Plate Armouring Journal
March, 2002--->
~Full Greaves & Sabatons~


~Day 1~
8th of March, 2002
7pm to 12:00pm

I've started on a pair of fully enclosed greaves and sabatons (armor for the shin, calf, and foot). I've wanted to make a pair of these ever since I was in high school and took a welding/sheet metal fabrication class and needed a pair of steel toe boots for the class (was in 1996).. I thought a pair of fully articulated steel boots would be the coolest thing ever.. but I did not have enough confidence in my armoring skills to dare trying to build such an item, and now I do... so I decided to start on them. But there is another reason for these as well. I'm not just making them because full steel boots are the ultimate in workplace-lower-extremity-protection... but also because combined with a pair of articulated knee cops, I'll nolonger need to worry about getting my previously unprotected lower legs mangled during sword combat in my early 16th century armor.

I decided to start with the front of the greaves, using a two piece pattern, welded up the center, to make the front greave plate. I've sort of based my pattern on the way Brian Price shows to do it in his book on medieval armoring, but I've altered it slightly. I'm not yet entirely sure how I plan on doing the sabatons, so I cut the greave off a ways up from the ankle. One way I have seen greaves done (the way Price shows it) is to have the sides of the greaves extend down to cover the ankles, another way is to have the greaves stop a ways above the ankle, roll out the bottom edge, and have the top of the sabaton turned in over the outward roll of the bottom of the greave. This will create a sort of rotating cuff, which should give more mobility for the foot. Yet another design I've seen from the 16th century is similar to the last one described, but has several articulating lames on the lower end of the greave.

I am not yet entirely sure how I will do the sabaton. there are several styles for articulation. I would like to have a floating heel cup on the back, as I think it would be more comfortable. The toe plate will be the wide sort of cow-mouth design.. it's what I've seen on most 16th century sabatons, and I like it cause I won't have to worry about it getting stuck in the ground while fighting. I plan on doing some decorative gadlings on the top front portion of the toe plate, a bit like the knucles of my gauntlet. I haven't seen anything quite like that on armors of the period (or any other period), but I have seen fluting and shaping to look like decorative slashing.

So, tonight I looked at a lot of pictures, read through the chapter on greaves in Price's book, and starting working on this new project. I've gotten the front plates cut out and mostly shaped. Looking at them at home now, I can see some things to work on to get the shape a little better.


~Day 2~
10th of March, 2002
7pm to 12:30pm

Finished shaping the two plates for the front of the right shin, did a little grinding to get the edges where they will be welded together to match up, and then planished them both. cut out the same plates for the left leg and started shaping. inside plate came out almost a mirror image of the same for the other leg. having a little trouble with the outside plate for the left shin. I think I dished it too much and made the bulge for the calf muscle just a little too long.. but I think I can fix it. It's also having a problem with being too curved in the vertical direction, but I should be able to fix that as well. I messed up tracing this pair out on my metal.. I forgot that on the first pair, I added an extra quarter inch to the back-bottom corner and didn't bother noting it on the pattern.. realized that I forgot about it right when I was done making that cut on the second of the two plates I was cutting out. nothing a little grinding and won't fix. I also started planishing the left set of greaves. Got about half way through with them when the radio mysteriously turned on by it's self and started playing music off a tape. I guess thats Gregory's way of telling apprentices who loose track of time that it is 12:30am and maybe a little to late for hammering on metal. I forgot my camera so no pictures yet :(


~Day 3 to 6?~
Late march/Early April, 2002

I'm running low on storage space here so updates might be less often. after a lot of beating things into shape, I got both greaves to match fairly closely. The left front halfs have been welded together and the weld ground down. two articulated lames have been added to the bottom edge of each greave to give a little more freedom of movement. The right greave and it's two extra lames have been sanded down and are ready for buffing later on. The left greave and it's lames have just made it past the planishing stage. Something about the two lames on the bottom of each greave.. I've seen pictures of this in several armor books, but only a couple of them were such that I could tell what way the overlap was going. One seemed to be overlapping downwards but it's hard to tell, most of the others all seemed to be overlapping upwards. I decided to go with a downward overlapping design, though I am not sure if it is historicaly correct. I'll see how it works and redo it if it does not work.. since I'm only doing foot combat, I don't need to worry about stuff getting up under downward overlapping lames above my ankles. On that note however, I recently visited (for the first time, yay!!) Higgins Armoury Museum in Worcester Mass. and all foot armors with articulated lames above the ankle (there were prolly five or six of them) overlapped upwards, even one that said the harnes was made for foot combat.. well, as I said, I'll see how it works with the overlap going the other way.

Picture of my current progress on the greaves.


~Several Nights Worth of Work~
April to July 4th, 2002

Sorry folks, I've worked several more evenings on this and never updated. whats been happening with this project? The front halves of the greaves are fully shaped, welded, and polished to a mirror finish. same for the backs of the greaves, and two pairs of lames at the bottom of each greave. They are pretty much done except for riveting it all together and making the latches to hold them closed.

For the back plates of the greaves, I used the very same pattern as I did for the front, but reversed it. The mostly strait center line became the edge, and the curved outside line became the center. This created a compound curve in the backplate, which in profile matched the curve on the sides of the frontal greave plates. It seemed easy enough in my head, but getting it to work took a lot of hammering, swearing, annealing, welding, and re-welding broken welds. In the end though, I think they came out good. For spacial reasons on the inside of the lower part of the greaves, I decided to go with an upward overlap for the lames on the lower backplate. The opposed direction of overlap between front and back seems to work well and not look too out of place. I'm not yet sure if I will continue the opposed overlap down into the sabatons. It might not work out so well down there.

I've already started on one of the latches. each pair of greaves will have two latches, one on the upper part, and another just above the articulations. Both latches will consist of sneck hooks and posts. the post on the upper latch will be on a small leaf spring on the inside of the greave, and the post will pass through the overlapped lip of the inner plate and through a matching hole on the outer plate. yep, basic spring-pin & hook sort of clasp. The lower latches will just be sneck hooks on one plate passing through posts on the other plate. right now I have the matched holes drilled for the spring posts, one of those posts made; and for the leaf spring, I'm trying to decide between high carbon steel box strapping, or a broken hacksaw blade. cool thing about the hacksaw blade is that it already has one of the right size holes in it for the post.

I now have a deadline. Not a real important deadline, but the group I play with is doing some sort of sword combat demonstration on July 11th. I know I'll not be able to have the sabatons done by then, but I hope to have the greaves and a pair of articulated knees done by then. I might be able to do it, though I'm not sure. This will be the first piece of shell articulation that I've done and I've only had a little practice with raising.

I've set asside the greaves in their almost done state, and started working on the knees that will hold up the greaves. So far I have both knee cops cut out and one of them mostly formed with a combination of raising and dishing. I'm using Price's book as a rough guide.


~Several more nights worth of work~
July to end of September, 2002

Been a while since I last updated. I got everything ready that I expected to have ready in time for the demo. It all worked out pretty good, though at that time the knees did not allow for full straitening of the leg. I did not really notice it while fighting though so it was okay. Later on a little work with hammer fixed the problem. I made the cuisses come up only half way because of the knee length tassets I wear (idea taken from several period examples I saw in books). The knees each have two articulating lames, one above the cops and one below, and are dished as are the top of the demi-greave and lower portion of the cuisses. When putting in the strapping I left a bit of extra strap on the inside of the plate then riveted that with a second rivet so it formed a sort of "U" shape, to which I laced in a rectangular section of quilted moving blanket material for padding over the knee. That idea worked very well and keeps the knee from ever touching the deepest parts of the knee, even while bent. It works much like a suspension liner in a helm and is very comfortable.

after the demo I was a little burned out on plate. So I went kayaking for a few days, then in the middle of August, went on a spur'o'the moment ten day long roadtrip with a friend. We drove from Maine across southern Canada to Vancouver; down to Portland, Oregon where we spent way too little time visiting a friend; then down to San Francisco and back across the mid-west through Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, Etc., back to Maine. My short time in Portland OR, wandering around and checking out Saterday Market filled me with a lot of enthusiasm to get back to the shop and work on things other than plate armor, which I have been playing with for the last few years. I'd been completely taking for granted that I could use the shop to make things other than plate armor, like more non-maille jewelry, metal sculpture, leather work, forge/iron work.. Those things were in my mind the entire time I was working on armor, but not as high on my priority list so they were largely ignored. My visit to Portland made me realize something about my work that I have no idea how to fully communicate with words. basicaly, the voices (what voices you ask? don't ask!!) are telling me I need to concentrate less on plate armor as I have been doing, and expand my artistic endeavers before this bout of inspiration dulls down to someplace lower.

but fear not, for I have not abandoned my plate projects! I started on a few post-Portland projects, have lots of ideas for others, but have decided to finish up my armor, which will involve finishing off these legs, then making some type of close helm or armet.

I've worked on my greaves a little more. The right leg now covers the leg and extends to the ground, with both the heel and the arched front opening all done except for latches and a bit of trimming up the bottom. It's very nice feeling. The bottom of the greaves support the whole weight of the leg armor when I'm standing, and it provides great ankle support. I was a bit worried about my ankle not being able to move where it wants to, but it's actually not bad at all, and I don't have to worry about my ankle moving in ways I do not want it to move while wearing 40 pounds of armor.

I still plan on doing the toe plate as mentioned in an earlier update, but I've decided to use a form of maille sheet on the rest of the foot. I have documentation for something similar (greaves, maille over most of the foot, steel cap over the toe) but it's an odd form of maille that I'm using and I'll leave it at that.

Picture of the legs a few nights ago. I have since polished up the lower parts by the ankle.


~Several more nights worth of work~
October, 2002

though it says October up there, it's really almost new years.. but this is what I got done during October, which is not a whole lot. I finished up the greaves, which cover the ankles and down almost to the floor. I also have most of one maille foot covering done. I got them done just in time for Halloween and wore them out with the rest of my plate (except for the helmet). Went out to eat with some friends who were also dressed medievaly, then we went barhopping around downtown Bangor. Got in a swordfight with one of my friends in the middle of the road once, but the other people broke it up cause a taxi needed was waiting to get through.. or at least I'd thought it was taxi. turned out to be a cop, but he just went by and didn't stop us (come on cops, there's an armoured guy attacking people in the streets here!! but I guess they've seen me enough in full armor, walking across town to sword combat class.. with no hacked up bodies turning up in the river). so anyways, entered one costume contest and won first place, against "skeliton guy", "angel chick", and "devil girl".. or something like that. with drinks and cover charges paid for, I ended up with twice as much money as I'd had when I left my house. With all the walking I did, I found out that I need to weld or braze a length of 3/16" or so steel roundstock around the bottom of my greaves. The flat metal edge tried to chew their way through the back of my expensive quasi-period Birkenstocks.. but I'm not sure when I'll get around to doing more with armor. I am currently rather involved with other metalworking projects.

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