Introduction: Viking Sword Scabbard - DIY

About: Just a person who likes DIY projects (excuse my English, I'm French speaking)

I own a viking sword, and I wanted a good looking scabbard. After some research, I found out I want a historical-like scabbard, with a wood core. after a successful tryout of a basic one, I wanted a better looking, with 3D pattern, etc.

My method will be heavilly based on this tutorial but with some differences

Historically, scabbards were made out of (from center to exterior) wool, wood, wool, leather
Since I don't need my scabbard to be battle proof, I'll just make it wood/leather.

Also historically, it was 2 thin planks soaked, bended to adopt the shape of the blade. this require more time and tools I have, I'll then do a "sandwich" scabbard (2 plain layers and a hollowed one)

Historically, a viking scabbard had a bridge (can be different material) du be able to tie up the scabbard to a belt.

Here are the steps I'll need:

  1. Build the bridge
  2. Measure, trace & cut planks
  3. Tryouts, inner scrape & glue planks
  4. Outer scrape & oil wood scabbard
  5. Draw pattern to have some 3D relief on it - think about belt & lacing
  6. Cut & punch holes on the covering leather
  7. Prepare covering pattern
  8. Soak leather & prepare sewing & gluing
  9. Sew, apply covering pattern & let it dry overnight
  10. Finish throat & chape (leather finish)
  11. Strap the bridge & belt or baldric
  12. (OPTIONAL) Make chape & throat out of metal

Here is the list of tools and materials you will need

  1. A Sword
    • Obvious but not so much... ALL scabbards are custom made, all sizes depends on the swords... non custom made may be too loose (sword sliding off too easily & falling) or too tight (excalibur-style scabbard... impossible to get out once it's in)
  2. Wood plank
    • Minimum size you'll need: blade length +5-10cm * blade width*4
      the more length you add the more pointy your scabbard can me
    • Since it's not battle ready, I used laminated wood, 3mm... if you do so, try to find a plank that has just the thickness of your blade or a bit less
  3. Wood piece
    • for the bridge... mines are aprox 15cm length... size will vary depending on what you need
  4. Leather
    • Size will be a bit more than the wood plank size. there is high chance that you'll badly cut your leather... think of that ;-)
    • You'll need also leather for the pattern & covering pattern. My advice, buy a bunch of leftover leather: super cheap
    • You might want to buy some leather laces as well, to strap the bridge for example
  5. Waxed thread + leather needles
    • Special thread for leather, don't use classic sewing, it's not solid enough
  6. Wood glue + brush
  7. Leather glue (if possible... I used wood glue) + brush
  8. Wood oil finish + brush
    • Think about oil made to resist humidity & high stress: wood flooring waxed oils, or outside furniture oil. I had a leftover of wood flooring transparent waxed oil - perfect
    • Clean the brush with Petrol - better for oil brushes
  9. Clamps, a lot of them
  10. Elastics
  11. Jigsaw
  12. Belt sander
  13. 220 paper sander
  14. Dremel
  15. Pen
  16. Ladder
  17. Leather hole punchs
  18. Leather cutter
  19. Cutter mat
  20. 2 buckets
  21. Expandable towel
  22. Soap
  23. Paper tissues
  24. Mask & goggles

Step 1: Build the Bridge

This step is not mandatory as a FIRST step, but it HAS to be done beforeStep 5 - Draw pattern to have some 3D relief on it - think about belt & lacing so you will be able to put the lace pattern on the right place

Firstly draw the holes you want to have.
On the schema, you see the side of it.

You want at least: a big bottom hole (to be able to pass the strap that ties the belt) - 2 holes on the upper part to pass the laces to tie it up on the scabbard
The two bottom side holes are not nesessary. I've made them to surround the lace on the scabbard, but it can be simply flat

Then use whatever you want to cut those holes off, I used a jigsaw. if you have a scroll saw it's the best

Then I used the belt sander and dremel to round the whole thing

Sizes of mine (Length * Width * Thickness - aprox):
(thicker one) 15cm * 3cm * 5cm
(larger one) 15cm * 5cm * 3cm

Use mask & goggles

You may want to draw some art on it. I personally carved with a dremel. You may as well pyro-draw, etc... or nothing, plain wood is nice too

After that, think about treating the wood (oiling, varnishing, whatever) and let it dry

Step 2: Measure, Trace & Cut Planks

Put your sword on the plank, your traces should be 2cm larger than the blade width (1cm on each side), and 5 to 10 cm longer than the length (depending how pointy you want the scabbard)

Trace 3 nices rectangles out of those measures (rectangles should be exactly the same)

Put the blande nicely in the center of each rectangle (use the ladder to correctly put the point, and 1cm on each side of the guard), and draw the blade profile. then fill the profile (to be able to easily see where the blade is supposed to be)

Do it six times - 3 rectangles, 2 faces on each rectangle

Cut the 3 rectangles (I used a cutter, to avoid saw width to f***up my measures :p)

On one of the rectangle, you will have to cut the inner part (where the blade goes) - Be very careful, since the sides are very thin, they can break easily (especially with a jigsaw)
If it breaks one or 2 times, it's ok, you don't have to redo it (although I would, perfectionnist :p), gluing all together might fix the issue

To cut out the tip, I simply used a wood driller (25mm) to make a good curve

Step 3: Tryouts, Inner Scrape & Glue Planks

Now it's time to be sure it fits perfectly your sword.
Keep in mind you don't want it too loose neighter too tight. Without any glue clamp your 3 planks together (hole plank in the center) like a sandwich. align them perfectly (and use the blade markup on the planks). use a LOT of clamp, the wood have to be very tighten together so simulate the gluing

Try to put the blade in.

  • If it's too loose (it just slides in and off by gravity), you will have to add something on the plain planks to add thikness. Fabrics would be nice. Wool fabrics even better
  • If it's too tight (you have to push a bit), then you will have to scrape a bit of the plain planks to add some space. I used a dremel for that - use the 220 sand paper after that to make the inside smooth and avoir damaging the blade

Repeat the process until it is tight enough. Gluing together will tighten it a bit more... so it has to be a bit, just a bit, not enough tighten to your own taste.

Use a wet tissue to clean the planks and remove all the wood junk resulting of this process

To glue planks together, you want the glue to be on the whole side, so use a brush.

Glue one plain plank to the hole plank, clamp it, clean the inside exceeding glue with a tissue (to avoid creating thickness with glue) and wait 30minutes it dries enough

Glue the last plank to the assembly and clamp it. Slide your blade in and out 3-5 times, to be sure the exceeding glue is not creating thickness. Then CLEAN YOUR BLADE !!! (WD40, gun oil, etc)

Wait that the glue is completely dry (read recommandations from glue manufacturer)

Step 4: Outer Scrape & Oil Wood Scabbard

Fix your Belt Sander on the table and begin scraping it to have a nice oval

refer to for more details

TAKE YOUR TIME you don't want any hole on the blade space

Use mask & goggles

Oil the outside of it (add much oil, it should get into the thickness of the wood as much as possible)

Let it dry (read recommandations from oil manufacturer)

Step 5: Draw Pattern to Have Some 3D Relief on It - Think About Belt & Lacing

For this one I used 5mm leather straps, to draw the pattern, they are glued directly on the wood

At the very least, you will need 4 straps, to create 2 gaps to bind the bridge

I also added a bigger spacer a bit more in the middle, to have the strap that will maintain the sword diagonally on my hip

Then I added some pattern just for the look

On a second project, I added some curvy patterns (last picture) - but you can clearly see the pattern for bridge and middle strap - this is partly made with leather straps, partly with cord

Step 6: Cut & Punch Holes on the Covering Leather

Cut the covering leather. This is tricky, the thing is that you don't want to have too much leather, neither not enough
Refer to for the leather cover

Punch holes evenly on each sides

Step 7: Prepare Covering Pattern

You need to prepare a covering pattern. This is used to apply on the leather (step 9) once it's sewed and drying, to have a nice 3D relief coming out

Think about your leather thickness, it shouldn't be exactly touching the glued pattern, add +-2mm gap (depending on your covering leather thickness)

Step 8: Soak Leather & Prepare Sewing & Gluing

Prepare a bucket of cold-ish water - current temperature

Prepare a second bucket of heaten water (not boiling... something like between 40 and 60°)

For the whole leather soaking and moulding, refer to google if you want to know more. This technique was perfect to me, enough time to sew & patch pattern before it's too hard. leather still soft enough after that (no need to be solid leather), etc

Soak your leather piece into cold water for 10minutes

During those 10 minutes, prepare a long waxed thread (aprox 4-5 times the length of your scabbard) and 2 needles
If you ended up with a thread too short (or you wanted it shorter to be easier to sew), refer to for the knot.
Once it's done, you can cover your scabbard of glue, use a brush to put glue on all the wood

Once preparation is finished, it should be aprox 10 minutes leather is now soaking. change buckets, soak the leather in mild warm water for a minute or two (not more, the warmer the water, the lesser soaking time) and NEXT STEP (quick quick)

Step 9: Sew, Apply Covering Pattern & Let It Dry Overnight

Take your leather piece, dry it a bit on your towel (the inside, to avoid water dripping off like hell on the wood)

put it on your towel, outside down, on a table, put the scabbard on it and start sewing.

Refer to for sewing pattern (and knot if needed)

Try to be fast (but not too fast, don't make mistakes) and, preferabilly, even on your sewing (if the diagonal bottom right to top left is on the upper on the first cross... it should always be... blue thread on the external website)

Tighten it well, be careful to not break the leather though. don't hesitate to use your hands to apply the leather well, and stretch it if needed

Try to not touch too much the glue with the needle or thread, to avoid problems on the thread

DON'T USE YOUR FINGERNAILS it will leave awful traces

When you reach the throat, reverse 3 crosses downwards to stop the wire.

Now you may apply the covering pattern (to enhance 3D relief & mould the leather) and wrap it tight with elastics or cord, maybe some clamps here and there. let it dry overnight

On the morning, remove covering wrapping & pattern and enjoy

Step 10: Finish Throat & Chape (leather Finish)

For the throat, I wanted that the leather finishes right uppon the guard. I therefore cut the exceeding leather to leave aprox 2mm on each sides (thickness of the edges of the wood). I then add some glue and pasted the leather on it. To be able to apply some pressure to keep it pasted, I've just slided the sword in, so the guard would make some pressure.

For the chape (ending of the scabbard), I'll firstly go for a leather one (maybe in the future I'll do a metal one). I simply sewed 2 parts together, soaked it for 10 minutes then soak in VERY HOT water (nearby boiling) for 2 minutes. (I wanted to harden the leather). I then applied it on the tip and let it dry overnight

Step 11: Strap the Bridge & Belt or Baldric

1st, you will lace the bridge on the scabbard, on the placements that you rendered before covering. Be sure that the lace is very tight, the bridge will be holding thestraps that carry the whole assembly (sword+scabbard)

Step 12: (OPTIONAL) Make Chape & Throat Out of Metal

Still thinking about this one. I'd firstly try an experiment out of a soda can.

In the future, maybe build a metal foundry, 3D design the thing, 3D print the thing, make a cast, etc