Links & Other Resources

SCA related links and the occasional how-to article.

Armor Essays

Techniques and opinion on what armor is good.

Finally, New Knees

At last, my new knees from Motorcycle Superstore arrived, and they work! These are Alpinestars Bionic Knee Guards and my greatest fear--that they would be too shallow for proper side of the knee coverage--was unfounded.

They're a big improvement over the KneePros I've been wearing for the past 5 or so years. They look more durable and they cover more. Instead of plastic hinge pins on the side, they have billet aluminum. The velcro straps are much wider too, and seem much more convenient than the old KneePros, which had to be permanently attached in order to keep the buckles from coming off in the middle of a bout.

Of course, like the KneePros, they have to be worn under pants.

If you get tired hauling your full leg harness back and forth into the woods battle, a pair of these might be just the thing as replacements. I'll use these without my cuisses for the woods and other skirmish style melees. If you think you're going to get whacked in the thigh with a stick though, don't use these alone!

I recommend these for anyone whose knees are at least as skinny as mine. But I'm not sure I can recommend the vendor. It took about 10 days for them to ship the product after I ordered it. And I don't mean travel time. So call your local cycle shops for alternatives.

And if you have big knees, then maybe these things will work for you as elbows. Mungoe once borrowed a spare KneePro from me when he forgot his arm harness.

Update: Over the course of a year of regular use, 3 of the 4 C pins that held the billet aluminum hinge pins in place rusted out or otherwise failed. Nevertheless, after repairs with copper rivets and fender washers, the knees work fine. I've also been hit on the knee several times, with no injury.

Make a Shield for Armored Combat

This article should help you correctly hang an already curved and shaped shield blank. It doesn't tell you how to make a blank and for now, it does not discuss covering, edging or painting. But watch this space for more on those subjects.

A few notes about shields: Though many beginners make their first shield from a flat piece of plywood, flat shields have a significant disadvantage. Any three dimensional object has a center of balance that must be measured in three dimensions: height, width and depth. Most people overlook the last of these when thinking of their shield, because a shield isn't very deep. However, when using a shield that's strapped to your arm, you want your elbow to be as close as possible to the center of balance of the shield, so that it hangs in the right position without the wearer having to constantly fight the shield's attempt to follow gravity to its balanced state. With a flat shield, height and width balance points may be in exactly the same place as for a curved shield, but the depth balance point is inside the body of the material that makes up the shield. There's no way to get your arm inside the shield's point of balance. Because of that, a flat shield tries to rotate away from the strap it's hung on, usually making the top fall away from your head and the tip rotate toward the leg. To overcome this, flat shield users have to constantly correct their shield into the proper position.

With a curved shield, the front-to-back balance point moves to a spot behind the inside face of the shield, exactly where you want to put your elbow. That's because much of the shield is curved around that point.

Incidentally, this is why center grip shields have handles that are even with the face of the shield and a boss on the front to protect the hand. It's important for the hand to be at the balance point of the shield with a center grip, and in most cases that balance point is in the middle of the shield material.

Many thanks to my knight, Sir TJ for showing me how to do this right the first time.

Now read on for the actual "how to" section.

Find the center of balance

Find the center of balance
Mark it

Mark it
The marked center point

The marked center point
Pad behind the handle

Pad behind the handle
Mount the Handle with T Nuts

Mount the Handle with T Nuts
Make a shield strap

Make a shield strap
the top of the strap lays under the arm

the top of the strap lays under the arm
elbow just behind the balance point

elbow just behind the balance point
mark the top of the arm

mark the top of the arm
mark the bottom and elbow

mark the bottom and elbow
arm position marked

arm position marked
find the strap's position

find the strap's position
view from behind the elbow

view from behind the elbow
from above the elbow

from above the elbow
Hold the top of the strap in place

Hold the top of the strap in place
Mark the top mounting holes

Mark the top mounting holes
holes marked relative to arm position

holes marked relative to arm position
The strap flips over!

The strap flips over!
Find the correct hang angle

Find the correct hang angle
mark and drill and mount

mark and drill and mount
balance point at top of shield strap

balance point at top of shield strap
from above, it hangs straight

from above, it hangs straight
it hangs almost perfectly

it hangs almost perfectly
control the shield without your hand

control the shield without your hand

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Tandy Leather

The "new" Tandy Leather in the west end of Richmond offers great service. Importantly for me, they ship for low cost and do it quickly.

They have a monthly sale and if you contact Sir TJ or Skorri, they'll probably be able to help you out with their wholesale business discount they have set up there.

Tandy

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Cuir Bolli Bauzband Attempt Mess

I'm working to replace my venerable, mismatched vambraces with some new, harder, matching, colorful, octofoil-decorated bauzbands. Using Cariadoc's instructions, I attempted (again) to mold the leather enough that I don't need to add darts. I was more confident than last time, since I had a more accurate thermometer than last time.

Nevertheless, it seems impossible to get enough bend in the elbow to close up the back.

These pictures are of the first attempt, done in 10-11 ounce leather.

See how straight the whole thing still is?

Cuir Bolli Bauzband Attempt - 6

Anyone with opinions, please feel free to share. But I'm not going to dish these like a piece of metal.

More pictures behind the cut.

Cuir bolli attempt-not enough bend

Not enough bend.

Also, as you can see, I managed to burn the face of the leather on the bottom of the pot. Duh.

Cuir bolli bauzband attempt - 1

Worse, the flesh side of the leather starts to crack as I stretch it.

Cuir bolli attempt-cracked face

Another pic of the cracked leather.

Cuir bolli bauzband attempt - 2

Looking at Cariadoc's pictures of what he has made, I think he didn't try to get as deep a curve as I want.

I may finish this one out enough for loaner use.

Armored Combat Resources

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Don't Buy Leather Armor

I've worn leather armor almost exclusively for 18 years. Aside from metal helmets and heavily padded aketons that didn't need kidney belts, all my visible gear is and always has been leather. I've made my own stuff, often using only borrowed tools, a needle and a razor knife back in the poor days. I was apprenticed to Sir Tojenearum, a leather working laurel/knight whose helm was leather. I preface this with those thoughts with that so you know where I'm coming from.

I have rarely, if perhaps ever, seen leather armor that I thought was worth the cost from a professional leather worker. This is due to a variety of issues, which I'll try to put in order from biggest to smallest:

So here's what I suggest if you want leather armor:

Talk to those around you who have leather gear and ask them if they like it. If they do, ask where they got it. If they made it themselves, ask if they could help you make some. Find a book on making things with heavy leather and read it! It will make a huge difference in your finished gear. Even if you're going to have someone else make it, read that book so that you know what to ask for. Do not purchase leather armor patterned after metal pieces. Don't make or purchase a suit of leather plate armor or any of its parts. No articulations, no elbow cops with wings, no pieces that move relative to another piece while being attached to that piece, with the possible exception of a knee cop. Arms should be full, one piece vambraces, for example. If you can find knowledgeable help, consider making it yourself.

If you have more money than you can ever use, then please feel free to ignore all this advice. Instead, take me out to dinner and I'll teach you what to look for so that you can get your money's worth out of the gear you buy.


Feel free to ask questions of me by email as well.

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Finn's Woodworking

If you like medieval woodworking, be sure to visit Finn's site featuring his entirely hand made work.

Garb and Fabric

Find the best deals on silk, linen and other good stuff. Also patterns and how-to.

Bonnie's Sun Forger Canvas

Bonnie Harvey sells the best tent canvas at the best price. We used it to replace the old arming tent with the new spiral painted one. Contact her at this address.

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Dharma Trading Company

The household t-shirts came from Dharma Trading Co., as has much of the silk and linen we use. Let the household know if you're making an order-we may want to go in with you to save on shipping and get bulk discounts.

Guidelines for Demos

There are lots of ways to do a demo. Here are some guidelines for looking good, recruiting new people and not having the local media portray your group as freaks.

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The Normans Elite by David Nicolle: Best Intro Source for Starting Medieveal Norman Research

 Images P 0850457297.01. Aa Scmzzzzzzz -1My first copy of this book is now probably older than some of the guys I'm training to fight. In here we've found the pictures that inspired my second helm, Susanna's first helm, my third (and current) helm and the "crow taco" crest I wear for big battles. My gaiters also take their inspiration from this book. I've given several copies away as gifts over the years.

If you're interested in Norman military history of the 12th and 13th centuries, there's no better introduction.

The illustrations are by the amazing Angus McBride, the best of all the illustrators that Osprey uses. When you look at his illustrations, you don't just get a clear understanding of the arms and armor–there's usually a great little story being told. For example, don't miss the scene of a norman lady showing her brooch to to a harp-playing squire, and the reaction the knight entering the room has.

Don't wait to get one of these at the war–prices are high there and if your tent leaks, you might ruin your copy. Try Amazon instead.

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Tie Down Straps to Make Packing Simpler

These are just the best thing ever for attaching stuff to your roof rack. Much better than bungies: stronger, requiring less strength to get tight and less likely to put your eye out.
I bought several of them just before this past Pennsic and I only wish I had bought more of them. Don't be tempted to get the really long ones. I got 2 of the 20' long ones and would happily trade them for 6 of the 6' ones.

NRS Tie Down Straps

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Updates and Fixes

Some time ago I did some site maintenance and managed to delete some folders containing all the pics for the "make a shield" and "make a tip" how to sections.

I just discovered that today, and have fixed the links. So if you needed to know how to make a shield but hadn't bothered me about the missing pics, you're all set now.

Also, I've started a new "book" called Resources, which is a glorified link section.

Finally, FYI, you can add any entry by you to one of the books by selecting it in the "outline" tab of your entry.

Weapons

Links and how-to articles on weapons for heavy and rapier fighting.

Angus Trim Swords

Angus Trim Swords.
These are by far the best real swords I've seen for the price. In fact, they're much better than many weapons that cost much more.

The blade of the household sword is an Angus Trim blade.

These occasionally show up on eBay.

For the Rich

If you have all the time and money in the world, go with Raven Armory.

Make a Thrusting Tip for a Great Weapon

Thanks to Earl Thorbrandr for the tip on using carpet tape.

These instructions should also work for single handed weapons, but the collar of foam is overkill for the "low profile" tips currently allowed on broad swords.

Start with a square-cut pole and a collar of foam approximately 4 inches long and barely wide enough to wrap the pole. Beer koozie optional.

Start with a square-cut pole and a collar of foam approximately 4 inches long and barely wide enough to wrap the pole. Beer koozie optional.
IMG_1527.JPG

Stick it on the end.
Arrange it so about 1 7/8 inches of it extend beyond the end of the pole.

Arrange it so about 1 7/8 inches of it extend beyond the end of the pole.
Tape it closed around the pole. You're done! (Just kidding.)

Tape it closed around the pole. You're done! (Just kidding.)
Check that the outside diameter is 2 inches, or very close to that.

Check that the outside diameter is 2 inches, or very close to that.
take an approximately 1 inch strip of foam, about 10 inches long.

take an approximately 1 inch strip of foam, about 10 inches long.
Roll it up like a danish.

Roll it up like a danish.
Stick it in your tip.

Stick it in your tip.
Do it again with a second strip-danish.

Do it again with a second strip-danish.
Now the collar is full of rolled foam strips.

Now the collar is full of rolled foam strips.
Tape it lengthwise from tip down to the shaft plus about 4 inches. Be careful not to pull the tip off line from the shaft.

Tape it lengthwise from tip down to the shaft plus about 4 inches. Be careful not to pull the tip off line from the shaft.
Start your tape strips evenly at the tip and pull back toward the shaft evenly with both halves of the tape.

Start your tape strips evenly at the tip and pull back toward the shaft evenly with both halves of the tape.
Cover the tip completely, then tighten it down with a wind around the base of the tip. Notice this is fiber tape.

Cover the tip completely, then tighten it down with a wind around the base of the tip. Notice this is fiber tape.
Check the head for minimum diameter.

Check the head for minimum diameter.
Now we switch to carpet tape. Notice the fibers run two directions. Though we don't need double stick tape, that's what this is. We need the bi-directional fibers.

Now we switch to carpet tape. Notice the fibers run two directions. Though we don't need double stick tape, that's what this is. We need the bi-directional fibers.
Place a third wrap overlapping the second and extending down over the shaft.

Place a third wrap overlapping the second and extending down over the shaft.
place another wrap of carpet tape slightly overlapping the first

place another wrap of carpet tape slightly overlapping the first
peel back the tape's backing.

peel back the tape's backing.
Starting at the tip, apply one tight wrap of carpet tape.

Starting at the tip, apply one tight wrap of carpet tape.
cover it with your favorite color and type of tape. I like black athletic tape, because it is harder for the target to see, and the texture tends to stick to the target.

cover it with your favorite color and type of tape. I like black athletic tape, because it is harder for the target to see, and the texture tends to stick to the target.
But be aware this is not a durable as plastic tapes.

But be aware this is not a durable as plastic tapes.

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