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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Feb, 2009 7:42 pm    Post subject: Help dishing a Byzantine round shield         Reply with quote

Hello everybody,

I'm looking to make a dished round shield in the Byzantine fashion, but I'm not sure how to go about it. I've been looking at art from the period and it's pretty obvious that byzantine shields were at least curved, but with the conventional art of the period I can't tell if they were simply curved like a scutum, or actually dished like a shallow bowl. Or were they more of a shallow cone?

I've seen dozens of depictions in art, but never found an image of an extant shield, so I cannot guess at the materials or construction of the shield. If they are made of leather or steel then dhishing should be pretty straightforward, but if they are primarily wood then I have no idea how to reproduce one. Any ideas? Even pictures of an extant shield would help.

Thanks in advance

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Viktor Chudinov




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 7:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could you please specify a period. And a picture would help.
Except buckler-likes , i don't think i have seen shields that might need dishing (not counting umbos of the shields). But I am more familiar with the period between 12th and 15-th century

I wonder...do deaf schizophrenics hear voices...
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ave!

I'm not as sure with what is usually called "Byzantine", though I do know that Roman shields from the 3rd to 5th centuries were dished at least sometimes. That's convex, like a lens, not just curved in one plane like the earlier scutum. Wasn't necessarily very deep, but yes, it's a very difficult shape to achieve! My guess is that the planks were shaped similarly to the staves of a barrel, slightly tapered, with slightly angled edges, and either cut and planed to the correct curvature or steamed and bent. Then all glued together and often covered with rawhide, fabric, etc. The whole job sounds horrific to us, since we tend to start with flat lumber, but to a technology that was used to starting with trees, and used to making water-tight barrels, this was not really very difficult.

For reconstructions, there are 3 construction options that I have seen used. Warped/dished layered plywood, plywood rings, and shaped lumber.

It is possible to get a little dishing by using several layers of very thin plywood, c. 1/8" each, presumably soaking it for a while, then supporting the edges in a circle and pressing down in the center--hard--for a week or two. Once the wood has dried in that position, check to see how much curvature you have, and repeat the whole procedure if necessary. Then do it again without soaking, but with glue between the layers. No guarantees!

The plywood ring method is popular for making the Classical Greek hoplon or aspis,

http://www.larp.com/hoplite/hoplon.html

Plan out your cross-section, ring sizes, etc., with a thickness of about 3/8" in the center tapering out to about 1/4" at the edges. Then a few days dusty work with belt sander, etc., and you'll have it. Like the plywood method, this will have to be covered front and back to hide the fact that it's not made of proper planks.

The third option is the most authentic, though I couldn't say if this is exactly how shields might have been made in Byzantine times. Basically use slabs of lumber glued side-by-side, each piece the thickness of the finished depth you want to achieve. Cut out the circle or oval shape you want, then laboriously remove all the wood you don't need--chisel, planes, rasps, belt sander, etc. If you're really lucky, you might have access to a large wood lathe, or even be able to build one yourself. Here's another Greek aspis made that way--again, a Byzantine shield would be a little easier since it's a simpler shape and not quite so deep:

http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=22607

The great advantage to this method is that you can leave the planks exposed at the back, maybe just painted, so that they'd be visible. People who know shields would see your amazing craftsmanship and be seriously impressed. That's what I call the "OOOOooooo Factor" (as in, "OOOOOOooooo, look what HE's got!!").

Another big fight the Late Roman guys have is whether their shields are oval or only circular. The Dura Europas shields are all a little bit oval, but that could be because the wood shrank width-wise more than length-wise (and the planks are vertical). Circular is safe, but the jury is still out.

Actually, the best place to find the specifics you need is probably the Roman Army Talk board,

http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/

Good luck and Vale,

Matthew
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 10:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok here are a few images to clarify; sorry for the confusion. To further clarify, I have a regular shield press that curves shields already. I'm looking to actually dish like a bowl or shallow cone, if that makes sense.


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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 10:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are some more examples, mostly from the 10th century.


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There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Ian Hutchison




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So sorry to de-rail, but has anyone noticed how they are all wearing their swords across their backs? Interesting in light of a discussion a few days ago.
'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 12:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm, I'd say those swords are all shown as slung at the hip! A baldric like that simply allows the sword to swing a little, so it may pass more behind the legs rather than just pointing directly backwards, but the hilt is still pretty easily reached at the side. By "worn on the back", I assumed people meant a sword slung much higher, with the hilt projecting upwards behind the shoulder, the stereotypical "ninja style". Definitely not what's shown in these illustrations.

Matthew
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 5:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have yet to make such a shield myself, but I'd assume that if one wanted to make a round shield that was not a hoplon dished, one could try using triangle-ish shapes, or perhaps a circle with a triangle piece cut out and then the circle is joined together causing a convex (though pointed) shape?
A Knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,/ That fro the tyme that he first bigan/ To riden out, he loved chivalrie,/ Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie./ ... He was a verray parfit gentil knyght./ But for to tellen yow of his array,/ His hors weren goode, but he was nat gay./ Of fustian he wered a gypoun,/ Al bismotered with his habergeoun;/ For he was late ycome from his viage,/ And wente for to doon his pilgrymage.
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R D Moore




PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 5:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I found a site that discusses making Hoplite shields. There's a pattern for a mold the author uses to dish out copper. Worth a read anyway. http://www.larp.com/hoplite/hoplon.html
"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 6:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The trouble with using an aspis as a model is that I simply don't know what Byzantine shields (we'll say 9th-11th century for clarity) were made of. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere; most historians seem to be more interested in themes and troop types than costruction of equipment. The Osprey books that I have depict all shields as being flat, which is odd because so many of the original depictions were very clearly not flat. Perhaps no one knows, but with as much military information as we have on them, this seems like a gaping hole to me.

Of they were in fact made of metal then it's a simple issue. If they were based in wood then a hollowed out bowl like an aspis/hoplon might make sense, but they don't appear to be that thick or heavy. Wood being much cheaper to produce, I wonder at the expense of equiping that many soldiers with bronze or iron shields.

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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R D Moore




PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 6:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All great points. Good luck, Gavin. Don't you just love this?
"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Feb, 2009 8:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I expect they were wood plank construction, just like Late Roman shields and all those of contemporary Western Europe. I've certainly never run across anything that implies that they were metal, such as archeological remains, though there are helmets, weapons, armor fragments, etc.

Vale,

Matthew
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Leo Todeschini




PostPosted: Sat 28 Feb, 2009 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am not sure about the specifis of Byzantine shields, but to make a dished shield is relatively straightforward though time consuming.

Make a single curvature former ie an arch of the right radius or a bit smaller than you want.

Steam the timbers for at least an hour and while still hot clamp down to the former and leave to dry. Start by laying down the central stave and then progressively shape the adjoining staves to fit nicely and hold a curve ie wider in the middle than the ends then move to the next stave and so on until the edge.

Cross ply if required.

You will find this works best with hot melt glues like rabbit skin or pearl and use loads of it.

Tod

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Viktor Chudinov




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Mar, 2009 1:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe this kind of shield was more conical, than oval.
Also I think that the shield is made of wooden planks,or from plywood.

I'm attaching a few pics of an interpretation of a friend of mine. It's made from plywood.
The method of construction:
1. You cut a circle out of plywood.
2.You cut a small portion of the circle, so that when you conect the two ends of the remaining part, you'll receive a cone-shaped form.
3. Soak it in water for two-three days.
4. Take it out, shape it. FInd a way to hold it in place. We used ordinary clamps.
5. Glue it.
6. The rest is like any other shield - you add some fabric and stuff and etc.

Later today I'll attach some more art, if there is interest

p.s. The quality of the photos is not very good, but It should be enough Wink



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I wonder...do deaf schizophrenics hear voices...
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Mar, 2009 7:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

AH perfect Viktor! That is definitely moving in the right direction. I didn't quite understand this part:

Quote:
2.You cut a small portion of the circle, so that when you connect the two ends of the remaining part, you'll receive a cone-shaped form.


if you can sketch something out or upload a picture of the cuts, I think I can discern the rest. That's a nice shield by the way.[/quote]

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Viktor Chudinov




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Mar, 2009 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It should something like this.The red part is cut away

Also it would be best If you use two layers of thinner plywood, cut as described, and glued together at an angle (so that the "seam" is not on the same place, i hope I'm undetstandable...)
. It's a pain in the backside to make, but it's much more durable



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Chuck Russell




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Mar, 2009 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i have often thought about this as well. that is a great way to do it. another way i thought about is to cut 2 thin sheets of plywood and glue them together, have a small hole in the center for the handle already cut out. right after you glue it together lay the edges of the shield on an elevated platform and devise some sorta of hanging center weight to pull the center of the shield downward. not sure if ti will work, but it was a thought.
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William P




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PostPosted: Tue 22 May, 2012 3:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

one thing about these late byzantine round shields is that they're despicted as being pretty much properly conical,

i cant quite see how one would achieve that conical centre with planks, (well i have ideas but in not totally sure)
http://www.levantia.com.au/military/armour.html tim dawson has made some shield reconstructions.
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Matthew Bunker




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PostPosted: Tue 22 May, 2012 4:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:

i cant quite see how one would achieve that conical centre with planks, .


I think the 'pie slice' method discussed on the other shield thread would work, in fact I think it'd make something more akin to this sort of sub-conical shield than it would the lenticular shields.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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William P




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PostPosted: Tue 22 May, 2012 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Bunker wrote:
William P wrote:

i cant quite see how one would achieve that conical centre with planks, .


I think the 'pie slice' method discussed on the other shield thread would work, in fact I think it'd make something more akin to this sort of sub-conical shield than it would the lenticular shields.

however, dawson noted in the book on the byzantone infantry that the shield was maybe made of a wicker base instead http://books.google.com.au/books?id=O14p5hPv8...mp;f=false its in this book, luckily google books lets you look at a selection of pages and mercifully this covers the section on shields

i assumed wickerwork as a possible manner of making it, since alot more conical shields in arabia and central asia are made with coiled cane.
when i heard about the pie cslice method i figured it was a possibility, since the biggest challange to subconical shields isnt the curve, but the fact subconical shields terminate in a pointed apex, which i dont think you can stem a couple of planks to form that conical point , itd have to be made from a seperate wooden cone glued on.. but a more smooth lenticular surface like a hoplite aspis you can get with veritcally butted together planks bent with steam etc.
but i wanted to see what a more experienced person with shields would think
btw, is subconical the shape you would use to describe that kind of shape of the round shield on the levantia website?
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