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Federal Way highlanders | local business celebrates traditional Scottish weaponry
Sitting in the living room beneath a mantle of swords, shields, and a bust of Thor, you get a sense that medieval Scottish weaponry is more than a career for Pat and Rosalie Tougher - it is an obsession.
"My dad used to tell me I was born in another time because of my fascination with edged weapons," said Pat Tougher, whose family name is pronounced like the "ch" in Loch Ness.
Tougher's hands are clothed in scars, the evidence of his weaponry hobby.
"I'm a right monster, a lot of people will tell you that," said Pat Tougher. "These are my medals."
But despite his best attempts to come off as an old grizzled curmudgeon, as soon as he refers to his wife Rosalie as "my boss," the act is moot.
Pat Tougher and his wife started their Federal Way business Scottish Sword and Shield in 1989, though he started collecting the weaponry in 1957.
"I wasn't a collector, I was a hoarder," said Pat Tougher as he walks into a 10 by 10 room, called the sword room, without an inch of wall space. "When I was younger, I thought there was never enough, but you get older and realize that you can never have it all."
Most of the business that the Tougher's do is at Scottish Highland Games, the biggest of which in the state takes place in Enumclaw each July. At these gatherings, people mostly buy the cheaper weapons, but the internet has provided a medium for the Scottish Sword and Shield to connect with high rollers willing to pay a little more for authenticity.
"If you Google antique Scottish swords, I'm the one who comes up," said Pat Tougher. In fact, last year the business sent a Targe (traditional shield) all the way to an Australian collector.
Pat Toughter used to craft most of the weaponry himself but has slowed down. He is now 81.
"We couldn't do it without the kids," he said, referring to setting up the collection of swords at the festivals. By 2007, the Scottish Sword and Shield was making half as much money as they made in the 90s.
However, after walking past wedding pictures in which every Tougher man is wearing traditional highlander attire, you get the sense that the business is secondary to the family that surrounds it.
Aside from two pieces that will be passed down within the Tougher family, everything in the sword room is for sale.
When asked what piece is his favorite, Pat Tougher smiles.
"She's sitting in the other room reading a book."
For more information about Scottish Sword and Shield, call 253-661-6193 or visit www.scottishsword.com.