Published in The Phoenix, 9/2012
We’ve all undergone bad weather and rough seas in our lives. This kind of thing can spoil not only your mood at times, but it’s almost certain that it’ll spoil your blades as well mates! There are a few of the commonly known measures to protect your blades from rust and unnecessary wear, such as using WD40 on your weapons after you get them out of the wetness. This treatment works great, but the oil from the treatment can make just as much of a mess on your armor as can rust. In addition to treating the problem, use the old adage “an ounce of prevention”. It’s amazing how much difference a sheath can make, saving you a lot of headaches!
Personally, I’ve used leather sheaths before for my blades. They work pretty well and look great, but in the long run (in my opinion) it’s honestly no better than just grabbing your blade and letting the oil from your hands add a nice ring around the weapon. Tanning from the leather generally uses oil, and this will (with time) affect your weapon. Those of you that just said in your head “yeah, but I use natural tanning” or “there’s not always oil”, think about what the main source of rust is – water. Leather, being heavily porous, holds water. When you use “super sheen” (or another such method of waterproofing), water can seep in through seams and stay in the sheath for extended times. Leather also doesn’t really help when folks decide they’d like to stand on your weapons as you’re busy on the field.
On the other hand, there’s the trusty PVC core sheath. Granted, water may find its way in, but it will usually run out along the sheath instead of directly on the blade. It also provides a good rigid surface to shield your weapon from unnecessary bumps, dings and bends. The down side is that PVC is ugly as sin and looks nowhere near period by itself, especially with writing all over it. A little while back, I made sheaths for my lady and myself for our epees and daggers that have been proving to work quite well. There have been a couple of compliments, and a couple more questions of “how’d you do that?” I thought I’d share the methods to the madness with the lot of you.
First, grab up a length of PVC pipe that the inside circumference is large enough to accommodate your blade. A piece of ¾” pipe is what I found to work well. For those of you using the wider based epees or schlagers, you may find that a larger pipe is needed, or that you will need to make a notch to fit your blade near the top. In either case, trial and error isn’t very expensive, an 8’ length of ¼” PVC pipe cost me around $.75. Cut the PVC in a length that is equal to the length of your blade (bell to tip) plus a few extra inches. The extra length will keep the tip of your blade from even thinking of falling out the end.
Once you have your length of PVC cut, it’s time to think about wrapping. You can use leather or fabric to case the PVC. Since there are so many leather sheaths, I used fabrics. You can also appliqué designs, embroider your arms, or just make spiffy patterns with fabric. Measure around the outside circumference of the PVC and add a bit for hem, then do the same for the length of the PVC. Do any appliqué, painting, or embroidery work to the fabric that you want before folding the fabric so that the part that will be touching the PVC itself is facing you. Simply run a quick stitch up the side and bottom and turn it inside out like a sock (I found that using a dowel rod can help here, since it’s such a tight fit for a long piece). All that’s left is to slide it over your piece of PVC. You should have enough material at the top of the sheath that you can fold it over the mouth of the sheath and affix it with a hand stitched drawstring, rubber cement, or super glue.
Now, your weapons can:
- Be protected from weather and rough seas…
- Be stylish as they travel…
- Be worn as dress weapons…
- Include a new rigid parrying device!
Good luck on the projects, and on the field! Remember that fighting is supposed to be fun, and that you can never accessorize too much! As always, may the winds fill your sails, and may your drink not spoil your dinner!