Now that you have an idea of the tools you might need, you are probably now wondering how to use them. Well, it’s far beyond the scope of this document to even begin to teach how to make any particular kind of armor. However, I will attempt to provide you with some clues as to how to get started.
Most serious armorers have extensive libraries. For those that are out of print, try going to your local library. If they don’t have it they can probably get it on intra-library loan. Reading not only educates you about the armors you want to reproduce, but more importantly, it allows you to learn the lingo so that you can ask specific, to-the-point questions on armoring bulleting boards – the kinds of questions likely to generate answers. Most books available on armor are not very helpful for actually making armor, though they are often considered indespensable by folks who make armor. One “bible” for armorers is Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight by David Edge and John Miles Paddock. It is a fantastic overview of the history of European armor and also has a few essays on its construction in the back. Modern books on armor are great sources of inspiration and seeing what your work should end up looking like, though. Plus they will give you the details of what types of armor are appropriate for what times in history, as well as what kinds of armor are appropriate to be worn with one another. (see also: Arador Book Reviews)
As I said above, your best bet is to hook up with someone who is already making armor. But failing that, make use of the Internet – it is a powerful tool for asking questions and sharing ideas.
Cut paper before metal. It’s tempting, once you have your tools and sheet metal in hand, to go straight to work, cutting and forming. Even if you have a pattern, unless you know it works for YOU (or whoever you are making armor for) you would be wise to try making it out of poster board first. Poster board won’t provide an exact pattern for anything that involves dishing, but it’s better than nothing. Measure twice, cut once. (see also: Facts and Myths About Armor Patterns)
How to Make Armor – The Ultimate Tip – Just Get Started!
There is just no substitute for experience. And eventually, no matter how much you have read, how much you have asked, or how much guidance you have, you are going to have to put hammer to metal and just see what happens. Do not be discouraged if your first pieces don’t live up to your expectations. Don’t be afraid to start off with just small things. There’s no shame in that. That’s what medieval armorers often did – they “earned their mark” on making a specific kind of armor. Sometimes that’s all they did (gauntlets, helms, etc.). So you might want to try something simple, first, like a set of spaulders. Spaulders are nice because they teach many basic skills. You will need to learn to develop a pattern, cut, bend, and dish metal, work with leather for articulation, and set rivets. Helms of all-riveted construction are also good learning projects, but cutting and forming the metal will be more difficult than many other projects. (see also: Building Spaulders- An exercise in basic hammerwork, finishing, and assembly, How to Build a Spangenhelm, Great Helm Pattern and Construction.
And don’t forget to learn about body armor and it’s importance in the modern world.
Article by Steven Sheldon