Laplanders for many centuries have made sheaths from antlers. Antler provides a long-lasting material that does not wear out or disintegrate over time like leather or wood does eventually. I thought this appropriate for the Stag and Doe category.
Damascus steel has been made since the early Iron Age, and its modern equivalent is pattern-welded steel. The strength of this type of steel is great, yet allows enough flexibility to not be brittle and break easily.
Sheath - elk antler shed found near Cotopaxi, CO in spring 2020.
Knife - handmade patterned-steel blank created from an old (unusable) chainsaw blade
Handle - Indian rosewood - harvested 1922, sent as a sample to the Fender Guitar Company in the 1960's for consideration as an element for fingerboards on their Telecaster and Stratocaster models of electric guitars
Rivets - brass brazing rod
These differ from medieval and Renaissance materials in the the available wood would have been of different varieties and the steel would have come from pig iron made locally or imported. Knives may have been inserted into handles rather than a full-tang knife riveted to handles, since steel was expensive.
Coal-fired forge (period and modern)
10 lb Little Giant Power Hammer (modern)
Hydraulic press (modern)
Wire-feed welder (modern)
Hammers and Anvils (period and modern)
Water jet CNC machine (cutting tool)
Dremel tool with various carving burrs (modern)
Belt sander (modern)
I have access to these tools, and the tutelage of a master blacksmith who uses primarily later 1800's methods and tools to create everything from decorative to functional pieces for farms and homesteads of the late 1800's to early 1900's and modern usages. For a newer SCA craftsman like myself, it is difficult to recreate and use completely period materials and tools for metal-working and creating knives and sheaths.
This is the first time I have made my own pattern-welded steel blank for a knife. This knife is forged out of a used and unusable chainsaw blade that I had in my shop. I started working on this in November or December 2020. I worked with a blacksmith, who usually uses late 1800's methods, to forge the metal into a pattern-welded billet (blank). I welded the chainsaw blade with a wire-feed welder, put the metal into a coal-fired forge, heating it to a welding temperature of around 2100 degrees Fahrenheit. I then used a hydraulic press, forcing the metals together, which results in the pattern seen in the steel blade of this knife. After pressing the heated metal, it was again folded and welded to produce the blank used for the knife.
I cut the basic shape of the knife with a water jet (knife length is 8 1/4" with 4" blade), sanded the knife to create a tapered blade (from 3/16" on the spine to the sharpened edge) with a belt sander, then heated and quenched the knife in oil. I tempered the knife to remove the brittleness of the steel and make it stronger and more flexible.
I selected the rosewood scales for the handle because the finished wood has a beautiful, deep purple/brown hue and feels like silk in your hand. I shaped the wood to the proper thickness, matched the shape of the knife, then glued and brass riveted the handle to the knife. I sanded the whole knife by hand to remove burrs and until it was smooth. I applied a coat of bees wax to the knife blade to prevent rusting.
This handle is designed with cut-outs in the handle for a good grip for stabbing with the knife (as opposed to slicing for eating or kitchen use). Because there is no bolster between the knife and the handle (typically there is a brass bolster) the balance point of this knife is behind the cut-outs.
When I picked up the antler last spring, I immediately saw the eagle's head profile on the main tine, which inspired this project.
I took the antler and cut it lengthwise to allow for insertion of a leather liner to keep the knife tight in the sheath. This also allowed for cutting and shaping half of the sheath to allow the knife handle to be seen and easily grasped for removal from the sheath. (See picture 1 of the sheath before carving.)
To find the right image, I looked through pictures of eagles' heads and chose the one that had the best fit for the profile of the sheath. I sketched the face and feathers onto the antler, then carved the face and feathers with various carving burrs on a Dremel tool. The finish and coloring on the sheath are completely natural.
The finished knife is 10" when sheathed.
Internet search in Spring 2020 on knife sheaths provided the information on antler sheaths and their use by Laplanders - it was so long ago and I hadn't ever considered entering a competition, so I don't have the exact web address any longer.
Master Blacksmith, Don Hanson of Colorado Springs, CO.
Please feel free to contact me by phone or email for any additional information desired on this item or the process.