Armour/Making Period Leather Armour

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Armour-Grade leather is basically boiled leather. In this tutorial I will tell you how to make a coat of leather scales, with 1/4 sleeves. If you wear a gambeson under it, it should be SCA legal. If it isn't, then, well you'll have a really cool motorcycle shirt.

Materials[edit]

  • A large pot that you aren't afraid of ruining.
  • Lots of eight ounce vegetable tanned leather, {or higher thicknesses, but no thicker than 12 ounce}
  • Leather needle, and thick wax coated thread. Fishing line will do well as well.
  • Something that will easily cut the leather that you chose.
  • Leather punch.
  • A stopwatch, for timing the leathers, boiling time.
  • A spider scoop, or the thing you use to get deep fried food out of the boiler.

Starting the Pattern[edit]

Start by getting a pattern for a loose shirt with sleeves down to slightly above or below your elbows. A pattern for a chainmail shirt will work good as well, perhaps better. When you have that, make the pattern out of flexible, but tough leather, or thick cloth, like canvas. When you have the shirt sewn, try it on. You will cover every square inch on the outside of this, except the armpit, where you may want to put chainmail. How to make chainmail can be found in another of our tutorials Making Period Mail.

Making the Scales[edit]

Now you can start making the scales. Obviously you won't be able to do it all in one day. It would probably be a good idea to start out with a simple rectangle, about three inches by an inch and a half. Once you get better you can make "dragon scales". Punch two holes in the top of each scale with the largest punch on the rotary punch, then punch two more a quarter inch beneath those. Fill up about a five gallon bucket. You can find full size patterns for several different scales here

Boiling the Scales[edit]

Start boiling the water, depending on how many scales you are going to make about a couple gallons should be fine. When the water is simmering, hot, or boiling {your choice} you put the leather scales in until they have shrunk, and are rubbery. You will need to use the timer for this, and experiment. But remember that the longer you leave them in, the thicker, and harder they will get.

After they have been boiled, you will have to lay them out, perhaps on a cookie sheet, with another cookie sheet on top to keep them flat. After they are dry, thread the needle through the holes your prepunched, and start sewing them to your leather shirt. Make sure to overlap them. You won't beand sew it on there, if you are going to try to use it for SCA battle.

Making Vambraces[edit]

To make vambraces you simply measure the greatest and least circumferences of your forearm, and make a conical pattern, with holes every half inch or so. Make it about two inches bigger than needed, to allow for the shrinkage. When you have boiled the leather long enough, wrap a towel around your arm, and use your arm as a mold for the leather. It may help if you have another person help you.