Make a Shield for Armored Combat

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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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Make a shield

Thanks for posting this. It will really help in strapping my next shield and I can refer others who have questions on strapping their shield.

A few comments on the

A few comments on the shield:
The Tee nuts will not work on aluminum shields like the do for wooden ones. First is that the Tee nuts have spikes to bite into wood, and second is that the unthreaded part of a Teenut that sheathes the bolt is thicker than the metal. If you are using a metal shield just use ¼ inch bolts and nuts. You should be fine- but ALWAYS use an elbow pad on the inside of the arm strap because the bolts still stick up and scratch your arm.

For the strap- I made mine as I went along:
1) Started with a 4” wide, very long strap of leather- over 12 inches.
2) After securing the top I taped down the loose end to see where to secure it
3) Play around where the loose end lays- you will notice that the position is comfortable in different areas but also will adjust the top of the shield to lean the top corner up or down.
4) I like my top corner to pop a little up so I can passively block an onside- but that is just my preference.
5) Once you have bolted one end of the loose side of the shield strap down tape the other and use your bicep to mark where the curve is in the leather (your bicep should crease the leather strap in a semicircle. Cut this out (a little at a time to assure you don’t cut too deep). You are making the strap fit better- but also changing your elbow position. You can bring your elbow all the way to the center point if you need to. For my shield- my elbow started about two inches left of the centerpoint after I installed the handle. Blame it on my gazelle length arms. Once I adjusted the curve of the shield strap my elbow was only half an inch off center.
6) Try a few different places to secure the final bolt for the shield strap. This will adjust how loose the shield hangs away from your arm. The closer to your elbow the more your shield will adjust toward your body and to the right (I am right handed- it would most likely go to the left if this is for your left arm).