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.

No comments:

Post a Comment