We are continuing our historical buckler research with a second buckler made by guest writer, Jerod. This buckler explored the use of different hardwood and its impact to the buckler performance.
The testing of j.1 provided valuable feedback and data for buckler j.2. Most noteworthy was that j.1 was too thick (¾”) increasing its weight. The weight was not unmanageable but would fatigue most testers in a 10 point match. Second was that two layers of boards with the grain in a perpendicular orientation would reduce strain on a single layer’s butt joint and prevent any cracking from propagating fully through the buckler. I also sought to improve the producibility of the buckler (ease of manufacturing) and improve the ability to hold it with a modern armored glove.
For this build I used walnut instead of red oak for the face of the buckler. My thought here was the walnut is still a hardwood, but might help reduce the overall weight of the buckler and every gram helps. Also this buckler would be 12” instead of 14” in diameter as well as two layers of ¼” boards bringing the total thickness to ½”.
Rather than starting by cutting each board I instead started with the joints and glued the two layers together, clamped and left for 24 hours.
Once the glue had dried I proceeded to mark the outer diameter of the buckler face and made an initial rough cut to shape. I then used the belt sander to smooth the edges and achieve the desired round shape.
With the outer shape cut I moved to the inner hole. For this I used a 5 ½” holesaw. With the initial hole created I then used a rasp to open the inner diameter and ensure it was smooth and the desired roundness.
I then sanded and rounded the edges to reduce likelihood of injury when in use. This method was much easier to initially cut, but the final sanding was made more difficult by the fact that the joined planks prevented use of the belt sander. Future versions I will use a larger hole saw to get closer to the final inner diameter.
I then turned my attention to the handle which I made from yellow pine. The thought here was the handle does not take impacts and could be a softer, lighter wood. And perhaps even the softer wood would lend some energy absorption from heavy blows. I also shaped it less as a straight “bar” of wood and more of an arch shape to move the hand away from the buckler and provide room for modern armored gloves.
Next I used clinched nails to secure the handle and pop rivets to secure the boss to the wood face.
With the structure of the buckler complete I moved on to finishes. Applying linseed oil to protect the wood from moisture and tacking on the leather lining. For this version I pre-marked the tack holes on the leather strip at 1” spacing to provide a cleaner final look. I also overlapped the seem of leather to prevent a damaging blow like what happened with j.1.
Below buckler j.2 (right) is shown alongside j.1 (left). Next up, testing! Final weight of j.2 was 1286g.
In use the 12” x ½” buckler is significantly lighter than the 14” x ¾” buckler which was expected. In use it felt no heavier or more cumbersome than a 12” metal buckler. It continued to exhibit the “sponging” properties of the wooden bucklers. In practice I found it to be sturdier than the original j.1 build thanks to the adjustments made to the lining, and multilayer construction. The walnut also did a better job at reducing deep gouges. I suspect it’s from the slightly softer wood giving more and absorbing energy rather than “cracking” under hits. One disappointment was I had grown accustomed to the additional protection afforded by the 14” j.1. In fact I plan on making a j.3 that will be 14” in diameter but utilizing the construction methods of j.2 to reduce weight. After many weeks of testing the overall wear of j.2 is minimal and I would anticipate it holding up for many months of rigorous training. The reductions in weight and improved handle are a big contributing factor to its overall usability.