Intro: Making a Medieval Steel Gauntlet - Sheet Metal (WIP)
Hello, crafty people, I'd thought I'd join in the family by sharing a craft item of mine to help document the stuff that I've learn as a maker. I'm an aspiring crafter that wants to start out making historically accurate equipment and discuss about medieval stuff, you can visit on my blog if you're into that sort of thing too. Hope you enjoy this tutorial.
Disclaimer: You know the drill, I'm not accounted for anything funny you do with your creation whatsoever. Now, grab a hammer and start pounding.
Step 1: Starting Out: Tools
Now, the reason to start off with gauntlets is simple, there is
absolutely less material required to begin, and alot to learn from metalworks with a reasonable effort required to finish your project, plus it has more appeal to incentivize you to strive on. (You need a forge to make breastplate, shoulder armours are not as interesting to make for a 1st try, you can’t slap someone with leg greaves properly).
- Less material to work with, you just need at least a 60cmx30cm metal sheet
- You don’t need a forge (yet)
- A more fun-ctional(if it makes sense) armour to play with
- You learn the necessity of in-depth metalworks(riveting, etc)
- Making a nice looking gauntlet is not easy, you’ll need alot of practise to refine it, and you’ll learn alot from the journey
Due to constraints from absurd laws in my country, I am unable to acquire a forge through normal means, and have to resort through sheet metal.
Just remember that it takes a LONG time(I think I lost count) to make it if you’re starting out.
(PPE for SAFETY) Gloves and googles: A must if you like a pleasant time. Flying metal shards is not funny either.
Ball peen Hammer: A definite must if you would need to hammer your gauntlet into a sexier, curvier look. Also does a good makeshift anvil if you lack one.
Another hammer: For obvious reasons
Metal Snips: Do note that there are many different types of snips (Left, Right, Centre, Long-Cut) due to difficulty in working with metal
Leather Puncher: You’ll need it to cleanly cut out leather gloves
Files or a belt sender: You’ll need to smooth out those edges, cut sheets ARE SHARP. Files work fine, but an electric belt sander works wonders.
Awls: It’s a sharp needle tool used to mark on metals. Required to draw out templates onto metal sheets
Cordless Battery Drill: To drill out holes on your metal sheets, do not use powered drills, that’s overkill.
Blocks of wood: For the drilling of holes
Strong metal pipe flattener jig: All you need is a half pipe and another smaller pipe For finger plate pieces.
A long metal pipe: To shape the rest of the metal pieces.
Metal Ruler: To measure your cut out metal parts.
Step 2: Starting Out: Materials
As a historical Accuracy Buff myself, I do loathe the sense of going down to modern metals, but as one starting out, Armoursmithing is not easy, even with modern tech, I would recommend Aluminum sheets to start out.
- Aluminum has some distinct advantages: It does not rust, is lightweight, easy to mould and bend but still retains metal strength. Also, aluminum is quite shiny.
- Mild steel is definitely tougher than Al, but does rust easily, and since it’s harder than aluminum, it can be more dangerous to work with, so take note. Also, Historically accurate.
- Galvanized Steel is, I might highlight this, DANGEROUS. Any contact with high heat would release zinc oxide, a gas POISONOUS to us, not recommended, even if it might rust less than mild steel.
If you don't intend to use this in a forge, well, ok then. Just be mindful of the smell that lingers onto anything it rubs on.
- Stainless Steel is a duck to work with, firstly, it’s the HARDEST to cut, is slightly more brittle than other steels, and almost impossible to mould. However, if you do know how, I would recommend this if you’re insane or like a challenge since it almost replicate the properties of historical steel and does not rust. Shinier than mild steel.
- I’ve rarely worked on brass, but I believe it’s equivalent to the strength of aluminum. Does give a shine with it’s gold colour, but I’ve heard that it will lose its shine after some time.
For the thickness of sheet metals, start off with 18 gauge(I go by SWG for gauges) metal. 20 Gauge is the thinnest you can go if weight is of concern but any thinner would be too flimsy. For historically accurate ones, it would be 16-14 gauges.
A must to mould onto your hands, Gauntlets are not a piece by themselves, but rather an attachment to a leather glove, that is either sewn or riveted onto. Getting a good glove is not cheap if you plan to start out.
Just note that it REQUIRES a non-stretchable glove to work. You need the cutout holes to be consistent or your metals will fall apart.
So far, I’m not aware how rivets were done historically, but there are two types of manual riveting, hot riveting(requires a forge) and cold riveting (just hammering it down). I believe that hot riveting is required for stronger metals like steel, whilst cold riveting can be done on aluminum or brass.
You’ll need alot of rivets to connect your metal pieces together, since it’s essentially one of the few methods of holding metals tightly.
For this tutorial I’ll be using aluminum rivets specially designed for cold riveting.
Optional Materials(Leather Strips)
Leather strips the length and size of your four fingers is essential if you’d prefer an easier time to work with riveting the metal onto. The strips are placed on top of the glove which only the first and the last finger plating(usually) are riveted together with the strip and the glove itself. The rest of the finger plates can be riveted on the strip itself.
You can do without it, but I believe the strips helps to keep the pieces in line.
Optional Materials(Template reference)
This tutorial does not provide a template, so you’ll have to scour for your own online. Do take note that I’m following a specific template, so you’ll have to make a bit of tweaking if your’s is different.
Depending on what template you’ve got, you’ll always have the plates for all fingers and thumb, the kunckleplate, the plates at the back of the hand, and optionally a vembrace for that complete look.
Step 3: Templates and Cutting
To start off, you’ll need a template to cut off the metal pieces for your gauntlet. You can measure the circumference of your hand and get references from gauntlets online.
Once you obtained the templates, mark them on a piece of cardboard or paper, cutout the pieces, and use the awl along with the pieces and mark on your metal sheets. I’ve used Aluminum sheets for my attempt.
Once marked, bring out your snips and cut along the markings, be sure to leave out an extra 2-3mm of metal as you’ll need to file/sand it down smoothly.
NOTE: Metal sheets when cut are EXTREMELY SHARP. Be sure to don gloves before handling them for filing/sanding. Dispose all metal shards in a proper container.
Step 4: Smoothing It Out
Once done, assemble your metal pieces for sanding/filing. Remove the sharp nicks and edges made to ensure that your pieces are safe to handle.
Step 5: Bending the Pieces
Once done, it’s time to bend the pieces that will fit into your hand. You’ll need a metal bending jig that consists of strong metal pipes. A half-pipe to collect the piece, and a full pipe to form the metal in shape. Do take note that this applies only to the finger plates. For the hand pieces, you’ll need to find a longer metal pipe to shape it around.
For the rest of the metal pieces, use a longer, bigger metal pipe to shape them around. Since the pieces are bigger there is no need of a jig for that.
Step 6: (Optional) Shaping With a Hammer
If you like, you can give your gloves some depth with a ball-peen hammer. The round side of the hammer can make spherical shapes that’s commonly seen in medieval gauntlets.
Step 7: Hole Punching & Drilling
Once all your pieces are shaped, we’ll move onto riveting the pieces on the leather glove. You’ll need a leather punch to ‘poke’ through the gloves and forming holes for your rivets to work on, and a drill to make holes in the metal pieces. Just be sure that you’re drilling on a wooden block if you like your workbench very much.
Note: When drilling on metal, be sure to have a firm grip on the metal pieces, they will fling out of control with the drill if unattended.
Step 8: Riveting Onto the Glove
If you’re using leather strips, cutting holes on both ends of the leather is enough to hold the metal pieces tight. If you’re not, you’ll have to punch every hole on each piece embedded onto the glove.
Repeat on the other fingers, and the thumbs of course.
Step 9: The Rest of the Gauntlet...
Once the finger (and thumb) pieces are done, we’ll move on to the next part, the hand. Depending on the template that you have, you will have about 4-7 pieces of metal plates that will fit snugly onto your hand. Drill holes and rivet those together on the sides to compile them together.
You’ll need to do abit of manual re-shaping to fit these parts together flawlessly.
Once the hand pieces are attached, you’ll have to drill holes and rivet the 4 ends of the pieces (Both upper corners of the first pieces and the lower corners of the last piece) onto the glove,
Well, there you have it, a perfectly functional gauntlet. You have fully grasped the concept of making a gauntlet, and you can start forging more elaborate ones if you’re up for game.
Do take note that this is a Work-In-Progress, this isn’t a complete tutorial thus far, I have yet to make my second gauntlet and refine my tutorial with more pictures. I’ll update this if I’ve the time to hammer more stuff. Do post feedback if you have any enquiries or suggestions.