Thursday, July 6, 2017

Class Notes - Armour Maintenance

Class Notes - Armour Maintenance

Balmoral TAFE notes (DRAFT)

Bench grinder kit:

Friday, June 16, 2017

ADP: Geographical Area

Choosing a Geographical Area

(Part of the ADP: Armour Decision Points series)

Geography includes political borders such as Empires, Kingdoms, Provinces and Baronies. It can be or it can be collections "The European Lowlands", "The Iberian Peninsula", "The Italian City States". It can be a city such as Paris or Prague. Broader areas allow the use of more references, narrowing down a geography too far can leave you with almost now remaining objects and more speculation.

Geographical area for armour is easiest to pin down when it is linked to specific objects that exist from that time period, it drifts to complexity when it is an impression from multiple objects and secondary items, and is harder still when it comes from feelings and stories. 

Time period needs to be chosen before geographical area in general terms, because of the massive difference between a bronze age spearman and a renaissance gunner. This article is written from the perspective that time period has been chosen first. That is not compulsory, but one of the perspectives had to be chosen. 
A Tudor Archer or Solider impression is made easier by all the study done on the Mary Rose

Easy mode would be to choose something like Gottland soldier of 1360; or English seaman of 1545. The Wisby finds  means that we have actual surviving armour taken from the ground, with known providence, from known men, who fought in Gottland. The recovery of the English warship The Mary Rose from the bottom of the sea reveals a massive amount about those men and their equipment and lifestyle.

Choosing a general area causes issues once you have researched enough to know the questions you will need to ask yourself. French from around 1460, which was my initial persona, offers more challenges. France was not a driver of armour production at the time, so I have to choose a German or Italian influence to my armour. The French armour maker's marks from the period are not currently tracked, so did I go with a unknown local or did I fully import. Modern France does not equal the 1460 Kingdom of France - was I in that area, or in the different areas? My persona happened to French as the name was from the Parisian Rolls of 1421, so that helped me zero in and answer that question. Are there extant works of art from that period? Are they realistic or biblical analogies?  Once your general area and time has been chosen, this can simply be the starting point for a research project.
The Battle of Gottland is well known because of the exceptional quality of the armour pulled from the ground.

Hard mode comes from a general piece of information. "My Grandad was Scottish, I want to be Scottish." is such a general statement that a lot of research is coming your way, and likely a lot of myth busting. If you are a lowland noble, you are importing armour from the same German and Italian armour merchants as the rest of Europe, and likely look indistinguishable from a French or English, or German noble. If you are thinking you want to be an impressive highland noble, you have some enlightening reading to be done. 

 Think about your research skills when you choose your geography. Picking an area based on specific existing objects or artworks, from areas with plenty of examples makes things easier, straying from this makes the journey harder.

Once you have chosen your geography, it will help drive your further choices, and clearly guides a lot of armour decisions.

Monday, June 12, 2017

ADP Example- My SCA COTT kit

ADP Example

Part of the ADP armour series - My SCA Lochac Combat of the Thirty kit 

This kit is an attempt to make a kit for the SCA combat safety rule set, with an attempt to get close to the armour used at the historical event "The Combat of the Thirty" on the 26th March 1351.  

Armour Decision Point Worksheet

  • Silhouette - Transition Period
  • Time period - 1351
  • Geographical Area - Brittany (France) 
  • Historical Example - Gunther von Schwarzburg 1349 Effigy
  • Social Status - French Knight
  • Leg suspension - C-belt
  • Correct layers V your layers - Short by hose and mail on the legs.
  • Weapon Fitout - SCA rule set compliant rattan long sword and rattan dagger
  • My Compromises - incorrect great helm shape; mail coif instead of skullcap helm; wrong cut of surcoat; undersized coat of plates; incorrect shape of elbows, fore arm and upper arm splints different pattern;  leather gauntlets instead of rule set illegal finger gauntlets; solid legs and sabatons modern shoes under sabatons; sabatons too long,  wrong belt knots.

Compromises History and Improvement plan

Incorrect great helm shape - I did not have the time or funds to order a new helm. This was hand made before I had my workshop set up with dishing stumps, stake or anvil. Straight shaped using a hammer and a pipe. Correct curves and piecing pattern was known, but tools unavailable. Plan to replace helm with a purchased bascinet and will make a faceplate.

Mail coif instead of skullcap helm - I was able to order a reasonably priced riveted mail coif, I did not have time, resources or tools to execute a steel skullcap with mail, in order to place the greathelm over that.

Wrong cut of surcoat - available surcoat used. Needs proper cut, proper arms and a fuller skirt.

Undersized coat of plates - I am wearing a fabric garment with riveted plates between the shirt and arming coat, rather than between the mail and surcoat.

Incorrect shape of elbows - I believe mine are too modern.
Fore arm and upper arm splints of different pattern - While my forearms and uppers are of rivet and stay construction, they are do not resemble the pattern in the effigy  

Leather gauntlets instead of rule set illegal finger gauntlets - I used available leather and steel plate gauntlets of no fixed period rather than the correct finger gauntlets. Historical finger gauntlets would not meet the SCA ruleset. I will investigate the 'faux individual finger' gauntlets.

Leg layers - I have attached the leg layer poorly. I have researched different methods and I have an excellent plan for my next COTT, which will likely be 2019 due to scheduling conflicts.

Solid legs and sabatons - are acceptable for the period, they simply do not match my effigy, however...

Sabatons too long - they are too long for my feet (and I suspect any feet) due to the uniformed construction.

Modern shoes under sabatons - I have suffered multiple slip injuries with period shoes and cannot sustain another one.

Wrong belt knots - needs a complete replacement on length, tie, and shape.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Leg Armour Support - Pressure Bands

Leg Armour Support - Pressure Bands

Pressure and support principles behind the fabric or leather garments that support leg armour, hose or even modern stockings.

The best way for the human body to carry medium to light weights on the legs is to use pressure bands on the midrift. It allows full range of motion of the arms and the legs when done correctly.

The pressure bands need to be of ever decreasing pressure in order to provide comfort and movement. The downwards pressure of the borne weight is held mainly at the bottom, and then gradually lightened off as it gets higher. Weight on the shoulders reduces range of movement and the ability to raise the arms high above the shoulders, so should be at best zero, or the least amount possible.

In the diagram below, red and orange hold most pressure, yellow less pressure, and green (or above) significantly less pressure. The white line indicates the angle of a fitted garment. This white line is the edge of the 'cone segment' that holds the weight in place by shape.  

Anatomy man shows pressure bands with colour coding with ROYGBIV colour coding

This gentleman is wearing a light fitted sleeveless garment that has points to hold up his padded leg armour and likely also a steel over armour. The method by which the pressure is regulated is by the tightness of the lacing. at the bottom the lacing will be firmed, and it will gradually have less pressure as it goes upwards. Clever tailoring provides the angle in, and then an angle outwards - the point where these angles change is visible as the spacing of the laces, and a small fabric bulge. The upper section of the garment above the green zone is clearly holding less pressure, and this is acknowledged by the garment maker as the time consuming lacing has been abandoned for simple ties, which can easily take the lowered pressure and are easier to construct. 
Common usage terms for my group is purpoint for the sleeveless unpadded body garment and chausses for the padded leg armour garments.

The quilted hip hugging garment below skips the green pressure bands entirely and sits on and just above the hips. The lacing points are again used to to provide tightness at the bottom, less in the middle, and even less on the top. Two pairs of two suspension points spreads the lifting load across the garment.  Quilting provides more comfort that a single layer of cloth or leather. Lacing points are not the only options, straight one to one ties or strap and buckle can be used. 
This is a lendenier or armoured girdle. When done in one layer of cloth or leather, the common usage term for my contemporaries is a c-belt.

 This next garment is unpadded or lightly padded full jacket to be used under full plate armour. This was given as an example of that jacket, and also to show a few interesting points regarding fit and construction. I believe this garment will cause the operator discomfort, back pain, and lowered range of movement with the arms. I recognise that the wearer only has one piece of leg armour, but principles are displayed here that will hold even when the next leg is added. The red band of pressure is pulling the fabric out of shape, and causing a 'bunch up' of fabric. The necessary pressure banding of less and less pressure has not been achieved. there will be a narrow band of pressure causing a load on one specific vertebrae on the back. The band does not take the strain, so it will be shared by the shoulders. This can be seen by the blue circled bunching of fabric. If the banding was done correctly, the bunching would have been much lesser, and would have conformed with the circle seams around the shoulder. The white arrow indicate the straight up and down nature of the line of force. Even on the other side, the line of force is too up and down - it needs to be steeper and this needs to be achieved by more tightness at the lower points, and less while working upwards.

This garment is called and arming doublet by my  contemporaries.
This next garment is shown to illustrate that the principle have not changed into the modern era. The bands still exist, comfort will be gained by better usage of the pressure principles. This garment has the advantage of being constructed of modern stretch materials and having very little weight to support. The garment forms the same inverted cone section as all the other garments. It also allows free range of motion of the arms and legs.
This is called a modern garter belt.

ADP: Choosing Time Period

Choosing a Time Period

(Part of the ADP: Armour Decision Points series)

Time period

The choice you must make regarding time period is one of the most binding as it will choose who you can interact with in the re-enactment world. One of the most strong criteria for group participation is time period of the kit. It is a major point that will bring into conflict your vision of your armour and those with whom you would like to re-enact. 

The most powerful driver of picking your time period is the strength of your vision of how you should look in armour. For simplicity, I will divide people into no particular vision, a vague vision, or a very specific vision.

I suggest that if you do not have a particular vision of how you should be, don't shop around for a time period, shop around and choose people. Get out to multiple groups and see who you interact best with, and then choose to share their vision. From the group and the people you choose, take on their time period and learn all you can about this time.  I personally went group shopping in Brisbane in the early 1990's, and visited metal weapon groups, combat game groups, fencing groups, and craft groups. I joined the SCA for the madrigal singing, and later was convinced to play their combat sport. I have kits that are roughly late roman/ early migration; 1350 exactly, and 1420-1470.

If you have a partial vision, such as a silhouette (Link: Understanding silhouette) or a time range, this is enough to proceed. My strong suggestion for you would be to best express your vision in clear words, find someone knowledgable about this time period, and talk with them for a while to ensure your vision does not include impossible or fantastical notions that will require a change of plans once you get to execution. A partial vision means research or consultation.

If you have a strong vision, congratulations, your battle here is mostly done. Now you have a driver to focus your further research and armour creation.


If you have succeed here, you can now fill in the Time Period section of the ADP Worksheet with a silhouette, an era, or specific time.

Silhouette: Migration period (I want to be a viking!)
Time era: 1420-1470
A specific year or event: I want 1350 Combat of the Thirty Armour; or I want armour from Agincourt, Friday 25th October 1415.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ADP: The Armour Decision Point guide

Armour Decision Point - The Guide

(Part of the ADP: Armour Decision Point series)


This article is aimed as a guide to help you work your way through the decisions regarding acquiring a new kit of armour.

Making the decisions regarding a new or upgraded kit of armour requires due diligence. You will need to make irreversible promises to commit large amounts of time and/or considerable amounts of money.  You will need to study a considerable amount of material, gain an understanding of multiple concepts, communicate these concepts to other people, and make decisions based on limited information. It is almost inevitable you will need to make compromises, and you will need to understand that you are doing them in order to minimize issues.

Once this guide has succeeded, you will be able to fill out the worksheet. This can be used to help you focus on your creation if you are a maker, or help you communicate your desires if you are project managing the creation of your kit with other collaborators.

Below the guide is a series of fast explanations of each of the points in the worksheet, which also has a link off to a more complete article on that topic.

At the bottom are links to examples where this ADP method has been used to describe a specific kit of armour. Each example has a filled out worksheet, and a expanded version of the My Compromises section.

Armour Decision Point Worksheet

  • Silhouette ___________________________________________________
  • Time Period _________________________________________________
  • Geographical Area  ___________________________________________
  • Historical Example  ___________________________________________
  • Social Status  ________________________________________________
  • Leg Suspension  ______________________________________________
  • Correct Layers V Your Layers  ___________________________________
  • Weapon Fitout  ________________________________________________
  • My Compromises  _____________________________________________


The first decision point is to decide on your silhouette. When you are seen across the field, what will people think? The most common silhouettes are Migration period("viking"); Transition (1350); Age of plate (1450); and Sports Armour (Ahistorical hodgepodge). Less common silhouettes are Greek, Roman, Rus, Middle Eastern, and Japanese. 

My article helps you understand the concept, and gives examples of the change of silhouettes using the rough examples 1250, 1350, 1450 and 1550. 

LINK:Gambeson-ackerton-hackbutt and resulting silhouettes

Time period

The next decision point is to pick a specific time period. This can narrow down to a rough period like a silhouette (Transition); a time range (1340-1360), or a specific year or event (1350 Combat of the Thirty).

LINK: Choosing a time period 

Geographical Area

Italians of the same year looked significantly different from Germans who looked unlike the English for most of our time periods. Hone in on a specific Geographic area and you will be able to make better armour decisions. 

LINK: Choosing a geographical area 

Historical Example

Narrowing again to help you make clearer decisions regarding your armour. Effigies, tombstone tracings, and carefully chosen paintings are good sources. 

Social Status

Choosing the armour of the king, the knight or the commoner is another branch of decisions that will have a significant impact on your armour.

Leg suspension

The leg armour is generally a heavy part of your kit, and keeping them suspended, on your legs, safe and comfortable is a reasonable feat of fabric engineering.

LINK: Choosing a leg suspension.
EXTRA LINK: Leg pressure bands

Correct layers V your layers

Really this is a subset of compromises, but  needs stating. Each kit of armour likely need a skilled worker in steel, cloth and leather. This can be difficult to co-ordinate, and often you will use the skills of one of these people to make up for the lack of another. Maybe you will choose commercial ready made armour and cover failings with a tailors hand. Maybe you  work wonders with a needle and so hiding armour inside your garments is the way forward. Decisions can be made to move different skills to the fore in your kit.

Weapon Fitout

As much time could be spent on weapon selection as armour, but I will limit the decisions to bare hands, gloves, gauntlets or 'one job' hand protection.

My Compromises

Dr Tobias Capwell finished his PHD on it and spent five years and spent tens of thousands of dollars and learnt multiple skills to make his kit. I suspect you will not have that amount of time or those resources for your kit, so compromises will need to be made.
Where will you make yours? Money, time, skills, materials, heat, safety of the hands, kidneys, throat or skull? Do you need to conform to a rule set such as those or  SCA or BOTTN? Gauntlets instead of bare hands? Are you too large or too small to get the silhouette? Are you not strong enough to wear all the mail? Do you have a bust and want a man's kit? Do you not care about historical aims and just want to sports fight? Do you fight in  an antipodean sweat box of a country rather than cooler Europe? Understanding what 'right' should be, then own the compromises you are making.

Examples of kits described/ planned using this method

(to be written)
Bart's standard 1450 kit

Bart's Tranisitiony/ Norman really dodgy kit

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

ADP Series: Gambeson, Ackerton, Hackbutt and resulting silhouettes

Gambeson, Ackerton, Hackbutt and Resulting Silhouettes

(Part of the ADP: Armour Decision Points Series)

A speed guide to thinking about popular cloth garments for wearing with armour, their purpose and aims historical and current

 20 period and modern names for 5 different period garments, with no clear partitioning for which name refers to which garment? Arghhhhh!

Five Different Garments

1) The padded garment worn under armour 2) The padded garment worn as armour alone 3) The padded garment worn over armour 4) The padded garment worn in civilian contexts 5) The garment worn as a top layer for heraldic identification

Understanding Silhouette

The simplest concept is that over time hemlines of the cloth garments rose, and once they could rise no further the next trend was to emphasize a stylized round stomach. 

Understanding purpose

The next concept to fill in is the purpose of each garment.

With our roughly 1250 era person wears a garment underneath the mail. This has been speculated as being both heavily and lightly padded. There is a further option for a padded garment over the mail. This has once more been done as a heavily padded, lightly padded, and an unpadded garment for heraldic display only.

Our 1350 transitional friend uses advances in tailoring and metalwork to get a tighter silhouette, and fashion brings the hem higher. Mail is still the base in the majority of cases but it was supplemented by plate. Cloth was used for the garment under the mail - likely lightly padded. It would be covered by mail, and then points attached to it would be used to secure the new plate armour and the knees and elbows. The midriff and thighs would be protected by cloth garments with plate defences riveted directly to the cloth such as the Wisby coat of plates. 

Towards 1450 and his era, plate begins be a primary defence, with mail as an optional supplement. The silhouette brings the hemline to the lower abdomen. The cloth garment can be a foundation garment to which the plate defences are attached; it can be strongly padded garment that goes over mail to simulate the job of plate at a lower price, or advances in tailoring and metal craft means they can be combined for the Corazina/Brigandine.

1550 bring in the trend towards the stylised stomach area, while cloth-wise everything option is used somewhere. Light padded garment were used as foundation garments for the exquisite full and half plates of the era. Corazina/Brigandines keep improving for the cloth-metal hybrid protection, and heavily padded cloth over armours still hold on to the bulk, inexpensive end of the market.

Aims Historic:

Not to die. Which was greatly helped by moving well, not overheating, and lowering vulnerability to pierce, crush, or cut. Padded Undergarments helped the upper layers, especially against the upper layers damaging. Upper Garments took the force away before the other armour bore the brunt. Cloth as armour was relatively inexpensive and available. 

Aims Current:

All of the aims historic, with some modifications made to acknowledge the non-lethal nature of re-enactment usage: Weapons may not be sharp, or may not be used with great force. Modifications may also be made acknowledging regional temperature variations away from those of Europe.  


Commonly Used :Cotton, Linen, Fustian. Rarely - Hemp, Leather, Silk. Padded/ stuffing options: cotton, wool, hemp, linen, bamboo.

Tie Methodologies

For each of the main types you can use
a) buttons - solid buttons provide a painful item to be driven into your body during combat. Fabric buttons hurt less when struck, but are complicated to make.
b) fingerlooped cords - are light, period practice, simple but slightly time consuming to make, are strong and are washable.
c) leather straps and buckles - are easiest to manipulate by tired andrenaline shaking hands. They are expensive and will rot under the sweat produced, and buckles hurt when driven into the body by a shot.
d) leather laces.

My Experiences

I started with a fabric garment underneath and coat of plates. I found this acceptable, but hot and restrictive on the arms. I next moved to a shirt with padded forearms and elbows and plated kidneys, and a heavily padded cloth short sleeved garment. This was excellent for everything except heat. My current solution is a heat shedding modern garment ("skins"/"under armour") at the very bottom, then a cotton vest with 1.2mm armour plates riveted to that. The next layer is a cotton fabric garment stuffed with bamboo wadding. The vest and the sleeve are detachable, allowing massive heat venting and extreme range of movement. 

What is best for Who?

This would be a whole other article.

The Dream Rig

I love my current rig as described above for hot weather, I would like to use a well constructed Corrazzina one day.


I got some wonderful help but will check if they want to be credited for something as helicopter view and not referenced as this :)