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Posts posted by lorenzo

  1. Hey sorry about the late reply, I've been offline for a while.

    So anodized titanium doesn't use dyes and isn't a super hard coating like most other anodized metals, it's really just a thin layer of clear oxide that diffracts light into the colors of the rainbow. This means that the perceived color is very sensitive to contaminants and damage to the oxide layer. Often it's just a bit of skin oil and needs to be degreased with some acetone but wear and tear does cause dulling of the color layer from microscopic scratches. It won't hold up unchanged to armor use.

    As far as forming armor to the human body goes, it can be difficult. There are a lot of things to know. I would start with learning about tailoring for shirts and dresses, that's how I started getting the hang of it. There are a lot more tutorials and patterns for that out there and it pretty much translates directly across to armor.

  2. I've used an old plastic oil jug half filled with wet sand inside the base of the dummy.

    It's a little difficult to tell with the low res pics but I don't see any mistakes in the weave offhand.

    Keep a comfortable size for the armhole, maybe the height of the base or the shoulder blade. It's pretty easy to add a row later if you need.

    Don't make the front panel too wide or it'll bunch up uncomfortably during normal arm motions, back panel should always be wider than the front so the armholes face forward slightly.

  3. You're definitely overthinking how to go about the process, it's a learning process and involves making mistakes. It's far more important to just dig into it. Most of the weaves I've made started out as mistakes. As always the potential in being self taught is having a fresh perspective to make new discoveries from and the pitfall is becoming stuck in your ways and not learning from the discoveries of others.

    The 45 degree seam does just join two identical weaves that are rotated at 90 degrees to each other.

  4. When I've worked with split rings in the past I make the neckline first and hang it on a dummy inside out then I build down from there, the dummy goes on a turntable so I can rotate it easily and the turntable is propped up to a comfortable working height on a stack of books. If you're using a duct tape dummy of the person you want to build the costume for this is going to be by far the fastest and easiest way.

    For working on the go I just make a piece without using any devices to stabilize the shape, once you get used to the weave you don't really need them. Diamond shapes are also easier to manipulate than rectangles so I tend to build with those whenever possible. When the piece gets too large to be easily portable, just pin it onto the dummy and seam them together. That way I can work anywhere, all I need is a ziploc bag of rings and one of scales that I can keep in a coat pocket, if you have a daily commute this would be perfect for making it more productive. I used to work on it during lunch and coffee breaks back when I had a real job.

  5. 10x is an average vs. butted rings in the same size and material, split rings are usually 2-3x. There is no way to un-weld but it's pretty quick to cut and replace, usually I cut out split rings when I'm doing alterations too, my time is worth more than the rings.

    If you can solder there is another option to reduce scratching, just get some thin brass wire from the hardware store and hard solder a dab of brass onto the end of the split ring that faces the wearer. It's almost as strong as welding too but it takes some time. Borax and water works for flux and a butane or propane torch will put out enough heat but a soldering iron won't.

    It's a pretty good job, I'm not complaining but anything can become a grind and you do lose some enjoyment when you have to do actual production line stuff instead of working on interesting projects. A lot of people who get into mailling are also on the spectrum, I won't get into names since that can be personal and private info but you might be surprised how common it is.

    Anyways if you want any more advice I'll be around, just holler. I generally check in once a week or so.

  6. Okay, costuming for stunt work is actually very tricky. You're right to stick with aluminum or titanium scales to keep the weight down and it is best to use strong rings to prevent constant repairs. On the other hand if wearing the armour scratches up the actors it's a very bad thing, most production companies I've worked with are very careful about anything that could affect the look or health of the actors.

    I'm going to reiterate my recommendation to use welded rings, if you're going to try to do this professionally then you should really make quality products and welding is faster than using split rings. I've lived in apartments myself and done a lot of ring welding in there, the equipment is not too bulky, about the size of a briefcase. Just covering the immediate floor and worktable with 1/4" plywood will prevent any burn marks on flooring or furniture and in the sizes we work in there's no real noise, flash or fumes, your landlord never even needs to know because it's none of his business.

    Buy one of these things, they're cheap, reliable and plug into a standard outlet.


    Replace the tongs with some battery cables and set the electrodes up the way you see in this old video I made for TRL. Since you work with audio equipment this should be pretty basic for you, it's super low voltage and everything you need can be bought at any hardware store.

    In the video I've also replaced the switch with a timed relay and foot pedal but you don't need to. With a little practice and you can judge the timing right by eye 95% of the time.

    It's really that simple and you'll be able to use any butted stainless rings and weld them for 10x the strength.

  7. I'm not sure what type of fighting you mean but if there's any impact involved like with the SCA then aluminum scales are just going to get mangled up anyways. Steel or titanium are the only real choices for durability in that sort of situation. Aluminum is good for LARP or light contact fencing mostly.

    Worthco split rings are made for fishing lure manufacturers, they don't have much interest or experience with what we do but they do make the best split rings. From experience I can tell you that the #3F size work best with small scales and the zinc plated steel is the strongest material they carry. For medium size scales use a #5F and for large ones a #7F.

    The best way I've found to get a good fit on another person is to use a duct tape dummy, there are lots of tutorials to learn how to make one and it's a pretty quick and easy process. Contractions are used to make a piece look form fitting around musculature or other parts of anatomy. Here's a picture highlighting the contractions in my first vest. It's probably not something that you need to worry too much about since for fighting gear you'll want to avoid form fitting and leave extra room for movement.

    You should be able to do any technique with split rings, it just might be a little harder to get the rings in there.

    My best advice would be to search the forum for my old posts about scales, I've been helping people with similar projects for 20 years on this forum and there's a lot of good info buried in there.

  8. You're killing me here, titanium scales and split rings is like buying a bottle of 30 year old scotch and mixing it with mountain dew. Mountain dew should only be mixed with the finest moonshine, as is traditional. :)

    I highly recommend welded stainless rings for Ti scale armour or grade 5 Ti butted rings for costume use. At the very least you should buy better quality split rings from Worthco.com , the #3 fine are the size I originally designed the small scales to work with. They're lighter, stronger, and easier to work with.

    Progress wise you're doing fine, it always takes a while in the beginning. My first scale shirt with split rings took almost 10 months, of course I had to punch out the scales too but most of that time was figuring out  the weaves.

  9. Almost forgot, if you do stay with the split rings there's no proper orientation, it just doesn't matter.

    There's really no need to use pliers either, I always use the edge of the scale to wedge open the split ring and then slide them on. It can be a little difficult until your fingertips toughen up but it's way faster and helps prevent deforming the split rings open.

    You could also grind down the beak on the split ring pliers so it's a thinner wedge which makes them work a lot better in my experience.

  10. I think this is the video you're referring to?

    I've only watched a minute of it so far but I can see already why you're having problems. This is a terrible video, don't use the technique it shows you. 

    Folding the scales back to back like that spreads out your split rings, the split rings are already rough and uncomfortable to wear but woven this way it'll be almost like wearing a shirt made of fish hooks.

    Split rings in general are for real armour, reasonably tough and cheap, sort of the munitions grade choice if you can't afford welded and don't have time for riveted. Since you're using aluminum scales they're of no benefit to you.

    My advice is to return them and order some butted rings, they're going to make you a much more comfortable costume that's also a lot faster to make.

  11. On 10/12/2020 at 11:44 AM, TitaniumMithril said:

    kind of a side comment, but i would love an out-of-the-box welding set up that would weld 20ga-16ga titanium reliably (that doesn't cost thousands of dollars).  i'm sure it can be pieced together, but i'm no electrical (mechanical? industrial?) engineer and don't have the time to invest on researching it.  years ago i tried the chinese one that tlr carried, and i could never dial in reliable power settings.  it eventually just stopped working (surprise surprise), and i just threw out that $200.  

    Yeah, I hear ya, mine failed in the same way.

    I am looking into another welding system that seems to have potential, hopefully it works out well in our workshop. I don't want to get any hopes up but it looks like it could be a sub 1K machine that welds every metal from 24g-12g. If it does perform as advertised we might even start distributing them.

  12. My bread and butter for armour is stainless steel, we use about 20 tons of stainless per year. It's versatile, available in high quality, easy to work with and the cost is reasonable. It's hard to go wrong with stainless.

    I personally really like titanium alloys for the improved strength to weight ratio, but the cost and difficulty in manufacturing makes them impractical for most projects.

  13. On 9/30/2020 at 6:10 PM, bjorn said:

    so I've never heard of that one metal you mentioned... Tantalum? How's that to work with

    I do heartily agree with the hating of aluminum....

    It's very similar to niobium, heavier of course and a little softer. It also tends to be a little brighter and anodizes well.

    It works well for small AR jewelry as long as you're careful not to overstress the material. Unlike traditional jewelry metals it's not easily soldered for strength. It can be welded in an inert atmosphere similar to titanium or niobium.

  14. Start with something cheap and simple, either gravity drip or waxing the coils. You might as well get experience with both really, then you can understand for yourself how they work and what the drawbacks are. That way, when you're ready to move on to something better you'll already have a good idea of what you want.

  15. 21 hours ago, bjorn said:

    Long shots seem to be your specialty huh lorenzo?

    This is an amazing amount of knowledge thank you.

    You're welcome, I'm stuck covering the night shift this week so it's pretty boring. I hardly need any excuse to go do some "work related" research for an hour.

  16. 42 minutes ago, Konstantin the Red said:

    If I like, per Lorenzo, I can squash them with die-/setter-tongs -- with an anneal to allow it.  Such tongs may want a hammer-smack on their reins or a specially designed head and jaws anyway, to get the pent-roof cross section in there. That seems part of the purpose of that little bitty anvil seen stuck in the workbenches in some of the pics.

    That is probably why they used hammer and anvil, the last image indicates either that or direct hammer flattening, but then where are all the hammer flattened rings? So it would make sense to me. It's also possible that hammer flattening was more common earlier, since the tool marks have worn away on most early pieces it's impossible to say for sure.

    Another possible use is for repairs, if a customer brings in a shirt with only a link or two missing in my experience it's difficult to get normal rivet setting tongs in there. It's much easier to put the piece on an anvil and set the rivets with a hammer and punch. I think the 4th image I linked to might be of that sort of work happening since I doubt a customer would normally be waiting otherwise.

  17. The quality of rings flattened with tongs is far higher.  Based on my examination of dozens of authentic pieces in museums around the world there's no doubt in my mind that tongs or some other form of die were used most of the time. I've found no definite evidence for hammer flattening although it's very likely it was also used in some cases. The rings still require annealing between every step.

    Similarly there's not much serious debate between drifting and punching. Drifting is far easier and yields much stronger rings. Most of the authentic pieces I've examined were drifted where the process could be determined at all.

    As a rule of thumb welding is approx 4x faster than riveting for me, but I'm not very practiced at riveting. In any case welded rings are slightly stronger and more consistent. If you want historical accuracy though riveted is the way to go.

  18. Well I agree with Rob, no polishing compound for anodized Al, just some dry walnut or corncob. Rice or even sawdust works in a pinch too. If the factory finish isn't shiny enough the best bet is probably to try an automotive wax or other sealing agent rather than attempting to alter the anodized layer but either way is not ideal.

    Water is necessary for aggressive tumbling, it acts as your solvent and working fluid. The detergent is there as a surfactant to break surface tension and polarize all the little bits of contaminants. Remember that it's not just a physical process but an electrochemical one as well. In fact, the best finish I've ever achieved on mail was by ultrasonic cleaning and then electropolishing. The result was mirror finish rings but it's slow and limited to small batches.

    Ceramic media is generally not cost effective for what I do. I've used it in the past for jewelry and it worked well, but the amount you need to fill a 50 gallon tumbler like mine is ridiculous. Not to mention the man hours and logistical issues involved in separating hundreds of lbs of media from a similar weight of mail, it's a huge PITA.

    Pin shot is easier to separate and less costly but I find as long as the rings are pre-woven they burnish each other in all the necessary nooks and crannies. I do use it for the odd time that I'm tumbling preclosed loose rings.

    Deburring is all about the impact energy, you have to knock loose the oxides and peen down the metal projections. You can also add shot as ballast to small pieces for extra energy. Mason jars work for small stuff, light burrs or soft metals but the jar will break eventually so wrap it in fiber tape first to save your hands.

    For the worst burrs like welded or riveted stuff ceramic media in a rotary tumbler works well, it might be the best option for hobbyists doing small batches but the industry standard is acid.

  19. Tumbling is pretty much necessary for finishing mail, but what you use depends on the metal you're working with and what you're trying to achieve. 

    Walnut shells in a vibratory tumbler will absorb oils and brighten up the finish a bit but if you want to really shine it up you'll need to add polishing compound. If you want to knock off burrs and smooth closures you'll need either an abrasive grit or move to a rotary process to get more burnishing action. Welded or riveted stuff requires a pretty aggressive acid or abrasive to remove oxides.

  20. They've definitely got the low end of the market covered. The high end of the market is pretty well covered by people like myself, knuut, mithrilweaver and Erik Schmid.

    That leaves the mid range market, which is where most hobbyists land and is more often about DIY projects than retail sales.