Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How to build a pauldron, part one.

These pictures are made to be clicked upon to enlarge. This is a photo essay on the building of Charlie's armour. Hopefully it will show all the steps which go into making such a fairly straightforward and basic piece of armour as a pauldron. Also, I tend to use the term "pauldron" and "spaulder" interchangably. There are differences, but nothing I need to chat about here.

Step one is to lay out the patterns on some nice sixteen gauge steel. Thats a fairly heavy gauge of steel, and it will take a fair amount of oomph to move it into position. The first pic below shows the pieces all cut out, edge safetied, and sanded to a nice 80 grit (matt) finish. No rust allowed from here on in. Note that one of them has already been marked off for the rolled edge which will go up against the neck.

The first step is to fold the rolled edge downwards, that is towards the inside. The steel resists this process, and you can see it bending away from the anvil in protest. If it complains, hit it again. This is very satisfying.

For this job, I use the anvil I made from a chunk of railway track, and the peen of my cross peen hammer.
I see that I will have to dress this anvil sometime soon, there are a lot of dents in the surface. I am using the point of it....please note that the anvil has a bull nose along one side, the side nearest the camera, and a relatively sharp edge along the far side.

Now that I have finished, I have a fairly distorted piece...this is the piece which will go up against Charlie's neck. The wide part is in back, the narrow part is in front, so I believe this will be the top piece of the left hand pauldron. I make a point of marking "inside" of all the pieces since ipt gets confusing as all get out once you start rolling.

The picture below also shows the next tool needed to shape this piece of armour...the dead blow rubber hammer. A dead blow hammer has the property that it does not bounce. The entire hammer blow is transferred to the workpiece, and stays there. They are remarkably expensive, but invaluable, and worth any number of cheap rubber or lead hammers. This very handy hammer will flatten these pieces out on the wooden anvil. Don't knock a wooden anvil, it doesn't leave marks on the metal like a steel anvil would.

Here, I have hammered the piece flat. And in retaliation, there are a couple of rebellious portions which popped out...they will need to be hammered back into place.

Here is one of the rebellious parts that popped back when I whacked the rest of it straight.

And below is the other outside curve. Outside curves are a real pain to make. Inside curves are really simple.

Below you can see how I just fold the piece back down where it belongs. And of course, the whole piece warps in consequence. So another trip to the wooden anvil, and a few more whacks with the soft hammer, and back on the steel anvil, repeat as necessary. Eventually you WILL beat it into submission. Or you will turn to drink.

I have modified some teeth from a huge earthmoving machine to fold the steel around. Below you can see one of these teeth. They are pretty solid...they sort of have to be...and it took a long time to grind them to suit. If you don't have something like that, you can always modify a standard cross peen hammer as shown in the picture below. In fact, for many applications, mostly huge inside curves like necks and under the arms, I just use the cross of the cross peen hammer to fold the steel over.

And below you can see how you hit the top of the folded steel over the stake. A stake is the fancy term for "thinggie you shape the steel over" .

Its okay to leave some wrinkels at the first pass. In fact, it is recommended since that way you will get a nice even roll over. If you make nice even wrinkles of course.... Note that I have put a piece of duct tape on the back of the stake to keep it from marring the metal. I have a funny shop...a lot of the anvils and such have duct tape all over them, just because I don't like to make marks in the steel. I suspect in the olden days they would have soaked a piece of rawhide goatskin in the slack tup over night and let it stick onto the anvil surface. In the morning, it would provide a "slightly" soft surface. But I am just guessing here.

Take your time, roll a bit at a time, and eventually you will get the whole edge rolled over onto your stake. I usually find the wooden anvil, even though it is made from a Poplar Tree crotch, to be a little too soft for the final passes of tight rolling, so I finish it off on the steel anvil. If it was lighter gauge steel, say, eighteen gauge, then sure....the wood is good enough.

Another thing you might notice about my wooden anvil...the fairly deep depression in the upper right which will accept a nice whack from the hammer and result in a nice deep dent, the shallow dent at the three o clock position (hard to see...but its there.) and the vee shaped groove at the seven o clock position which will be good to sink a flute into. Just saying, but you really don't need much more than that to make good armour.

Above you can see the transfer residue from the duct tape covered steel anvil on the metal. Otherwise, the metal on this side, the outside, is dead flat.
It is really hard to get an even curve on the outside...you almost always get bumpy parts. That is to say, parts that don't go smoothly and evenly around the curve. Cest la vie...you can sometimes bang down the high spots. Good luck with that.

Below is a picture of the latest impliment which will shape and spindle this poor unuspecting piece of armour...the "flatter". I have covered it in duct tape because the metal will be in very intimate contact with the outside of the armour...the side which will show. And I don't want to be sanding away any scratches and scars. Careful with using duct tape though....it is possible to impress the shape of the duct tape onto the metal...right down to transfering the thread count into the steel.

In the background you can see a coil of wire which was being wound into chain mail helixes when I interupted that job to do this one. You can also see the edge of the flatter peeking out from under the work piece. The idea is to overlap the flatter by about three eights of an inch, and whack the rolled edge with the hammer. Repeat. Repeat. Go for a coffee. Come back, repeat. Carefully measure each whack because one mistake will show forever. Repeat. The idea is to move the rolled edge you see below down until it is flat, and raised in a nice even ridge on the outside.

And here we see the process coming along swimmingly! Below you can see the edge has been pushed down all along the middle part, and I am gradually working it down around the curve. I may need to resort to the rubber hammer and the wooden anvil at one point or another...since the rubber will not distort the rolled edge (it is too tight and robust for that!) but it would bring the rest of the piece back to flat.

And this is as far as I will take it this day.....I'll show the second part of how to build a pauldron tomorrow.

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1 comment:

Hugle said...

What are the measurements for the steel pieces you used to construct the spaulders?