Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Potential problems with wooden scabbard construction

Since I usually recommend making scabbards from wood if you have the skill and tools to do so, I feel compelled to share some information from a recent conversation I had over at SFI.

I brought up a personal project of mine where a wooden scabbard seemed to be causing rust on a sword blade.  Jeff Ellis identified a likely cause being that I may have used Titebond II or III wood glues, which have a reputation for making steel rust.  He recommended Titebond Original as well as Elmer's wood glue and, in fact, Elmer's white (all-purpose).

Another possibility we discussed was the use of linseed oil to seal the bare wood.  Thinking back, it makes sense that gluing a wooden scabbard together and then giving it a moisture-resistant finish (including such things as drying oil, paint and paste wax) could easily result in moisture being trapped inside if it isn't allowed to dry for a good long time.

As a final note, it's well-known that the tannic acid in oak can corrode steel, so it should be avoided in scabbards and hilts.  (I have not made this mistake myself, but it is worth mentioning.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

German buckskin sale

Crazy Crow Trading Post (U.S.) currently has factory-second German buckskins on sale through the end of October.  According to the ad copy, "5-10% of some hides have uneven color or are thicker in the neck, and a few hides have 1-2 small holes."  It's still a pretty good deal:  A 14- to 16-square-foot hide is now 75.65USD, compared to $112 for the same size in first-quality.  This is the type of leather I recommend for clothing, shoe uppers, bags and gorytoi.

German tanning is a type of fat-curing, so these are among the most accurate materials for our purposes short of handmade braintan, as well as being the cheapest fat-cured hides of their size and weight commercially available today.  The difference between German tanning and other fat-curing methods is that the cod liver oil produces its own aldehydes, so the finished product doesn't need to be smoked to allow re-softening if it gets wet and dries stiff.  Some German buckskins are smoked to be a better substitute for braintan in Native American crafts, but the ones currently on sale are not.  This means they'll initially smell like just fish instead of like smoked fish, though I think the smell will fade with time.