By: Matthew Broadway
Master Fred of Southern Carolina entered his shop just as the morning dew formed on his lawn. He found his tools laying just where he had left them the day before. Amidst a yawn he glanced around, trying to decide which project called to him. He sunk into his folding metal chair and picked up the the tool he used for coiling the wire of his maille. Two aquaintences of his, Master Black and Master Decker, devised this truley wonderful invention. Eagerly he began to coil springs amid the low hum which the machine emmitted while it was in use. After growing bored, he pulled a pair of bolt cutters from his tool box and began to cut the springs into links. It was a tedious task, but the small weekly stipend he recieved from Lord McDonald was not enough to equip his shop with the tools neccessary for plate armouring. Maille had to do for now, but one could always dream.
"Fredrick! Get out of that garage and eat some breakfast before you're late for school!"
Master Fred grabbed a few handfuls of the freshly cut rings, and two pliers from his tool box. He may not be able to finish this project now, but there was always study hall.
The blunt skippy of making armour is that anybody can do it. Its easy. Of course, nobody is going to become a master overnight...
Basically, the first thing an aspiring armourer needs to do is decide what type of armour he can afford to make. There are certain tools neccessary to making different types of armour. Also, the raw materials for certain armour projects may cost more or less than others. I will cover some of the bare basics that a person will need to begin armouring in a certain style... Maille, Leather, and Plate.
Wait a minute... This is supposed to be the blunt skippy of plate armour making... ok, here's the bare minimum list... A jigsaw, a metal file, a drill, the head of a sledge hammer (anvil), a stump, a ball peen hammer, rivets, metal, a pipe clamp, and a mallet. That should get you started...
There are other types of armour as well... Cloth armour is always fun if you like sewing. Making a gambeson can be quite an experience. You can also make some sort of brigantine or coat of plates out of your gambeson by sewing pockets into it and filling them with plates... either plastic, or metal...
The key to being a successfull armourer is experimentation... try all sorts of different tools and methods... There is no particular "right way" to do something (no matter what others might tell you)... go to flea markets, hardware stores, junk yards, antique stores... spend hours looking around... keep an eye out for that particular weird thing that has its own special purpose that the creator never intended it to be used for... It just might work...
And, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel, look at all the possible resources... there are webpages on the internet that have detailed instructions on making different types of armour, there are sites with patterns, there are sites with info that you might need... there is a plethora of books about armour... there are books about war and the middle ages which may have pictures of armour in them as well... any book about knights has good shots of armour... Read the essays on this site... ask questions on the message boards... go to museums and look at armour... sit there and stare at it... tell somebody that you are an armourer and ask if you can study the back of the suit... ask if they will let you examine the articulation...
Patterns? The most common complaint I have heard is that people don't have patterns and they don't know where to find them... MAKE YOUR OWN! Granted, there are plenty of patterns out there... but if you can't find the one you want, get a pencil, some graph paper, a seamstress' measuring tape, and figure it out... pay attention in geometry class... cut the end pattern out and try it on... staple it together... whatever... if it fits and looks right, then you have done a marvelous job.
So thats that... A brief intro... armour is easy... finding the time to do it is hard.