Armour/Making Basic Armour

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This is the beginning of a tutorial on how to make leather armour 75% developed  as of Jan 23, 2005 and chainmail 100% developed  as of Jan 23, 2005.

Chain mail[edit | edit source]

  • Chain mail can be made out of just about any wire, 16 gauge and above. This includes plastic coated wire for inlays, although this it is not recommended for "period" armour.
  • If the armour will be used in SCA combat forged or riveted links will hold up better. Links made of aluminium will not hold up to combat use. Forged/Welded links are not required for SCA use SCA Armour Standards
  • If it is to be for purely decorative purposes, like for greeting guests at a medieval dinner party, it can be made of butted links of aluminium, to reduce the weight to about two to five pounds.

Materials[edit | edit source]

  • Aluminium - good for decorative purposes.
  • Stainless Steel
  • Galvanized Steel

Gauges[edit | edit source]

  • 12
  • 14
  • 16
  • 18

Techniques (Styles)[edit | edit source]

Torso[edit | edit source]

Make some thick rings (see below for instructions). Then, rivet them together (vertically), and then test it on your own body.

Torso with Sleeves[edit | edit source]

Gloves[edit | edit source]

For Head[edit | edit source]

Making Rings[edit | edit source]

Rings are made by following these steps: Take a length of wire of whatever metal is being used. Wind it around a dowel rod of the diameter desired. Take wire cutters and cut out each individual ring. Some people cut several rings at a time, but I find that that tends to warp the rings too much.

Some people use a special apparatus to wind the rings. This is made as follows: A wooden platform with two beams going up on opposite sides. Each beam has a circular hole at the top, in which the dowel rod is placed. The dowel rod has a small hole of the wire's gauge drilled into it on the inside; on the outside it has a lever. To use: place the end of wire through the hole on the inside part of the dowel, and crank the lever so that the wire winds itself around the rod.

Note: Galvanized steel will stain your skin if worn for long periods. It is recommended that you de-galvanize these rings if they will be in contact with skin. To do this, soak the rings overnight in hydrogen peroxide (available at drug stores). Afterwards, they will have lost some of their metallic luster, but they will be safer to wear.

Putting rings together[edit | edit source]

There are countless patterns that can be used for the placement of rings, such as 4 in 1, 6 in 1, etc. They are thus named for the number of links that are connected inside each individual ring. In a 4 in 1, each ring has four other rings connected to it. Some other patterns include Byzantine and Dragonscale.

Leather armour[edit | edit source]

  • Leather for armour must be boiled before use. The longer it is boiled, the thicker and smaller it becomes. However, the longer a piece of leather is boiled, the more brittle it becomes.
  • To make armour-grade leather vambraces, put a thick towel around your arm and mold the boiled leather around it.


  • Depending on the gauge (thickness) and temper (hardness) many pieces of armour may be made entirely with cold work (no forge required). Generally this is true for 12 gauge and smaller mild steel.
  • True period metal armour was hardened using a forge. This allowed the metal to be thinner/lighter than much modern reenactor armour.
  • Most metal armour sold today is mostly or entirely cold worked, with the exception of the welds used in some pieces.