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Thread: French 1822 restoration advice

  1. #1
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    French 1822 restoration advice

    I have a French 1822 sabre which has lost all the covering from the grip; previously covered cord with wire wrap.

    I'm doing it more for the experience than any burning desire to improve the sword.

    I've deconstructed the grip and I'm at the rewrapping stage.

    Can anyone help with details of the the wire gauge used on an original.

    Also where is the leather joined (I'm assuming on the inside of the grip) and how it is kept together. Is the join stitched or simply glued and held in place with the wire.

    If anyone has any advice about the process of getting a neat leather join together when gluing onto a ribbed surface, I'd be happy to hear it.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I have used an oversized dampened leather piece on the wood core, wrapped with cord and microwaved it between half to a minute or more depending. Constantly watch for shrinking which you do want to some degree, enough to stretch it over the wooden grip core. After it cools cut excess leather off. The leather seam should be at about the 6 o'clock position.
    Wire diameter is 0.035". Wipe down the wire with an oily rag before twisting to prevent breakage. The wire length will decrease as it coils. French swords have tight coils so I start with about double the length required. You can measure the length by wrapping a string or wire around the grip.

  3. #3
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    So you glue it first with an overlap?

  4. #4
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    What I do, is wrap a slightly oversized piece of vegetable tanned leather piece over the cord covered grip, that has been sammed, ie soaked and then wrung out. No microwaving as long term it wrecks the leather. I let it dry naturally, usually overnight.
    Before I do that I cut it roughly to shape, and "skive" the edges, which means I shave them down somewhat to avoid a sharp demarcation. Otherwise, pretty much as described above.
    Glue is good, but the wire is the real fix. If the cord wrap is newly glued on, the wet leather usually "reactivates" the glue and helps fix the leather.

  5. #5
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    Hello David how does microwaving carefully wreck the leather? I've done a sword which I still have many years later and the leather is fine. How does the leather change by microwaving which causes deterioration? I'd be interested to know because I've not experienced any problem with the method.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Hello David how does microwaving carefully wreck the leather? I've done a sword which I still have many years later and the leather is fine. How does the leather change by microwaving which causes deterioration? I'd be interested to know because I've not experienced any problem with the method.
    Standard leather-working practice, the same as you should not soak leather in hot water to soften it. It doesn't matter that much in a wallhanger, but it's not best practice. However don't take my word for it, take your query to a craft leather working site and get an opinion you can respect.

  7. #7
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    Swords as collectible "wall hangers" is what I have replaced grips on and I am looking for the hardened leather for appearance to reflect what 150+ year old leather would look and feel like. I found by not shrinking the leather it remains somewhat spongy and new looking.
    I agree if you are re gripping a working/practice sword do not shrink the leather as you want more of a grippy feel.

  8. #8
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    That is an interesting idea Will to get the aged feel and look for an antique type grip. I have used a light bulb but it does not quite get it done. I will have to try it. 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

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Swords as collectible "wall hangers" is what I have replaced grips on and I am looking for the hardened leather for appearance to reflect what 150+ year old leather would look and feel like. I found by not shrinking the leather it remains somewhat spongy and new looking.
    I agree if you are re gripping a working/practice sword do not shrink the leather as you want more of a grippy feel.
    Yep, I can see where you are going with that one, and a trick I will bear in mind. I find that the type of leather matters a lot as well. Getting something thin enough, but sturdy enough and with the right finish can be a problem. Nowadays I use a thin goatskin leather that I managed to get my hands on. Thinner and more flexible than calf, and tougher than sheepskin nappa.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by David R View Post
    Yep, I can see where you are going with that one, and a trick I will bear in mind. I find that the type of leather matters a lot as well. Getting something thin enough, but sturdy enough and with the right finish can be a problem. Nowadays I use a thin goatskin leather that I managed to get my hands on. Thinner and more flexible than calf, and tougher than sheepskin nappa.
    Identity Leather Craft has all kinds of leathers including white buff and is in the UK.

  11. #11
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    Some progress and some mistakes.

    Too many turns because the cord/spacer I used was too thin.

    The wire should be wound tighter.

    And the main one... I can't get the pommel cap back on properly!

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  12. #12
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    I doubt the string binding being too thin was the problem... The turns are supposed to be spaced, not jammed together, so that the wire then seats neatly between them. This is from an Italian HC 1860, but shows what I mean.... This might also explain the problem with the pommel.
    Attached Images Attached Images   

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    The turns were spaced, although the spacer should have been wider. Here it is pre wire.

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    I think the cord and leather combo are slightly too thick. I used a waxed cord and it doesn't compress much.

  14. #14
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    Without changing your material size you could relieve some of the wood grip that is under the pommel (not ideal). Possibly sanding down the leather where the pommel covers it would be enough?
    One reason I shrink the leather so it adheres snugly to the grip and less likely to be oversize. If you decide to redo it you could use twine rather than waxed cord.
    Your finished result does look very good.

  15. #15
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    I have recovered two grips now, one turned out better than the other, but I am redoing that one. I used waxed linen sewing thread for leather, and it seems to be just about right for the job. I did originally think it was too thick. I would avoid doing anything to the wooden core, playing around with the leather and the cord is reversible, but anything you do to the core is there for ever.

  16. #16
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    I'm not ready to start again so Im going to have at it with the sand paper.

    Next: my first adventure with a blow torch to tease out the tang to allow repeening. I'll get the ambulance on speed dial.

  17. #17
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    Extending the tang is a good idea. I have found with some British swords the tang may tend to split as they are folded iron and not always forged together as one.
    Hopefully French tangs are one piece, if not a small weld with mild rod can give enough length.

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