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Björn Kronisch





Joined: 07 Jan 2007

Posts: 86

PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 12:01 pm    Post subject: Results of test cutting on leather         Reply with quote

Today my girlfriend and I tried some cutting on different pieces of leather to get an impression of the protective function a leather armour could (or could not) have. The test was not really professional or scientific in any way but it helped us to imagine the benefits and limits of leather as armour. And it certainly has its limitations, as the leather is modern (though vegetable-tanned) and we just used water filled plastic bottles and milk cartonage as we didn't want to mess with pork arms and such.

However, the pure damage reduction ability of the leather could be estimated that way and I thought that others might also be interested in that. I know, the use of leather armour is hard (if at all) to prove but that was not our intention. Though it could maybe give further ideas about the possible pros and cons.

And let's not forget to mention: it's fun! Big Grin

I've split the video up into four parts since I wanted to have the resolution at 640 x 480 so that the details are visible.

Part1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsbvhoqGEdA

Part2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvVdSsgBfEk

Part3:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyxtpeIeIpg

Summary:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EjGIMtKTIw
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Gary A. Chelette




Location: Houston, Texas
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have you tried cuir bouilli?
I know modern leather is made to be soft and not intended for use as armour.
I have tried boiled, raw leather and it's as hard as nails.
The Vambrace made from this leather can take a heck of a shot from a non edge weapon. Never tried it against a sharp sword.

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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Björn Kronisch





Joined: 07 Jan 2007

Posts: 86

PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 12:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No, not yet. We wanted to try the softer leather first, as this is the type that many argue about (at least here). And some say that it's the toughness rather than the hardness that protects from blows. I doubt that though I've already had leather that got too hard from boiling so that it became brittle.
However, hardened leather would be in the next test. Wink
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Gary A. Chelette




Location: Houston, Texas
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent!
Good job on the film! Big Grin
Let us know when you do the other tests!

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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Matthew D





Joined: 29 Apr 2007

Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also the thickness of the leather would change the protection. Looked like you had 5/6oz which wouldn't offer much in the way of protection. If I were making armor I would be using 10/12 oz for the least amount of armor
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Max von Bargen




Location: Stanford, CA
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 3:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting videos. What swords were you using? It looked like you used a gladius and a falcata, but I couldn't clearly see the straight blade that you used for cutting. Who made the swords?
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Michael Clark




Location: Welland, Ontario
Joined: 31 Mar 2007

Posts: 45

PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think you're too hard on yourself. There is some merit to this test, as it at least shows that leather armor might have been discardable. Interesting video, for sure.. You have one mighty long pinky nail, though Cool

Edit: And I agree with Jean, below: it wasn't just the added layers of the last piece, but the way it was binded, and dissipated the force of the blow. This may have been taken to into account into leatherworking itself.


Last edited by Michael Clark on Tue 26 Jun, 2007 1:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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Alexander Hinman




Location: washington, dc
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 4:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting tests, though, if I may offer a bit of criticism, it is that you should find some way to make the bottles more stable, at least for the thrust tests, as a human torso won't bounce around as much as a 1-litre bottle which was, I think, a bit of a problem with the thrust tests. I also think it would be cool to try something like a type X for thrusting, just for a comparison with that super-pointy gladius.

Still, very cool!

Make sure to take up-close shots of the weapons you're using Big Grin
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 5:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I loved the extreme flex in your gladius' blade on one of those thrusts--it was incredible!

Jonathan
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting tests. I would ask how sharp are the swords used ? I would think that a very sharp blade and a slightly duller blade might make a difference in how protective the leather can be.

Certainly leather might be better than nothing and with luck the attackers blade might not be freshly sharpened and be more butter knife than scalpel sharp ! But I would guess that one wouldn't want to have to depend on bad weapon maintenance by an opponent to makes one's leather armour more than wishful thinking as far as reliable protection is concerned.

The lamellar seems more protective but maybe it's not because of greater total thickness as much as dissipation of energy as the lamellar scales slide over each other.

In any case it seems like good for one hit per area and then lots of repair if one survives the battle.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 9:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I second the suggestion for thickest leather. I don't know of any kind of soft leather being used as armor on its own except for very thick ones--the kind you see in 17th-century buffcoats. The thinner leathers tend to become padding or brigandine material.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jun, 2007 4:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just about anything offers pretty good protection against a sword cut: thick leather, quilted cloth, felt, etc. What makes a decent armour is its ability to resist thrusts. People should remember that by far the most common threat on any battlefield for thousands of years was from arrows and spears. Swords hardly rate a mention.
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Björn Kronisch





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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jun, 2007 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, so many responses already... Happy

About the thickness I would agree, thicker and heavier leather offers more resistance against cuts and thrusts. So far the thickest that I've seen was 6 mm thick, but such leather is hard to find (at least in Germany). It could be that especially thick leather gets a bit uncomfortable to wear but I don't know that for sure.

It certainly also depends on the stiffness of the leather. There are some sorts that remind a bit of heavy cardboard and are very stiff while others are quite soft and flexible. I'm not familiar with the characteristics of historical leather though.

I agree with Jean and Michael, the construction method of the lamellar armour must have a significant influence on the damage absorption. If you look at the armour from the inside you can see that there's mostly just one layer though on some spots there are three overlapping layers. I guess that the force is spread as the blade slips over one lamellar and hits another.
On this lamellar armguard you can see that the lamellar are build up step-like. As I imagine, on a round surface like an arm the blade following its swing has to cut one lamellar after the other to get completely through.



About the swords: The one that looks like a falcata is actually a long khukuri. Who made it I cannot say (if it's a single person at all), all I know is that it's made in Nepal. The straight one that you asked about, Max, is a first generation spatha by Albion. About the gladius I would like to know the bladesmith myself, I merely know that it's an English forge.
Maybe one of you recognizes the marking on the sheath?



The spatha is really sharp, it cuts paper cleanly and with proper technique it goes through plastic bottles like butter. Here's a video that shows how already light strokes with it can give a clean cut: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2pPbMYJ9Bs
The gladius is not that sharp and requires the right technique to cut cleanly. However, it's still far enough from being dull. The khukuri's sharpness lies in between those two.

And some pictures of the three swords:













Last edited by Björn Kronisch on Wed 27 Jun, 2007 3:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bram Verbeek





Joined: 27 Mar 2007

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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jun, 2007 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the angle in which you hit the scales would matter too, I teach my students to use quite vertical arcs when standing close together (to those who preach otherwise, you can see quite well where you hit your opponent, and thus miss the head, you cannot really see the rest around you, and a 1,5 meter circle around has more chance to get hit, plus your buddies will not like to be hit on the back of the skull, it is very easy to down a man hitting there) , scales would dissipate that energy better by sliding. This also would provide an answer as to why the byzantine armour is layered the other way; heavy armour was almost invariably used on cavalry, they would fear thrusts and blows from below more than those from above, as the former would be more frequent (infantry and some mounted foes) while all other scales are layered like roof tiles to protect from more prevalent blows from above and arrow hits. Maybe putting it on clay could give a clue to impact wapons as well.

so things interesting enough to test:
Angle 45 degrees upward and downward
Axe (to simulate more impact, plus it was a common weapon, I think leather scales provide good protection against a less sharp, but heavier object)
Mace or hammer
Putting it on clay to prevent shifting (heavy &sticky)
Differing thickness of leather
Hardened leather

I may be able to test some of these, I will try to fire a bow at one as well, if I reach Robin soon enough
I will have to make the scales first though
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jun, 2007 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For what its worth i've been wearing the same 6oz. sued apron for 8 years nearly every day in the shoppe drawing sharp metal against it every day with nerey a cut to show for it. I have however in a hurry gotten stupid and not put it on and cut myself quite nicely one several occasions. Leather gloves seem to work very well in the same capacity. They don't get cut from the sharp metal edges, its the holes that get worn in them holding pieces while using different abrasives ( sanders, grinders) that sends them to the garbage bin.
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Gary A. Chelette




Location: Houston, Texas
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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jun, 2007 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:

The lamellar seems more protective but maybe it's not because of greater total thickness as much as dissipation of energy as the lamellar scales slide over each other.


That's correct, Jean.
The more you can spread out the force of a weapon, the more protective it is. Chain does great against a sword cut but not much good against a club or mace.
Layers tend to displace a lot of energy.

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jun, 2007 5:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Underpadding is important with lamellar as it is with maile. Lamellar will dissipate energy fairly well if the lacing is tight, but over time it relaxes, and the difference is painfully noticeable.

I wonder how much one could really depend on this effect, as i am using synthetic lacing, so leather lacing would be even more elastic. I doubt that anyone would have the time to tighten the lacing. Of course leather shrinks too, so perhaps the key would be to shrink the leather once all of the lames are in place, thus giving the armor a nice rigidity.
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Björn Kronisch





Joined: 07 Jan 2007

Posts: 86

PostPosted: Wed 27 Jun, 2007 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Today I've prepared some leather pieces by pouring hot water on them and they got quite stiff and hard. I've also done that with a new piece of lamellar armour. When the weather clears up here and the rains stops we will test the pieces. This time I will also take my two handed axe with me to see how the leather reacts to tough hacking blows.

I'm still thinking about the problem of the bottles bouncing away but no good idea came to my mind of how to fasten them. Well, I guess with some improvisation this problem will at least partially be solved.
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Etienne Hamel




Location: Granby (QC) canada
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jun, 2007 10:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

did you think about strap it with duct tape on a tree?
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Mike Arledge




Location: Indianapolis, IN
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jun, 2007 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I reccomend strapping it to a semi-heavy hanging target. My preferred pell for non sharp work is a hanging tire. Has good wieght behind it, while also giving a good feel. I think it would provide good resistance for cuts.
Mike J Arledge

The Dude Abides
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