Kingdom of Calontir

Turning Your Slab of Aluminum into a Scutum

From The Mews, June A.S. XX (1985), No. 67. Graciously retyped by Her Ladyship Katriana

Illuminated battle depicting scutum shield wall.

So you spent the money and now are the proud owner of a big ass piece of curved aluminum. How do you make it a terror to foemen (and foewomen) everywhere? Well, just read on and grow wise.

First you need to acquire enough old (or new) garden hose to completely cover the edge of the shield. The hose should be split its entire length. The best way of cutting it so that the cut doesn’t spiral around the hose is to lay it on a large flat surface in semi-circle. Once the hose is laid out, take and X-acto knife (number 10 blade, I suggest) and lay it flat on the ground next to the hose. A glove is a good idea on the next part. Keeping the knife flat, cut the inside of the semi-circle, being careful to keep the cut as smooth as possible.

Duct tape the hose onto the edge of the shield. Try to get as smooth and tight a fit as you can. The corners may have to be trimmed in order to get a tight fit. Tape overlap on the front should be kept to a limit, since a smooth tape line is easier to paint.

For a handle, we in the Grimfells use electric conduit (galvanized steep pipe). It is easy to find at any scrap yard or old building site. The piece should be about 18” or so. Remember that a gauntleted hand has to be able to get in and out pretty fast so make the handle long. Flatten the ends of the handle with the hammer, and be sure that the flats are in the same plane. Next bend the flats so that they meet the inside curve of the shield. Drill a hole in the middle of both flats. Have someone hold the shield upright while you kneel and measure the proper place for your handle. (Groups should use a medium sized person for this since many different people will be using it.) Mark through the holes in the handle carefully; a good fit is important. Drill holes on the marks you just made. Now the handle is ready to mount.

The bolts you use should be fairly heavy, they will see a lot of stress. Don’t peen them over--the handle can be removed for easier transport of the shield (they stack!)

A forearm strap is a must for the Scutum. I suggest a wide leather or webbing strap. Again, it needs to be fairly long for the ease of switching out fighters. The strap should cross over the forearm about 2”-3” above the elbow. Make the strap about 2.5 to 3” wide. This strap must be fairly loose so that people can get their arm in and out in a hurry, but not so loose that there is no control. I think the strap ends need to be about 12” apart when they are mounted. The ends of the strap should be well anchored. We use two bolts through a small piece of metal over the strap’s end. These bolts should be as short as safely possible, they stay in the shield at all times. Once the plate, shield and bolts are right, hammer the plate edges down so they hold the strap down securely.

If possible, paint your shield in the official Calontir colors. (An entire wall of shields with the same painted design is kind of scary to the foe.) If you can’t or won’t paint the official Calontir colors, paint your shield anyway. An unpainted war shield will be too shiny and will probably not pass inspection. The inside of the shield needs to be painted so as not to blind the user with its reflection. Also for safety, we tape small squares of leather over the inside bolt heads to keep them from scraping your arm.

Now you have a war shield. Remember as you use your scutum that it was this type of shield that made Calontir known to every other kingdom in the Known World at Pennsic XIII. We need to keep practicing and modifying our shield wall to keep it and Calontir invincible.