Intro: Trial of the Scabbard
The purpose of this project was to 1) create a functional scabbard for a fencing sabre, and 2) to create a piece in homage to the Legend of Zelda video game series, particularly the latest installment: Breath of the Wild. Both these aims are achieved by the wooden replica Master Sword sabre scabbard!
This project was influenced by youtuber HappyAtom (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnbkC8IULMeqwkmj3...) who created a fantastic Master Sword and Master Sword Scabbard. However, lacking his equipment and expertise, my approach described here is a simplified version, employing the resources and skills I had available to me. This method uses primitive tools and limited technology to achieve its ends. It is admittedly an arduous and time consuming project, but completely viable to those without specialized woodworking equipment and an immensely rewarding project.
This particular project is designed to fit a sabre which has maximum dimensions of 1/2"x1/2"x35", but it may be modified to fit any weapon size.
This project took roughly 30 hours, and cost me ~$40. Raw materials on their own were only ~$15. This was my second time making a scabbard like this and the first time I've attempted to document it for an instructable. I hope you enjoy! Feedback is appreciated.
Step 1: Materials
Poplar hobby wood, 0.25"x1.5"x36" (x2)
Basswood, 1/16"x4"x24" (x2)
Paint and glue
Acrylic paint (blue and gold)
Chisel (1/2" metal chisel)
Step 2: Master Plans
The first step is to design and plan the scabbard and its ornamentation.
The body scabbard itself is created by coring two pieces of poplar hobby wood and gluing the pieces together to create a sheath. The resulting rectangular body is carved to create a hexagonal cross section (see figure 2, top left for cross section details).
Details and measurements of ornamentation can be seen in the plans.
*note: the carving the tailpiece proved more difficult than anticipated and so the true tail piece ornament measurements (figure 4) do not agree with the initial plan (figure 1).
**also note: yes, I use both inches and cm in my plans because I am a terrible person.
Step 3: Core the Centre of the Scabbard
Using the chisel, carve out a core of the poplar wood, approximately 1/4" deep on each piece. By carving precisely to the dimensions of the sabre, you can ensure the sword will fit snug in the sheath and will not become loose. After carving out the centre and sanding, the inside can be lined with felt or some other fabric to protect the blade. If a fabric layer is added, be sure to account for the thickness while carving.
Also at this stage, use the chisel to carve the end of scabbard to its desired point shape.
Step 4: Glue the Body of the Scabbard Together
Apply wood glue liberally and follow the glue instructions. A vice should be used to clamp the pieces of wood together as the glue cures, but since I don't have a vice, I just used painters tape hold the pieces of wood together as it cured. My brand was said to cure within 30 minutes, but for this step I allowed 24 hours in a warm place to ensure the body of the scabbard would be as adhered as possible.
Step 5: Carve the Hexagonal Cross Section
After gluing the two pieces together, you're left with a 0.5"x1.5"x36" pointed rectangle. The cross section is rectangular. To give it the more classic, hexagonal cross section shape, the edges can be carved with the chisel. Figure 1 shows the first right corner carved out, and figure 4 shows the final product. Details about the depth of carving can be found on page 2 of the master plans (step 0).
For me this was the most time consuming part of the project. Having a saw that could be appropriately angled (as used by HappyAtom) would have greatly expedited the process, but alas. After carving, sand to smooth the face.
I apologize for not showing this in the pictures, but the tricky part is the pointed end of the scabbard. At the point, the carved face will become steeper, since the width of the scabbard is reduced but the depth remains the same.
After this step, you will have a fully functional, vanilla scabbard. Next step is to add the ornamentation to transform it into the master sword scabbard.
Step 6: Carve Ornamentation From Basswood
Basswood is a soft wood and at 1/16" it is perfect for carving with just a simple Xcto knife. The full details of the ornamentation can be found in the master plans (step 0).
Note: a lesson I learned afterwards is that since the tailpiece of the body of the scabbard was the most difficult to carve (resulting in imprecise dimensions), it may be wise to carve the tail piece ornamentation slightly large to allow refinement after gluing.
Step 7: Paint
Paint the body and the ornamentation pieces using long even strokes. For the ornaments I used 2-3 coats of paint and for the body I used 3-4 coats. I used acrylic paints from the dollar store. The blue I used was "Ultra Deep Blue" and the gold was "Antique Gold".
Step 8: Glue Ornaments to Body
Gluing should be relatively straightforward but there are a few nuances to pay attention to due to the hexagonal shape.
For the tail piece, in order to accommodate the steeper curvature at the ends, the tail ornamentation should be cut into distinct pieces and glued separately. I recommend first gluing the center, flat face piece (shown figure 2), then the lateral side faces, and then finally the triangular pieces on the front sloping faces. As previously mentioned, it may be desirable to cut these triangular pieces are large as it allows for a margin of error and trimming after.
All other ornaments needn't be cut separate. A small incision in the basswood can be made that doesn't cut through the wood entirely but allows it to bend around the sloped face (figure 3).
Glue should be applied with restraint so that it doesn't ooze out of the contact surfaces. If it does ooze out, it can be gently removed using a toothpick after the glue has had some time to polymerize. Due to the irregular shape of the pieces, I acted as a human vice while the glue cured, clamping the ornaments in place with the body. Protip: time passes faster when you have a good TV show to watch.
Step 9: Final Coat of Paint
After gluing, a generous additional coat of paint at the intersections of ornaments can helped fill in and seal cracks in the interfaces (compare figure 1 and figure 2). There may be alternative ways to fill these cracks (eg sawdust?), but I was not able to attempt them in this project.
Step 10: Varnish
The final step is to add varnish to help protect the wood and give it a glossy finish. I am no expert in the various types of varnish and finishes applied to wood. I used 3-4 coats of some outdoor wood finish my dad had left over in the basement. It adds some gloss to the piece and seems to offer at least some protection.
Now all that is left to do is admire all your hard work!