Over the weekend, as a means to distract myself from the terrible food cravings, I ran out to the local TSC store and picked up a sheet of 16ga mild steel. I wanted 18ga, but my options were 16 or 22, and since I wasn’t building costume armour I figured 16 was the way to go. I spend a happy afternoon researching an appropriate pattern (I found one on The Armour Archive’s Pattern Index) and then altering it to my own taste and situation.
On Sunday I got to wrestle with my pneumatic shears for the first time ever — they aren’t as easy as they look, especially without any experience. I think they’ll be OK for thinner sheet metal than I was using, but they fought like hell against the 16ga. I think in future I’ll get a good metal-rated jigsaw blade and use that instead — because I’ve still got about 80% of a 24″x24″ sheet of 16ga steel in the shop and there’s no sense letting it go to waste.
In any case, I was able to get the basic forms roughly cut out, then spend a chunk of the holiday Monday with the bench grinder making a shitload of sparks and bringing them into their intended shape and smoothing the edges. Then, after they’d cooled down a bit (more than once I accidentally let the edge touching the grinder get glowing-hot) I used the horn of my 10kg anvil to bend them into shape, and dished the rear piece slightly where it’s going to sit over my C4 vertebrae. After that, I went over the edges with a fine hand file, removing any and all burrs, then cleaned it all up with a vinyl sanding block. Finally, the mild steel of the gorget got a generous coating of ArmourAll.
While that was drying, I watched an old episode of Cadfael and stitched brass harness buckles to leather, then stained them chocolate brown. Once everything had dried (and the excess ArmorAll was wiped away with a clean cloth) I riveted the buckles and leather to the gorget, then tried it on. A few more adjustments (largely involving careful taps with a peening hammer) and voilà, I have a new piece of armour.
Now, it’s a bit rough, and I know there are many who could have done it better, but I’m inordinately proud of this piece; it’s only my second metalworking project and it’s the very first that I’ve ever made on my own.
Of course, the so-called “collar gorget” has almost nothing to do with medieval history, much less 14th century armouring. Historical evidence suggests that gorgets weren’t worn with 14th century “transitional” plate, and only really developed with the advent of early 15th century “alwhyte” plate armour. The collar gorget is an SCA-developed piece of armour, from a time when maille aventails were not usually seen on an SCA helmet.
Technically, I can get away without a gorget by the strictest interpretation of the rules, since my bascinet helm has a heavy maille aventail backed with quilting (so much better at preventing armour bite than just bare maille) but I’ve been in too many melees to be totally comfortable with that. I’m not so much worried about a wonky shot catching me in the throat as I am ending up at the bottom of a heap of heavy fighters — and when you’re a big fellow wearing a full suite of armour, heavy is the operative concept. The new gorget will make that a much more comfortable prospect… insofar as “comfort” plays a role in that situation.
So there you are; after a couple of weeks of heavy-duty health posts, a proper SCA post again. Proof, I suppose, that despite all the drama life does go on.