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Author Topic: How to fasten brass throat to knife sheath securely?  (Read 1934 times)
Jerry V Lape
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« on: August 24, 2012, 12:00:09 AM »

Making a sheath for one of my knives and want to use a brass throat with a clip for use in a frog.  How is the leather affixed to the brass? 
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Chuck Burrows
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2012, 12:41:30 AM »

On most of the originals I've inspected they used small pins - usually on the back side along the edges. Glue can also be used. On some originals I've also seen small Teeth raised on the inside from the top using a a graver - when the throat is pushed down onto the leather the teeth dig into the leather if you try to pull it back up.
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LRB
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2012, 07:19:09 AM »

  What Chuck describes is about how I do it with the pins, but I use epoxy with them, and between the leather and throat. The glue itself will secure it. I use the pins just as insurance and because most I see have them.

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Artificer
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2012, 07:42:11 AM »

Jerry,
In addition to what Chuck wrote, my experience is more from original bayonet scabbards and leather sword scabbards from 18th century up through the Civil War.  Many of the throats had a locket attached.

A common method of securing the throat, tip/drag and middle support band (cant remember the correct terminology) was with a piece of wire bent into a U shape.  The rounded bottom of the U shape was on the inside of the scabbard and two sides of the U came up through the leather and through small holes in the brass or iron parts.  They used a hardwood or even metal mandril stuck in the leather (when they were sewing it up for the tip/drag and middle support band) and the rounded U of the wire sat on that while they pounded the two wires down over probably chamfered holes and then filed them off smooth with the surface and polished them so it is very difficult to impossible to see where the two sides of the U came up through the throats.  This was commonly done on what would be the back side of the throat so it would be against the body and not noticeable and almost invisible.   OH, they used brass wire for brass parts, iron wire for iron/steel parts and I have even seen silver wire for silver parts for the U shaped wires.  

Back in the early 80s, only custom makers were making leather scabbards for M 1850 swords and they were hard to find.  GOOD repros of these swords and scabbards were not yet available.  I located an original unmounted blade and that started my project to assemble my own sword for reenacting.  I used original grip, cap, and even found and original wooden grip.  I used dug parts for the scabbard and sewed the scabbard according to the period method.  I used the U shaped wire to mount the tip/drag but also glued the tip, band and throat on with what is now Loctite Hysol Epoxy Patch Kit 11C which is a black colored glue.  As a reenactor who did a lot of Tacticals or War Games and went through streams, thickets, brush etc and did not baby the scabbard at all, the scabbard parts never even came loose.  
Gus
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Artificer
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2012, 07:57:07 AM »

Oops, forgot one style for the throat.  On some civilian hunting hangers and Officers swords they had cyma curves and points and other decorative filing on the bottom side of the throat (towards the point).  On a very few of those, they filed a decorative pattern close to the curved edge on the rounded edges of the throat.  This essentially made a portion of the rounded edges separate from the rest of the bottom of throat.  Those separated rounded edges were pounded into the leather a bit to help secure the throat as well.

Gus
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Jerry V Lape
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2012, 12:38:04 PM »

Arificier,   I think I understand most of what you have said about the wire loop. Please review this for me. 

The bottom of  the loop would be between the inside of the throat metal, pass through the leather at the bottom, run along the blade side of the leather (possibly in a groove cut in the leather for that purpose.  At the top the wires would penetrate the leather and exit to the exterior of the metal where they would be peened into the countersunk hole and then finished flat with the surface. 

The part I am not sure about is your statement the wire came up through the leather (similar to a thick tread inside the leather) which I don't quite understand how to work that out with a wire thick enough to be effective as a rivet. 

How deep would the U shaped wire extend?  Would something like 1/2" be adequate or was the U almost full length of the throat or just very near the top of the throat? 

How about an estimate of the wire guage or diameter?
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Chuck Burrows
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2012, 07:35:08 PM »

With all due respect to Artificer while that method was used on bayonet scabbards I have never seen it on a knife sheath of the 19th Century. Doesn't mean it wasn't done that way, just I've never seen one out of the several hundred I've inspected.
Also as noted on another forum, at least by the 1820's the majority of Sheffield made sheaths were made of either paste board or papier mache with a thin veg/bark tanned leather cover (often bookbinding leather and the deco added was via bookbinder's methods including gold foil). They were also sometimes lined with velvet or wool baize (think pool table felt) - I still haven't quite figured out exactly how they did it although I've had a few sort of success, by making the liner first and then gluing the paste board over that. Some sheaths of the period also had a flat spring inside for retention, most I've seen were on the full metal sheaths, but I have seen a few of the regular type with such springs.
Also the most common metal used by the Brits post 1820's was German Silver, brass generally denotes a US made product, but there are some exceptions to the rule.
BTW - one of the best resources I know of for looking at period sheaths of this type is Norm Flayderman's book, The Bowie Knife, Unsheathing an American Legend.
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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Artificer
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2012, 01:11:10 AM »

Chuck is absolutely correct in his superb explanation of Sheffield Sheaths during the 1820s onward.  As he correctly points out and I tried to express in my earlier post, the methods I mentioned were normally used more in bayonet and sword scabbards and not in the 1820s  and later pasteboard/paper mache/ leather covered sheaths Sheffield put out or in higher status knife scabbards.  So if one is attempting to copy a Sheffield or higher status sheath, completely disregard the construction method I referred to.  

The method I referred to would have been done by someone with more of a background making leather scabbards for swords or bayonets for instance.  It would have been seen as an upgrade over a plain leather sheath that did not have a metal throat and tip, but was not a standard factory supplied sheath of that era and more likely a replacement scabbard or special order scabbard.   The method did continue with leather sword scabbards well into the 1860's and beyond though.  

BTW, when I attended the World Championships at Wedgnock, UK in 1998, there was a one gentleman selling Sheffield Knifes and scabbards at the Arms Faire that had been assembled by three men who had worked at one Sheffield company for years before they closed the knife making business.  The men who made them were in their 70s at the time.  Im sorry, I do not remember what firm they worked for.  The blades were 19th century styling from the 1840s through 1850s time period and the scabbards were as Chuck described them.  Though the knives were a very good price for the quality, I did not buy one because they were too late for my period interest.  However, some team members with an interest in that period bought every knife and scabbard the seller had and asked if the makers could make more.  However, those were the last of the old stock blades extant.  
Gus
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Artificer
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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2012, 01:53:18 AM »

Jerry,

OK, think of it this way.  There are two holes going through the leather and the drag or throat piece.  The U shaped wire is started from the inside of the leather that would be close to the blade.  The rounded or semi flat bottom of the U would remain close to the blade and the two sides of the U would go up through the holes in the leather and metal throat or drag.  Then those sides of the U that come up through the leather and metal piece would be peened over to fill in the holes in the metal throat or tip and filed flush with the surface and polished so as to be darn near invisible.  The effect is something like a rivet, but instead of having a large base that stays on the leather close to the blade, you have a rounded loop that is the base of what is in effect two wire rivets.  Is that more clear?

I was surprised at how small the diameter wire was that they made the U shaped loop rivets for War of 1812 period swords, small swords of the 1820s through 1850s and even for the more robust Model 1850 sword scabbards when I started investigating sword scabbard construction in the 1970s.  In the 1980s, I came across scabbards where the leather ends had broken off 18th century hangers but still had the drags attached so you could see the size of the U shaped wires used.  (One has to be a little crazy to get excited about seeing broken off scabbard tips and many collectors or antique sword dealers in VA, MD, PA, NJ and those who came to the annual Baltimore Gun show from outside that general area thought I was daft until I explained I was studying the construction methods.)  I have also haunted relic dealers and looked through boxes and piles of dug relics that were usually not considered that valuable in the 1980s.  I purchased separated or dug sword scabbard parts from the 18th and 19th centuries as well.  I mention these things only because time and again the diameter of the wire was smaller than I would have expected before seeing so many examples.  Most of the time, the diameter of the wire was about 1/16 or less and even for the drags/tips of Model 1850 Foot Officers Swords.  So I generally used 1/16 diameter brass brazing rod to make reproductions for brass mounts or 1/16 diameter drill rod for steel/iron mounts. 

Gus. 

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ottawa
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2012, 08:47:56 AM »

if you think about it the wire "U" it just holding the leather and metals to gether not the weight of the blade that was supported by the the throat and frog and hook ( don't know the name). thanks for pointing out the wire size I always wondered how they went together.
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I'm not strange i just like building stuff
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