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  1. #1
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    Thoughts & questions on making a targe

    This project has been on my list for many years, but I keep putting it off for one reason or another. I'd like to make a targe to hang on my wall along with my basket-hilt backsword, with tartan draped behind it. Although this targe would likely never leave the house, I'd like it to be built in a fairly traditional and accurate manner.

    I'll get into my intended construction details later, but at the moment I'm still in the process of finding the hardware I want on this targe. Over the weekend, I happened across some old bronze drawer pulls that are about 3" in diameter and thought they would work nicely as either center bosses or just decorative plates outside the center boss that I could work some designs around with tacks. They actually look like mini-targes themselves.

    But before I go too far with these, tell me if you think these would be appropriate on the front of a Scottish targe. The design is most likely a Greek "key" pattern, although this aesthetic seems to cross over with early Pictish or Celtic designs. Would this look out of place on a targe?

    As you can see below, they looked pretty bad when I bought them at the architectural salvage place. Lots of corrosion. I went through multiple steps of soaking them in lemon juice & baking soda, vinegar/flour/salt, Lime-Away, and even tried using Nevr-Dull on them. They cleaned up somewhat, but I still can't get them back to a clean bronze. Ideally, I'd get them clean and shiny, then let them darken naturally. I don't want to go overboard with scrubbing them or doing anything that would score the surface or round off the edges.

    So, any advice on whether these would look OK on a targe, and any tips on getting them cleaned up?

    Before:


    After:

  2. #2
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    23rd March 19
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    You've done pretty well cleaning those pieces up so far. Are you sure they're bronze? The 'before' pic makes me think they might be a different alloy than good ol' brass/tin/zinc. In any case what you've done so far would be what I've always done for bronze and brass fittings. If they were mine (and they're not) I'd be quite happy with the results at this point. If you want to go a little more, you can use the baking soda/lemon juice trick again, just add a little muriatic acid to the lemon juice before mixing with the baking soda. Add the muriatic acid to the lemon juice, not the other way around. Google "mixing acid" and get the full story. It's not a big deal, but be safe.

    As for the second question, they really don't say 'targe furniture' to me. They're too small for a center boss, and I don't recall seeing cast plaques on any of the extant targes I've run into through the years. i've seen raised (domed) furniture on a few, but most of those I suspect were of post-highland revival provenance. But hey, if they speak to you, use them. If I saw a well-made targe hanging on a bud's wall with 'em on it I'd probably think "nice targe". Any embossing on the leather is going to make or break it for me much more than any furniture used.

    As far as construction goes, if you're not wound up in "just how they made them when they depended on them" a nice piece of 1/2" birch ply is a solid base. If the zombie apocolypse hits and you need to pull it off the wall it'll be stronger than any targe that ever took a blow in the Highlands. If you want to go whole-hog and have it period correct, three layers of 3/8" hardwood plank pegged (make sure you fox the pegs!) and glued with the grain running 30 degrees from one layer to the next is just the bunny. Helps it stay together when whacked by Hamish's best rising snap. Cover the inside first with a nice piece of deerhide, then cover the edge with soaking wet rawhide stiched down hard with sinew. A nice thick split of veg-tanned (soaking wet of course) stretched and well nailed down onto the backside of the targe will give a good surface to work in the rest of those 1000 +/- nails once everything's nice and dry.

    I've been jousting and participating in western martial arts since the 80's. Back then you had to make your own stuff or you didn't fight. We tore up a lot of gear learning how to make things right. Wish I knew then what I know now...
    484411_3675857974148_1177986291_n.jpg
    that's not me up front, that's Father Joachim. I'm the blurry guy kinda behind his head.

  3. The Following 2 Users say 'Aye' to Bad Monkey For This Useful Post:


  4. #3
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    "I can draw a mouse with a pencil, but I can't draw a pencil with a mouse"

  5. #4
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    I`d have to say no. I`ve never seen a cast boss on an original targe, and while those do feature key patterns, they really don`t look celtic to my eye. If I was to see one of those on a targe, my first thought would be "the boss isn`t right."

  6. #5
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    Hmm. Two "no" votes on these. I guess that answers my question, and it was pretty much what I suspected. I just needed to make sure. I'll probably clean them up some more and use them for another project, or just sell them in one of my wife's antique mall spaces.

    Quote Originally Posted by Baeau View Post
    Thanks, no, I hadn't seen that one yet. I've got a pretty good handle on how I want to construct this targe, though. I do a lot of woodworking, and my wife is a leatherworker/saddlemaker, so this is right up our alley, so to speak. The leatherworking portion is actually very similar to stretching leather over a saddle tree. I'm still deciding on whether to go with some tooling on the leather, or just leave the decorating to the studs and top plates. The problem is I can't find any hardware to put on the front! I mean, studs/nails/tacks are easy, but finding a suitable center boss or other pieces like I see on other targes is very difficult. It seems that most people just rob brass bases from candlesticks or lamps. I'm keeping my eye out for suitable candidates in the local antiques scene (preferably ones that are threaded which would be easier to adapt to a center spike), but it takes a while. It's frustrating having to delay starting this until I can randomly find what I need.

  7. #6
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    here are links to some of the usual suspects for combat worthy shield bosses...

    https://www.celticwebmerchant.com/en...shield-bosses/

    https://jelldragon.com/collections/shield-accessories/

    https://www.wulflund.com/armour/shie...ses/?vp-page=1

    There are a few others, but for the most part they overlap styles with the above and the ones listed have a known track record for actually delivering product without hassle. You wouldn't believe how often armour merchants disappear in the night with folk's money.
    There's also a fairly significant underground market for this kinda one-off stuff. If you'd like i can pass on the link to an armoured combat/armour construction forum populated by cats that build and fight in this stuff all the time and could make up a custom piece.

  8. #7
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    I don't see any bosses on those pages that seem to go with a Scottish targe. (?) They all seem tailored to Viking shields or other European styles. It seems that the typical targe has brass on it, and I really am hoping for one that's threaded in the middle for a spike. But I don't see any like that on those pages.

  9. #8
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    As for the drawer pulls, what abouth the old "How To Clean A Penny" trick. Drop them in a glass of Coca Cola for a while. Followed, eventually, with Brasso
    "I can draw a mouse with a pencil, but I can't draw a pencil with a mouse"

  10. #9
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    What’s the diameter of a typical targe boss?
    Descendant of the Gillises and MacDonalds of North Morar.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baeau View Post
    As for the drawer pulls, what abouth the old "How To Clean A Penny" trick. Drop them in a glass of Coca Cola for a while. Followed, eventually, with Brasso
    I don't drink colas, typically, so all I had on hand was ginger ale. I tried soaking them in a bowl with that, but it didn't seem to do much. I don't know if it has to be a dark cola; I was under the impression that any carbonated soda would work. Ginger ale has citric acid in it, but alas, it actually seemed to make them darker.

    But I did try some "copper cream" that my wife uses for cleaning up certain antiques, and it did a nice job. It takes some elbow grease with a toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies, but it sure brightens them up. I don't think they're copper, but they appear to be some sort of copper alloy (still thinking possibly bronze). Anyway, you can see below how one of them is looking much better.

    And oh yeah, I found a brass lid (possibly from a sugar bowl) at an estate sale this morning for 25 cents that I think will work nicely as a centre boss. It's 4-1/2" diameter. I'll have to shave the lip off the bottom and find a way for one of the studs to cover up the notch as best I can, but I think this brass piece will be the center boss. I started polishing off the tarnish and it cleans up well.
    And I'll still have to decide what to do for the rest of the targe front.


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