I have always wanted to create some sort of Spartan-type helmet. I am not a metal worker though. The material I am good at working with? Leather! So I decided to create one from scratch out of leather with no pattern. I hope my instructions can help you to make your own awesome helmet! Please ask me any questions you may have!
Good Luck! THIS IS INSTRUCTABLES!
Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed for Helmet
First things first. You must gather your tools and materials needed to create your helmet.
I have taken pictures of the primary things you will need. There will be a couple things you will need from around the house, like rubber bands and such.
The first thing you need is a large piece of medium thickness, vegetable tanned leather. I used an old bend that I had around the house. It's thick enough that it feels like it could be armor, but thin enough that you can actually use it.
1. Some sort of hard anvil surface. I used a piece of stone countertop
2. Utility Razor Knife with fresh razor blade installed
3. Wooden Leather Edge Slicker
4. Stylus for marking pattern
5. Swivel Knife
6. Leather working mallet
7. Edge beveler/groover
8. Rivet Tool
9. Stitch Punch
10. Leather tooling stamps
11. Leather Awl
12. Dremel with wooden edge slicker attachment
13. Woolen Dauber for Leather Dye
14. Two Needles
1. Vegetable Tanned Leather
2. Waxed Thread
3. Gum Tragacanth (for edge finishing)
4. Medium Brown Leather Dye
5. Leather Deglazer
6. Pewter Rub N' Buff
7. Two metal rivets
Additional Needs not Pictured
2. Old cereal box or other thin cardboard to create pattern
4. Rubber bands
Step 2: Creating Pattern and Transferring It to Leather
This step requires you to use your imagination. You can make your template shape in whatever style you want. I made mine based off of a Spartan Helmet, but you an choose whatever shape you really want. My shape changed throughout this process. I added sections and trimmed up certain sides to get what I wanted. The main thing is to make sure the nose piece and eyes are right.
Pattern Making and Laying it Out
-Sketch out on cardboard the shape you want with a pencil and a ruler. Start by drawing a long straight line so you can build off of that. You are only going to do one side of it so you can flip it later to make sure you stay symmetrical. It is surprisingly difficult to make it symmetrical otherwise.
-Cut out the pattern with scissors. Hold it up to your face to make sure it is the right size and you can in fact see out of it. If you need to adjust it, do so now.
-Draw the straight line down the middle of you leather and trace one half of the pattern as seen in the pictures.
- Flip the pattern and do the same on the other side of the line.
-After this, trace the lines with the stylus to make the marks a bit more obvious.
Carving the lines
-Next use the swivel knife to trace over all of the lines to again give you the perfect groove to later cut out the shape with.
-I also wanted to at this time add some more style to the mask. I used the swivel knife to cut another line just inside the outside line to make a trimmed look.
Step 3: Embellishing the Edge
In this step, I simply did a bit of trim work. I did it at this stage, as it would be more difficult further along.
This entire step requires the moistening of the leather with a wet paper towel or cloth.
-I first used the edger/groover to groove the inner line before I used the leather tool to bevel and stamp it.
- Then I used a Leather Tooling Stamp in conjunction with the mallet to work my way all around the inside perimeter of the inner line to give it some definition for later decoration.
Step 4: Cutting Out the Face Shield
This is the most DANGEROUS step, folks. Sharp fresh razor blades are no joke. It is quite easy to slip at the end of a cut and have the blade come flying back in your general direction. Please, unless you want a red dyed helmet, use some caution and try not to cut toward yourself. PSA over. Back to work.
Cutting out your mask
- Using a fresh, and I mean brand new, razor blade, slowly go around the outside lines, and cut out your mask. Be careful in and around the eyes, where the direction changes frequently. Take this step slowly to ensure success. This is also a chance to change the general shape. As you can see in the pictures, I changed the angle and shape on the bottom edge of the cheek plates.
Some edge work
- At this point, I used an edge beveler to go around and round all the outside edges. This helped clean them up and shape them some to make them more attractive.
- After that, I used a manual edge slicker on the edges to smooth them some. Don't worry too much as you will do it more later with some power.
Step 5: Decoration
This is another step that is really up to you. How ever you choose to decorate your helmet is up to you. I chose to freehand wavy lines that are supposed to look like tree bark (or some crazy runic inscriptions.)
- To accomplish this, I freehanded all the lines with my swivel knife. These lines will darken during the leather dye step and will look pretty cool. Again, this step is completely up to you.
Step 6: Shaping and Molding the Face
Time to introduce some water into the equation!
Wetting the Leather
-Run your sink warm/hot and wet the leather on BOTH sides until it looks like it does in the picture.
- Mold the face shield around a roll of paper towels and MacGyver various household items to get the shapes you want.
-I used some rubber bands and hair ties to keep it around the paper towels. Under the nose, I used some antler and squeezed around it with my fingers. This will mold it and it should stay that shape after drying.
- I also stuck a sharpie down in the forehead and molded that area to have a bend/crease in it to make it look cool.
- Bend the bottom corners of the cheeks to give it some flair.
-Let it dry overnight. I repeat. Let it dry overnight. BE PATIENT. It will be good by morning.
Step 7: Finishing Steps on Face Piece
Once it is dry, it should be in the general shape of the final product.
Cleaning the leather
- Use leather deglazer on a clean cotton cloth and wipe off the entire surface of the leather. This will help ensure the Dye takes well.
Dyeing the Leather
- I used Medium Brown Leather Dye to get the effect I wanted. I wanted this to look like tree bark.
- Apply the dye lightly with a wool dauber and go over the whole surface. Wipe off any excess. Let it dry again.
Burnishing the Edges
- Apply with a dauber, the Gum liquid pictured to the edges of the face shield. Using a wooden slicker Dremel attachment, go over all the edges till they are shiny and smooth. This step gives it a finished look.
Step 8: Final Decoration Before Helmet Construction
This step is another optional step.
I used Pewter Rub N' Buff to give the face the metallic finish look. I applied very small amounts at a time to my finger tip and slowly rubbed it into the edge sections. This is up to you. Rub N' Buff has many different finishes you could choose from.
Now it is time to put the mask section aside. It is time to Construct the Helmet.
Step 9: Helmet Construction
Helmet Construction is fairly straight forward. Many of the steps wind up being identical to things you did for the face section. I will point these out.
Pattern and Laying out
-You need to create a pattern that is 7 inches wide on the base, and 8 inches tall in the middle. Make the sides arch up to the top.
-Trace and Cut out THREE full panels. Your fourth Panel is only the top four inches of your pattern. Cut out ONE of these.
- Once it is cut out, repeat all the edge work you did after cutting out the face section.
Preparing Sections for Stitching
-Use the grooving tool to cut a groove on the arch sections. Not on the bottom section. These grooves will act as a guide for your holes, and another method to make the whole project look professional.
-Next use a stitching punch to make holes that are evenly spaced so sewing will be simple and consistent.
Stitch the Panels Together
-Stitch all the panels together using two needles simultaneously. Do the small front panel last as this will be easiest. I used a simple "X" pattern stitch. As this is not a hand sewing tutorial, I will not spend time teaching it. Do what works best for you.
Wetting the Helmet
- This step is just like the wetting step from earlier. Once damp, mold the helmet over your own head, a mannequin, or a watermelon. Do what works for you. LET IT DRY OVERNIGHT!
- I used the swivel knife again to cut a similar pattern into the helmet so that it will match the face section.
Dyeing the Leather
-Follow the instruction from earlier to prep, dye, and finish the helmet crown.
Step 10: Attaching Face Section to Helmet Crown
As you can see in the photo, I used a small metal rivet to attach the crown and face section.
This step is easier with a buddy.
- While wearing the crown, hold the face mask up and find the spot where you want it. This is where it looks best.
- Have your buddy lightly scratch on the crown where the corners of the mask are sitting.
- Take it all off and realign the two sections.
- Using the leather awl, poke a hole on both sides about where the picture shows.
- Make the hole large enough for the rivets, and hammer those bad boys on.
- Use a small amount of the pewter Rub N' Buff to make the rivets match everything else.
Step 11: Wear It and Feel Hardcore!
Wear your completed Leather Warrior Helmet!
If you did it like I did, then your face section should be able to be lifted up like a face mask.
-You can finish the leather further with Resolene leather sealer, but I didn't want a glossy finish.
-Seriously, make this with your imagination so it looks how you want!
- Ask me if you have any questions.
- Most all of the leather tools and materials I used came from Tandy Leather
- When it comes to cutting the leather, be absolutely sure you are cutting the line you want. Leather is too expensive to make a mistake cutting it.
- Good Luck!