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Medieval spiked club replica project. (Read 819 times)
Mauro Fiorentini
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Medieval spiked club replica project.
Dec 9th, 2016 at 12:52pm
 
Hi guys, since I'm definitely back ashore I'm starting with this new project.
I just wanted a cheap and simple Middle Age weapon so I took a look at the Morgan Bible (aka Maciejowski Bible) and found this:

...

The Morgan Bible was written in Northern France in the middle of the 13th Century. This miniature can be seen in Folio 34v, which you can look at by browsing here: http://www.themorgan.org/collection/Crusader-Bible/thumbs

Things developed fast: I looked at the Bible yesterday, and I remember I had a hundred square-head nails in my cellar, a century or so old.
So I picked them up, hammered the bent ones and the metal part is ready.

Today I went outdoor looking for some hard wood.
I came upon a young oak tree which was just perfect, straight enough, long enough and with a suitable diameter.
I chopped down the tree - this is traditionally the better period to do this job, tradition says "the best wood to make handles and such is cut when there is no moon in the sky during the coldest nights of December and January".
I guess the truth behind the tradition is that during this period the cold is so intense that all the tree's functions are reduced to minimum. So there's little water inside the tree and this will eventually reduce the possibilities for it to split and crack while seasoning, later during the year.

Anyway I now got my wood and nails.
Next step is to shape one of the two logs into a baseball bat.
Then to apply the nails. And later the leather strap.
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vetryan15
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #1 - Dec 9th, 2016 at 4:13pm
 
Can't wait to see what you do.
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kicktheotter
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #2 - Dec 9th, 2016 at 4:34pm
 
That's certainly a weapon I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. Is there much historical precedent for these? I know that some Medieval illustrations could be somewhat... inventive...
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #3 - Dec 9th, 2016 at 5:03pm
 
Hallo Kick, as for the baseball shape there is evidence that it has been in use since the Bronze Age at last - archaeologists dug a battle site in central Europe and found one of these clubs.
Tollense Battle, here's the link, you can see the club if you scroll down - they used ashwood for it: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/slaughter-bridge-uncovering-colossal-bron...

Talking of Middle Age, museums here are filled with clubs and maces of all kinds covering the whole Middle Age millennium; here's an example from Portugal: ...

The use of maces in Italian medieval warfare had to be widespread: Italian word for "mace" is "mazza" and Italian word for "to kill" is "amMAZZAre".  Shocked

Also, during the early centuries of the Middle Age maces were used to settle criminal cases: two champions had to fight against each other and this way to dispense justice later became a game known as the "mazzascuto" (mace and shield).

Two tiny villages are in the park where I took the oak wood: Poggio and Massignano. Poggio is between Massignano and the sea, and this led to a battle between the two villages, the so-called "Battaglia dei bastoni" (Clubs battle).
Massignano people wanted to get access to the sea so they could use salt in their cuisine; Poggio people wanted them to pay a price for it.
So they fought this battle that became famous because all the weapons were sticks, clubs, maces and such.  Smiley

The last use of maces involving Italian people (even if on the losing side) happened in ww1: Austrian soldiers bombed the Italian trenches with gas and then went on to give the Italian soldiers a coup-de-grace with a mace sometimes wrapped with barbed wire - it was cheaper than a bullet.
Here are some examples from the Redipuglia Sanctuary:
...
https://simonjoneshistorian.com/2015/05/17/the-italian-front-in-the-first-world-
war-at-redipuglia-and-monte-sei-busi/
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vetryan15
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #4 - Dec 9th, 2016 at 7:55pm
 
That last pic, looks like an old "stick gernade" that was used in ww2
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #5 - Dec 10th, 2016 at 3:23am
 
Exactly, the white label says it's a handled rifle grenade  Smiley
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #6 - Dec 10th, 2016 at 6:31am
 
It's quite amazing the inventiveness and amount of design work people throughout history have put into heavy sticks to hit each other with Cheesy
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Bill Skinner
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #7 - Dec 10th, 2016 at 2:02pm
 
When you strip the bark off and shape the wood, rub the wood with vegetable oil when you stop work, it will help prevent the wood from cracking.  As a rule of thumb, if I plan to work green wood, as soon as I cut it, I rub both ends with olive oil. (The real cheap stuff.  Grin)
(Not some you would actually eat or cook with or anything.)  This helps to stop the ends from "checking" or splitting.






Who won the fight?
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #8 - Dec 10th, 2016 at 2:55pm
 
Thanks Bill I didn't think about it..... I just removed all the bark this morning (it's 9pm now here) and have some raw oil downstairs...... going to do that right now Smiley
What fight? can't remember  Embarrassed
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #9 - Dec 10th, 2016 at 4:22pm
 
Anyway it's 10pm now and for today the job is done.
Here are some pics that will help me explain what I've done today.

These are the 2 oak logs. I am going to use the left one because it's bigger and more straight than the other.
...
The tool between them is what we call a "roncola" and is used by farmers for general bushcrafting. I'm using it to remove the biggest of the bark.

Here's my log with the outer bark removed. This revealed some major cracks that I will illustrate later.
...

I started to shape the log into a baseball bat, but this is a long process involving filing, sanding and scratching. To avoid getting bored and losing interest in the project I alternated the various phases. Shaping proceeds slowly but is fun!
...
...

The smoothing process allowed me to see the cracks more clearly. They appear to be smaller than I thought at the beginning, and are due to the fact that when I cut down the tree I helped it falling by pushing with my foot on its base. To my defense I can say that I found the tree after walking around 10 kilometers and I was very fatigued when I was cutting it down. It was also very cold with around 5°C when I started walking! Anyway the cut was not definite and those are the results.
...
...

The first crack has another smaller one nearby, while the second one is almost on the opposite side of them.
The side of the stick where they are was the one closer to the ground. This makes it the side where I will put the nails, because the closer to the ground a tree is, the stronger its wood is.
Pushing the wood in opposite directions trying to see if the cracks enlarge didn't lead to any result. The cracks remains the same and the wood appears to be very strong.
2 questions:
1) I wonder if these cracks will enlarge as the wood dries (I think so);
2) Of course I will avoid to stick nails in there, this is not a question but just a random thinking  Smiley

I could avoid all these problems by removing the entire section, thus shortening the whole stick of about 10 centimeters. It's 78 centimeters long now so, even shortened, it would still be a respectful stick.  Smiley
Any suggestion on this?

Lastly, here's the log oiled with the oil I use to quench my blades and hung to let it dry.
I think I will continue working tomorrow, Bill how could I do to remove the oil? Or I don't care and just keep filing?
...

All the job has been done with hand tools, not electric ones. For now I just used my grandfather's saw, a "roncola", a couple of rasps and my small falchion.
Suggestions, criticisms, ideas?  Smiley




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Morphy
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #10 - Dec 10th, 2016 at 7:51pm
 
Any cracks will most likely enlarge as the wood shrinks, although it depends on just how much water was in the wood to begin with, and to a lesser extent the particular species of oak. You can fill them with ordinary wood glue if there's no oil in them. I don't use oil to prevent cracking and checking in staves so Bill can probably help more. Maybe the oil will prevent it entirely. (?)
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #11 - Dec 11th, 2016 at 4:43am
 
Thanks Morphy, I think I will definitely cut off that part of wood... it's just 10 centimeters, plus I'm wielding the stick and it's quite unbalanced to the top.... it seems just too heavy: perfect as a two-hands stick, less as a single hand weapon.
So I'll most likely shorten it, and then I'll go on shaping it into a baseball bat.
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #12 - Dec 11th, 2016 at 10:25am
 
Morphy, I'll bet you used glue to seal the ends of a log you were planning to split for bow staves?  People probably used vegetable oil before they had Elmers' glue.   Grin

The cracks in the end of the log are "checking".  They are caused by water evaporating from the ends of the log after you cut it.  As the water leaves, the wood shrinks, and it shrinks faster toward the middle where there is no bark to prevent water lose.  Don't cut them off yet, otherwise, it will happen again.

There is already some oil in the wood, that's why you use vegetable oil.  The wood will absorb it or it will evaporate, that's why you add some sort of finish to wood to protect it.

FWIW, I work wood "green" with stone tools, I start working the wood right after I cut it.   I try to let the wood dry a bit if I plan to use steel tools.  Usually a week or two in the house in the AC in the summer or a week or so in the house in the winter and let the heater draw out some of the moisture. 

Now that you have debarked it, it will dry fairly quickly, rub a light coat of oil on it and put it up high in a room, not directly over a heat source such as a vent or stove or oven, and then work on it for an hour or so each morning and remove the wood that dried overnight.  It won't clog up your rasp near as bad.  Don't let it dry too much, seasoned oak is very hard and very difficult to work with hand tools.  Ask me how I know that last one...

Once you get the final shape and before you add the spikes, put a heavy coat of oil on it and rub with your hand until the wood is hot.  You can use a rag wrapped around your hand but it had better be a tough rag. 

Dip the points of the nails in oil before you drive them in, it will help prevent the wood from splitting.  I would probably drill a small hole where each nail will go to also help prevent splitting.  This will lessen the stress from the displaced wood from the nails.  And you may want to stagger the holes slightly to prevent the nails acting as a wedge.

Weigh your finished club, then come back and weigh it every six weeks or so for a year.  You will find that your club will lose a lot of weight, probably around 1/4 of its first weight.
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #13 - Dec 11th, 2016 at 11:15am
 
Good info Bill. I need to try that.
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: Medieval spiked club replica project.
Reply #14 - Dec 11th, 2016 at 12:48pm
 
Ok thank you Bill.
I will wait some days more and then I'll get back to work the wood.
Well I have to polish all the nails anyway, and see how I can use an old sword blade I have around.
This wood IS green, I cut it 2 days ago and started working it the same day.
Thanks!
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