13th Century Sword Belt help

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Templar Knight
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13th Century Sword Belt help

Post by Templar Knight »

What thickness in mm should I use for it, I have some 4 mm that is the right size but far to thick but I was thinking 2 mm cow leather. I just dont want it to snap so suggestions on what will be best please :D
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Colin Middleton
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Post by Colin Middleton »

Leather is both much stronger and much weaker than people expect. Leather thongs are weaker than equivalent thread, but at the same time, we all keep buying wide belts made of thick leather, when much thinner leather is perfectly suitable.

Rant over. Now for a proper answer.

A 13th C sword belt is quite wide 1-2", I think. That means that you can use a much thinner hide than you would expect. I reckon that you MIGHT get away with something as thin as 1mm thickness.

Also, remember that many skins are stronger than hides. For example goat skin is stronger and more flexible than cow hide of the same thickness, but is much thinner than cow hide.

There is an analysis of surviving original sword-belts in the book on Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo Medieval York (or something like that). From what I can remember of the stuff in there, they were using calf skin, probably in the 1.5 to 2 mm range, but I'll have to check tonight.

Unless Matt wants to come in and educate both of us! :wink:
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Medicus Matt
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Post by Medicus Matt »

Snap? The only reason a 2mm thick leather belt is going to snap is if you make the stitch holes too close together. Apparently one of the 13th C ones I made last year has torn along the top stitch line where belt meets scabbard which is a bit annoying (although it may owe as much to the fact that reenactors do pull their sword belts in as tighly as possible ).

I'll be increasing the spacing from now.

If you're going to use 2mm veg tan then pre stretch it before using it (ie soak it and stretch it out lengthways to reduce the amount of 'give' it has when dry). that way, you won't have to keep putting strain on it to increase the tightness.

Calf is good, as is deer skin if you want something more resistant to tension. I used some elk hide once which was very soft and flexible, very easy to stitch but very resitant to stretching. Excellent belt material.

As Colin says, surviving examples (and the evidence from surviving belt fittings) show that most reenactors use leather that is much too thick for stuff like belts and baldricks, about 1.5mm being the norm for A-S belts.
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Post by Templar Knight »

Have you got any pictures of your work, I didnt know people made them , would of been easier to not do this myself, but I finished all the wood now so might aswell see it to the end lol
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Medicus Matt
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Post by Medicus Matt »

You've already seen pics of my stuff on here before...
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Colin Middleton
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Post by Colin Middleton »

Forgot to add that the York example of this type of belt is 2 layers of 1.5mm sewn together down the edge.

So Matt, any thoughts on why 2 layers?
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Thrud
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Post by Thrud »

Colin Middleton wrote:Forgot to add that the York example of this type of belt is 2 layers of 1.5mm sewn together down the edge.

So Matt, any thoughts on why 2 layers?
Long cold winter nights and a surplus of 1.5 mm thick leather.
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Post by Hobbitstomper »

Means you can dye the top layer without so much chance of the dye getting on your clothes when it gets wet.
Means that any fancy metalwork on the outside can be rivetted through the top layer then the back of the rivets covered up with the inner layer.
Means you can do other stuff with the attachments to the scabbard as the leather can split to go either side.
Or the leather worker was looking for an excuse not to talk to his wife on a long cold winter's night.

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