This is my second attempt at making a leather vambrace (see the first one here). This one is a bit more complicated than the first and a very different style. The idea for this one was conceived when my wife and I decided to dress up in steampunk outfits to go to a faire. I had the thought that it would be really cool to have a compass on your wrist since if you were, say, piloting an airship that could be a useful thing. I ended up nixing the idea at the time but low and behold some friends are dressing up steampunk to go to a con so I've pulled it back to finish it for them.
Step 1: Materials
For this one I once again used my favorite material, scraps.
You thought I was going to say leather didn't you? Anyway, I started looking through my leather scrap bin and found a piece that I thought would work. The funny thing was when I found it I actually liked the shape it had so I decided to leave it with more of an organic shape.
As far as the tools I used:
- Edge Beveler
- Edge Slicker
- Hole Punch
- Swivel Knife
- Rapid Rivets
- Rivet Setter
- Rawhide Hammer
- Snap set kit
Step 2: Early Stage
This particular vambrace went through several different planning stages. The first thing I did was cut the edges straight so it would fit around my arm properly. I did some slight trimming to make it more comfortable around my wrist too but for the most part left it's shape alone. The compass was always part of the plan but initially it was going to lace up. I used the compass to trace the right size hole and then cut it out with my knife. Then I punched holes along the edge for the lacing. I also beveled and slicked the edges.
Step 3: Design
I drew a design around the compass area to loosely resemble the sun. It's sort of paying homage to the fact that before the compass was invented that was the way people navigated, using the stars. The small circles on the left and right sides of the design are there in case I feel the need to put a leather backing behind the compass. That way I have a place to rivet it that's included in the design. At this point I decided not to fasten it in permanently though.
Step 4: Evolving Ideas
I decided that I really like straps better than lacing. Not only do I like the look better but it's also easier to get in and out of. I cut out the area between the top two and bottom two holes on each side which left me with two slots and one hole. Initially I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the hole but I assumed that something would occur to me since it had been coming along fairly organically up to this point. (Don't worry, it did)
If the straps went across the whole thing they would have to be riveted to it or else the vambrace would ride up and sort of "pucker". I didn't feel like punching more holes so instead I came up with the idea to make the straps in a sort of U-shape (they remind me of the Recognizer ships from Tron) so that they wouldn't need to be riveted at all. At the same time they cross under that spare hole so I could rivet them and give that hole some purpose. So I did. Of course I then had to remove one and replace it with one with longer straps but it all worked out.
Step 5: Setting Snaps
I chose to use snaps because I had just used them for a leather cuff so I was still on a bit of a snap setting kick. Also I didn't have any tiny buckles. For this step I kind of sort of forgot to take pictures of the process. Thankfully the snap setting process is pretty universal so I can just borrow the pictures from the leather cuff I made. I can also borrow the description because I won't sue myself for plagiarism.
When punching the holes for the snaps always use the hole punch closest in size to the snap post. Usually one side of the snap is bigger than the other. the process is pretty simple but easy to mess up (I've ruined several snaps and rivets from just hitting it wrong, having the hole too big, etc.). First push the post through the hole. Then set it on the appropriately sized bump (they're numbered) on the "anvil". Set the other half of the snap on top. Then take the metal driver, place it on top of the snap, and whack it a couple times with your mallet. It's basically the same process for both the male and female ends. But for the male end the driver has a dimple in it that sits on top of the male end and for the female side the driver is slightly concave and sits on top of the rounded top of the snap.
If that doesn't make much sense the pictures should give you a fair sense of the order in which you should put the snaps together.
Step 6: Tooling
Why did I do the tooling last? I have no idea.
I basically just cut out the design with my swivel knife and used a textured bevel to give it dimension.
And you're done! Or at least I'm done. And now I've made a pretty unique vambrace if I do say so myself. Though I suppose you could prove me wrong by making one as well. Or you could use it as inspiration to create your own unique piece of leatherwork. Either way, go forth and make!
Edit: Sorry I don't have a picture of it with the compass. I feel like that was a major "Duh!" moment. I'll try to get one and update this when I do.