Building a Medieval Gauntlet!
I've been getting a few comments along the lines of "this isn't real armor" so...
WARNING THIS IS NOT COMBAT READY ARMOR. THIS IS NOT MEANT FOR PROTECTION. THIS IS A COOL LOOKING COSTUME PIECE/ PROP. WHILE YES IT IS TOUGHER THAN YOUR SKIN OR A T-SHIRT, IT WONT STOP A SWORD/ARROW/BULLET/KNIFE/ WHATEVER. SO BUILD IT, SHOW IT TO YOUR FRIENDS, DON'T BRING IT TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD GANG FIGHT.
Using Environmentally friendly Stuff!. So that you can save the environment by dressing up like pre-industrial revolution people!!!
Or more realistically, building an awesome costume piece.
I'm building a medieval Knight's costume for Halloween this year, and I've found instructables for quite a few pieces, but I have not found any for armored gauntlets. A short warning, I tend to be a little long winded in my instructions. While it might cause some people to "too long; didn't read", I'm just writing out all the tips and tricks I've come across while building this project. If you guys have any suggestions, please message me!
Notice, this instructable is NOT DIFFICULT. It requires little or no previous skills, besides reading I guess...although I doubt that you've gotten this far without that skill. I is however TIME CONSUMING. It'll take an entire week-end or about 20 -30 hours depending on how detailed / careful you are.
There are several ways to build a gauntlet, but this way is a really simple way, that doesn't require too much hardware, and is relatively cheap, any decent gauntlet will cost over $400.
micromuffin Pointed out that think geek has some decent ones for $60USD.
This Instructables is also environmentally friendly because it doesn't require the use of power tools!!! Although they help with certain parts :).
Step 1: Required Materials
-Some sort of sheet metal-
I used galvanized steel ducting, for a greener alternative you can use tin cans. Pop cans will work, but they're a little thin, and might tear if you're rough with your gloves. The sheet metal can be salvaged from many places, if you contact a ducting company, you may be able to pickup some scraps. I bought a sheet of ducting for $5 @ homedepot. You can really use any sheet material that can bend. You could use bristol board to practice, but It would be a waste of rivets to attach bristol board. If you want to use bristol board, swap out the rivets with staples, or hot glue.
-Rivets - I used pop-rivets or tube rivets, they're available @ any hardware store for relatively cheap, they're more expensive than nails, but won't cost more than $10 for this projects worth. I used 1/8 sized aluminum rivets, but you can go larger if you prefer that look. I bought 500 rivets for $30, I estimate that this project will use about 100 - 200 rivets depending on your design. Rivets are pretty cool, and once you've got some lying around, you'll probably find some uses for them. They basically a cheap easy and much safer alternative to welding. In this case they look cool, and happen to fit the task very effectively.
FYI The smallest commonly available rivet is 3/32, but the smallest washer that you'll find is 1/8. It's very rare to find a 3/32 washer. Fore this reason I recommend a 1/8 rivet with 1/8 washer unless you know a specialty shop / website that sells smaller rivet / washer combos. Also, aluminum rivets are much cheaper than stainless steel. like 1/3 the price.
-Pair of work gloves - I used basic gardening gloves for my test run, and then did the final run on fire pace gloves because they're longer and I think they looked nicer. If you can get your hands on any pair of old gloves, they should work so long and they're thick and don't stretch. Any material that can stretch will not work. I repeat do not use a glove that can stretch.
-Tin snips for cutting the ducting sheet. If you're using something else, you'll need something that can cut it. Like a laser engraver/cutter for example.
They come in sets of 3 usually for like $15 -$20 , one for cutting straight, one for left, and one for right.
"But I can cut straight, left AND right with regular scissors!?!?!"
Tin snips are designed to produce a safe edge when cutting with them. You'll notice right away that it's easier to make right turns with the right cutters, cut straight with the straight etc. I recommend using them the way they were meant to be used. Cutting straight lines with the left or right snips will produce jagged razor sharp edges where the straight cutter will make a relatively safe edge.
-work gloves ( for safety when handling the metal, even though you're probably fine without them )
- File (to smooth the edges) ( green), Bench grinder / rotary tool ( Non-eco friendly)
- A metal punch matching your rivets (green) / Drill with a drill bit to match your rivets ( non-eco friendly)
-block of wood, to use as a backing for punches/drills
-Imagination, and creativity (This is optional, but recommended when trying to make your gauntlets unique)
Step 2: Making the Finger Armor Plates
Cut your sheet metal into small bands that will form your finger/ knuckle armor. These can be done all at once or as needed. Try a few sizes and find one that fits your gloves / hand. It's also a matter of preference between simplicity and mobility. The smaller and more numerous your strips the more flexible your glove is, but it will take more time to do. I made mine 1.5cm - 2cm wide, and about 3cm -4cm long. Varying in size based on where on the finger they were going. I had 4 pieces per finger (1 nail, and 3 knuckles) except for the middle finger which had 5 pieces.
As I said before your best bet is to cut a simple rectangle, and bend it over your glove to see about how big it will be once it's in place and properly shaped.
Feel free to get creative with the plates, if you want to do engravings on them, paint them, or even put gold sparkles on them, it's up to you, just make sure they still fit on the glove, and you can still bend your fingers.
Be aware, I was building this with tin, and it has a nasty habit of forming razor sharp edges. I highly recommend dulling these edges somehow. I used a combination of sanding them + applying a clear coat of latex paint to the edges to avoid Edward scissor hand style gloves.
Once the plates are finished, (or as you finish each plate, depending on how impatient you are with assembly) drill two symmetric holes in the plates near the back edge. The back edge is the edge closest to your knuckle. The front edge being your finger tip. put two holes about finger width apart into the glove symmetrically on the center line of the plate. So draw a line or imagine a line down the center of the plate from front to back edge and then put the holes on either side of that line. Don't have to be exact, but it helps later on.
I was sticking each plate onto the glove as soon as it was ready ( as you can tell by the spent rivet shafts), because I couldn't wait to see how it turned out, but building your plates all at once will help with uniformity. I recommend doing one practice finger for sizing purposes out of paper, or cardboard, and then using it as a template for your metal plates.
I made my plates get slightly larger as they approached the knuckle, this is up to you, but I recommend doing it this way.
If you happen to have some kind of I don't know...35 Watt Epilog Zing Laser Cut / Engraver , you might be very tempted to adorn these little plates with some sweet artwork. Or Just precisely cut out to millimeter precision your plating pieces and their respective mounting holes. Just a thought, if any of you should have such a magnificent device.
Step 3: Making Your Plates Safe (Optional, Not Really Though)
If you've been using tin snips like I did, You've probably been left with some fairly dangerous edges on some of your finger plates. They can easily scratch things, and people, but they are also be able to cut, similar to paper cuts.
A lot of people have been telling me to just file them down with a hand file. I fully sanction this course of action if you have the skills and a file. I did not do this in my case because I was building them inside of an apartment and I didn't want to worry about metal dust going into the carpet / air. I don't know if this is a realistic concern or not. But I suggest wearing a ventilator mask if you're doing any power sanding.
The way I made them safe was to coat the edges with a latex based verathane. I got a tiny can @ a paint store for $10, and I barely used any of it, a 50 ml bottle should be more than enough for your entire glove.
A cheaper solution is white glue, but I find that it doesn't work as well.
Dip your brush in your verathane, and then wipe most of it off so that you don't have any big globs on your brush, and then run your brush along the edge of your plate so that your brush and the plate make a ' T '. Most snips leave a slightly serrated edge, the verathane will quickly fill all the little bumps. Wait for it to dry and then add another coat. Keep coating it until the edges are no longer sharp.
It'll usually take no more than 3 coats to form a thick enough layer to make the edge safe.
Step 4: Moving/Removing the Insulation
This stage will be different depending on your gloves.
My gloves were fireplace gloves, and thusly had a layer of insulation inside, some garden gloves have insulation, some don't.
You'll need to get the insulation out of the way for the next step for 2 reasons.
1. The insulation provides an extra layer of stuff you have to poke your rivet through, without actually making a better rivet connection
2. The insulation will act as padding between your fingers and the rivets when you're wearing the gloves.
I was able to pull the insulation out of my glove fairly easily. There were a couple of strings holding the fingers in place but I just yanked the insulation and they broke. Standard garden gloves usually have the insulation attached up the side of the glove, where the slit is, making it much harder to remove the insulation intact. On my practice gloves, I just cut the insulation out, and kept it aside.
Once I flipped the insulation out, cut a slit in the insulation so you can reach into the fingers of the gloves and access the leather shell without the insulation in the way. If you preserve your insulation well enough, when the glove is all done, you'll be able re-sew the slit and stuff the insulation back in, and it will be as comfortable as new. It'll also provide padding against the rivets poking through the glove.
Step 5: Riveting the Plates On
Before doing this, you may want to read up on how rivets work. They're really simple to use, but you have to be fairly precise when using them, because there's no undoing rivets. Once it's in, it's in. It's possible to remove rivets by drilling them out. Just use the same size drill bit as the hole and just drill through the center of the rivet, it should come out.
Basically, you put a hole the size of the rivet into the sheet metal, and into the glove where you want to attach the piece of metal, then you load the rivet into the riveter, stick the tip of the rivet through both holes, and then crank the riveter. It pulls a ball through a pipe which causes the pipe to expand. The expanding motion prevents the rivet from passing back through the hole.
Try riveting two pieces of sheet metal together before trying it out on your glove.
When ready to actually rivet the plate onto the glove there are 3 mini steps.
1. Place the plate, and punch/drill the holes in the glove
2. Place a washer inside the glove, take the rivet and skewer the plate then glove, then a washer on the inside of the glove. This is the most awkward step, depending on how good you are at maneuvering a washer into a finger hole without being able to see and horse shoeing it onto a rivet tip.
3. Crank that rivet until it snaps.
1) Placing the plate is a total preference thing, depending on the plates you've made, and how you want them to feel. I placed the glove onto a block of wood, then placed the plate on top, marked the spots on the glove with a nail/marker, then punch out the hole in the glove. If you're lazy, you can drill through the plates right into the glove, but I don't recommend it. Using a punch creates a cleaner hole, creates less mess, and doesn't require any electricity (Perfect for fabricating on the bus!). For the look that I wanted (cascading scales), I started first with the nail, and then worked my way back to the knuckle overlapping the pieces as I went.
2) I first stuffed both rivets through the plate, they fit tight enough not to fall out in my case. Then placed the plate loaded with both rivets over the glove and fed them both through. Then I placed a washer over a rivet, and riveted the washer to the glove and plate, and repeated for the other side.
3) Rivets work by pulling a wedge through a tube, causing the tube to expand, this expansion stops the rivet from passing back through the washer. Basically you keep pulling the wedge into the tube until the shaft connected to the wedge breaks. It guarantees a very tight seal, and it's a fairly reliable connection. If You accidentally apply a rivet to the wrong hole, it's not coming out. You'll find that once you're done riveting you'll have a ton of little aluminum sticks left over, keep these. They're a great source of pure aluminum if you or any of your friends are into smelting aluminum to make stuff. They can also be used as heavy gage needles, or pins. (I'm trying to be green here) I kept mine and I'm going to melt them down, and cast them into a charge of some sort.
Once your plates are riveted on, bend them into the appropriate shape. The tin I used was easily shaped by hand. I was able to just fold the pieces over the finger, and they all kinda worked out. If you attached some plates crooked, you can kind of tug them into the right orientation.
Step 6: Finish Fingers
Depending on how much effort you're putting into this, and how well you made your original plates, you may have to touch them up, or reshape them a little to make them look good. My advice would be to try to put them on in a finished state because it's hard to fix them once they're on, but there are somethings that are easier to eyeball after they're on, like the profile of the straight vs bent fingers.
Push the insulation back in, and make sure the glove is still comfortable. If it isn't, there's not much you can do about it now.
Step 7: Plating Up to Your Knuckles
Once all the fingers are done, you've got to slowly start covering the entire back of your hand.
This would be a great time to try on the glove and see how the fingers feel.
As you may have noticed, the knuckles of the gloves done necessarily match up with your knuckles. For this reason we are going to keep using relatively thing strips of plates until we reach our actual knuckle.
I chose to continue the spiky motif throughout the back of the hand. Since these pieces need to be made more precisely than the finger pieces, I made and test placed paper templates for each piece.
In order to make the paper templates, I started with a large rectangle of paper that was approximately the right size for a strip of the back of the hand. I put the paper across what I had on the glove, and snipped at the paper until it was the correct shape I wanted, and then I used it as a template and created the metal plates. This part is very tricky because you have 1 large piece that will have bends and folds in it, and everything needs to line up in order to keep the flow of the glove. This part just takes patience and precision, don't rush, make sure you have a good paper template before switching to you metal. Paper is cheaper and easier to fix / redo.
Keep the strips the same width as your finger plates until you make it to your real knuckles, and the curvature of your hand straightens out. It took me 2 thin strips to make it to my knuckles.
Step 8: I Know This Part Like the Back of My Hand...
Once you've reached your knuckles you can switch to much wider strips until you reach your wrist. then put a thin strip as a joint to handle the bending of your wrist.
By the way, there are tons of images for this step because I found that the pieces were the most unique. Browse them all, the easiest way to tell the order is just counting the installed plates.
Step 9: Plating Your Fore Arm
and then finished the gauntlet with a large piece that reaches the end of the glove or beyond.
Step 10: Thumb
Thumb is very similar to the fingers except that it bends the other way, and you'll want to place your plates accordingly. Make sure that your plates don't interfere with your grasping. It's cool to have a scary spiky glove, but it's a lot cooler to be able to hold a drink in your hand without slicing the Styrofoam cup to pieces, because you've got spikes and blades sticking out of your thumb.
My spiky finger nails are a little bit of a hazard, but I toned down my thumb, so I can still hold cups and pick things up without scratching and cutting everything. You'd hate to ruin the finish on your sword hilt by scratching it with your gauntlets.
Step 11: Finish It Off
I didn't have time to finish the gauntlet, but I'm going to try to dye the glove black. I will also potentially add some paintings to the plates. I'll add some photos if it works out. If it doesn't then I'll claim I forgot or something...
Good luck with your projects, I will eventually be posting instructables for the rest of my suit of armor. But don't hold your breath, these things take a while. If you guys have any suggestions please comment, I'll add them to the instructable!!