I've added some pictures of the final product, which do it a lot more justice than what I have had here before.
THIS IS NOT REAL ARMOUR. THIS WONT STOP BULLETS/SWORDS/KNIFES/'ARROWS. If you're lucky it'll take the edge off a punch, and it's probably good against finger nail scratches, and will probably do pretty good against airsoft bbs. But this is no good for SCA heavy combat, or having a jousting tournament on motor cycles with your friends. That being said, it'll make a sweet Halloween costume!
The scope of this instructible will include the following:
I've been slowly growing this instructable as I complete different parts of the suit, and I may have missed some spots. So if you see something like "3 steps to go" when really there's 6 or 7 that's why.
Making a vest to support your plates
Making the templates for your plates
Cutting your plates
Hammering your plates
Attaching your plates to the Vest
Making sure you can actually put on the vest
I am building a suit of armor for this Halloween. As it is a fairly intense process, I have started way in advance. If you are planning on mimicking this for Halloween this year, I would suggest that you start now. This instructable will focus on the plate mail that "protects" the torso. As this will be made using 30ga galvanized steel, it wont be any good as actual armor, but it should have the desired look.
This armor is a relatively long undertaking and requires a decent selection of tools. This might be do-able by 2 or 3 people in a week-end if they spend the entire week-end working on it in a team, a lot of it is repetition and can be somewhat assembly lined.
ex: one person cuts templates, one person safes the edges, and a third sticks it on.
Through out this project I will try to parallel the actual instructions with quick and dirty DIY, (QDD) style instructions, for those who want a fast project that's easier, faster but wont look as nice, and wont last as long.
Step 1: Materials
Non- Consumables, all of these are available at almost any hardware store.
*Tin snips ( Usually sold in packs of 3 for right straight and left turns/ cuts)
*Hammer (ball-peen hammer preferred but not 100% necessary)
*Marker or pen ( Something to mark steel & poster board)
*A long ruler ( But you can use one of the sheets of steel instead)
*A work bench or surface that can get seriously damaged (I used an old stool that was being thrown out )
*An Anvil ( If you've got one it'd help, I used the head of a sledge hammer because it was cheap, but if you own an anvil chances are you don't need this Instructable)
*Sewing Machine ( or just a needle if you've got time and no sewing machine)
*30ga galvanized steel By then end I'd used about 10 ducting joists. Pop cans wont fly on this one because you're going to need large continuous pieces.
*Rivets - I used pop rivets in my project, because they're easy to find, easy to use and work very well. If you want, you can use peening rivets in the exact same way.
*Heavy canvas / denim + thread for sewing
Step 2: Make a Vest.
The most important part is that you test your fabric before making/buying the vest.
Make sure that the fabric is not puffy. Padding with mess you up. Don't worry about making it comfortable as you will surely have something underneath. In my case chain mail.
You can skip this step and just substitute old clothing for this part. You probably wont damage it, but you're going to be putting tape on it.
Step 3: Get an Idea of What You Want
google image search platmail
Once you know what you want, sketch out what you'd like on paper. Get the idea of what you want in your head. Try to get as detailed an idea as possible. Don't just set out with like "I want it to be cool and spiky" Look at existing things, and identify all the different pieces. Mine was really really simple but still looked fine. Doesn't have to be complicated to look nice.
You're not even willing to spend time on this?!!??
Just copy what I did.
Step 4: Designing the Templates
I made my templates out of poster board (Bristol board). I find it's good to work with and it feels very much like the 30ga steel in terms of flexibility ( the steel is a little stiffer). The idea is to prototype your design with bristol board ( $0.50 - $1 for a 1m X 1m piece) and then use those templates to produce your steel plates ( $4.50 for a .3m x 1m piece). A mistake with cardboard will cost you roughly 1/10th what it will cost in steel strictly from a material stand point.
The other reason is that board is much easier to work with than steel. This is obvious. You can play around with the board until you have a design that you like. There's nothing authentic about my design, I don't even know why I made it, I just thought it looked cool, it gave me enough mobility, and was simple enough to do. When designing templates keep in mind the size of the sheets of steel you're using. My bristol board was roughly twice the size of the steel.
Another important point is to remember that you have to wear this thing, so don't make it too crazy. Make sure that you're able to move around in it. And make sure that there isn't anything that will really mess you up if you fall, or something.
Some pieces will be harder to visualize than others, you may have to try a couple times in order to get it right.
These template ARE your final plates, unless you're making them out of a special more expensive kind of bristol board, you can pretty much start with the final product. With that in mind, try to keep the surface looking good. You'll also have to make all the pieces you'll need.
Step 5: Making the Templates
I started by making a rough shape of what I wanted leaving lots of extra material, and then trimmed away excess until I was left with the shape I wanted. I can't really give concrete explanation of how to do it, but it was a lot of eyeballing and sketching.
Either way eventually you'll have some templates built.
You'll need to make these. Just make sure they remain respectables. You may have to remake the pieces that are folded in half if you want to have a nice smooth finish.
Step 6: Mark and Cut the Steel
Once you have the steel marked, cut around the templates leaving a couple centimeters between your cut and the actual template. You're going to want to have a lip around the actual shape you want. This will be explained later.
Nope, you're skipping this step!
Step 7: It's Hammer Time
Curves here are not really your friend. Any concave curves will have to have small cuts made in them to allow you to easily fold them down. Convex curves are not really a problem.
For this part you're using a ball-peen hammer but you're using the FLAT head, NOT the ball. You can technically substitute a claw hammer here.
Get your sweet ball-peen hammer, and your stool / workbench you don't mind damaging ideally it would be an anvil though! This is where I used my old chair. Take the sheet of steel and place it so that the line of the template is on the edge of your surface, and hammer the edges down so that you score the piece of steel along the template line. Move the template around and keep hammering until you've bent down all the extra lips around the steel.
Once the edges are scored, flip your plate upside down, and hammer the lips from the side to further bend the lips.
This next part is hard to explain but basically, your going to take the hammer so the the head of the hammer is angled at almost 45 degrees and then your just going to sweep the hammer over the lip.
Lip --> | \ <- hammerhead
This will cause the steel to bend so that the angle between the steel and the lip is now acute.
steel -> \ <- lip
Now you can start hammering straight down on the steel in order to flatten it. Pound the crap out of it until it's flat ( or as flat as you see fit ).
OOoOoOOo Scary sharp bristol board!!!.... I think you'll be fine with the edges the scissors made.
Step 8: Texturing
I order to achieve this texture, you basically just hammer the back of the plat with the ball of the ball-peen hammer with the steel on top of wood ( this is where you destroy your bench / work surface) I'm using an old chair that was going to get tossed anyways, so I didn't mind. This makes a lot of noise, and takes a long time, and will tire out your arm if you're not used to it.
One thing that I got out of it, was after doing my four ab plates, I had significantly improved my accuracy with the ball-peen which came in handy when doing some of the fine detailing later. I think that the effect worked out very well but it may not be for everyone.
This is where you could paint your plates. You'd be surprised on the easy finish you could get by just spraying your bristol board with a silver paint, Or doing something like covering it with aluminum foil. Just remember that it might not last.
Step 9: Fitting the Armor
Pictured here is how I did the back armor. I'll show the front in the next step.
Yeah, either way you still need to do this...
Step 10: Attaching the Plates
Basically the way we're going to be sticking these plate on is through pop rivets. If you're hard core you can use peen rivets, but they're much more work to do, and are harder to do correctly, so We're using pop rivets. This can also be substituted for nuts and bolts if you have them already and don't want to invest in a riveter and pop rivets.
Take a dry run with tape or a bunch of hands/ clamps and find out where you want everything to go, and how you want the plates to over lap. Generally the rule is the plate at the bottom of the overlapping stack goes on first. I started with my back plates, and then my abdomen plates, and then my spalders and then finally my collar bone / breast piece.
In order to attach everything together I used a few thick denim ribbon, if you're hardcore, you can use leather straps here. about an inch wide that ran the vertical length of each section. I had 4 for the back, 2 for the front, and 2 for each shoulder. Basically you attach all the plates to the ribbons, this allows the plates to move around a little bit. Each plate has 4 holes and fixing points to the Ribbons. They're basically a thin rectangle near the top of the piece.
The way I got the position of the holes was I had all the pieces in the correct spot, either by sticking them to the vest, or just eyeballing them. Then I placed the ribbons across the pieces, and just made marks where the holes should be. You will ideally want to place the attaching points where they are covered up by the next plate. So right near the top. that way you get the scaling effect.
Then use a pop rivet and washer to affix the plate to the fabric. Basically you load the pop rivet into the riveter, then you put the rivet through the plate, then the vest, then a washer on the other side. Once they're all skewered on the rivet, you squeeze the riveter and it expands the rivet until the shaft of the pop rivet breaks (this breaking is obviously where the pop comes from). Eject the broken shaft from the riveter, and on to the next.
You must use the exact same diameter of pop-rivet, drill bit and washer. It will not work with different sizes. It wont work, don't even try, it'll just fall apart and waste a rivet.
If you screw up with a rivet, the best was to remove it is to drill it out with a power drill. While making mistakes is the best way to learn something, try not to make mistakes during this part it's really annoying and may require you to replace the plate.
Duct tape or tacks instead of rivets. Either you you pin a tack through your shirt / vest. Or you just make a loop with duct tape.
P.S. sorry I don't have any pictures of this part. I did it all in one night, and I didn't have my camera handy.
Step 11: Making the Shoulder Armor (Spaulders Pt 1)
I made mine by cutting several long straight narrow pieces of steel, and then fanning them over the shoulder and then affixing them to my chest pieces. These pieces used a surprisingly large amount of steel, but where relatively simple to make.
Basically I made 6 strips of steel each 5" wide ( after rounding the edged). and 33" long ( the length of the steel sheet I was using). Thinner strips make a smoother curve, but are more work and will generally use a lot more steel (waste and overlap). Thicker strips will be less work, but wont give a really round look. Like always, play with bristol board to find a width and height that you like before working in steel
I cut the sheet of steel into strips, and then folded over the edges. For all but the top most piece only 1 edge will be visible, so if you're lazy, you only need to make 1 edge of each piece look nice. The top piece however will have both sides exposed and should have both edges finished.
I wanted my shoulders to be able to collapse when I raised my arm to maintain as much mobility as possible. So I attached them using a flexible material (thick canvas), a strong strap or ribbon will work as well. Something like a seat belt or nylon backpack strap, just make sure that it doesn't stretch and wont fray too much.
Go back and read the step, this will apply to you as well. Except for the part of the added cost/ weight of steel.
Step 12: Spaulders Pt 2: Preparing
My rectangle was 4" x 1/2". You can make a template for the rectangle so that all the holes are similarly placed on all strips. I just stacked all my strips on top of each other and drilled out all the holes in one fell swoop ( Unless you're pretty good at this, I don't recommend this as there's a high chance of screwing this up if some of the strips slip).
Once you have all your holes drilled, cut a series of equal length portions of your fabric/ribbon. These should be slightly shorter than your strips, so if you had 5" strips, make a 4" ribbon. Drill 2 holes in each ribbon near each end, about 1/4" from the end for every pair of ribbon, the distance between holes must be exactly the same otherwise your blades will hang crooked.
You got your strips of bristol board, and a bunch of duct tape ready? GREAT! No holes, no ribbons, just duct tape.
Step 13: Spaulders Pt3: Assembly
For this one, my stack was: rivet head, washer, strip, ribbon, washer, rivet shank.
Start by attaching ribbons to the back holes of every strip ( except the top strip, cause it doesn't have back holes). The reason for this is it's easier to attach a ribbon to a single strip that to a stack of connected strips. Once we start building our spaulders, we'll only need to make 2 connections per strip.
Once you've got all you strips with their two back ribbons, you can start connecting them together.
once you've got all the strips connected, pick your pivot points at each extremity and bind the pivot point with some of these http://www.leevalley.com/hardware/page.aspx?c=1&p=40386&cat=3,41306,41327 Not really sure what they're called, but they're the kind of rivets used to bind knife handles. The advantage of these is that they for a pin joint instead of a fixed joint, so your shoulder pieces can collapse and stretch to follow your arm. These part was really tricky to get right. I don't have any advice other than take your time, and make sure you pick your pivot spots correctly. The pivot spot on each band will not be the same spot.the top band with have it's pivot close to the end, each subsequent band will have their pivot further from the edge.
Place all the strips on the ground in front of you so that they make a big rectangle so that each strip is slightly overlapping the other. Take a big strip of duct tape and tape them together down the middle of them. Use 2 or three pieces if you're worried about them falling apart ( you might have used some slippery bristol board or something).
Use Tacks or hot glue to pin the shoulders to your breast plate and back plate. Tacks will allow the spaulders to move with your arms, which may improve mobility, but they may fall too much, and get annoying. If you want them fixed(as in static, not as in repaired), use hot glue ( with correct adult supervision of course).
Step 14: Breast Plate and Mounting Shoulders
Basically the breast plate is just a big piece of steel with a hole for my head. I'll draw a little ascii thing of it
| * * |
| _------------_ |
| | | |
| | | |
| -_ _- |
| -_- |
| _ |
- _*_- - _*_-
the * are where I attached the shoulder guards to.
Yeah, so, that's what it looks like flat.
The should plates mounted to the front and back by means of the upper most band on each side.
Step 15: Shin Guard Greaves Pt1: Design and Plates
You'll need some eyelets for this part, and some kind of lace. I bought some leather laces from a leather shop, but you can use shoelaces or string or anything really. The eyelets can be found at any sewing store. I bought a pack of 36 for $1.25, I used 28 eyelets in total, ( 7 on each side, of 2 greaves).
Step 16: Greaves Pt 2: Binding/ Finishing
The eyelets should have instruction on the package, but basically, you drill a hole that's slightly larger than the inner diameter of the eyelet (Try a few on spare pieces so you can get the right hole size).
Once you've got a hole, you push the eyelet through the hole, and then hammer the back flat using a grommet tool. The package of eyelets I bought came with a hole punch and the grommet tool. Really simple, just make sure your hole is the correct size, and that you have the eyelet in the right direction so that the nice part is on the outside.
Lace up the back of the greave like you would a shoe or something.
If you're doing detailing like adding stuff or texturing, then you'll probably want to remove the laces.
Step 17: Thanks for Reading, Good Luck!
I bought some fabric and made a skirt to cover the area between the bottom of the chest and the top of the shins. I also bought a giant plastic sword, and a scary Skeleton mask.
The chain mail is 4 in 1 European mail, I used about 400m of 16 gauge aluminum wire to make the hat and shirt. The shirt was basically like a bib with sleeves, basically I only made what you would see.
I hope you enjoyed reading this instructable. If you have any questions or pro-tips please feel free to message me. If you guys try this out, or do something similar, send me some links. There are a few more parts to this costume which are not done yet!
I kinda rushed the instructible out before the costume was done, so if there's anything that isn't explained, just pm me your questions, and I'll try to help you out!