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the mystery of rawhide
I have made an effort to cover the wooden aspis cores I made yesteryear with the rawhide I had earmarked for the project. It's not working out brilliantly as yet but I am confident that it will work out in the end.
I made the cores using the doughnut method- but two different shapes. This first one was quite deep and made with several layers of ply. I have been watching the rawhide buckle the rim I made for it. That's not a big deal.I will eventually refit it with some other metal.

The fascinating thing is however- and I have just noticed this- the rawhide has compressed the doughnuts and my once quite deep aspis is now shallow! Big Grin

Possibly this shield will be OK for combat after all?

The second shield is sturdier but still is a work in progress....

regards Richard
I have heard of other people using rawhide on shields only to find that the contraction of the "leather" on drying greatly deformed the shield. Stretched, wet rawhide can lose as much as 10% of its dimension as the water leaves. (Of course, that's exactly what makes it great for patching a cracked tent pole or lashing two pieces of spar together.)
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
I've heard that semi-tanned leather might be a better material to use for shields and armour than either fully-tanned leather or rawhide. Apparently it still behaves a lot like rawhide but doesn't shrink as much and isn't as susceptible to moisture. I've no idea how true this is.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
Have you tried using the rawhide closer to the state in which rawhide braiders use it, which is just damp enough to be workable? If you braid with rawhide that is too wet, when it dries the braid will show daylight through it because of the shrinkage, or if it's twisted rope, look like DNA. A lot of people seem to think that you need to soak it completely to use it, but the American braiders just damp it until it's workable, a bit like rush weavers preparing rushes - damp it a bit and leave it wrapped up for a few hours to temper, as they call it.
I expect to get it to cover the shield properly, it actually does need to shrink a bit; maybe you could experiment with getting it a bit wetter than for braiding, just enough to get the effect you want without it deforming the shield?
Louise Mumford
I used rawhide to cover a hemispherical shield some time ago. I soaked it in water for a day, then let it dry till it was nearly hard again. Then i put it over the wooden core and secured it by cord on the back. The holes to fix the thing followed the edge and had a distance of 5-7cm. I criss-crossed the cord till the "spiders net" was finished. then the shield was placed on a straight plate and forced down by little wooden blocks screwed in the plate. By this way the hide can shrink while drying but doesn`t deform the core.
After drying I removed it and then glued it on with hide glue. After that, the edge was sewn through the wood.
I painted it with linseed-oil-colours and oiled the whole shield several times. never had problems with rain or dampness
Als Mensch zu dumm, als Schwein zu kleine Ohren...

Jürgen Graßler
This is the best way to handle rawhide, get it very wet then let it dry until just flexible. I used to do a lot of stiched rawhide sheild edging, soak the rawhide overnight in cold water, drain and wrap in a damp towel, use when ready. If it gets too hard simply resoak.
Philip melhop

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