Introduction: Learn to Dish by Building a Buckler
Dishing is an essential skill for building armour. It's used to some extent in almost every piece of plate armour you'll ever build. Whether for knuckle gadlings on gauntlets, panels for a spangen helm, a breastplate or elbow and knee cops, dishing is used everywhere.
The main part of this project will be dishing the Boss on the buckler
Step 1: Tools and Supplys
For this project you will need:
I recommend 16 gauge, that's 1/16" thick for you Americans, and 1.5mm for most everyone else.
-a jigsaw with metal and wood blades
-A dishing hammer
-files or a grinder or something to de-burr your edges.
-a 14" steel drum lid and clamp (or other edging material)
not necessary but REALLY helpful
-a drill and 1/8 or 9/64 drill bit
https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-peen-a-rivet/ i dont remember how else to link this.
-safety equipment(glasses, gloves and hearing protection)
Step 2: Time to Get Started
OK, first things first, you'll need to decide how big you want your boss to be. In this case it's meant to fit my girlfriends hand with a glove on. So it fits pretty tight. If you'll be waring gauntlets or something behind it then it will need to be bigger. also make sure to leave 3/4 to 1" of space for a flange around the outside. I allowed for a half inch and that made things much more difficult for me in the next few steps.
For this one i figured a large coffee tin was pretty much right, i couldn't find a sharpy, so i traced it with a nail. This was much harder to see than it looks in the photo and i don't recommend doing it that way.
Anyways, once you have it marked out cut it out with the jigsaw and use a grinder or a file or what have you to deburr the edges and put a bit of a bevel on them. if you have one, i really recommend a belt sander with a slack belt. It does work the best for this.
Step 3: Time to Dish
Now for the fun part.
For this step you'll need a dishing form, and a dishing hammer. If you don't have either then a large ball peen hammer and your back yard can be substituted, but you will have to work a bit harder and your final result will have a texture kind of like a sack full of marbles.
My dishing forms are made from melted down tire weights, and my dishing hammer is a 3# mini sledge that has the faces ground down into domes. More on that when i make my armouring tools Instructable
For the first pass I'm going to use my shallow dish and just give it a quick once over just to get it started. this isn't necessary, but I find that it makes things go easier.
For the second pass I switched to the deep dish, and the deep dome on my hammer. This is also where you need to start paying attention to where your hammering. Always work in a spiral from the outside to the center and try to overlap each hammer stroke by half.
On this project i had a LOT of trouble with the flange rippling. Whenever you see a ripple starting to form make sure to hammer it down flat again. This problem can be helped a lot by leaving 3/4 of an inch to 1 inch of flange at the edges. My half inch flange just didn't have enough meat to support itself and ended up needing to be flattened out every 5 minutes.
Now just keep doing passes from the outside to the center and hammering out ripples until your boss is as deep as you like. Mine took 4 passes until I was happy, but half way through the third pass I gave up on the flange and decided that I would flare it out after the fact. this was another bad idea and made a lot more work for me in the end. Oh well. Live and learn
a few tips for dishing
-experiment to find the sweet spot on your dishing forms. there is usually an area a little in from the edge where you get the most force into your workpiece with the least bounce back.
-always try and keep 3 points on your workpiece in contact with the dish. you'll know when you don't because all the vibration will get channeled right up your thumb. it really stings.
-if you just cant keep 3 points touching then use a pair of vice grips to hold the piece. make sure you pad the jaws with leather or something similar to avoid gouging up your project.
-wear a glove on the hand thats holding the piece, you'll really appreciate it when you accidentally pinch your finger, plus it cuts back on the shock your hand has to absorb, and lets you work longer.
Step 4: Bouging
Though it didn't really show in the pics, after dishing the boss it was fairly lumpy. Now i could leave it like that, but it doesn't really look finished, so I decided to bouge out the dents.
Bouging is a lot like dishing, were still working from the outside to the center, with overlapping hammer blows, but instead of using a dish, I'd ideally use a flat smooth piece of steel, like the top of an anvil, I beam, or just a hunk of flat plate steel. However, I didn't have access to any of that, so the next best thing was my shallow dish.
So, switching back to the shallow dome on my hammer just do a few passes, hitting it just hard enough to flatten out the lumps, but not to re shape the boss. It's better to use a lot of light hits instead of a few hard ones.
If you want a smoother finish still you can planish it after you bouge, it's a similar operation, but done from the outside with a polished, flat faced hammer. In this case, the boss would be backed with a ball stake. personally, I seldom planish anything because I like the hammered finish left by bouging alone.
Now, if you keep your flange in place then your ready to start on the rest of the buckler. if, like me, you didn't, then read the next step.
Step 5: Flaring Out the Flange
SO, since i decided not to keep my flange in place while i dished the boss, i have to flare it back into place. this turned out to be more of a pain than i thought it would be.
to begin with, I recommend using either a machinists, or a cross peen hammer. the reason for this is that the shape of the peen causes the metal to stretch only out to the sides instead of pushing it all around the face of the hammer. make sure that the peen end of your hammer has the edges ground off, leaving a nice rounded surface, otherwise you'll leave gouges behind that can easily turn into stress fractures as you stretch and work harden the steel.
Now, Start by re-marking where you want to flare. I chose to mark the outside, but some people find it easier to mark the inside. Whatever works best for you is the right way.
Ideally I'd use the edge of an anvil, or something similar for this, but once again, no such luck in the shop at work. So i clamped a piece of 2x4 into the vice and used it to hammer the flare over. Like everything else, you have to do this in a number of passes, if you go to fast you could warp the boss, or cause the flange to crack or tear. Just keep going, pass after pass until you get the flange down to about 90 degrees and even enough to make you happy. I found it worked best to do a pass with the peen end, stretching the metal, then a pass with the face to fold it out, and just kept alternating until i was happy.
After a lot of digging around the shop i found a piece of 1"x1" bar stock to use as a stake to clean up the flange. I wish I had found it when I was flaring it out in the first place. Anyways, a quick trip to the grinder left me with one nice edge to work on and a smooth area on the top.
Once I had my stake made up cleaning up the flange was as simple as holding the flange against the top of the stake and making a few passes around it with the flat face of the hammer to make the whole flange flat. Then to sharpen it I made a few more passes, gently hammering the crease itself against the corner of the stake with my dishing hammer. Any hammer with a curved face will work for this, but the dishing hammer was what I had.
Step 6: The Body of the Buckler
First thing you'll need to do is decide how big your buckler will be. In my case I've got a small barrel clamp that says my buckler is going to be as big as the lid it was meant to go around.
Now just mark out an appropriate sized circle and cut it out.
If your fortunate enough to scavenge a barrel clamp like mine, you'll need to remove the clasp from it. This is actually really easy to do. All you need to do is slide a chisel under the clasp and give it a few solid knocks to break the spot welds holding the clasp onto the ring. To break the other half of the clasp free use a hacksaw to score it at the base of the lever, then bend it back and forth to snap it off. now just clean up with a file and your good to go. I recommend keeping the little loop thing so that you can hang up your buckler when it isn't in use. If you do want to take it off, then cut it in the center, pry it open then slip the chisel under it and take it off just like the rest of the clamp.
Step 7: Edging Your Buckler
You don't need to edge your buckler with steel, other things I've seen used include rope, leather, rawhide, even old bicycle tires. However, since I've got this awesome ready made rim for my buckler I'm going to go over how i mounted it.
From what I understand, historically a steel rim would either be riveted to the edge, or held on with clamps. I don't have enough overlap on this rim for rivets, so clamps it is.
The first step is to figure out how you want your clamps to look, and where you want to put them.
I'm opting for 2 large clamps, and 2 small clamps, spaced evenly around the edge.
I built my clamps out of pallet banding, the larger 2 from 1 1/4", the smaller 2 from 3/8". To form them I scrounged up a chunk of appropriately sized bar stock to use as a punch of sorts, and used the jaws of the vice as a die.
simply put, i laid my banding across the vice, with the jaws opened just a little more than the width of the bar stock, then laid the bar stock across the banding and bashed it with a big hammer.
From there I cleaned up the shape with some pliers and put nice ends onto them.
Once you have clamps made mounting the rim is just a matter of clamping the clamps in place and riveting them down.
I recommend starting opposite the opening in the rim and working your way around so that the split is done last. that way you can make sure that each clamp is holding the rim tight against the wood underneath.
This should be obvious, but make sure you have 1 clamp over the split in the rim when you are done.
Step 8: Mounting the Boss and Building a Handle
At this point I realized that I hadn't drilled any rivet holes in the boss. So, if you haven't done that yet drill 4 or more evenly spaced holes around your flange. Once you've done that lay the boss where you want to it and scratch an outline on the buckler. Use a sharpy to mark where the holes go, then take the boss off and mark out a second ring on the inside. Now just pick up the jigsaw, cut out the inside ring, and were ready to rivet on the boss.
If you pre-drilled your holes like I did, then you'll most likely have to fiddle around a bit to get them to all line up again. If not, plop your boss down, drill your holes, slip in some nails, clip em to length and peen them nice and tight. I didn't use any washers on mine, but it's probably a good idea to put some on the wood side. just to make sure the nail doesn't pull through the wood. all kinds of weird stresses are put on gear in combat.
There are a few ways to build a handle. The easiest is probably a length of hockey stick riveted or bolted in place, I'd say next up comes a length of electrical conduit with the ends flattened out. I opted for a bar with scales.
The first thing I did was cut some 1/8" bar stock down to a length I liked and cleaned up the ends a bit. Then I marked out the area that would have the scales on it, and bashed up the rest with a heavy hammer to give it some character.
Next I traced the grip area onto some scrap plywood, cut it out, and rounded off all the outside surfaces. Then I clamped it onto the bar, drilled a few holes and riveted it in place. Once your grip is assembled just rivet it into the body of the buckler and your good to go.
For whatever reason, I only made a scale for one side. That left me with a D shaped grip that was rather uncomfortable. I solved that by putting a leather shim on the other side and then a cord wrap over the whole thing to hold it in place and add a little cushion. I really dont know what i was thinking with the D shaped grip though, I mean, sheesh, that was dumb.
Step 9: Congratulations It's Finished
Now I just have to let my girlfriend break in her buckler and in no time it'll be almost haggard as mine is.
If you decide to build a buckler yourself send me some pics, I like seeing other peoples projects.
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.