Introduction: Leather Dragon Scale Gauntlet
This is an instructable going step by step through making a leather forearm gauntlet for my costume this fall. It took many hours and was some hard work but I love how it came out and couldn't be happier.
NOTE: I have very little experience with leather tooling so the professionals be aware of that going into this. I may have not done things the exact way a professional would have, BUT I do love how it looked in the end either way.
Step 1: Supplies
1: Leather (I used some of my scrap leather I bought of eBay)
2: Leather punch
4: Leather stylus (or any pointy metal pen-like object)
6: Rivet setter
6: Measuring tape
8: LOTS of 5/16" medium rivets ( I used 247 of them)
9: Leather finish (optional)
10: Leather dye (also optional)
Step 2: Measuring and Planning for the Project
1. I measured in four places on my forearm so I knew how wide the gauntlet had to be while I was riveting it together. I did however, make the gauntlet a half inchsmaller than the original measurements so when I put it on my arm, the gauntlet would have flexing room, as you will see later on.
NOTE: The half inch smaller measuring was my personal choice, it may not be yours depending on the direction you're going with the project.
2. After measuring my arm, I measured the size of the "dragon scale" which you will be making many copies of. The scale was 1" wide, 7/8" long before taking a 1/2" to make the point, for a total of 1 3/8" long.
3. I made 4 rivet holes on the upper section of the scale to put it all together, they were about a 1/4 inch from the edges.
Step 3: Drawing Out and Cutting the Scales
I took the scale drawing from earlier and traces it with the leather stylus into the scrap leather. After cutting out the scale, next is to punch out each of the four holes. I set the leather punch at a 4 so it would give just a little wiggle room for the rivet before setting them.
NOTE: It may be easier on your hands and on the pressure you put on the stylus to dampen the leather first. This makes the leather easier to cut and punch. The only reason I did not dampen mine first was because I could see the lines I drew better while the leather was dry.
Step 4: Repeating the Cut on the Scales
This first picture is what one looks like. Now not each one of mine were perfect, but they need to be close so they line up right when you start riveting them together. If some aren't cut just right, don't worry, they will visually get lost in the finishing product.
NOTE: I used 132 scales for my project. Now if your forearm measurements are smaller or larger then mine, you will have to adjust the quantity of scales you need. Just something to keep in mind.
Step 5: Single Strip for the End
Once you have made the gauntlet, the top holes in the scales (at the wrist) will be visible and this strip can be used to make it all look uniform (as you will see later.) Now, you will set this aside until the end, but you will want to cut (and optionally stain) this piece while you're cutting and staining the scales. Make sure to measure it so it will go around your wrist, mine measured 6 3/4".
Step 6: Dampening, Staining, and Finishing the Scales (Optional)
1. To make the dye (whatever color you choose) spread and stick, take a non-chemical sponge and dampen the scales. If you don't have a sponge then dampen a wash cloth and go over your scales.
2. Next, put on some gloves or cover your hand with a plastic bag so you don't get dye on your hand. Take your wool dauber and dunk it in the dye, then go over all the scales. (if you don't have a wool dauber, use a paper towel)
3. After the leather is completely dry, you can go over it with the acrylic finish. The finish is to protect it from rain and wear. It will help the leather last longer.
NOTE 1: In the third and fourth picture of all the scales together being dampened and stained, you will notice I did not dampen and stain them all evenly. I did this on purpose as to not make everything so uniform and look kind of factory made, if you will. I went for the homemade look.
NOTE 2: To keep the water and dye from getting on my work surface (which was my coffee table) I laid all of the scales on paper towels with aluminum foil underneath so none of the liquids would touch my table.
Step 7: Finally, Putting the Scales Together.
The first picture is an example of how the rivets will be set.
The second picture is how 2 rows of scales look.
I took my measuring tape and taped it to the table so I could keep constant tabs on how wide and tall the gauntlet was becoming. This is the most important step because it determines the size of the gauntlet.
When layering the scales, you have to rememberthat you are starting from the bottom and working your way to the top. The bottom is the part of the forearm closest to the elbow, which is the widest. Just keep an eye on the heights and width and you should be fine.
NOTE: When doing this, I would snap on all the rivets in each row before setting them and locking them into place to double check my measuring.
Step 8: Placing the Leather Strip at the Wrist
In the first picture, the way I found the measurements for the holes in the leather strip was placing the leather strip under the holes in the gauntlet and marking where the punch needed to be used with the metal stylus. Attach the strip to the gauntlet with rivets.
Step 9: Lacing the Gauntlet
The holes left over on the sides of the scales that didn't have rivets places in them I used to lace my gauntlet together. I used a Lock Lace which is typically used in running shoes for the elasticity BUT you can use anything from leather shoe laces, colored shoe laces, rope, or a sort of string to keep it held together. I just slide my hand up in to put the gauntlet on.
Step 10: The Finished Product
This gauntlet was a lot of hard work and gave me sore hands but it was totally worth it. It does look awesome!!!