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Konstantin the Red

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About Konstantin the Red

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    Journeyman Member
  • Birthday 05/11/1956

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    Port Hueneme, CA, USA
  • Interests
    SCA, armouring, firearms, cutlery, f&sf.
  • Occupation
    Cutco Salesman

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  1. Konstantin the Red

    Newb Help with Persian 4 in 1

    So: expansions. An expansion is like a piece, a Unit (see above) of E5-1 in a field of E4-1. With the four links in the corners and one in the center, a fifth link is inserted between the two lower corner-links. This extra link hangs slightly lower than the original two. Because the center link is circular, naturally. The following row of links now has one more link to weave to, which makes it longer, expanding things. Every expansion link inserted adds one ID's worth of further length to the linkrow below it. That makes calculating how many expansions you need for the job easy. The great thing about triangular expansion arrays -- the expansions push them into triangular shapes -- is their great flexibility: you can have one link's worth of expansion, or you can add in lots. Making the triangle pretty wide. In .063" wire and 1/4" ID, you'll have all the room you need to insert that fifth (expansion) link. Appreciably tighter mail weave wouldn't have room to insert a full-thickness link. *But* if you really gotta do it, instead of an expansion link, you can insert an expansion hole -- a deliberate flaw in the weave. The simplest way to do (and explain) this trick is to use a twist tie to make like a temporary expansion link inside that cramped center link, then weave the next row on, treating the looped twist tie like it was the expansion link, and weave along normally, and putting in another row or two of links below where the twist tie is to make things stable. Then take the twist tie out; the hole in the weave is nearly invisible. Even if you don't need the trick, it's nice to know if you're making dense mail. Contractions and contraction arrays: they're just expansions turned upside down. Simple, eh? You can weave a contraction into mail weave just by hooking your open link through not two, but three, links in the row above it in the weave. This snugs up everything by one link ID. Or you can make contraction arrays out of expansion arrays by turning either one point up or point down -- that's if you pre-made your arrays. All you need to keep track of is that the links at the wider bases of both the triangles are angling in the same direction -- so you can simply zip them together with one single row of links which will angle in the opposite direction, or link-lie.
  2. Konstantin the Red

    Newb Help with Persian 4 in 1

    Roger that, xbitgeek. Not really necessary to use a mannequin if you're building for your own self -- then you can be your own mannequin -- but it doesn't hurt anything. You can always build mailpatches, both rectangular and expansion-triangle, and zip 'em on. Since mail is so much like knitting a sweater, it doesn't matter at all which direction you do your weaving in. I think I've woven E4-1 in every direction possible except the diagonal. And maybe you can do that! -- though I couldn't say why. Generating the mail weave in a row-wise direction -- horizontal worn on you, and the resilient direction -- or a columnwise direction -- vertical, and also the non-resilient direction -- both work just fine, so no worries. It varies a little with which way is best for generating a certain shape of mailpiece -- like if you made a belt or part of a belt of the stuff, you'd make it go row-wise, weaving. Part of a shirt -- that, I always start columnwise for just a bit, to establish the vertical height of the patch I'm making. It could be any height at all from three links' worth, to (pick a number out of the air) a couple hundred. Big enough for most things, and also kinda heavy to push around on your workbench, or the living room rug, by the time you're nearly done. I have an article in the M.A.I.L. library describing how I make a rectangular mail patch large enough to wrap entirely around my body, and with slack. That's how I used to do that kind of thing; now I think I'd work a little smaller, for convenience in inserting a triangular expansion array over each shoulder blade and then getting around to filling in between those, and taking care of the over-the- shoulder parts of the shirt, which when all is said and done is a) a rectangle, with b) a neckhole included, offset to forward -- bcs anatomy! -- and c) with expansion arrays reaching up onto the left and right shoulders about the middle of your trapezius muscles, which bend the sides of the rectangle outwards on the rear half of the shoulder rectangle, for that slack in the back I mentioned. But the large rectangle starts out sooooper simple: all I do is make a chain of alternating double and single links, 2 links 1 link 2 links 1 link as long as I like until it's long enough, and I finish it up with 1 link 2 links, stop. I smooth this chain out on the worksurface so all the links lie flat and in good order; nothing twisted: the doubled links angle up one way, the single links angle up the opposite way. That is the columnar-generated part, and is the first three columns of links on one side of a mail patch. Then I build onto the side of that chain. You've spread its length right and left in front of you, so you're probably adding on links to the edge nearest you. You could call it the bottom edge, though it really doesn't matter to the mail fabric. I like to cast links onto this edge of the long chain two links at a time. We call that "speedweaving" and okay, it at least feels like we're going faster, sticking two columns of links on at every go, generating and widening the mailpatch row-wise, along its resilient direction. That resilience won't be any too obvious until you've gotten it about ten links wide, but you'll get there. Probably just about the time your palms start getting sore! The very first of the two-fer links you cast onto that chain is really a three-fer: put two closed links in an opened link, then weave the open link into the edge of that chain, and close it. Now you have a 2-1-2-1 chain with a little L shaped tab on one end -- which is now 3-2-3-1-2-1-2 on down. The inside corner of the tab now presents you with three links to weave an open link through, and you can hang a closed link in it to make up the fourth link, in the fourth corner. Close that central link, and your L tab on the end is now fatter. Continue so on down your chain until you complete a whole chain of 3 links 2 links 3-2-3...2-3 stop. Now it looks less like a chain and more like a strap, doesn't it? Now you get to go back and start all over again! Isn't that just tons of fun? Eventually you've filled in a whole rectangle; part of a shirt. Big or small matters not at all. One way I size how tall the body rectangle is going to be is making that chain of singles and doubles -- another way to think of it is as a chain of "E4-1 Basic Units" as the Bladeturner mailshirt tutor calls them: tiny squares of mail links, four at the corners and one central one woven through the other four, hence 4-in-1 -- which you can see is exactly what's making up that chain -- is to make that chain long enough to stretch from high in my armpit down to the hem of the shirt, say mid thigh. Or, for some tailoring purposes, only going down from armpit to belt line, skirt and hem part to be added on below later. That trick works nicely for hauberks, which are pretty lengthy, descending to the kneecap, and wanting a bit of knowledgeable attention paid (more expansion arrays) to both the skirts and the riders' slits dividing them, so the slits stay slits and don't leave an inverted-V gap aimed right at your crotch. Hauberks are also the biggest and heaviest mail shirts. You are probably planning the more generic sort of shirt, the haburgeon: mid-thigh length or a bit higher, short or half sleeved. More advanced than the vest-like, vest-sized byrnie, which Beowulf wore. Story is, he could swim in it. (!) Strong dude. When building a shirt, avoid thinking of folding over your shoulders like a serape; instead, think in terms of going around you, front, back, and sides -- ending up with a tubelike shape that flares up somewhat wider at the top end right about where you take a chest measurement, the tailor tape under your arms. Then top it off with the shoulder section. No rule against making the shoulder section first thing and draping it on your shoulders to check for fit -- and *then* making the body barrel and zipping its top onto the shoulderpiece's edges, for all of the shirt except its sleeves, short or long. The 14th-century haburgeon had short to half sleeves; the 15th-century infantry or light horse shirt differed in having long sleeves, like a late-model hauberk's. My enthusiasm has made this novella long enough, so enjoy.
  3. Konstantin the Red

    Newb Help with Persian 4 in 1

    Jeff, you mean you can find aluminum wire cheaper than you can find galvanized steel? Color me rather surprised. Generally, the way to buy wire most cheaply is in bulk, by weight -- priced by the pound. It's probably a dollar a pound or so for galvy wire, which is perfectly fine for butted mail you intend to get beat on in, say, the SCA sword game. Aluminum is more easily bent, and hence more easy to beat up and grow holes in, too. I wonder what xbitgeek means by 'mold,' as I don't mold anything when I'm weaving mail -- it's all taking wire and bending it, one way and another. A dress-form/mannequin? You can get a good idea what's needed for a shirt for yourself if you put on a hoodie and a sweatshirt, both at once, and then the mail over both. Whatever you've got that's thick; even a light jacket. See if anything's going tight with the mail on. You have enough circumference to your shirt -- and enough slack in the right places -- if you can cross one arm over the other in front of you at the elbows without the shirt binding you. If it does, add more mail in the back of the shirt to give a little more slack. If you're building a longsleeve shirt, you'll want to be able to bend those elbows too, reaching back to touch your opposite shoulders. Along its resilient direction, E4-1 mail pretends to be elastic, because of the way the links are aligned. Since a shirt of mail amounts to a metal chain in two dimensions, it acts like a metal chain when it comes to full tension. At that point, like a tow-chain under load, it stops hard. Ya got no more. So what you're after is to have enough mail to leave a little bit of slack in the mail when your body has come to its limit of motion. Some of that is cut-and-try, but experience shows that about a handspan more width across the back of the shirt at the shoulders than across the chest gives enough slack to give your arms freedom forward, where your anatomy allows it -- our arms don't go as far backward as they do forward, and the sleeves on a mailshirt will have to reflect that.
  4. Konstantin the Red

    Newb Help with Persian 4 in 1

    So, nine days on, what cheer? The archived Trevor Barker shirt how-to, which copies a very complete 15th-century German shirt (from a historically known Ringharnischer resident in Hamburg, no less (he took out a business license there in 1438)) and demonstrates that making a shirt wasn't terribly involved from a layout viewpoint, is a very good recipe for a shirt that works. Others are possible and many modern maillers have undertaken them, but it seems historical shirts did not stray far from what's in the Trevor Barker. What I draw from the thing is that mailshirts were modular. They seem to have been assembled from an inventory of pre-made rectangles, squares, and expansion arrays, all put together as required when an order was placed. With so much of the prep work done beforehand, producing a shirt to fit a client, either personally present or hypothetical for an armory, was quick -- in the end. Assembling the rectangles, etc., was the slow part. Mailshirt sizing seems about like t-shirt sizing, S/M/L/XL. That's figuring a rather generous value of S/M/L to allow for a padded jacket underneath the shirt -- the other component of mail armor systems. A pullover mailshirt needs its slack so you can first get the durn thing on, then can move with freedom and vigor wearing it -- fighting, you know -- and then the business of getting the shirt off again. This features bending way over and wiggling your butt while dragging at the shirt by the neckhole to get all that metal off over your head and puddled on the ground in front of you. Mail is extremely draggy over any body prominence, especially those covered in absorbent, padded quilting. You need to use gravity's aid.
  5. Konstantin the Red

    Cutting smooth small rings.

    Leave the coil on a mandrel while you cut.
  6. Konstantin the Red

    18 gauge 3/16

    It will look like =O=, the equals signs being the pliers jaws either side, and the cut ends up at twelve o'clock.
  7. Konstantin the Red

    18 gauge 3/16

    Lever at the link as you close the ends together with your righthand pliers. You should squoodge that link end more into line with the other to get rid of this. It's difficult to see somebody doing it because it's simultaneous with twisting the link closed -- just adding a small motion in with the other. The tidiness or form of your cut shouldn't affect anything too much. I don't think working the side of the link opposite the link-end cut will do the job -- just try grabbing the link at both sides and shoving the straying end into line with the other side.
  8. Konstantin the Red

    Newb Help with Persian 4 in 1

    This is a tangent. Riveted mail links assemble differently. Their ends have been overlapped, flattened or swaged into a pent-roof, creased looking shape, the shaped overlap pierced for a rivet -- a very tiny rivet -- and once all this gets done, they're snapped together with the fingers just like hooking key-rings together. Then they're riveted, heading the rivet with "setting pliers," which have to be modified from modern tools like large-size end-nippers/nail nippers, as simply nothing modern involves working eensy rivets on tiny rings of metal in this way. Period art of mailmakers never shows two pairs of pliers to close links with, but *does* show a pincers, often with a dinky little anvil set into the benchtop and a small mallet to hand. Looks like those pincers needed a little help to do the job. We moderns might think a compound-leverage tool based on a boltcutter would be just the thing... at least that means no periodic smacking sounds. (Modernly, we *do* weld, and that is how butchers' mail is made.) They don't ever seem to have welded mail shut in ancient times, though they could and did incorporate solid links punched out from sheet. They proved this through metallography, looking at the inclusions of silica and other impurities in the fine wrought-iron they used. Wrought iron wire has all its inclusions lined up parallel along the wire length from the strains of the drawing process. Wrought iron sheet's tiny inclusions were randomly oriented. They found the inclusions in solid links were random, not parallel, while the riveted links had parallel inclusions. Certainly with medieval forge technology, micro welding like this was far more fuss than punching circles out of sheet. I'm not saying you absolutely can't flux and forgeweld wire mail links, but you have to work very quickly, very nimbly, and use a hot anvil too so as not to sink all the heat out of that tiny red hot link in your tongs -- which should also be about red heat themselves for the same reason. Medieval smiths would call all this a hot PITA.
  9. Konstantin the Red

    Newb Help with Persian 4 in 1

    If you imitate the motion of revving a motorbike just a bit, about 1/8 of a turn, you're twisting links closed about right. Keep both pliers in line. You haven't mentioned, but are any of your link closures gappy or un-uniform? The twist method above helps fix that too, if you push the link ends together as you twist. Sometimes this takes two or three passes, feeling the cut ends grind together, until the link's cut ends stay firmly in contact. In garment/shirt links, I also encourage the link ends to butt together not point to point (not like ><) but facet to facet, with the link ending up slightly out of round (so, /\\/) because of it. That way, to get unraveled again they have to get bent open rather more. Out of round links are not at all important in a mailshirt of 25K rings. Steel wire being so much stiffer -- and regular steel wire is not the stiffest you could find yet! -- than aluminum or brass wire, it's important to use enough plier, minimizing strain on the flesh of your hands. With galvy steel, my usual weapons are a pair of plain old 9" slipjoint pliers, and kind of peeking around the corners of their broad jaws if I need to eyeball what I'm doing. With .063" steel wire and 1/4" ID links, another decent option is bent-nosed slipjoints, typically 6" size; these have narrower jaws and you can see the smaller link easily. With their bent noses, you'll hold them a little differently, but just keep the jaws in the same line. Steel -- and titanium -- you want to have leverage. Small, dainty beaders' pliers aren't what you'd want with these metals. You may already have felt this, but after weaving stiff wire links for upwards of an hour, your hands may begin to hurt where the pliers handles bear upon the palms. The minute you feel the least pain there, down tools and go do something else. Your flesh now needs its time to recover, to heal. Next day when your hands have stopped aching, you can resume mailling. Only after a few days of "mail a bit, and stop" should you extend the mailling time by ten or fifteen minutes, and go that long for a couple of days before adding still more time to a session. As your hands adapt and toughen, you can mail for longer periods. It takes about a week. You'll notice getting more palm pain -- "I can take it" -- means longer recovery time. Let your flesh rest and get sturdy.
  10. Konstantin the Red

    Newb Help with Persian 4 in 1

    16ga (SWG)/.063" steel wire will suit a shirt, and while heavier and denser than the 5/16", 1/4" links will prove more durable. For a shirt, you want a stiff wire. Aluminum wire, which is gauged in AWG which is calculated on the wire's ability to carry electric current, is thinner at 16ga(AWG) -- copper and brass wire also. Call it .051" wire diameter.
  11. Konstantin the Red

    Newb Help with Persian 4 in 1

    I suspect by "saddled" he means pringled rings -- those have a saddle shape, and about the easiest way to pringle-ring your rings is to stretch open a coil so that all the links you cut from it are pre-opened already -- if you stretch it too far. Minimize that by only stretch-opening coils to a bit more than twice their original length. Let's hear more about how he's closing his links, as a plain twisting of the pliers shouldn't pringle, bend, or saddle anything. Keep the pliers on the same axis throughout -- like you could draw a straight line through the middle of the link you're closing from the middle of one fist to the middle of the other.
  12. Konstantin the Red

    Armor grade leather??

    They call those "sink cutouts" in the trade. A bargain! Kind of like buying donut holes. Ulfhednar, do you play with the SCA or some LARP? (The SCA generally makes generalist fighters -- some will play all three SCA sword-games, Heavy, Light, and Cut & Thrust; in the Heavy they're using everything from halberds and greatswords nearly as tall as themselves down to Roman Empire short swords, plus axe and mace -- though not flails. There they couldn't get authentic handling without authentic danger and caving in the armor of that design generation. Quarterstaves, they said, have the same problem.)
  13. Konstantin the Red

    Armor grade leather??

    Thing about sword, and swordlike, balance in a weapon is they're nimble. Even the broadsword, which gets an unjustly bad rap. Until, that is, you pick one up that was made to be used. Audible exclamations sometimes occur, waving the thing about.
  14. Konstantin the Red

    Armor grade leather??

    Living less than twenty minutes from Cold Steel's Ventura CA headquarters, I've had a good view of their plastic practice swords -- wasters, as the HEMA parlance has it. The idea is the reinforced polymer they're made of isn't going to crack or chip or really anything. And you can bang 'em together all day. They make totally fun toys/athletic gear -- that you could thrash a burglar with too. And he'll stay thrashed. Compared to suitable HEMA steel, they are way cheap! Thirtyish bucks at sale prices even for a hand-and-a-half.
  15. Konstantin the Red

    Armor grade leather??

    Turning attention to the decorating of leather -- which is a rich field. For a first go-round, probably a border of lines or repeating series of stamps is best; leather carving with the swivel knife and associated texturing and backgrounding stamps and techniques want a little experience and working up to. For instance: carve and decorate the waist belt. A Tandy shop can teach you a lot about how to carve and tool a belt, and from this experience you can step up to overall decoration of some large piece of leather before you harden the stuff. Pretty fabulous, numerous hours of work and learning/coaching wanted, and mighty handsome when done. Also not immediately necessary to the shaping of leather pieces or metal ones into protective pieces. But really nice to have. Most leather stamps, styli and such are not frightfully expensive when bought as needed, and there are not a whole lot of absolute minimum necessary items to heap together before you can even start. Leather tooling equipment comes in at least two levels of quality, and using both to compare with shows you why some people think it pays to shell out for the good stuff. One can tool damp leather on a Masonite board -- that's entry-level, budget equipment. Then try tooling and stamping your damp leather on a marble slab. The difference is "Wow!" and also great tooling impressions. This said, all-in-one-big-box leatherworking kits are a good leg up on getting started in the elements of leatherworking. An extremely, extremely, comfortably dry-shaving-sharp knife is of great utility. Some leather cutting can be done with leather shears, snipping the stuff like cutting paper (but more effort). A knife so keen you could hardly feel it cutting your thumb off is just about sharp enough to really work leather well -- the crescent-bladed traditional "heading knife" honed that sharp is an excellent instrument for cutting leather once mastered, but that takes a bit. Otherwise, nice fresh X-Acto knife blades will serve well enough. Getting good at honing knife edges with tripoli and a honing strop, for razors, is valuable to cutting accurately and with good control in this tough and expensive material that you don't want to waste any of if you can help it. That said, don't be too upset if you do mess some up -- that is how you learn. Make the most of your failures, too. Stamps and a mallet to drive them aren't super expensive, though the larger stamps will cost proportionately more. Sizeable stamps also need a bigger hittin' stick to drive them well; regular-to-small ones need only a regular wood or rawhide mallet. A repeated pattern of two or of three different stamps can be run around the edge of a large piece of leather to make a handsome border. Lines or grooves along an edge to delineate or entirely compose a decorative border are put in with an adjustable tool called an "edge groover," which takes a little thread of leather out of the leather piece. It is also useful for sinking leather stitching below-grade, as it were. The armours in your pic show some leatherworking, which mostly appears to be forming, carving, and embossing. Trouble being, these mostly appear in those parts of the gear that are probably completely ineffectual to actually armor anybody or let them move freely -- those bad vambraces and bad greaves that I said "junk 'em; use something different." The thigh pieces on the righthand armor, btw, are actually pretty well shaped. Such pieces -- the cuisses (which is just French for 'thighs') don't absolutely have to be strapped and buckled; it's actually more convenient that they be closed up with lacing which won't catch on something; bootlace works well anywhere in tying armor pieces together or to suspension points. Well designed and then well (usually closely) fitted armor you simply wear once donned -- if you have to fight *any* part of it to move, something is wrong and it should be revised. Mail is rather good this way, since it's flexible as cloth. It gets trickier with platy stuff. There is a reason real plate armor looks the way it does: these are the ergonomic shapes for a protective shell of hard, articulated plates that cover you and move with you. For armor that functions, don't stray too wildly from the historical forms. These were arrived at by trial and error, and errors were blood, and the notes on what worked and what didn't were taken in blood also.
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