Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cold Steel's "Man at Arms classic leaf shape spear" just came to my attention.  It seems rather too broad and heavy for a Persian regular's spear, the head weighing more than 19 ounces, but with its breadth and long socket, it bears a striking resemblance to those carried by the guards at Susa, needing only to have the black finish sanded off and a hame ball fitted.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Making a Medgidia-type scabbard, part II & last

The leather facing is glued down with a thin brushing of contact cement and then sewn tightly around the core with a double-running stitch.  A little excess width is necessary for leverage when pinching the leather to the core; essentially, you need more than you need.  The smooth fit is possible because of the leather's slight stretch, although I expect it to be a double-edged sword, as the angular corner of the tab may cause the leather to wear out there.

I made small crosshair cuts in the leather over the tab hole and tried to glue it down there.  It didn't take as well as I would've liked, but it just about works.

The finished scabbard.  It's a good fit to my sharp akinakes, but awfully loose for my blunt one.  The decoration on the tab is a simplified version of that seen on the original.  My experiments last year showed that painted suede is doable with a hide glue sizing, and although I don't know of any scabbards in the archaeological record that were painted, I have rumor of a gorytos from Takla Makan as well as later quivers that were.

By the way, certain literature implies that the Medgidia "sword and scabbard" is in fact a single piece of bronze, perhaps part of a statue.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Making a Medgidia-type scabbard, part I

I've noted before that the classic Achaemenid akinakes scabbard with its expanded throat is very tedious to make out of wood, requiring two thick planks, most of which must be carved away to leave behind the large, hollow shells.  Getting a chape is also proving very difficult.

As an alternative, for those with less time, I present this scabbard based loosely on the one from Medgidia, Romania.  It's of questionable origin; it could be Achaemenid, Scythian or native Thracian manufacture, and pending further evidence, I'd consider it acceptable for any of the above.  It lacks an expanded throat or chape, and is thus much faster to make from thinner planks.  It's incomplete, but I intend to further simplify it by facing it in leather rather than bronze - leather-covered wood scabbards are often cited in literature on the Scythians, and I maintain that bronze and bone chapes found in isolation are further evidence for scabbards that were otherwise entirely perishable.  The original also has embossed decoration, which I intend to replicate with paint.

The wood core is mainly two pieces cut from a 1/4-inch poplar plank.  It does require a bit of carving and sanding.  Luckily I still have access to Bucks' band saws and belt sanders to make the business quicker.  I carved this in the span of four days.

I cut a 1/8-inch mortise between the two halves of the small subsection of the belt tab where the lanyard hole was to be drilled, and added a scrap bit of basswood with its grain perpendicular to that of the tab.  With any luck, the plywood effect should make this less of a weak point.

The original has no lanyard hole visible from the front, and I don't know what kind of suspension it used; perhaps there's a ring at the back of the tab, or maybe it was attached directly to the belt somehow.

After taking it to the belt sander a second time, I found I'd accidentally worn through and now the scabbard was partly open down one side.  Caution must be exercised with the really powerful tools...  Luckily it was still wider than the blade, so I glued on a thin basswood strip before continuing with the carving and sanding.