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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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Default Sword sheath - technical aspects

My Filipino pinuti developed rust spots. The most likely cause is storage in leather sheath (although I have many other blades stored the same way, this is the only one that has done this) and living on Vancouver Island. Therefore, I decided to make a wooden storage sheath for it, a "shirasaya" if you will.

The choice of oak (being the only available 1/4" stock in HD at the time) was not a particularly good one. I did some trial carving on it and found it very difficult. I then proceeded to rout out the two halves in the rough shape of the blade and finish off with some chiseling and finally sanding and a touch up with files when the thing was still too tight after gluing.

The result is here:

Pinuti and "shirasaya" on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Sword in its sheath on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

It was better than I expected, the sword fit is just right. However, I was wondering if I could have done even better. For instance, getting the right shape of the cavity (a narrow wedge):

"Shirasaya" opening on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

may have been easier if I glued temporarily a 1/16" thick strip to one of the halves and then routed it out just a smidgen over 1/16" - one side would have been full thickness, the other approaching zero.

The one problem I was struggling with was matching the two halves while routing: The two have to be mirror images of each other and there is opening only on one end, the other end is blind. In the end it does not matter too much as the whole thing got sanded down, but just as well that nobody can see inside the finished sheath

Does anyone have a clever way of doing this right? I am thinking of trying this again sometime in future for some of my other blades (and maybe adding some fittings etc.)

I did think of making a template but I suspect it would have taken me longer than making the sheath itself
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 02:46 AM
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I wouldn't have known where to start, To me that is a job well done. Very well done.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 09:37 AM
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It really depends on the tools available to you. You could start out with a piece twice as long plus a little bit as the length of the finished sheath and route out twice the length of the the finished cavity on the router table (have to be careful here as the workpiece has to be placed onto the spinning bit) marking the beginning and ending points with tape on the fence. Once the cavity is routed out you could use a planer to reduce the thickness of the board (working only on the unrouted side) down to any desired thickness. You could then cut the board in two and glue it up. I've obviously left out some details, but I think you'll get the gist of what has to be done from the above.

By the way, I think what you did came out very nicely.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 11:12 AM
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This might be a perfect job for a CarveWright system that Sears sells. It's a mini CNC machine.
Perhaps you could find someone close by that has one.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 12:44 PM
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Do not use Oak with steel. The tannic acid in the oak will cause blue spots on the wood and rusting on the steel.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crquack View Post
My Filipino pinuti developed rust spots. The most likely cause is storage in leather sheath (although I have many other blades stored the same way, this is the only one that has done this) and living on Vancouver Island. Therefore, I decided to make a wooden storage sheath for it, a "shirasaya" if you will.

The choice of oak (being the only available 1/4" stock in HD at the time) was not a particularly good one. I did some trial carving on it and found it very difficult. I then proceeded to rout out the two halves in the rough shape of the blade and finish off with some chiseling and finally sanding and a touch up with files when the thing was still too tight after gluing.

The result is here:

Pinuti and "shirasaya" on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Sword in its sheath on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

It was better than I expected, the sword fit is just right. However, I was wondering if I could have done even better. For instance, getting the right shape of the cavity (a narrow wedge):

"Shirasaya" opening on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

may have been easier if I glued temporarily a 1/16" thick strip to one of the halves and then routed it out just a smidgen over 1/16" - one side would have been full thickness, the other approaching zero.

The one problem I was struggling with was matching the two halves while routing: The two have to be mirror images of each other and there is opening only on one end, the other end is blind. In the end it does not matter too much as the whole thing got sanded down, but just as well that nobody can see inside the finished sheath

Does anyone have a clever way of doing this right? I am thinking of trying this again sometime in future for some of my other blades (and maybe adding some fittings etc.)

I did think of making a template but I suspect it would have taken me longer than making the sheath itself
A template from MDF would not take long to make. Do you need to rout both halves? Could you use one piece of say 1/2" thick and rout the slot in this and glue a 1/4" flat strip over this after trial fitting the blade?

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Do not use Oak with steel. The tannic acid in the oak will cause blue spots on the wood and rusting on the steel.
Interesting. Does this apply to a piece of oak that is really dry? I guess it is too late in this case but I shall keep an eye on it. The inside has been liberally treated with linseed oil and wax, too.

Last time I went to HD they had poplar in the same size - I cannot find it on the Janka scale. Does poplar wood have a different name (as in "basswood=lime=linden")?

BTW the most elaborate sheath I have seen was made from cocobolo (I think) with basswood inserts which were hand carved to accept *sheepskin* inserts to keep a tanto. The interesting part was that the guy did not have a router so he used a router bit in his drill press to make the recesses in the cocobolo before he carved the inserts.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 08:49 PM
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Hi CRquack:

Your only option is to create a template that is a negative copy of your blade. Then, using that, a straight bit and a bushing in your router, route out the pattern in your material of choice. You can control the depth exactly. You'll have to compensate for the collar dimensions but that shouldn't be too difficult.

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 11:11 PM
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Bamboo may be a better choice of material. I've seen sword making but never the sheath. So, I can't be of much help.

Ken

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 03:56 AM
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Innovative thinking, Ken. I hadn't thought of bamboo, but it seems like a natural!

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