Period Plank Shield Construction by Warren Cummins RTT Combat/Archery Recognized Authenticity Thegn Over several years

, I have made a few dozen shields out of planks and plywood. Both are effective if done correctly. The shields are for rebated steel combat and are designed to withstand a lot of abuse. They are not indestructible however and have a limited life span. The information provided in this resource is designed to help the reenactor build an economical and functional shield. The size and dimensions are based on historical examples and have been modified slightly to allow for ease of construction and for maximum strength of materials and a fairly light finished shield. I am assuming that most people can use tools and so things like peining a rivet are not covered. Materials 3/8" x 4" x 36" planks of period wood. For this shield I used quarter sawn ash as a material and ensured grain of the wood was irregular to prevent splitting. Use freshly sawn wood and not kiln dried wood. I got my wood milled at a wood turning shop where they produce "thins" regularly. I bought enough to make the handle and strapping on the shield and the shield face. Total for planks was around 65.00 Period woods include linden, basswood, oak, poplar, willow, birch and ash. I suggest using a wood that is both strong and light. Linden or limewood is both, but really expensive. I settled on the ash as a compromise. Plywood works too if you want to save money. Use 4x4' poplar subflooring at 3/8" thick. You can get two smaller shields out of this or one larger one. These run around 20.00. Use quarter inch poplar for handles and strapping. Shield boss is an extra large 14 gauge spun steel boss with 6 holes made by Get Dressed for Battle. They have an 8" diameter edge to edge and a 6" opening. I like this size as I get my big hand with a fight glove on into it easily. They are strong, and run 20.00 or so. There are many makers of these out there too, but don't go lighter than 16 gauge as the metal can collapse after repeated blows unless hot forged. Make sure it fits you with your fight glove on. Rivets for the shield are 2" common nails with 16 guage washers made from auto body mild steel and cut with shears and punched out with a sheetmetal punch. Nails for rim are 1" saddle tacks designed to clench over when hammered into an anvil. These can be had from Weaver Leather in Ohio or any fine saddle and tack shop and run about 400 to the pound. A pound is around 15.00 I have them in stock too.

This was cut from a piece of belly leather with a strap cuttter. If the planks have been faced and edged. I made my shield per combat specs of no more than two inches over my elbow with the arm at 90 degrees. The weight of the leather is 6/7 oz or 3-4 mm thick. I do not use rawhide as it gets brittle and can break on contact with a sword and cause septic cuts in skin. Tools Jigsaw Long wood clamps Small spring clamps Ball pein hammer Sheet metal punch Anvil 1" Saddle Tacks 2" roofing nails Titebond III wood glue and 2" paintbrush Krylon paint (its waterproof and dries quickly) Lepages Solvent Free Contact Cement and 2" Paintbrush Tack hammer/cobblers hammer Retractible knife Straightedge or strap cutter solid work surface Bucket of Water Compass Here we go: Lay out planks so that grain is alternating and not all running the same direction. It has a coarse weave. Straps have been made from 1" ash strips of 3/8" thick. . Handle is 3 pieces of ash. then you can glue them together with the Titebond and clamp for 24 hours.This shield is rimmed in a strip of veg tanned leather 3" by 101" long. Other materials can be thin leather (if you feel rich). Ensure the wood does not lift and that all seams are of even height. So diameter is 31" Centre hole is 6" in diameter to accompany the shield boss. denim or linen. Dimensions. two inches wide and progressively longer that have been laminated together with glue. This shield is covered in cross stitch fabric. is very strong and bonds nicely to the surface of the shield. canvas. Use long bar clamps and weight the wood to keep it flat while drying.

I have also traced out the shield and the hole for the boss using a compass. Drill a hole inside the center hole large enough for the jigsaw blade to get started and cut out the center as well.This photo shows the planks glued together and the handle I made. Note the grain of the wood is all different directions as I wanted maximum strength from the quarter sawn ash. Cut the shield round with the jigsaw. . The handle is just laying on top for the photo.

keeping it tight as you go.Apply the contact cement with a two inch brush. Immediately apply another coat of contact cement over the fabric. Apply the fabric to the side with the glue. Apply liberally over one side of the shield and the outside and hole edges. trim off the excess from around the edge. . This contact cement is latex based and creates a laminated surface with the second coat. Once the glue is dry. Let it dry 24 hours to cure. leaving a little hanging over and remove the center piece too.

At this point. so its waterproof too. Clip the nail with sidecutters down to 1/8" of an inch over the washer and then cross pein until flared and then ball pein until tight. Once the paint is dry. install the boss and handle which has been cut to length and shaped and finished to minimize catches and splinters.Now you have a shield with a laminated front and its latex based. This is a consmetic but historical feature that makes your shield look more authentic. mask and paint your shield in your desired colors. Use the sheet metal punch and tinsnips to make the square washers. Use the roofing nails with the head of the nail on the front of the shield. The handle must be perpendicular or 90 degrees to the planks. . Note in the photo below the varying lengths of planks to make the handle.

. allow 10 minutes to penetrate and then wipe off excess with a rag. Square the ends of the straps as well.5 on this shield for a circumference of 97. Give it a second coat and allow to dry. Calculate the amount needed by using Circumference = 2x pi x radius. Apply liberally with a two inch brush.5". Roll them up and soak in warm water until the bubbling stops.14 x 15. danish oil.. but if you want darker wood. I used a natural finish danish oil. Then fasten around the edge with the spring clamps. Allow to dry 24 hours. A belly is nice because its usually long enough.Once the handle is on and everything is tight. cut your leather strips 3 inches wide and cut enough to go all the way around the shield. Now you are ready to edge the shield. use a fruitwood or walnut stain oil.. then oil the wood with boiled linseed oil. .C= 2x3.. tung oil. First.

Work until you get to the end of the leather. Place an additional nail in 1/4" from the edge of the leather. Cover over the ends of the handle. Butt the next piece of leather up against the first.After clamping around the edge. Using the tacks. This will ensure a very stable edge and prevent the leather from curling up as it dries. Work your way around the shield keeping the leather taut and even over both sides of the shield. mark the nail holes with a set of dividers or a compass at 2" intervals. set the tack with the beveled end facing the edge of the shield. Hammer over an anvil so that the nail curls back into the leather toward the center of the shield. . Start 1/4" from the edge and continue as before.

Allow the shield rim to dry for 24 hours. you can apply a matte finish arcrylic spray over both the leather and painted area if you want. When the shield is completely dry. Trim to butt the leather if there is excess. but these things are totally optional. If you want additional support for your planks. The shield might warp a bit at this point but will settle out as the leather is stretched and dries tight. If this happens. Its good to oil the leather with boiled linseed oil and you could put another coat of oil on the back.The result will be an edge that is consistent and solid. Note the piece fitted into the upper left quadrant of the shield. You might split a board or two along the way as the nails sometimes tend to do that. It will feel heavy because of the water. They will be tight. Once it dries. But it will lighten up when dry. . run two 1" strips of ash parallel to the handle inside the rim half way between the edge of the shield and the center. As the leather dries it will pull the wood tight again and glue it back into place. you do not need another piece to cover these butts. inject a bit of tightbond into the split. Rivet as describe above.

I used plywood in exactly the same manner with a light strong wood for the handle in the last picture. If you have questions. email me at ykmedieval@yahoo. Everything else is the same. The boss and fabric have been replaced but the wood is still going strong. This shield is used in Torvik and has been in use for over two years now. January 2/09 and has seen no combat yet. The red and black shield was just finished today.ca .

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