Konstantin the Red

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About Konstantin the Red

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    Journeyman Member
  • Birthday 05/11/56

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  • Location
    Port Hueneme, CA, USA
  • Interests
    SCA, armouring, firearms, cutlery, f&sf.
  • Occupation
    Cutco Salesman
  1. And your "marathon of a project" will take you about one hundred man hours in the weaving. Variable amounts of trying it on, fondling it, looking in the mirror and admiring, et cetera. Your Mileage Totally Varies.
  2. The shirt you're making is known in armour parlance as a haburgeon. Also spelled haubergeon, anciently something like hauburjon -- medieval French for "little hauberk." Give it, as Eric said, enough length so the hem of the haburgeon does not ride exactly at nuts level, or it will slap you awfully in three steps. Mid thigh is good, or a little higher. Small triangular dags woven onto hem and sleeve are authentic details, and cool looking too. Good way to use up extra links. There is a big-dag style of mail piece, but it's associated with the 16th century bishops' mantle mail piece, rather like a short cloak or a huge collar of mail, armoring the upper body and upper arms. Specific to the Landsknechts, who were an interesting if uncouth bunch that didn't always wear much armor, since they were foot soldiers. Advanced armor is heavy on a long road march. And armor was never cheap. Another okay method for armor mail is to save time pre-opening half your links. Mail may be woven and speed-woven from a half-and-half supply of opened links and completely pre-closed links. To pre-open half your links, take half your coils before cutting them into steel cheerios, grab either end of a coil and pull it, stretching the coil out to a little over twice its original length, but don't go farther or your rings will all be bent -- what we call pringled rings, a saddle shape. That's a hundred links and more, all opened up enough to weave in in about two seconds; lots better than twisting them open individually. Cut them off the stretched coil as you would an ordinary coil. Store preopened links in a separate container from your closed, or just-cut raw, links. Preopened links are extremely tangly, like a game of Barrel of Monkeys. When I dip into them, I grab out a tangled clump with my pliers, and thump the clump on my worksurface, knocking preopened links loose to use. Use 'em up and repeat the thump for the next batch of loose links. Preclosing links is another good chore for TV watching. Or while chatting with friends if you're the talkative sort. It's all good. You may have noticed that small mail patches of E4-1 weave can have the links at the edges turn over and get all messed up, position wise. You will get better with practice at smoothing turned-over, flopped links back into proper position. A big help is to avoid picking your mailpatch up off your work surface until it's grown big enough, but to slide the link you are going to put into the weave (two links if you're speedweaving) onto the edge you're adding to, closing this link without picking the mailpatch up. A slightly resilient worksurface is helpful here too. Mailpatches may be large, especially with shirts of mail, hardly less with mail sleeves (a modular component of harness) or the fourteenth-century camail. I generally begin a mail shirt with a long chain of doubled and single links, alternating, beginning and ending it with a pair of links, that is as long as the distance from armpit/armscye to the hem, and build a rectangle of mail sufficient to go around me with some slack in the mail, say about as big around as my waistline plus twelve inches, measured when the mail is pulled out to full stretch -- so, a quite large mail patch. It has a couple of slits included, going from the top edge to about upper kidney level, which are located over where my shoulder blades will be. These slits are filled in with triangular contraction arrays, flaring the top edge enough to go well around the chest, which in you I presume is a larger measurement than your waistline. Mail will flatter your form if you have a good one -- and exhibit your Buddha belly if you don't! You can subdivide great big mailpatches of 30x100 plus into smaller patches of 10x10 or whatever, if convenient -- they are at least not so heavy to push around. The instructions and construction technique in the link below suggest, in fact, that mail shirts were typically assembled from premade rectangular mailpatches of varied sizes, assembled as needed to make up a shirt. Rectangles and triangular expansion/contraction arrays (contraction is just expansion turned upside down) and single expansion links were all used together, leaving rectangular zones of no expansions or contractions within them hardly at all. Zip your smaller patches into big patches as you like. Shape your shirt, tailoring it, per the instructions here: https://web.archive.org/web/20160508055350/http://homepage.ntlworld.com/trevor.barker/farisles/guilds/armour/mail.htm -- a recipe of how to copy a c. 1438AD historical shirt in the Wallace Collection from when the infantry wore mail for keeps. (That date is unusually precise for a piece of mail -- attested to by old city records of Hamburg, Germany.) Expansion/Contraction arrays are vital to making armour pieces, and they neatly, easily weave right into the rest of the E4-1 mail weave -- or any variants. These triangular arrays can be made up ahead of time if you want, and fitted into the mail piece as required; you need some slack in the upper back of the shirt to keep it from binding you and let your arms come all the way forward easily. You've got enough freedom when you can swing bent arms forward, right arm wrapping to the left and vice versa, and stack your elbows in front of you. The expansion-contraction array gives you the extra you need behind your arms. It biases the sleeves rather forward for arm freedom -- which you don't need towards the back. Your arms don't go that way. A fitted, tailored shirt actually helps keep some of the mail's weight off your shoulders, with use of a waist belt pulled in snug to put some of its weight on your hips for comfort. A shirt with some shape won't try and slip down through your cinch belt as you move about. Don't use that cinch belt for a sword belt; use another belt to carry a sword on, so you can remove it when you sit down. Shorter things than swords can go on your cinch, like a purse and a knife. Swords get awkward. Really big swords were more typically carried around over the shoulder like rifles or pole arms. Those cheap shirts of butted mail are made in a big hurry by people who don't wear them. In India.
  3. The palms of your hands, where you are feeling the soreness, will toughen up. You just need to give them their daily healing time. At the first twinge of pain, down tools and do something else; let your flesh rest. You're good for about an hour starting out; then rest 'em. Only gradually increase how long you weave, like every few mailling days. Use big pliers too, for leverage, such as ordinary 9" handle slip joint pliers. Blunt their teeth with a little bit of filing if you want. As you twist your links closed with a motion like revving a motorcycle just a bit, shove the link ends together as you twist. Take two or three snick-snacks back and forth if needed; I often do two. You can even close pinch cut links, good for armor projects, that way, butting these facet to facet not point directly to point.
  4. Though all the rest of this thread is from 2017.
  5. Oh, I almost forgot: these are good instructions. https://web.archive.org/web/20160508055350/http://homepage.ntlworld.com/trevor.barker/farisles/guilds/armour/mail.htm It's also a good trick to buy all your galvy wire at once, a shirt's weight of twenty-five to thirty pounds -- depends on the wire thickness, yours looks about 16 gauge -- in a batch, to get the galvy coating to age and darken its gray all the same.
  6. Well, yeah... color. And galvy does vary, and this one certainly has and in a big way. You wouldn't want to tumble too much of that zinc coating off it, or you will polish away all the rust resistance that humble steel wire got the zinc coating for in the first place. What the zinc should do is about what you saw it do: get darker gray with weathering, evening out to a charcoal-grayish tone. This can be accomplished somewhat speedily by leaving it out in the dew. Perhaps the least satisfactory solution is to brass it out, mixing all the shades together and assembling them randomly and hope for weathering and wearing the shirt to even them out in the end. Your shirt construction technique looks good, faithful to historic example, or with the potential to be very faithful to it. That means the insertion of triangular expansion zones in certain places in the shirt to tailor your mail. I like to encourage first-time shirt makers to to think horizontally, round and round themselves, rather than vertically, up and folded over. This gets out ahead of a couple of weaving errors that up-and-over like a serape is prone to. Historically, shirts had sleeves just as you're making them, with the shirt body just as you're making it, so you can take the durn shirt off you when you're done -- the mail needs to be able to let go of you. So you bend well over, the mail drops to open hang at its maximum stretch-out, and you drag it off over your head, pulling on the neck-opening, since most mailshirts can't properly be said to have a collar of any kind. Though in the fourteenth century they did develop them, fitted close to the neck, likely laced closed with thong. But the sleeves simply continued the weave from the shoulder, just as you're doing, and down the arm; this is the handiest weave to arrange the mail to work well with the hinge motion of the elbow joint. A little extra mail has to be put in, as expansion zones again, where the point of the elbow went, shaped quite like the heel of a sock. This allows you to bend your arm in a long sleeve without cutting off your circulation. After that, the long sleeve should taper down narrower and narrower until you can just pass your hand through it at the cuff end, both for a tidy fit and to take some weight off the end of your arm to keep your sword swift. This row-tapering, or hole row contraction, is usually less tidy than the expansion zones' columnar expansions and contractions (contractions are just expansions turned upside down) -- but it's still a good thing if you want your shirt to boast sleeves much past elbow length. Returning to wire: you are working with one of the sturdiest sorts of wire one can easily get. Galvanized wire is *all* function, not much prettiness, low cost if you shop around. It is effective as armor mail, intended to be beat on violently, in LARP or SCA use. In its function, its beauty is quite secondary so long as it is stout enough to hold together getting smacked. Brilliant, shiny, unrusting stainless wire is four times as costly. Stainless has greater stiffness, and that's useful in butted mail links. Butted mail, even in stainless, is only moderately resistant to hits and cuts and stuff; the real resistive stuff is riveted mail, from wire annealed soft, so don't use galvanized wire in this application, but bare mild steel welding wire, suitably annealed for it comes hard, instead of galvy. Initial experiments can easily be tried with black annealed tie wire/baling wire from the hardware store. Its only disadvantage in mail is it's half again as thick as you really need the wire to be, hence rather heavy stuff in a finished piece. That can be very useful for combat, in armoring very exposed, vulnerable or vital parts of you, but can end up pretty hefty in a complete haburgeon-type shirt, say. Though you can do some design tricks to rather minimize that, such as using big links. If you ever go to the trouble of riveting your mail, the weaving will take about four times the man-hours that butted mail does, and several added steps per link to rivet it shut anyway. Not a job for the impatient, I must say! The wire you use would be about 18 gauge, or around 1mm/.048" diameter. Could be a little thicker or thinner. That hefty tie wire I mentioned runs 16 gauge, 1.6mm/.063". As you can see, .048¨ is going to produce a lighter-weight fabric, one that strikes a good balance between protection from sword slashes and weight to schlep.
  7. Yay!
  8. And the ugly bulges were located where on that sleeve piece? I suppose the pointed top of this piece was the top of the sleeve? Not quite sure what the point up on top is supposed to do for your shirt. Mail is generally assembled out of rectangles. The parts that are not rectangles are variously triangular -- expansion zones, which can produce any description of isosceles triangle from very skinny to very obtuse -- and then join up easily with the rest of the mail in the shirt.
  9. In the United States, we also have a lot of what we call "baling wire," that we used to tie up hay bales with, once upon a time, and is still very useful for hundreds of tasks on the farm. This wire is very soft and annealed, black in color, and 1.6mm in diameter. This wire works to make riveted mail of, though it makes a heavy, strong riveted mail. Useful for small pieces of riveted mail armor such as camails -- 14th century mail about the neck, hanging from a bascinet helmet. It would make a very heavy hauberk.
  10. What you will want is welding wire, for a Metal Inert Gas welder. You will have to anneal it -- it comes hardened to feed through the welding gun easily. The welder-wire you want is for mild steel such as A36. Find this wire in welding supplies stores. Since you will need to anneal any wire you use at some point in making your links for riveted mail, zinc-plated wire should not be used -- unless you like severe headaches and nervous twitches! -- fortunately they go away in a few days (!) Welding wire can be cheaper per kilo -- of course for most riveted-mail projects you will be using it in kilogram quantities -- if you buy it in bulk. In the US, we see prices get cheaper at about 25 kilograms. This is only really important if you plan to make as many as two hauberks. Or two haburgeons and a Landsknecht-style bishop's-mantle. Your wire thickness should be about 1mm or possibly a little thinner. Don't concern yourself with gauge numbers, since there is more than one wire gauge system and keeping them sorted out is a nuisance. Stick to measured wire diameter in international communications like posting here, and save some bother.
  11. I suppose that'd be the case for mandrels, as far as variety of link diameters goes. I don't particularly need any such appliance, living next to the ocean as I do, kind of the anti-desert temps-wise, but its cooling effects I note with interest and will keep in mind if it's ever called upon. I can cite Myrt as having succeeded with this.
  12. Hoooo-hah and hoooboy!
  13. Well, both your cousin and you need to know more about shirts, if that's how he put it. To fit your cousin, you'll want a shirt that is about as big around at the waist as about his waistline measurement plus as much as, maybe less than, twelve inches with the mail pulled out to max stretch. Up at the rather thicker chest, adding up to that chest measurement too, plus another ten inches, also with the mail fully stretched out. This gives room for him to move and to wear something padded under that mail. Short sleeved or long depends on what middle ages era you two settle on. Even unto the Renaissance, technically. By then, mail was no longer the star of the military show, though it was still in use armoring places plate pieces just couldn't manage, like the armpits, and as part of a defense in depth about the hips, almost like a mail petticoat beneath plate taces and tassets. Armoring hip joints and being flexible too is hard. The mounted man could use his saddle as thigh, hip, and 'nad protection; leg infantry had to take their chances that nobody would get a good stab up their skirts. Ouch. The medieval history of mailshirts is mostly one of growth, from the short and vest-like byrnie of Beowulf's Dark Age time, to an unknown period where mailshirts may have covered more, to the emergence of the knee length, split skirted knightly hauberk from about the latest tenth century, and pictured in the eleventh-century Bayeux Tapestry, with round shields, long teardrop shields, and conical helmets with nasals. After this, hauberks got bigger, until by mid thirteenth century the hauberk had mitts built into its sleeves and a coif of mail attached at the neckhole. I like to speak of the 13th-c. 'berk as armoring the warrior aristocrat from kneecaps to bald spot in one single piece of equipment. He'd wear a helm over that coif. By then he was also additionally armoring his torso with a body defense of smallish plates, more or less overlapping. But NOT AT ALL like the playing-card hauberks in Braveheart. Torso only. It's also pretty heavy by then, and really better for a mounted warrior with a horse to carry him and his gear across the battlefield, fighting with a lance. That's expensive, what with everything from feeding the horse to breaking lances -- they were expendable. Plate armor was developing during the fourteenth, and the overall hauberk shrank to the short-sleeved, mid-thigh haburgeon for about the last thirty years of the fourteenth century -- saving weight. The fourteenth century came in with mail 'berk and chausses overall, plus a barrel-helm, and went out with nearly complete armour of plate, with only a smallish amount of mail visible on the up-to-date knight. Thus, history: a tale of little shirts and big shirts. Here's an excellent page for the craft of it: Everything about weaving E4-1 mail is chimp simple as mail goes. These instructions produce a tailored shirt that moves with you and doesn't much try to slide down through your cinch belt as you move and fight -- you will use one. Takes some of the weight. https://web.archive.org/web/20160508055350/http://homepage.ntlworld.com/trevor.barker/farisles/guilds/armour/mail.htm I'd download it into your computer.
  14. One consideration you'd need to make is to weave the sleeve in "open hang" which I understand is what happens in weaving scales with links anyway, so you're good if so. "Open hang" can be looked up both here and on M.A.I.L., and is desired because it works well with your elbow's bending. You'll want some expanded territory at the point of the elbow too, like the heel of a sock, so you can comfortably bend your arm and not cut your circulation off. This is admittedly more straightforward in plain E4-1 mail than with the added factor of scales in the weave. Apart from the expansions at the elbow region, for pattern there really isn't very much to worry about at all. You start with just running linkrows plus scale-rows straight down your arm, and for that matter right across your upper back as you plan, and across your pectoral muscles as you intend also. Build these together, covering over your shoulders as well; you will want the load borne there. (These can be separated at front and back centerline if needed, but then may as well be sewn down onto a shirt-like or vest-like under garment and the whole affair donned like a shirt. Such was often done in combination with plate breastplates and backplates, taking care of flexible armor in armpits and arms. In the era of mail, they didn't think so much in terms of web belts or strapping as we do, but resorted to what could be called loadbearing vests for their body armor and limb armor too. Which required making vests to fit assorted warriors.) Things stay simple until you get down past that elbow and want to taper your sleeve down to closer to the size of your wrist -- it needs to be big enough to admit your hand, though -- to save weight and materials. This calls for the use of "hole row contractions," sometimes misspelled "Whole row." They are less tidy than the columnar expansions-contractions (those are the same) that make the elbow pocket, unless you'd like to resort to using links of three decreasing diameters for each hole row contraction. Can and should be done, this sleeve taper, so you're not inconvenienced by a fairly massive tubular end of the sleeve flapping about your wrists. That has discouraged many a mail wearer that ignored the need for mail to fit closely at the extremity of each limb. (That's why ankle length mail skirts never happen among any who understand mail, and mail's inertia.)
  15. As Rob said, immensely heavy. Skirts longer than knee length in mail aren't practical du tout. If your legs and feet agitate such an ankle length cone of mail, the inertia of all that metal moving around will really slam you around -- mail is too dense to be treated as petticoats. Down there around that part of the leg, mail is best fitted very close to the leg: chausses de mailles.