As for other furniture on the scabbard, I opted to stay plain, so I didn't buy a locket (often also referred to as a "mouthpiece;" it is a plate of metal wrapped around the throat with a clip or frog to secure it to the hanger). If you look through Vrancx's paintings, the scabbards of the trained bands appear to not have a locket. That being said, it appears that the primary method for securing the scabbard to the hanger was a clip (sometimes also referred to as a "locket." I will use "clip" for this article though to avoid confusion). While I couldn't identify this in the paintings, most of the extant scabbards from the early 17th century do have a clip, such as the one in the V&A Museum--picture at right--and the countless in the Windsor Castle's collection. I ended up buying a "French and Indian War era bayonet locket" from a sutler for the clip.
If you decide to try making a wood core yourself, keep in mind that sand from sandpaper will break off and become embedded in the wood. Such grains of sand will scratch up your blade and will be impossible to remove later, once you glue the halves together. I do not recommend using sandpaper at all for this step, especially as chisels work very well and you can scrape the wood with a chisel to achieve the same results as using a fine sandpaper.
The next step was a personal-choice to ensure the longevity of the scabbard. I used a spray-can of varnish to seal the wood so that the wet leather wouldn't start the process of rotting the core. I understand that this was probably not practiced in the 17th century, but I also don't want to have to make another scabbard for the same sword for a while.
After the varnish dried, I wrapped the dry leather around the core and cut out the piece I wanted. I did my best to have the edges match up, giving myself a little extra as a precaution, especially at either end. I then set aside the leather for the next step.
The next thing I needed to do was alter and attach the clip. For the first alteration, I used a Dremel tool cutting disc to cut off the small "stub" on the clip that points upwards, and a grinding wheel to smooth and round where the stub was. The idea was to make it rounded from the arm of the clip to the base to match the shape of the V&A example a bit more closely. For the second adjustment, I cut off the two little prongs that would normally be used for attaching it to a bayonet scabbard. Once the clip was shaped and polished, I chose the spot to attach it on the wood core by testing it out in my hanger. While not verified as historically accurate, I decided to glue the clip in place first as I wanted the guarantee that it would not move in the future. After the glue dried, I wrapped hemp twine around the base of the clip and the wood core which is my best guess for how they may have been attached historically (see picture at right).
The key here for the rest of the stitches was sewing the leather in a spiral manner, not unlike lacing a jerkin or stays. I started a stitch by inserting the needle down and into the right edge of the leather, across to the left edge, then up through the underside of left edge. I would then give the thread a good tug to tighten it and cause the left edge to slip under the right before poking a hole past the first and continuing. This manner of sewing creates a spiral-effect with the thread, creating the appearance of holes are all at a diagonal to each other. This is the best way to keep the edges flush and perhaps also to prevent the holes from ripping through to the edge (latter point is speculative). I then sewed the seam all the way to the chape and knotted it off. The final step, after the leather dried (since it would shrink a little when dried), was trimming excess leather at the mouth and the chape.
Andrew Bottomley). While it doesn't show the opening, the tightness of the leather and its smoothness at the mouth suggest to me that the leather wraps around the mouth. If the leather ended right at the mouth, I would imagine that the leather would appear a bit tattered after three to four hundred years. I realize that this is just conjecture, but I figure that if I discover later that the leather should end at the mouth and not cover it, it's easier to subtract leather than add. Once I trimmed the leather enough to just cover the wood at the mouth, I carefully applied glue to the wood and pushed the leather down on it. Since the leather had been tightly stretched while sewing, I found that I didn't need to fold it at all to make it cover the opening--it fit perfectly.
|The completed scabbard next to the Armour Class hanger.|
If you would like to make one these yourself and you find that you need some advice, please do not hesitate to send me an email. I would love to help you out and see the projects you've made. Similarly, if you've made one in the past and you have a picture of it online, please paste the link in a comment below for other readers to see. Thanks for reading!
- Camp diversions: or how to entertain yourself at events
- "A doublet of fustian... and breeches of canvas"