Modifying the Deepeeka British Scabbard


The scabbard 

The sword and the scabbard are the standard british weapon available from Deepeeka.. 
The scabbard itself is superficially correct but is actually welded up the sides. 

When I wrote this it was all we had to work with, and things have now moved on. However, this is still a useful article for how to work with metal and cold enamel.

Scabbard anatomy

  • The mouthpiece is usually an applied piece on wooden scabbards but may be integral on metal ones.
  • The runner is where the belt passes through. It may be on the front or rear of the scabbard.
  • The actual body of the scabbard can be made of a variety of materials.
  • The chape is an applied piece that protects the bottom of the scabbard. Again, not always present.

There isn't much that dismantles from the scabbard as most of it is soldered or rivetted on and the two halves have been very securely welded together. Splitting the two halves of the scabbard is the only way that you will be able to change the runner and you better have a method for re-attaching them !
However, the chape does slide off as, for some reason, it isn't securely fastened (and that was true of all the swords of this type that I have seen so far). 

There are some modifications, or enhancements, that you can feasibly make to the scabbard without splitting the two halves:

  1. Get the entire thing plated at your local plater/polishing company. A variety of finshes are available and the most appropiate is brass/bronze or even copper. Alternatively, just have the chape plated as it will remove easily.
  2. Apparantly there are art products out there that purport to be able to simulate a bronze finish on steel. I haven't used them and am doubtful as to how good they are and whether the finish is hardwearing enough for re-enactment use (i.e. banging about in the car, getting dropped and generally knocked and bashed about)
  3. Blue (Oil black) all, or part, of the scabbard. This is where a thin coating of oil is applied to the metal with heat and results in a blacky finish that resists rust to a certain extent. There is no doubt that they could do it but it's a question of whether they did. There are chemical blued finishes out there (Gun Black for example) that simulate the oil black finish with loads less hassle - and I have used this with good results.
  4. Add enamel, or cold enamel, to the recessed parts of the scabbard. The prime candidates here are the wire swirls on the mouthpiece and the grooves on the runner.
  5. Sandwich an 'openwork' piece between the chape and the scabbard itself.

My project will be to experiment with cold enamel on the top parts of the scabbard and to create the openwork for the chape

Messing with the chape 
I consulted a couple of books for a suitable design. In this case, Celtic Art had exactly what I needed (right) from a British Sword and it had the added advantage that the shape was similar to what I needed and thus was already self supporting.

I obtained some very thin brass sheet from my local model shop for the princely sum of a pound.

I removed the chape and drew around the inside section onto a piece of paper to give me my working size..

I drew the design freehand onto my template in order to get it to fit and ensured that every part of the design was supported and wouldn't flop about (or fall out) when the waste metal was removed. I then carefully cut out the design using a very sharp knife.

I then transferred the template to the thin brass using a felt tip pen (pencils and biros don't mark it very well).

The brass, despite being dead thin, was not cuttable with a knife and so I switched to nail scissors and a small file to remve any rough edges. You have to be really careful as some of the cut outs require careful handling to avoid splitting.

Actual fitting is inteferance between the chape and the scabbard itself. You may need to trim the metal surrounding the design to get a perfect fit, where all that can be seen is the design and not the surrounding metal. I simply fitted it, marked all the exposed edges with a black felt tip and then re-trimmed with the scissors.

Mission accomplished !

As you can see the contrast between the brass and the steel scabbard is not really enough to make it stand out. With a little forethought I should have used copper.

I decided at this stage to experiment with some chemical gun blue (oil black) (the chemical equivalent to a heated oil finish) in order get the design to stand out better and here is the result. 

To be honest, the best approach maybe to get the entire chape plated but that involves money and effort on my part .. 8-)

Cold Enamel
I looked through a number of different number of products that might provide an enamel inlay finish without having to resort to the real thing. The real stuff, being glass, requires a very high temperature oven, that is usually too small to handle the scabbard's length anyway. Ancient craftsmen could use open fires (probably with charcoal and pumped air to get the temperature) and they also, sensibly worked with smaller items which were then applied to a larger piece. 
Our scabbard is already formed so we're going to have to compromise here.After some searching I found a cold enamel starter set on the web from these people, Homecrafts, for £8. They also have a set of instructions in pdf format on their website.

The actual kit is 3 colours, plus the hardener and some mixing cups etc.

Basically you have to mix EXACTLY 2 parts colour to 1 part hardener. Any deviation, either way, results the enamel not setting. I did it wrong, twice, and had to scoop it all out and start again.

The actual loops on the top of the scabbard are not liquid tight and I sealed the inside with some milliput, although you could run some solder or glue into the gaps. Once the loops are tight, then mix the enamel and pour it in.

Good Job !!