Segmented leather cuirass

Discussion in 'Fantasy Weapons and Armour' started by CaPtYnCrOnIc, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    I am currently working on a suit of fantasy armor and am wondering a few things about the segmented cuirass I am designing. It will have to be a full contact suit so I am thinking of using 12-15 oz leather with a overlay of thin steel that will only cover what is seen. That way it will be light and stronger than just the leather alone. The cuirass will cover my chest and back area and I am planning on making a pair of paulrons combined with a gorget that will cover my entire shoulder and end right below my breastbone so as to better protect me chest. The segments will only have to cover my stomach area. Each segment would cover the entire front me and be a shallow V shape.

    Problem is I have never done anything like this and have few questions about it.

    1. What gauge steel would be strong enough to withstand possibly alot of contact and will be light enough not to make it more worth my while to make the whole thing out of steel, which I have no knowledge of.

    2. How many segments,lames I think they are called, should I use to make it flexible enough and not make it look like a bunch of little strips put together? And could the tops of the lames be flat or do they have to follow the same line as the bottom?

    3. The back and breastplate will be attached at the shoulders but only buckled on the sides so could I have a less segmented back that does not match the front? Like only three lames for the entire back?

    4. How exactly do I attach the lames to each other so they move freely yet still remain strong enough to last awhile? I would want all of this to be hidden if possible.

    5. I am thinking of either painting the steel some color or making it look like a different metal, gold,silver,bronze,copper, dunno yet. How would I do this so it sticks cuz I don't wanna have to touch up my armor all the time. I'm a one time guy so to say most of the time I will just make something new than repair my old stuff.

    Well thats my story. I have only experience with leatherworking no steel, at least not this kind of work,lol. I need help cuz this armor is in my head and I can't get it out! I need to :)

    Thanx for any help!
     
  2. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    Nobody know?
     
  3. stevenlink1

    stevenlink1 Knight of Hyrule

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    First of all, make sure that that gorget doesn't impede the full range of motion of your arms.

    1. I don't know about what gauge of steel you should use, but I'll ask my black smith friend. What sort of weapons will this armor need to withstand?
    2. There can be a little flexibility in the curvature of the lames across their length, but be careful.
    3. That's really up to you and how much you need to bend your back while wearing this armor.
    4. You'll probably have to use some fairly serious rivets. In other words, not the same kind of rivets you would use for all-leather projects (I find these to be very week anyway).

    http://www.armourdesign.dial.pipex.com/rivet.htm

    5. Talk to a painter, but I would bet you'll have to use a pretty liberal amount of finish over top of the paint.

    You may notice that I've barely helped, if at all. Terribly sorry about that. I've only made leather armor, and am about as new to steel as yourself.

    Also, and maybe this is just my stupidity, but why would you put steel over leather? Are you really gonna be fighting with swords so sharp that they can shear through metal armor? Even if they did, are really so sure that the leather behind the steel would be enough to absorb the remaining amount of force? It just seems like for all the trouble, you could use a lighter and more comfy lining for the steel plates. If it was me, I would put the leather over the steel.

    But hey, if you're gonna be fighting with cuirass-splittingly sharp swords, then don't listen to what I have to say. Contact a genuine armor expert (I'd think that there are few on this website).

    GHLF, and don't die.
     
  4. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    Well first off the steel over the leather would only partly cover each lame(segment) and various other more vunerable places, knees,elbows, and forearms mainly. Like if I ended up makeing a lame that was say 6 inches wide and would be exposed 5 inches only about half of that would be covered with metal. I really liked the color of a wax hardened piece of leather and thought that metal accenting of like bronze or copper would look good together. I'm thinking of either plating it or using whatever metal I end up liking better really have just begun looking into this.

    I have heard of some armourers who use roofing nails as rivets but I haven't tried it yet. Thanx for that link btw I always need more reference sites.

    As to what I would be using mainly wooden weapons and moving up to blunt edged training weapons at a later date. This is so I can become acustom to the wieght of the suit. It won;t be too heavy but not light either. No sharp blades here, crazy not insane...yet, lol

    You were helpful and gave me a few more ideas as I wrote this so please feel good ya helped
     
  5. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    So it's not SCA rattan thumping? The weight of leather and gauge of steel would need to be measured against the weight of the wooden and/or blunted steel weapons you'd be using. Even blunted steel could break your bones through leather armour. Can we get mroe specifics on the weapons themselves, and the severity of the impact?
     
  6. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    I had hoped to use a lighter leather in compensation to using steel also but following SCA regs on it would be a good idea so I will more than likely start with 12-15 oz. leather then do any metal work.
    My rough plan for the final outcome of the suit is that it be made of leather cuz it's lighter but reenforce the areas that would hurt the most, those I listed in my prior post and a few more. Plus it be good looking and flexible. This suit kinda just popped into my head one day and I wanna make it.
    The actual segments would only cover my stomach area and any metalwork done there would only on areas that are exposed as the lames will overlap. Dunno how big the lames should be though. I want it to be flexible but nothave a bunch of small segments. The segments would be attached to a lighter piece of leather and a combination gorget/paldrons would go on top of that extending to the end of my ribcage area in kind of a upsidedown V shape like a ribcage kinda. This gorget would partially cover the first lame on the sides.

    We will be using oak bokkan swords to start and some of the guys have talked about getting oak broadswords. I like a bokkan better though because it is fast. I had my friend smack the hell outta me with the edge on just a wax hardened leather bazuband and though it stung pretty bad it left no mark at all and they hit me pretty hard. It was only 10 oz leather. Blunted steel weapons will be a long time coming though just thinking of the future. I plan on using a glue hardening method for the final suit as the bazuband was really only a test. I have some big guys wanting in on this so a steel helm is a given as well though it also will be accented in leather. The suit would have to stand up to say 3/4 to full contact depending on how intense we get in the future. As of now we are all starting slow, not even touching, but I want this suit to be around for awhile with the only repairs needed being slight.

    Hope that clarifies my intent for the suit better I know it is a little long winded, lol
     
  7. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Also, how flexible do you need it to be? Armour is usually a compromise between ridigity, protection and movement. Slide those 3 thigns around and chooce your ocmpromise :)

    If you're getting the snot beaten out of you, I'd go for fewer larger stiffer plates. If lightness and quicness is the key, ie if you're an active nimble fighter, I'd go for medium width lames. They'd allow more flexibility but woudl still overlap enough to soak up some impact.

    But again, it comes down to how hard you're being hit, and how heavy the weapons are.
     
  8. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    I would still want to be able to bend as far as possible without compromising the protection of the armor. I want to be fast but protected as well the best of both worlds so to speak if there is such a thing. I figured by not restraining myself to a historical piece I could get the outcome I wanted.

    So around 4-5 lames would do? After reading your last post I think I will create an all steel suit when we get to using blunt weapons. I don't wanna get hurt like that and besides who wants to explain that at the ER?

    What would be a good gauge metal to overlay the leather for full contact sparring with wooden weapons? It will progress to that eventually anyways so I want to make the suit as if I was starting that way. Whatever metal I end up using would only effect the protection on the small portions it would cover so I don't like get the wind knocked out of me or split a kneecap. Mainly a just in case kinda thing.
     
  9. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Any chance you could sketch something and scan it and post it here?

    If you're mainly using light wooden weapons, not heavier wooden weapons, and are a long way away from using steel (which I wouldn't recommend 3/4 to full contact with unless you're wearing full stainless plate, and even then - yikes!) I reckon thick leather would be fine, especially if you're going to harden it somehow.

    Have you considered wearing a padded gambeson underneath? Kinda like cycling shorts, you might not think a few layers of seemingly thin fabric could poissibly do anything for protection, but it's amazing the difference that fabric padding gives any kind of armour. If it's leather only, I'd definitely go for a gambeson mate. Get or make one with cotton padding, synthetic padding will do the job but I can personally vouch that synthetic quilting is hot as hell and doesn't breathe :) Gatorade is your friend.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2008
  10. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm by no means an armouring expert, I'm a member of a light-contact steel weapon group, but here's my 2 cents:

    Depends on the grade of steel. Mild steel is cheaper but softer than stainless. Stainless can be thinner for the same strength compared to mild, but you'll pay $$$ for it.


    If you look at Roman steel lorica segmentata, the lames are roughly 2-3 inches high. That's an example of more smaller lames, with steel you can do that but if you're going for fewer lames of a softer material, perhaps 4-6 inch high lames?

    Whenever I do leatherwork using belt leather, I get cardboard and do a mockup using split pins as my rivets. Cardboard is about as stiff yet flexible as leather, especially if you dampen it slightly, like leather, it will take a shape and it's strong enough to hold together if you're careful using the split pins. Pins come from newsagents or stationery stores and are excellent because they're reusable.


    Depends on your build ie how much bulging muscles you have :D but as long as you leave enough room for your shoulderblades to make a full circle of combat-related movement, you could probably get away with fewer but larger pieces. Again, I highly recommend a cardboard mockup.


    Check the attached pictures, I found a good pic of the inside of some steel lorica. The steel lames are riveted to vertical leather bands. The leather is flexible but strong enough to carry the weight of the pieces. And the rivets are hidden underneath the overlap of the lames so it's all tucked away and hidden.



    I'd ask the paint store for a good paint that is durable, and don't be shy on saying that it will get hit with things, it's best that they know exactly what you require of it. No point being embarassed to say it's for armour, and they sell you something rubbish :)

    But keep in mind, paint will come off with repeated combat. Car paint is pretty tough stuff but you cna still chip/scratch/flake it off if you hit it.
     

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    Last edited: Jan 30, 2008
  11. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    man that help alot more than you think. As for a gambeson I already have it in the works to make one using cotton padding. I figured I go cheap on this as it wouldn't really be seen so I am going to get a regular button up shirt and a colored zippered hoody jacket, sandwich the padding between the two and sew them together. That way all I have is a zipper to worry about. The hood I am going to cut off and pad to make a cap to wear under my helm.

    Those pics helped out alot on the connections. I had theorized that was how they did it. I made a shoulder piece and connected it the same way. I'm 6' and on average 190-200 pounds kinda wide at the shoulders. I'm quicker than I look though and I want to use it to my advantage. Most people peg me for a juggernaut kinda guy but I prefer to strike where least expected and want my armor to allow me to react quickly. I'll take a FEW lumps but nothing that will last for weeks or longer ya know. On the straps though obviously more would make it stronger but would it hurt the flexiblity at all? I'm figuring maybe 5 max but if more won't hurt I'll put more on.

    Would working in something other than steel be possible if I am unable to paint or otherwise color the steel like I want? I really liked the kinda redish brown my bazuband turned out to be and thought a bronze or I saw a red copper once that would have look great against it

    I'll try and get something drawn out so you kind of know what I am talking about. Be warned though the srawing will more than likely be very bad,lol.

    Thanx alot for your help I am sticking around here for a long while I think so I will update this with pics as I get things done.
     
  12. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Can't wait to see it! Keep us posted. And I'm happy to share my limited knowledge so if you have any other quesitons, ask away.
     
  13. CB Swords

    CB Swords Forum Administrator

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    Just a little FYI... rather than reinforcing your leather armor with steel, it is fairly common to just wear an undershirt of chainmail.
     
  14. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    I had thought about that but the mail would have been way too heavy for how I want the armor to preform. I got income tax back so pretty soon I will begin work on this suit and will post pics as things get finished
     
  15. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    Just figured I'd update this a bit by letting everyone know a few of the things I figured out while designing this cuirass. I have everything i need ordered and am waiting for UPS to deliver everything. I had some drawings made but my three year old son figured they looked better with crayon circles and squares so those are gone now. I figured I'd just show what I had as I went along with the project. I will post pics of each stage I think.

    I am going to go with a heavy leather as stated earler and will eventually add stainless steel when I have the money for it this is mainly for looks and a little more protection in key areas. I am going to figure out where exactly the metal will cover once I have all my pieces cut and do my tooling around imprints I will make of the metal's final locations so when I get the steel all I have to do is drill a few holes in the hardened leather and attach the steel once I have it made like I want it.

    I am going to use scales that I ordered from the Ring Lord to only cover places like my armpits and other areas it would be hard to protect otherwise. I am going to plate these as well.


    www.Caswellplating.com

    A cool site that deals with plating of all kinds and has several different kits you can buy as well as everything individually in larger quantities. I am using a bronzing kit for all the steel on this cuirass and if it works out well I am going to use it for the rest of the harness.

    So down to the design. I based it loosely on the pics the helpful Mububban posted of the Roman steel lorica without that style of paldron and slightly larger lames. I have modified the design a bit from the first post in that I will not be making a gorget for this piece but I am going to give the leather itself a collar and reenforce that with steel at a later date, hard to describe it but it will look great! The paldrons will be attached to the cuirass and only go past my shoulders a little bit allowing full arm rotation and they will be designed so any glancing blow to my shoulder would be deflected away from my head or just plain stopped.

    All tooling will be based on tribal designs I found around the net that I have modified to suit my needs. I really wanted to put runes on the cuirass but am having a hard time finding direct translations from english into runes I liked.

    This is just the start of a whole harness that will follow the same style but this was the big part of it so I wanted to do it first. I will post each part of it here as pieces are finished.

    I am so excited about starting this project and hope to get honest feedback of my work, I want to know if it looks great or like hell so I can improve my skills.
     
  16. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Cool, can't wait to see it as it progresses.

    The integrated collar sounds interesting. Just be aware that you may end up with the "War Turtle" look when you sit down like this guy in his leather lamellar :D

    NB: the leather can't be blamed for the stupid face he's pulling hahahaha
     

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  17. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    LMAO, funniest thing I've seen today :)

    Don't plan on doing too much sitting but it is something I didn't take into account, I will now.

    Thanks for the tip!
     
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  18. stevenlink1

    stevenlink1 Knight of Hyrule

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    Don't be fooled, he's just waiting for the right moment to strike.
     
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  19. CB Swords

    CB Swords Forum Administrator

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    "war turtle" has happened to me before... but not so bad.

    Definitely let us know how it goes. I'm especially interested in the plating, I wasn't aware you could do that at home in a bucket. I've always had ideas for colored and finished metal plans. Never quite knew how to pull them off. Other than just using copper & brass (so getting atleast 2 colors).
     
  20. CaPtYnCrOnIc

    CaPtYnCrOnIc The Fighters Guide House Member

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    Man that site was a life saver. I really wanted to pull it off so was very happy to find caswell.

    The scales should be here tomorrow, UPS had trouble finding my house...again. Man, I gotta move to the city! Well when they get here after some polishing I will be able to plate them.

    The kit I got is one of the smaller bronzing kits and looks like it is going to be pretty easy to use. I put some pics up so everyone knows what ya get. I got an additional bottle of plating liquid too that I did not put in the pic, same as the one there though.

    It came with a power supply that runs to 1 'alligator' clip and 1 plug like thingy that you stick in the end of the plating wand. You then wrap the bandage thing around the wand, soak it in the liquid that you put in a seperate container, clip the black wire onto the piece your working on, plug it in and rub the bandage on the piece you want to plate. Tried it on a piece of scrap I had, it looked so bad I'm not gonna put a pic up but I think thats cuz it wasn't polished at all so the plating wouldn't take too good. I'll find out tomorrow how good it really is and post pics of what I end up with good or bad.


    Oh btw you can also stick the wand in the liquid clip the piece on the black lead and dip it, thats what I am gonna do I think.


    I only had one issue with the kit and that was the crappy 'bandage' they included. I know it was a cheap kit but thats corney and I think they should have included some sort of tip. I mean you have to tape the thing in place man!

    Overall though I think it'll work pretty well.

    Leather should be here in the next week or so. Figures the most important part would come last.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2008