Project: Cleaver Scabbard

Illyana calls this thing a Gulloch and claims it is Turkish in origin, supposedly carried by horsemen to cut themselves out of the stirrups in the event that they are unhorsed in battle. I’ve spent a couple hours now trying to find some reference on-line, and can’t find anything for any variant of the spelling. It’s really just a big freakin’ cleaver – a BFK if I ever saw one. See for yourself:


For reference, that is a standard-size Zippo lighter. The blade is 10″ long, 3″ wide at the tip, 3/8″ thick at the hilt, and weighs as much as a good axe. It normally lives in our SCA kitchen tote, which became the home of a family of mice over the winter.

The original scabbard was in bad shape before, but with mice in the tote, I figured it was time to rebuild the scabbard completely. I’ve been meaning to do this for a couple years now because it has been sheathed a couple of times while still dirty, and who knows what kind of nasty was growing in the metal socket at the end of the scabbard.

The original scabbard was black with flowered tooling on it (which I always thought was weird for a big knife) and constructed from a single piece of leather cut so that the stitching was a “Y” seam on the back side of the sheath. While this is cool from an engineering standpoint, it placed a lot of stress at the corners at the bottom, which is where it wore out first. There was also no method of securing the knife in the sheath, so I opted to re-design the whole thing.

The new scabbard will be more like your standard fixed-blade sheath, assembled from two large pieces of leather sewn together around the outside edge, with a welt in between the two pieces to make room for the thickness of the blade. In this instance the welt starts out 2 layers thick on the back due to the thickness of the blade, tapering down to one at the front, then tapering again down to no welt on the blade-edge seam. This will make for a little extra work, but it is worth it.

Okay, maybe a lot of work. I may end up drilling holes through those 4 layers instead of punching them with an awl, we’ll have to see how it goes.

Stylistically I have a bit of a conundrum, since your seam should be the same distance from the edge as the thickness of the material. (I.E., if the material stack is 1/4″ thick, sew 1/4″ from the edge.) Since the thickness changes, I will be splitting the difference instead of using that guide to get a uniform seam width.

Sunday night I got inspired and stayed up way too late working on the artwork, but I have a design on paper, and I cut a proof-of-concept piece. So far, I’m pretty pleased with the design. It’s kind of Celtic knotwork meets Tribal tattoos. No pictures for you yet though, you’ll have to wait.

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