Wisby Gauntlets, Pair #2
Following the successful construction and sale of pair #1, I began a second pair. I will be incorporating lessons learned from the first pair into this pair.
This pair is being made from 4130 steel about .037" thick, which will be heat treated for strength.
The first step is to cut out all the components. I created a pattern based on the archeological drawings from the dig from the Battle of Wisby.
Metal cutting and forming
I was eager to start forming so I went ahead and formed the knuckle gadlings at this point. I start by pushing the flat plates into a depression in a lead block, followed by planishing on the same stake. It can take a few iterations of dishing and planishing to get them to the correct shape.
Most of the components are of the same width, and thus can be cut from strip, so I first cut strips of material.
After all of the plates are cut out, holes must be punched in all the plates. I do not punch the holes for articulations until after those parts are formed and fitted to one another. I clamped my Harbor Freight hand hole punch in my vice, and slipped a piece of PVC pipe over the handle to act as a cheater bar to give better leverage. It's a poor substitute for a real bench-mounted hole punch but it works.
Now the process of forming the plates can begin. I typically do one hand and then the other, but the order does not really matter. I have ordered the pictures per type of component.
To form the fingertip plates, first I dish them into a lead block, and then work them over a ball stake. Next I use the end of a piece of round bar stock to initially form the knuckle crease.
Then I created a new stake from a railroad spike to give me a crisp edge to work the knuckle joint over.
The finger lames are formed using a block of wood with a hole cut into it, which has been split in half and then layered with a scrap bit of steel. This provides a form that the lames can be pressed into to give them the desired curvature.
Likewise, the cuff plates need a slight curvature for strength and a good fit. I accomplish this over the same bar stock using a rubber hammer.
The metacarpal plates are the most time consuming and difficult to form. To start with, I draw lines to indicate where the creases in between the metacarpal bones go. I then knock a groove into a lead block using a custom stake made from a railroad spike for making flutes. This is basically just a smoothed spike so that it does not gouge the material you are creasing.
I then use the creasing stake to carefully follow the lines and create the creases in the metacarpal plate.
After the creases are put into the metacarpal, I dish the knuckle recesses using a ball hammer and a lead block. After some initial dishing work, I then switch to planishing over a ball stake.
The next step is to form the thumb root plate and the articulating thumb pieces. These are actually easier to make than the metacarpal. You want to do careful but stout dishing using a ball stake right on the edge of the articulation. The idea is to make a spherical raised area exactly on the border between the articulating plates. Start with the root, then the middle plate, and finally the tip plate, making sure each nests well into the other. You may have to carefully nest them together and dish/raise them as one to make them exactly fit together. As before, initial dishing in a lead block is followed up with planishing over a ball stake. The recess in the thumb web area is initially formed using a ball hammer into lead, and then crisped up using a chisel stake I made from a railroad spike. I also use this same stake for making the knuckle crease in the fingertip lames as described and shown above.
Next we form the rest of the hand plates. We want to fit them to our hand, but also as they all nest/overlap one another, we can use each preceding plate as a form guide for the next plate.
Tinning was a period technique for plating iron objects to protect them from rusting. On my first pair of gauntlets I left the plates with the oxide layer from the forge. I decided to have a go at tinning the plates on this set of gauntlets. I'm not terribly pleased with the results, but since the plates are hidden anyway it's no big deal. I remember hearing about a statute in period times about quality standards for internal plates on harnesses, and I guess we can see why.
Initially I used paste flux, but this was messy and difficult to apply, and it resulted in a lot of gunk in the tin pot. I switched to Ruby Fluid liquid flux, and it was much faster and more convenient, and resulted in less mess in the tin pot. I can't say the results were any better though.
An experiment in stitching
It was suggested by Master Armourer Robert MacPherson that I should consider using a flesh-side stitch to butt-join the cuff to the main gauntlet. I have a special hooked awl for making the holes, so I made a little test piece. This leather is a bit thicker than my last pair of gauntlets, so it was a bit easier. The stitch went better than I thought, and I think with some practice I could do it. However, you have to run the needle in perpendicular to the seam, and the plates of the hand and cuff would get in the way of that. I'm not sure I could get in close enough without leaving a considerable gap between the cuff plates and the hand plates. I'm a little afraid to try it. I will probably stick with my usual stitch for this pair. Maybe next pair...
I have been working on improving my tinning. After reading up on hot-dip galvanization (there is a lot on the web about that, relatively little about hot-dip tinning), I have discovered that the basic idea is to pickle the object in acid, getting a perfectly oxide-free surface. Then you wash the parts carefully in water, and keep the objects submerged in clean water. This keeps them from oxidizing.
I have also started using liquid flux (Ruby Fluid), which is much easier and faster to apply, and leaves much less residue in the tin pot.
While I was very much satisfied with my new tinning results, during riveting the heads of the rivets were getting scuffed by the anvil face. I thought perhaps they would fair better if I added more flux to the head of the rivet, to form a domed head. After a bit of experimenting, I discovered this was fairly easy to do. Simply stand the rivets in a row in a block of wood, and heat them just enough to get the tin to flow, then touch some tin solder to the head. A nice dome of solder will form on the rivet head.
To protect the tin dome on the rivets, I made a rivet set to support the rivet head during peening.
Some videos of the work:
More to come as the gauntlet progresses...