method I described. Don't worry about the blade getting rusty, it already is.
    Sorry, but this is awful advice. You have no idea what condition the blade is inside - the sword I freed from the leather scabbard still had much of its original mirror polish remaining. Soaking the scabbard in water is idiotic.
    Matt, do not listen to this!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Guildford, Surrey, England.
    Posts
    13,949
    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Honey View Post
    While the top of the blade is rather rusted, when I slide the locket up, I can see through some of the stitching and the blade looks shiny. I realize however, it doesn't mean the whole blade is shiny, but I am cautiously hopeful.
    Matt, my sword was exactly the same and it turned out that the shiny surface on the blade inside the scabbard did indeed remain mostly. I tried clamping and yanking, wiggling, all the things you have mentioned. Eventually the only thing that got it out was to cut some of the stitching - it didn't even take very much, just the portion where the blade that seems to be sticking to the blade most.
    Matt

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    66
    Thanks Matt.

    The leather under the locket does seem to narrow down, stretching and exposing the threads (which is where I can see a little bit of the blade).

    Perhaps I'll give that I try once I have seen what the conservator comes back with.

    Matt

  17. #17
    Is the sword scabbard purely leather, or does it have a wooden core?

  18. #18
    I'm really curious to see in what condition will the blade turn out to be once it's released from the scabbard. There is a good chance it still has at least some of the original polish. Be sure to post photos
    "The relationship between West(Occident) and East(Orient) is indeed an example of a relationship of power and domination. Orientalism is thus a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between the Orient and the Occident. It is a Western style of dominating, restructuring and building hegemony over the Orient.İt is an accepted grid for filtering through the Orient into Western consciousness, into the general culture."
    From "Orientalism" by Edward Said

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Nipmuc USA
    Posts
    12,115
    Here is the old thread I was remembering. It took some inventive search terms via Google and took a day of thinking it through first to pull it up second try.
    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...41-a-tight-fit

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    66
    As far as I can tell, the scabbard is purely leather.

    Sancar - I will definitely post pictures as soon as the blade is free.

    I had a new thought this evening, I have placed some small wood shims down the scabbard throat where it seems most constricted, perhaps that will stretch the leather just enough.

    Glen - thanks for showing me that post - a very interesting and informative read with a cliff hanger at the
    end. It would have been nice to see what the sword looked like once restored.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Fairbanks View Post
    Awful I guess if you try to eat it. I have a half dozen saddles from the 19th century including one Confederate officer saddle. Some were in fair shape and some unusable. All are clean flexible and serviceable saddles now. I don't guess there is a need for kerosene for sword scabbards as they will always be inside and not in mountains or tac shed, but as far as everything else leather is leather. I have used it on cow, goat, pig and horse hide.There is a good chance the rust is minimal under the leather except in spots where air got through. Rust is just fire and requires oxygen, heat and fuel. Bluing is just a controlled burn with the fire put out.
    Hi Eric,

    I'm not doubting it's effectivness............ But the reciepe and the contents!!!!

    It sounds like something they'd make on one of those 'worst jobs in history' type tv shows.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by JOHN MAT View Post
    Yep, that's true, however, a scabbard can add an easy 50% to the value of them together. Just use the water method I described. Don't worry about the blade getting rusty, it already is.
    There are some problems with making the leather wet.
    If the OP tries this and still can't get the scabbard off he's potentially going to be forced to take extreme measures before the moisture makes the rust problem even worse.
    Also the wet leather will take an age to completely dry out even if it does come off of the blade.
    The scabbrd would have been shaped over a former, not an actual blade, so drying onto the blade may result in shrinkage which will cause the scabbard to be too tight.

  23. #23
    In my limited experience soaking old leather should definitely not be attempted. New leather is fine and soaking is used in the trade. My attempt was on an old scabbard where the leather had slightly shrunk lengthwise, exposing about 3mm of the metal throat. After 15 minutes the leather had become completely pliable but had further shrunk to now expose 10mm. Attempting to work it back caused the old leather to disintegrate and the scabbard was ruined - should have left well alone! Since the blade is partially exposed, make a metal template (width just less than the blade) from thin sheet steel and try to gently work it down between blade and scabbard to break the bond (if that is really the problem). If the scabbard has shrunk onto the blade then I suspect opening the stitching will be necessary. Keep wiggling.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    North West US
    Posts
    1,230
    I guess you may be right Mr. Wilkinson, never thought of it like that. I grew up where we scalded our on hogs, made grits and our own soap. None are best jobs but Dad never ask if we liked building fence or picking cotton, it was just what you did. I can see where all could be seen as distasteful. I will change my suggestion to soak it in neatsfoot oil and forget the other stuff. It will revive the leather and swell it a bit. I bought an eaglehead not to long ago and it is stuck in the scabbard. I have not had time to work on it but should be home in a week or so. I will put neatsfoot oil on it Honey and take photos for you and Mr. Wilkinson. Just hold on Honey and I will put my money where my mouth is. I will post as it goes. Then you can make up your mind on how to proceed with yours. Kids: Do not try this at home without adult supervision. It is a pretty nice eagle and scabbard so it should be fun.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Wilkinson View Post
    Hi Eric,

    I'm not doubting it's effectivness............ But the reciepe and the contents!!!!

    It sounds like something they'd make on one of those 'worst jobs in history' type tv shows.
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  25. #25
    Hi all,

    I have not had experience with a sword scabbard however, I can relate an experience I had with an old family piece which was a glass spirits flask with a slip-on leather cover. The main problem was that the leather was so dry, it had shrunk onto the body of the flask and created such force (a vice like grip) that in doing so, it was impossible to pull the cover off the flask.

    Now we must bear in mind that there could not be any rust (as glass doesn't rust), so shrinkage was the main culprit, so much so that the stitching was tearing through the leather.

    I applied a very liberal coating of leather dressing all over the leather cover, and left it for some days until the leather had absorbed all the dressing; the result being that the leather expanded to a point where it was quite simply pulled off the body of the flask, and the stitches tearing through the leather appeared to be less.

    My suggestion would be that problems of this nature do not have a quick solution, and in the case of a sword, I would say that shrinkage of the scabbard onto the blade is very likely one of the main problems.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •