Bavinshield

April 16, 2018

DIY: Bavin

In this DIY you will learn how to make a basin, or training weapon, from rattan and some tools/materials commonly found at your local hardware store.

Introduction

Historically, medieval fighters trained with weighted weapons, typically made of carved hardwoods, called "bavins."  Other terms, such as "bevins," "cudgels," and "wasters" are also common for these training weapons.  Needless to say, training with real weapons would have dramatically reduced the number of warriors an army could field, although, arguably, those who survived training would surely be the best of the best... or perhaps merely the luckiest.

Materials

The following materials will be used in the construction of your bavin.  You may substitute if necessary, however, balance, durability, and overall efficacy of the weapon will most likely change if substitutions are made.

  • 1-3/8" or thicker rattan (30” to 38” long, depending on your height)
  • 1” to 2” wide strapping tape
  • Two colors of duct tape (I use black as a base color, and I like Gorilla Tape for that, but you can use any brand and any color that is different than the other)
  • Wood Rasp
  • 20” nylon cord
  • Lighter or matches
  • Marker (Sharpies work great)
  • OPTIONAL: Welded steel or molded plastic basket hilt
  • OPTIONAL: Two 2" stainless-steel hose-clamps (only needed with basket hilt)

All of these items are readily available at a hardware store, except the rattan.  You can find that at a cane and basket making supply store such as Cane and Basket Supply in Los Angeles.  Rattan is important as it is both durable, weighty, flexes nicely, and has a nice, thick skin to keep it from fraying.

You may substitute a hardwood pole for the rattan, but it will be much more prone to disintegration and breakage, and could become dangerous.

Construction

Following these simple steps will ensure that you make a safe weapon which will last as long as possible while being in conformance with safety and usability standards of FLaK.

  1. Court the rattan (video) - Find the natural pull of the blade due to the inherent density of the rattan. Once you have found the way the rattan wants to lay, grip it as you would a sword, with the proximal knuckles of your hand aligned with the fore-blade and “V” formed between your thumb and index finger aligned with the back-blade. Mark (using a Sharpie or pencil) the fore-blade and back-blade with a line.
  2. Mark the hilt - While still holding the sword (as described in Step 1), mark around your hand (including the fingers) with a Sharpie or pencil. This will make a guide for where you will carve out the grip of your sword.
    “Gripping
    “Outlining
    “Outlining
    “Outlining
  3. Reinforce the blade - Starting at the tip of the blade, begin wrapping individual bands of strapping tape. Pull the tape as tight as you can, and allow it to overlap on itself a bit (an inch or so). There is no need to do more than a single wrap per band. Do this all the way down the blade, spacing the bands by approximately 1/2”, stopping about 2”-3” from the grip you drew in Step 2.
    “Reinforcing
    “Blade
  4. OPTIONAL: Create a thrusting-tip:
    1. Stack enough 2” discs of closed-cell foam to make a tower 2.5" to 3.5" tall. You can glue them together, but it is not necessary, and it may make the tip more stiff.
      Thrusting-tip discs
    2. Now take two 24” to 30" long lengths of strapping tape, and fold it lengthwise over onto itself, making a strip of the tape that has no sticky side; effectively a strap, half the width of the tape.
      Thrusting-tip strap
    3. Next, you will use the two straps to affix the stack of discs to the end of the blade. The strap should extend down the sword (try not to run it directly along the blades), equally. You may want to compress the foam just a bit (less than 1/2”), and then throw a ring of strapping tape around the blade to hold the strap in place. Put the other strap on in the same manner, but at a 90-degree angle to the first strap (DO NOT COMPRESS THIS ONE).
      Thrusting-tip attached #1
    4. Once you have this done, wrap one ring of strapping tape around the foam, just tightly enough to hold them all together.
      Thrusting-tip strap #2
    5. Then, TIGHTLY, wrap a band or two of strapping tape and the joint of the foam and the rattan, half on the foam and half on the rattan, to reinforce the joint between the sword and the thrusting tip.
      Thrusting-tip reinforcement
  5. Define the blade - Lay a long line of your contrast-color duct tape along the length of both blades. If you have a thrusting-tip, do the same on it (just the very end - the flat face of the foam).
    Blade
    The blade tip
    Defining the blade
    Defining the blade
  6. Fill in the sword - Now, with your second color duct tape, cover all of the remaining rattan and foam, leaving just the contrast-color as the blade and tip. The blade should be about 3/4” wide or so.
    Contrast tape on blade
    Contrast tape close-up
    Contrast tape tip
  7. Clean up ends - Use the same color tape to clean up the tip and hilt ends of the blade. This will not only make the sword look better, but it will also hold the other tape in place and keep it from fraying.
    Tip of the blade cleaned up
    Hilt-side of blade cleaned up
    Contrast tape in place
  8. Carve the hilt - Using a wood rasp (using forward strokes only, rather than ‘scrubbing’ is far more effective), begin taking material away from the area you marked out for the hilt. I like to carve grooves for the heel of my hand as well as my thumb and fingers. NOTE: the black on the hilt pictured is from use - as you do this the underlying rattan should be light-colored, but will darken as you use your bavin.
    Carving the hilt (palm side)
    Carving the hilt (finger notches)
    Carving the hilt (complete)
  9. OPTIONAL: Attach the basket hilt - Using hose clamps, attach the basket hilt, securing the clamps as tightly as you can without breaking them. Using the second color of duct tape (NOT the contrast color), cover both hose clamps.

Now you have your very own, personalized bavin! This weapon can be used in FLaK classes as well as sparring sessions. Depending on how often it is used for sparring, it should last anywhere from 3 months to several years.

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