Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Making a wooden akinakes scabbard, part IV

Akinakes scabbards were sometimes covered in embossed sheet metal, but judging from the number of bronze chapes presented in isolation in museum collections, I would have to think that scabbards were more often completely organic apart from the chape.  So here I am covering my scabbard in leather.  Fabric or thin rawhide would probably be equally acceptable.

As with the Medgidia-type scabbard, I laid the cut leather down with a thin brushing of contact cement (hide glue would probably work about as well, and be more authentic), trimming away the excess as I stitched.

Upon reaching the end of the seam, it's reversed and turned into a cross stitch.

At the other end, the shape of the expanded throat seems to make it likely that the leather there could peel off eventually (maybe that's why the top of the throat sometimes sloped back toward the middle?).  In this instance I drilled a very small hole through the core and put the thread through it, lashing the leather down in the process.

With that done, I made a cross cut through the leather where the belt loop is to be tied.  The cut in the leather can be cleaned up by putting a drop of glue into the hole and using a pencil or something to squash the corners down.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Converting the Native Way CH257

Alongside their G202, Native Way offers several models of Chinese bronze arrowheads that may be of interest to Classical reenactors.  The best prospect as far as I can discern is the CH257.

The smaller one above is the 257.  Wilkie Collins very kindly included a packet of  the larger CH259 with my order.  The 257, not counting the tang, is about 24mm (or a bit less than an inch), which would be on the small side for those used in the Graeco-Persian wars, but acceptable.  It weighs 12g as cast, more than half of which is in the tang.

The 259 is more attractive, with grooves giving the suggestion of triple flanges.  It's 49mm in the head and weighs 25g.  I think this is an acceptable length; definitely on the big side, but I've seen arrowheads at auction and antique dealer websites described as up to 50mm.  Still too heavy - but our techniques here should help that.

Mr. Collins describes them as armor-piercing.  I don't know anything about Chinese archery, but I can believe it.  They show a compact, sturdy cross section with little or no waste, and the tang would combine well with a bamboo shaft, resulting in a very tough, heavy arrow with plenty of momentum in a small area.

Occasional flawed castings may be found.

Chinese armor-piercer to Persian bantamweight

The first thing to do is grind in the flanges.  I've obtained a respirator for my foundry class, so grinding the leaded bronze with a Dremel shouldn't be a problem.  Here I'm using two different-shaped cutting bits to incise grooves and grind out the bulk of metal, and small files and rifflers to finish.  Finally they are sanded and then burnished with a steel brush.

The tangs are cut off with an angle grinder - wrap the heads in something like leather and hold them in a vise to accomplish this step safely.  Next the bases must be ground flat.

A post hole is drilled into a block of wood with a drill press.  The head is embedded in the hole to hold it steady.

The drill press is fitted with a 1/8-inch drill bit, brought down very slowly so as to let the cutting edges gradually shave at the bronze and not get jammed in it...

...  and the socketed arrowheads loosened with gentle hammer taps and extracted.  Weight is down to approximately 3g; a bit heavy for the size, but an excellent historical weight range for the type.  The heads can now be attached to reed or bamboo shafts using a wooden insert - I intend to use sections of bamboo skewer.

A lot of work?  Yes, admittedly, and attainable mainly because I have access to a drill press at the moment.  Also I still can't produce a finish as good as arrowheads that were cast as three-bladed.  But if you're in North America and have a drill press available, this is a very economical option.