Friday, December 31, 2010

Project: Carapace - Days 2 and 3

Day 2: Chainmaille and Lamellar

I didn't manage to get much done with the mail today, working on expanding the piece I have was frustrating, as it didn't look like I was doing anything after an hour of work, but I actually ended up doubling the size of the piece.
I put the mail aside and went over to Brent's place to work on the other armor project, Leather Lamellar in a style found during archaeological excavations in Visby, Sweden.

My main holiday gift from my parents, other than the 9-button boots they bought me at TRF, was a gift card to Tandy Leather Factory, which I used to purchase a whole saddle skirting hide, which for those not super-knowledgeable about leather, is approximately 20 square feet of cow hide, at between 12 to 16 ounces thickness.
The weight of leather assumes that a square foot of 1/64" thick leather weighs 1 ounce, so the saddle skirting I purchased is between 3/16" and 1/4" thick.
In the picture above my hide has had about 1/3 of its square footage cut into the pieces for the lamellar using a strip cutter set to 1 1/4" width. After each strip is cut off the hide, it is measured into about twelve 3" pieces and cut, creating the individual plates with only about 1" of waste per strip.

Day 3: Things begin to take shape

Back to work on the chainmaille, I started to form the shoulder straps, a pair of 16 ring x 16 ring squares on either side of one of the long edges of my main rectangle.
The plan is to duplicate above piece, then attach the duplicate to the original at the 16x16s to form a neck hole, shoulders and the beginnings of the chest and back. Next the edge that is on top in the photo will be extended, then widened in a T shape. The arms of the T on the front side will be attached to the T on the back, forming armholes and creating basically a very short vest. From that point, sleeves can be created, and the "hem" of the vest can continually be extended downward until it reaches the desired length, or I run out of rings.
My 5am math says that I've used 1492 links so far, which is scary, because that represents a little over 1/5 of my total rings, and also represents about 6.8 pounds. I can tell you that hefting it one-handed certainly doesn't feel like almost 7 pounds, so maybe I'm just exhausted and adding poorly. The real concern is that if this is 1500 rings, then the duplicate will bring it up to 3000 rings...wait a minute, I am completely wrong here. I've only used 746 rings. That means weight for this is only 3.4 pounds, which feels a lot more correct, and is only an expenditure of about 1/8 of my rings.
So, ~750 rings for the front, means ~1500 for the whole yoke, another ~1200 for the T extension, bringing the total to ~2700 for the mini-vest, a little over 1/2 of my total rings. If each sleeve is about the size of my 1/2-yoke, thats another ~1000 rings for each sleeve, bringing the total to ~4700 rings or about 93% of my rings, with a shirt that only hangs to just under my sternum.
Looks like I'm going to need to buy more rings in any case, even with my most frugal estimates of ring usage, which brings up my other concern: Ring Lord has stated that they will be discontinuing the 12ga rings when their stock is gone, which means I need to buy up their remaining 15 pounds before someone else does, but I'm not sure where the money for it is going to come from, because I certainly don't have the tools or means to coil and cut 12ga steel here at the apartment.

Back to leather this evening at Brent's, we had already cut 25 strips from the hide, creating about 300 individual plates, which were then marked with the "Visby" hole pattern, as shown below.
Of the the pieces, from left to right three different hole methods were used: Drilling with a 9/64" from the rough side (back) to the smooth side (front), drilling from front to back, and using a 9/64" hammer punch from back to front.
None of the methods produced satisfactory results, as drilling from front to back causes the ugly shredding of the leather seen in piece #2, and hammer punching from back to front causes the unfortunate puckering seen in piece #3. The old tried-and-true method of front-to-back hammer punching will produce the best results, and will not be significantly slower than drilling.
Using the test-punched pieces as templates, we marked all 300 pieces with the Visby pattern, and will begin to punch them in the next step.
That's all 300 pieces marked and ready for punching. To speed up the punching process, I will go to Tandy tomorrow and pick up my own punch set.
A quick test-threading of the pieces we punched/drilled brought up an interesting issue we hadn't considered with the rectangular pieces. Of the lamellar found in Visby, the pieces were lozenge-shaped, not pure rectangles.
When we threaded the three leather pieces together using the middle holes, the top and bottom holes of pieces 2 and 3 were obscured by the edges of pieces 1 and 2, respectively, explaining why the Visby pieces have the curved edges. While I'm not about to go back and trim 300 plates to give them rounded edges like the "Standard Piece" above, Brent commented that we could either use a hammer chisel for making belt ends to make them look like the "Centre Piece", or just punch the middle 4 holes closer to the edge of each piece than currently marked. I think I might try to do a bit of both, and look for a tool at Tandy that would do the job (a hammer chisel with a 4" gradual curve would be perfect), or borrow some fucking shears from Blue and just cut the pieces manually. *winces* Either way, it's going to be a shit job, and we're not even to the dying yet...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Project: Carapace - Day 1

I never update this as I should, but with a major project underway now, I'm making a commitment to update this every day I do any significant amount of work on it.

Day 1: Chainmaille
One of my holiday presents from my in-laws was surprisingly heavy as it was laid in my lap. I had my eyes closed as instructed, so when the 23 pounds of steel was deposited there, it was a pleasant shock.
The rings were fabricated and cut by the good folks at The Ring Lord, and are 12-gauge mild steel wire, wound to 1/2" inner diameter, for an aspect ratio of about 5, perfect for making sturdy, but not stiff, European 4-in-1 mail.
By the measurements of The Ring Lord, there are ~720 rings per square foot of finished material using the 4-in-1 pattern, but I believe that was measured with the material in it's most compact form, as I am about 300 rings in at this point, and have a piece that is 20"x3.5" when fully expanded, which is how it will be when worn, so I'm estimating more like 600 rings per square foot.
Nevertheless, some rough measurements on my own body with a tape measure says I'll need a 3'x2' panel for chest and another for back, and then a pair of 1'x2' panels for sleeves, for a total of about 16 square feet of material for the finished piece, minus the links missing for a head hole, so about 9600 rings.
My gift of 23 pounds gets me an estimated 5000 rings, so I'll probably be purchasing another 10 pounds at least, but only after I finish using these that I have and see where I am.