Metal Armor on a Budget -or- Lowe's Lamellar




Hello and welcome to my tutorial!!

I am a huge fan of historical arms and armors (armours?) and have been wanting to build a suit of armor for a very long time now. But if you are like me (live in an apartment...restricted to a very slim access to tools) you find yourself with a whole lot of desire and information but not a lot of armor.

This can be frustrating beyond belief!! However during my research I discovered a way for someone to make a piece of armor for under $200 depending upon their particular size and weight!!

That's when I discovered LAMELLAR!!

Step 1: What Is Lamellar?

SO what is Lamellar?

Well according to Wikipedia:

Lamellar armour: a type of early body armour, made from small rectangular plates (scales or lamellae) of iron, leather (rawhide), or bronze laced into horizontal rows.

Who used Lamellar Armor?

Mongols, Turks, Avars, Byzantine, Rus', Japanese, Chinese, Norse, etc.

Now that the boring stuff is over with...


Step 2: Tools and Supplies

Tools (poor guy version):

*A drill

*Phillips Head Drill Bit

*Metal cutting drill bits

* A piece of wood

*A marking device(pen, marker colored pencil)



Rich Guy Tools(if ya got em):

*Drill Press



3.5 x 1.5 in Mending Braces (mine came from my local Lowe's Home Improvement store)



Scissors or Knife

How many plates do i need?:

I don't know. that's something you will have to figure out on you own.

What I did to figure out the number of plates i needed was the following:

1) Buy ten packages of Mending Braces

2) Measure from nipple to nipple on the chest you will be making the armor for

3) Lay enough plates down in a row to equal or exceed the measurement...depending on your desired area of protection

= Write down that number and don't lose it=

4) Measure from nipple to waistline on the torso you will be making the armor for

5) Lay enough plates down in a vertically overlapping column to equal or exceed the measurement...depending on your desired area of protection

= Write down that number and don't lose it=

Multiply your two numbers and that will give you your base line

Multiply that number by 2 and you have your front and back plate count

Do the same thing for your sides then add them all together and you have your plate count

Mine came out to 168 plates


At this point you will have purchased your plates and congrats for getting this far

==BUT WAIT!!!===

The plates you bought have holes in them.... but they don't tie together!!


In order to have them tie together properly you will have to add some holes...hence the drill and bits

Now feel free to add your holes where ever you want, however you way is not the only way

Also feel free to modify your plates

round tops, fluted tops, d shaped sides, fish scales....whatever you want it to look like


Just do ONE PLATE the way you want your holes, that one will become your MASTER PLATE

1) Place your plate on the wood... bumps up

2)Using your marking tool, color in the holes

3) Remove plate

4) Drill small hole in each spot you colored

5) Mark plate for new holes

6)Clamp wood to stable surface

7) Place marked plates back onto the wood

8) Drill screws into holes, securing plate into place

9) Drill new holes through marked area on plate

Step 4: Lather, Rinse, Repeat =or= Hand Held Mass Production

You just completed your Tem-plate...get it?

Now remove the screws, stack up 5 plates with the master on top, and replace the screws

Using your Master Plate as a guide, drill through the stack

Do this Ad Infinitum or untill you run out of plates


Stack your plates, Clamp your plates, place your plates in a vise, put vise in drill press, drill holes, remove plates.

Rather, Rinse, Repeat

Step 5: Step 5: Panic

The title is a joke, please don't panic.

Now you have all your drilled out plates, time to lace them up.

Grab your para-cord and head on over to youtube!!

Ells Fjorde prepare para-cord for lacing here

The rest of his videos are for two different types of plates

This video works for the way i did my plates in the pictures horizontally

To attach rows together using my plates, just apply the same logic...but start loose in the beginning and tighten it at the end.

Now i know you are wondering : how did you get the stair effect on the sides of your armor?

Just add two plates to every row after the top row

Step 6: Conclusion

At this point you have what i call raw armor

Why is it raw?

Much like a piece of paper, this armor has only basic personality and shape

So, what to do about that?

The answer = what ever you want

Back it with leather, top it with a few coats of lacquer, rivet it to something...

Whatever you want it to look like, do it!!

I hope you found this tutorial helpful or at the least informative.



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    20 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Much like the booby armor you see in fan costuming is a really stupid idea. Real Breastplates came to a point in front to direct the force of blows away from what you wanted to protect.

    5 replies

    I am trying to understand your reasoning behind calling this a stupid Idea. There are a great deal of various types of effective armor that do not correspond to your thought process. I have personally made and used rigid linen armor to great effect in live steel reenactment. Many cultures, for a very long time, used Lamellar armor. We have examples of even bone Lamellar that has shown actual wear from weaponry. It is a very effective armor depending on the particular time period one is wanting to represent. The Japanese for example were using Lamellar until the early 19th century. And as an armorer I can tell you for fact not all breastplates come to a point. My only issue with this tutorial is the use of zinc plated pieces and hole placement. All in all however it would be decent for Larp.

    Well for this particular design I would have a single hole at the top, centered, then two corresponding holes at the bottom. This allows the cording to line up better while also allowing a bit of hinging effect. So you can move easier. If you look at historical pieces of Lammelar they are almost all made this way

    the holywood style "boobplate" would be highly dangerous to the wearer i agree, however there may very well have been pieces of armour to fit more suitably to the female form. exagerations can be made to armour to "fit" the sex of the wearer, for example:


    Reply 2 years ago

    Plate armor, yes, but, even then, not always. This is Laminar Armor.

    nat the maker

    1 year ago

    I want to use this in a suit of a armor over chainmaille


    2 years ago

    nice ible! two questions, how much does it weigh and how thick are the plates?

    cheers, knut

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    I think from a physics point of view that you would want the plates overlapping from the top like shingles to direct the sword force AWAY from the person. As it is, the sword edge could catch on the plates and go in toward the paracord.

    5 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    It also depends upon the status of the soldier themselves wearing the armor. Soldiers on foot (usually a peasant or sometimes gentry) when engaging the enemy, their armor would want to have blows reflecting downward with top overlapping lames (lamellae) because strikes came in from above.

    Nobility however, came in on horseback so they could see above the masses and lead/guide their troops accordingly, so attacks to their person came in from below and upward. So take the same premise of the foot soldier armor and reverse it. Otherwise, a stabbing attack on the cavalryman would result in coming under the line of lamellae and right into the torso, with death within minutes or instaneously.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Actually, sword cuts to the body were not a major concern for an armored man, as even maille over a thick gambeson would stop most cuts. In fact, most fatal combat injuries (based on excavation of dark age and medieval burials) were head wounds, most often cuts and thrusts to the face. The real concern, especially for mounted troops, who would most likely be nobility able to afford the armor, would be an upward angled thrust form a pole arm or sword. Against any type of armor, the point will be more effective than the edge (or just hit 'em with a hammer). I do wonder about the side to side overlap on some of these styles, as that could be a weakness. The Byzantine style appears to try to compensate for this with a large vertical overlap, judging from the photos. This tutorial has rekindled my interest in making a brigandine.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Indeed, swordcuts are no major concern and for more than just that reason.

    But thrusts from pointed weapons, like spears, lances and yes, even sword tips, would be what the overlaps ought to protect from.

    There are armors with overlaps on every side but obviously they required great skill, technique and materials to craft. And they wouldn't hold up to an armor on a budget when you consider time and cost.


    2 years ago

    For a more 'modern' lacing try nylon covered stainless steel aircraft cable or just plain uncoated stainless steel cable.


    2 years ago

    Thx for the input peeps!! This was actually my first tutorial, so im glad it has gotten a good reception so far.


    2 years ago

    heck of a brain . . . Do you thing it would be possible to stitch it together more along the lines of the first photo in step 6?

    1 reply

    Awesome DIY armor. My friends and I used to make stuff like this in college as part of out historical re-enactment group.