Making a Rondel Dagger – Part 7 – Starting on the Scabbard

I am not done with the polishing yet, since the hardened layer was too thin and I had to start all over again with hardening. This time i made it during the day with controlled temperature. And also a different hardening mixture because the thinness might have been caused by phosphorus in the steel, which inhibits dissolution of carbon. I shall not go into technical details here, maybe another time in another project, but the result is twofold – the dagger has now really, really hard surface, maybe too hard, it eats abrasives. And it has a few discoloured spots, which I was trying to avoid by using charcoal. It is a beautiful blade nevertheless so I had to solve the conundrum how to keep it from scratching. I cannot just lay it on the workbench, because there will always be abrasive grains from angle grinder, sandpaper etc. and highly polished surface gets unseemly scratches in a blink. So I decided to start on the scabbard.

Piece of woodI intend to do proper, wooden scabbard and for this I have set aside a piece of fast growing poplar (Max 4 (Populus maximowiczii x P. nigra)) that I grow in my garden for firewood. It is very light, porous and soft wood, feels in hand like balsa but does not split or break very easily – it tends to keep hanging on threads. That makes it an ideal material for a scabbard. Since it is a modern fast growing hybrid, it is not authentic material, but it is closest to authentic material (P. nigra) I can get my hands on straight away. The piece I have here is from a four year old tree that I harvested this spring.

Cutting a rectangular block with a draw knife and a plane, cutting the block in two halves and facing them, all was a matter of mere minutes. The wood is extremely easy to work with.

Rectangular piece of wood Halved

A scabbard must be tight enough for the knife not to fall out with its own weight, but not so tight as to make it difficult to pull it out. So I had to cut half-blade grooves in both halves (I also took this opportunity to use my belt grinder to sharpen all my chisels and carving knives, it was long overdue in any rate). For this a bit harder wood would probably be slightly easier to work with, because with wood this soft I had to be really careful not to cut too much. I did however cut a little more than for a perfect fit, because after the grooves were cut, I had to rough the halves with a hacksaw blade for greater surface and therefore better glue adhesion which takes about half a mm off. There is a special type of plane for that, but I do not own it and even if I did, this is too small surface for a plane. The hacksaw blade is an old and tried trick. Only because the blade teeth are asymmetrical it is important to turn the blade around in order to get symmetrical grooves, or check the direction of the teeth and make them match.

starting blade groove Scratched

Thus prepared wooden halves were then glued using a hide glue that I cooked from sinews a few years back.

Jar with dried glue.I do not like working with hot hide glue, but not only is it a medieval authentic material, it has one huge advantage over modern glues – it can be redone and repaired with the help of steam over boling water multiple times, so any mistake can be corrected.

Not that I ever make mistakes that must be corrected. The mistake I did not make and therefore did not have to correct this time was forgetting that since the scabbard is hollow, the warm gooey snot gets squeezed not only on the outside, where it is of no consequence, but also on the inside, where it constrains the already tight fit. I also most definitively did not make the scabbard too tight the first time so it was nigh impossible  to get the dagger in and out. But after a few days and multiple attempts … What am I saying. After I glued it and clamped it over night it was fit and ready.

Later I left it dry naturally in the sun for a day and I heated it with hot air pistol with the blade inside so the wood forms better around the blade and also to dry it as much as humanly possible. After that all that remained was to cut it to proper length and chamfer the edges. Now I have safe storage for the blade during final polishing and a piece of work done at the same time.Blade in the scabbard


Jack’s Walk

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Jack and I walked along our favourite trail in the woods today and found lots of  pinkish trilliums. They’re very pretty and look as if they’re a distinct variety of trillium just like the red ones, but they’re not. Pink is simply the colour a white trillium turns as it prepares to finish blooming for the year.

Medieval Sex Tips.

A brand new translation of Symphorien Champier’s The Ship of Virtuous Ladies is now available, and it sounds most intriguing. I’ll be ordering.

First published in 1503 in Lyons, Symphorien Champier’s The Ship of Virtuous Ladies helped launch the French Renaissance version of the querelle des femmes, the debate over the nature and status of women. The three books included in this edition include arguments for gender equality, and a catalogue of virtuous women modeled on Boccaccio’s Famous Women and Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend. Titled “The Book of True Love,” book 4 is especially important in gender history, importing and transforming the male-centered Neoplatonic philosophy of Marsilio Ficino for pro-woman ends.

Medievalists has a look at some sex tips from the volumes.

1. The Right Age

Following Plato, Champier declares that the perfect age for women to marry is 16-20, and for men, 30-35. Any younger, and you might marry a girl who will be sick forever – “So instead of being served by them, [you] must serve them”, Champier warns. The only exception is if the young woman is tall. If she is short, you should definitely wait until she’s 21. And if both man and woman are over twenty-one, you’re in the clear: “the children will be attractive and have good temperaments, with well-proportioned members and will have good minds.” Be sure to wait, if at all possible, because if you have children earlier, “they will be imperfect and short.”

2. The Right Time

People should not have sex at just any old time of the year, Champier says. If you want to conceive, make sure you have sex in the spring, because it’s “warm and moist”, which is the best kind of humour. “Next after spring,” if you can’t manage it then, “winter is the season most conducive to conception, while summer is bad and autumn is the worst of all.” As for time of day, it can’t be right after eating. As we’ve always been told about swimming right after a meal, the consequences would be dire:

If a man, when he is full and has eaten, enters the world of the carnal, he weakens his body and his nerves and causes pain for himself in his legs and knees. He also causes obstructions all throughout his body and causes thick humors in his body; and if he does this regularly, his body parts retain too much water, he has great difficulty breathing, and his limbs start to shake.

If you thought it was safe to have sex before eating, think again:

If he acts carnally when he is hungry or thirsty or when he has an empty body or when his body has been bled … he damages his body and dries it out, and its natural heat dissipates, negatively affecting his sight, and sometimes he becomes paralyzed.

(Same goes for if you’re just been bled, bathed, worked, fasted, or been sad.)  You’ve been warned. Best to play it safe and just have sex first thing in the morning, “after a [good] night’s sleep.”

You can read the rest of the tips at

Colours In Old Norse.

Colours in Old Norse. This was very interesting, thanks to Ice Swimmer for this, which came up in the discussion of Lurid, and it’s origin Luridus, meaning pale yellow.  I’m familiar with the association between gold and red, that seems to have been a means of classification in many different cultures. As for blue being used to describe black people, that’s not unique to Old Norse either. I remember reading this post about the awful mistakes people make when trying to translate English into Gaelic. They have a similar use of colour classification having to do with hair, and…

The funny thing here is, the Irish word gorm actually does mean “blue” in most contexts. […] People of African descent, or with similarly dark skin, are described as “blue” in Irish (most likely because dubh (“black”) and dorcha (“dark”) have negative connotations in the language and donn (“brown”) would be understood to refer to hair color).

A Little Palate Cleanser After Alt*Hero Comic

I am not a fan of any particular superhero comics, I have never read any and do not plan to do so in foreseable future. I do however on occasion read some web comics. And the one I wish to recommend today is Hominids  by Jordan Kotzebue.

The comic is probably NSFW though (partial nudity), but the artwork is exceptional and the storytelling very captivating. I think you will enjoy it.