I started making armor by dabbling in mail (or male both are period spellings *) for the novelty of it. I wound 16 gage wire around a 5/16 steel dowel quickly learning things like 'Saw the springs rather then using wire cutters to separate links. You'll get a nice flush fit that you can wear over hair with no protective layer.' and 'stainless steel takes about three times longer to work, but it's worth it to be able to wash your mail in the sink!'. 50,000 plus rings and some 1,500 hours later, I had a full suit weighing near 45 pounds, but I was burnt out on male.
     While still suffering from that bizarre mental illness known as Mail-madness, I met an individual with a few armoring tools who, fortunately, was willing to teach me the basics of working steel plate. My first project was a gorget. It was not very period in design, but functional for when I started heavy weapons combat. Next came a pair of leg harness, then elbows, spaulders and most recently a Lorica Segmentata.
     During my unofficial apprenticeship, I began building my own armory by purchasing the tools I could and fabricating those I couldn't. I fabricated several fixtures, hammers and forms over several months. My garage now contains B2 and S3 Beverly shears, a No. 16 Whitney Roper bench punch, a 3/4 horsepower dual disk grinder/polisher, a belt/disk sander, angle grinder, a drum forge, some 6 anvil shapes, 21 Hammers, 15 forming tools, 9 chisels, 3 rivet sets, 2 pipe horses with 6 interchangeable pipe diameters and raw materials ranging from various steels and plastics down to cardboard for mock-ups.

White Harness Elbow

White Harness Legs



Complete Suit of Mail
(Click image for larger alternative)

Coat of Plates
(prototype for a full gauntlet)

Lorica Segmentata
(Click image for alternative display)

Male Gloves (attached)

(prototype for a full gauntlet)

My current armoring aspirations include fabricating the cardboard mock-up of a coat of plates based on those found in the Wisby excavations, Ffnishing up a sabaton design I have been working on forever, lining the aventail of my mail coif, finishing the arm harnes below and finish transforming a purchased helm to a more period design.

As part of my continued self education on armor, I have noted the articulations of knees and elbows on period white harness have a much tighter fit then those on my first attempts at these harnesses. This is due to the fact that a good percentage of (non-munitions-grade) examples of white harness have domed, or dished, articulating plates as part of their joint design. This is to say that each lame is made spherical to fit and slide within itís mate. Structurally this reinforces the metal against weapon strikes, helps to prevent over articulation & seizing, reduces the number of lames required to attain the same degree of flexibility and compacts the overall size and shape of the piece.

Below you can see there are aesthetical benefits as well. I chose to retain the three upper lame design as the mounting holes already in the cuisse would have become visible if the top lame was removed. On the left you can see the current stage of modification and reconstruction on my left leg harness to incorporate a deeper knee cop and domed lames. On the right you can see my original right leg harness (post combat). If you look, you can see how bulky the right knee is. There are also several lames that have been flattened by weapon strikes. The domed lames cause weapons to land more "glancing" blows rather then simply absorbing them and converting their inertia into dents as was the case here.

Original Right Leg Harness

Modified Left Leg Harness

Modified Right Leg Harness with Greave

Original Right Knee

Modified Left Knee

I am also now researching forms of leather armor variants as it was still quite popular towards the beginning of the fourteenth century. Below is the work I've started on a combination leather and steel arm harness. The articulated spaulder is from a later period so it doesn't really belong with the remainder of the arm harness. I chose to make it match my existing leg harness since this will be a use for heavy weapons combat.

Articulated Spaulder

Articulated Spaulder

The elbow seen below is one given to me by Christian von Nuremberg, and is therefore not made by yours truly. The black coating on it and on the stainless steel strips is an epoxy based, flat powder coat I chose because of its similarity in appearance to period blacking. At this point I have not verified blacking (a form of black oxide rust preventative) was used in my persona's period. It was however used in the time of the style my legs and Spaulders are fashioned in, so it's good enough for my fighting gear.
     The cardboard will be replace with 8-10 oz leather at the vambrace and 15-18 oz at the rerebrace. Additional Epoxy coated stainless strips (these 14 ga.) will be attached to the rerebrace as well. An additional strap and buckle is to be located at the wrist (the hole for which may be noted in the Inside View). When the rerebrace design is finalized, the spaulder above will be riveted to the assembly shown below to complete it.

Arm Harness: Inside View

Arm Harness: In Process

* The spelling maille is of French origin meaning "net". I have not, as of yet, been able to confirm or deny if this spelling was used in period (French) ordinance lists. I can however state the term chain mail is of Victorian origins (as is plate mail), and will therefore not be implemented on this site. Instead I have chosen to use the more common, mail, spelling.


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