D.I.Y. Guides

  • Armour Modifications (riveting)
  • Adding a chin-strap to your helmet
  • Making a sturdy armour stand
  • Quick Shield padding and enarmes making guide.


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    Modifying armour can be a riveting experience - whether you are fitting extra straps, or joining two pieces of armour this is a lesson in basic riveting

    This guide was written to assist you when you need to add/move new straps or replace worn straps. There are many reasons why you would need to replace a strap or rejoin two pieces of armour. Following this step by step guide you too will find it straight forward to complete basic modifications to any armour in our range.

    What you need:
    a picture of the general tools you would need for riveting.
    -Clouts or Rivets - 1/8th" Clouts - used as solid rivets, or preferably you can substitute with a solid rivet.

    -Power Drill and 1/8th drill bit - size depends on the rivet size. For removal of rivets an alternative tool is a grinder or dremel like device.

    -Strips of leather - strong leather is recommended, at least 3mm thick.

    -Sharp Knife - For cutting the leather into strips.

    -Leather Punch - Required for forming holes in the leather.

    -Strong pliers - Required for cutting clouts. Alternatively you can use a metal saw or other cutting device.

    -Hammer - A 'Ball Peen' hammer is required. The domed head is the best way to round down (peen) rivets.

    -Buckles - We have a small range of suitable historical buckles.

    -Dollys or Anvil - I prefer an anvil but we have shown dollys here because they are cheap and available to all. Dollys are available for less than $30 a set at auto repair stores.


    1. removing an old rivet can be as easy as drilling out the back or flat of the rivet. Preparing the job:
      A.) Removing existing rivets and worn straps - The two easiest methods that I have found is either to grind down the 'ball' (usually on the outside of the armour so patience and a steady hand is required) or alternatively you can grind / drill the centre of the head (on the inside of the armour). If required this step needs to be repeated for both strap and buckle end.

      B.) Cutting new straps - In most cases where two plates are being joined using a leather strap and buckle (e.g. shoulder to gorget) we find that 100mm or 4 inches is an ideal length. However it is always best to get the assistance of a friend, apprentice or squire. While the armour is held in its ideal position then measure the distance. If you are using a strap and buckle system then you need to cut two equal straps of this length otherwise this measurement is the length required.

      C.) Making new holes - Allow at least 4cm from the edge of the plate to the new hole, this is where the buckle and strap is to be fitted. If joining two plates then the hole needs to be placed at the half way point where the two plates overlap.
    2. sizing the rivet by placing through all items needing attaching and then cut off the excess. Sizing the rivet - When complete you should be left with a clean hole in each plate that the rivet will neatly fit through. If two plates are being joined directly, ensure that the holes are perfectly aligned and that the rivet fits neatly through both layers. If using clouts this is a good time to cut them down to size. Fit the clout through all items being riveted together and allow at least 3mm then remove the remainder with the strong pliers. You may have an alternative way to shorten the clout, use whichever method is easiest for you.
    3. Doing a test fit - Sounds easy but positioning is rather difficult without the help of a friend. If you are doing it alone or are in doubt then using a set of small nuts and bolts to fit the pieces together is a perfect way to ensure everything is ok before making the rivets permanent. Here is an example method to add shoulders to gorget or breastplate... Have your friend hold the shoulder piece so that the top of the dome rests on some metal of the breastplate or gorget. Now raise your arm at the elbow making sure the whole piece is not so low that it rubs the inner elbow or forearm. Then raise your arm to your side, making sure that the shoulder does not begin to pinch on anything. Then raise your arm above your head and out the the side at a 45°, ensuring that the shoulder plate does not sit so high that it will pinch the neck or slip over any collar on breastplate or gorget.
    4. Preparing a strap by making a hole with a hole punch. Adding the buckle and straps - Perhaps during the test fit you noticed the need to be able to make fine adjustments. It is for this reason we recommend adding a strap and buckle as opposed to just one strap that is permanently riveted together. Each buckle requires a companion strap. For joins using a buckle and strap system, make the straps with a width equal to the buckle and a length of approximately 100mm (4 inches) long. Obviously if you need to add a strap and buckle around a limb then measure the length accordingly and allow a little extra.
      To prepare the buckle end, simply take one of the precut (100mm long) leather straps, punch one hole in the middle then slide the buckle into position feeding the tongue through the centre hole. Now fold the leather in half and then punch a hole through both layers near the opposite end of the buckle.
      To prepare the strap end, simply punch a hole near one end for the rivet and using the knife cut a leading taper at the opposite end. Using a smaller setting on the hole punch, put the length adjusting holes in the straps that match the diameter of the tongue on the buckle.
      Note: Make sure that the hole is large enough for the rivet to squeeze through, it should NOT be a loose fit.
    5. Closing the rivets - Push the clout or rivet through the hole you prepared in your armour and then the leather so that the flat of the nail is on the inside, ensure that the clout/rivet clears all layers and where necessary use an additional washer where the rivet is in direct contact with the leather. Use your strong pliers to cut the clout leaving no less than 1-2mm. This process can be reversed but sometimes requires more skill to hammer over the clout on the inside of the armour.
    6. Placing the flat or existing dome of the rivet down on a hardened steel surface like anvil, dolly or another hammer. Then using a ball end of the ball peen hammer work the cut end of the clout until it rounds over or flattens.

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    Adding a chin-strap to your helmet

    An extension to the 'riveting' guide specifically dealing with adding a chinstrap to your helmet. There many ways to fit a chin strap to a helmet (more detail below) but our focus here is the simple single point chin strap, if you can master this then moving onto more involved strapping techniques will be easy.
    1. Preparing a helmet for a new chin strap. Preparing the job - As mentioned above, many of these steps are just an addition to the rivetting section, and preparing the job is no different. Before you drill a hole in your new helmet you should measure and mark your spot and then make an impression in the steel with a centre punch, this will guide the drill bit to stay in spot and avoid spiral scratching. With a single point chinstrap it is usually best attatched to the base of the helmet just in front of the ear, but with a multi point chin strap it often works best both in front of and behind the ear.
    2. Measuring the straps - With the helmet on your head and using measuring tape or string, measure the distance from hole to hole. Halve this length and use it as the base length and then add the following. One side will be for the buckle add 5cm (2 inches), the other side is for the strap add 10cm (4 inches).
    3. Fitting the buckle - From the lower edge of the strap measure back 4cm and use a hole punch to make a slot for the tongue of the buckle. Insert the tongue and fold back the excess leather feeding it through the buckle. Punch a hole through both layers of leather and then rivet using the methods above or use leather studs.



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    Build an armour stand without a screw, nail or glue

    This design of armour stand is sturdy and reasonably portable as it comes apart with a few strategic hits from a hammer. It is also easy to build to your personal dimensions. It can be made from a lighter gauge wood but it is not recommended as the stand works better if it is heavier than the armour.

    What you need:
    -Wood 45mm x 90mm - approximately 6 metres in total, preferably hardwood.

    -Wood 25mm x 45mm - approximately 2 metres in total.

    -Plywood 10mm thick, 500mm x 250mm - for the head piece, can be avoided or substituted.

    -Dowel 10mm diametre - approximately 2 metres in total.

    -Good hand or power saw - Required for cutting wood into desirable lengths.

    -Hammer - Any old hammer or mallet will be sufficient.

    -Clamps - any clamp that will hold together two pieces of wood while it is drilled.

    -Power Drill and 10mm drill bit - the diametre of the bit should be no bigger than the dowel.

    -Sand Paper - Needed to tidy up the dowel ends so they insert easily.

    -Linseed Oil - Used to preserve the wood and to help swell dowel joints into place.

    -Chisel - not required but can be used to make a better fit on the shoulder bar. See step 3 for more details.


    1. Preparing the wood lengths for use:
      A.) Base - Cut 2 equal lengths of 90mm x 45mm for the base. They need to be approximately 750mm long.

      B.) Ankle Brace - Cut 2 equal lengths of 90mm x 45mm for the base. They need to be the width of your hips or approximately 400-450mm.

      C.) Height columns - Cut 2 equal lengths of 90mm x 45mm for the height columns. They need to be equal to the distance from the ground to the top of the shoulder minus 50mm or approximately 1500-1600mm.

      D.) Shoulder Bar - Cut 1 length equal to the width of your shoulders minus 50mm.

      E.) Arms - Cut the 25mm x 45mm wood into 4 equal lengths of approximately 400mm long each.

      F.) Head - Shape to silhouette of your head with an extra long neck, see image here.
    2. Order of assembly:
      A.) Mark the centre point of the base lengths then set the upright columns at right angles to the centre of the base lengths. Use the clamps to join both pieces together while you drill two 10mm holes (one above another) all the way through. Cut 4 lengths of dowel at 90mm each, hammer through all four holes. You should now have two large upside down 'Ts'.

      B.) Ensure the columns are upright and on the inside of the base facing each other. Now position the two assembled base and uprights then place the ankle braces across from one base to the other making sure the ends are flush with the base and that one brace is firmly in front of the upright and the other brace is firmly behind. Drill down a 90mm hole at each join then cut 4 lengths of dowel at 90mm each, hammer down into all four holes.

      C.) Balance the Shoulder bar on the uprights. Check and position the top of the uprights at equal distance to the base, measuring from the inside edge, this should be the width of the ankle brace minus 180mm (conditional to the use of the recomended dimensions of timer). From here you can drill down 90mm through the shoulder bar and into the upright. At this point we prefer to cut a 10mm deep 45mm wide recessed slot, it is tidier and stronger but is not absolutely required. Cut 2 lengths of dowel at 90mm each, hammer down into both holes.

      D.) This completes the body and with a few strategic nails the stand will now hold; Greaves, Poleyns, Cuisses, Tassets, Faulds, Breastplate, Gorget and Shoulders.
    3. Attaching the arms: - Drill 10mm holes in both ends of all 4 pieces. Cut 2 pieces of dowell at 50mm each and hammer through 2 pieces each creating 2 arms joined at the elbows. Drill approx 50mm deep into each side of the shoulders and cut 2 x 70mm bits of dowel then hammer the dowel through one end of the previously made arms and into the sides of the shoulders. It works slightly better if the forearm is on the inside of the elbow.
    4. Making and fitting the head: There are several ways to attatch a head piece but we favour a removable option where a head and neck shape slides down into a slot. Sizing the width of the head is important if you want the stand to wear your padded helmet, we recomend no wider than 190mm. The neck should be no less than 150mm long and made with a very slight taper toword the bottom.


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    Quick guide to assembling a combat ready shield

    A guide to help you build a combat ready heater shield with straps and a padded grip. Can be used with both the functional and decorative bosses.
    a picture of the general tools you would need for adding a handle to a shield.
    -Tacks or Small nails - 10mm tacks for nailing leather to the wood.

    -Linen or Leather rectangle This forms the basis of arm padding.

    -Strips of leather - strong leather is recommended, at least 3mm thick.

    -Sharp Knife - For cutting the leather into strips.

    -Leather Punch - Required for forming holes in the leather.

    -Strong pliers - Required for cutting clouts. Alternatively you can use a metal saw or other cutting device.

    -Hammer - Any hammer is good enough. The domed head is the best way to round down (peen) rivets.

    -Stuffing - For stuffing we use scraps of material. Anything should work, softer materials work best.

    -Buckles - We have a small range of suitable historical buckles.
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    nail down a border for the padded area. Adding the padding.
    Start by covering your shield blank with several layers of linen and paint it a base colour.

    Decide on the padded area size by measuring and drawing out the rectangle size required for your forearm. On a curved shield ensure that the arm is placed at a slight angle. I recomend that you leave space at the edges near fingers and elbow in case an axe head can reach around the edge.

    nail down a border for the padded area. Cut out the rectangle from your leather suede, linen, canvas or other strong material. It needs to be approximately 10cm longer and 5cm wider than the area to pad.

    Position one corner and align with the pre-drawn markings then place the leather strip on it and nail it in down.
    Nail the leather strip every couple of centimetres.
    As you nail along the leather strap you will need to gather the cloth a little each time.
    This extra length allows space to fit in padding.
    When you get to an opposite corner repaet this step along the next edge.

    nail down a border for the padded area. Complete most of the edges in this fashion but leave a gap (preferably in one corner. Force your padding of scrap materials through the gap using fingers or stick etc to move the padding into position and continue stuffing until satisfied with the amount of padding. When complete nail down and close the last gap.

    Fitting the enarmes.
    Enarmes or arm straps should be firm without being too tight. The best way to do this and allow for perfect fitting regardless what armour you wear, we recommend buckles on the forearm.
    adding the enarmes.
    Ensure the forearm strap is at least 3cm wide. For ease of getting on and off we suggest putting the buckle on the bottom strap and punching holes in the top strap.
    Test the position by placing your arm down on the padding and select and mark a place approx 5cm inside the elbow joint.
    Secure using at least two rows of nails on both top and bottom pieces.
    Place the front strap on an angle (not straight up and down) and curve the part which is held in the hand. Re-enforce with additional scraps of leather and nail through both layers of leather.

    picture of a shield with completed straps.
    For carrying a shield on your back or shoulder you can add a carrying strap with buckle like seen in the completed picture to the left.

    Adding edging - Provided you used multiple layers of thick material to cover your shield you may not need to strengthen the edges. One simple way to improve the life of your shield would be to put a leather or hide edge on your shield.
    Cut leather straps about 5cm wide fold over the edge and nail down on both sides. Divide the location of nails by sectioning in halves and then alternate front and back nailing to avoid wrinkling the leather. Keep dividing until nails are approx 2cm apart.

    An alternative to leather edging is to use the hide from dog chew toys. These need to be soaked thoroughly and then unraveled, shaped around the edge, nailed and then allowed to dry.

    The final step is to paint a design fitting to your shield.






    Document written and prepared by Aaron Southwell - Copyright© Medieval Fight Club
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