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Julian C.





Joined: 26 Nov 2015

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Thu 26 Nov, 2015 1:11 pm    Post subject: What Metal Should One Use in Armour Reproduction?         Reply with quote

Hello everyone, my name is Julian. I never posted anything here, but have enjoyed the info in this forum on several occasions over the years. I found no answer to what I want to ask by searching here, but if it has already been answered or there's a more adequate place to ask, let me know.

Going to the point; I want to make armour, and I have made some breastplates, helmets, gauntlets, cuisses and other things on iron sheets from gauge 14 to 18. While I'm very happy with the results I wanna make the best armour I can (strong, beautiful, some of it close to the originals), and I realize selecting better metal is a must. I know little about chemistry (Just have a background in construction) but according to the book Techniques of Medieval Armour Reproduction by Brian R.Price, Steel from 1030 to 1050 is the best choice, having the optimum carbon content and being able to be heat treated, it also talks of stainless steel as a valid option, this one being harder to work with, more expensive and having a modern look unappealing to historical purists.
My problem is that I live in a third world country with a lot of restrictions on importation, so my choices for tools and materials are quite limited. So far I have found sheets of steel 1010 and stainless steel. Which one of these two is more suitable for someone wanting to make something as close on sturdiness and mobility to the medieval originals? Any tips on getting metal from other sources such as mechanics?

Thanks for your time.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Thu 26 Nov, 2015 2:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

if you are going for the look and shape then almost anything will do. However some are easier to work than others and of course if you are going to use the armour for protection then its effectiveness for that is important so your definition of strong might be different to others. I use armour that is accurate, but some of it matches original thicknesses and that can be pretty thin by modern re-enactment standards. Although many people make with stainless I've heard several complain about how difficult it is to work. Never having hit it myself I couldn't say personally.
Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi, for armor my boss only uses C45 also called 1.0503, which has an average carbon content of 0.45%. 1050 has an average carbon content of 0.50% if I remember correctly. If you just want to show of with your armor, and don't intend to fight with it, you can use mild steel as you do now. We also offer mild steel but as far as I know no one ever has ordered a piece of mild steel...

The higher the carbon content the harder it is to work the pieces. Also it gets harder to work over time, especially if you work the pieces hot, let them cool down and work them in a cold state. You'd need to soft-anneal the steel to get it soft again.
Mild steel is definitely easier to form!
I haven't worked with stainless steel sheets as we normally don't offer stainless. However massive pieces of stainless steel, which are worked hot of course, are no problem. Therefore working stainless steel hot is no problem. But I believe that working that stuff cold is quite a pain. Also it 's not authentic Wink

If you want to fight with it, or your customers, search for steel with an average carbon content between 0.40-0.50%. And one thing you never want in a piece of armor is sulfur! Sulfur makes steel briddle! --> No go for armor. Many tools in use are made of similar stuff for example hammers. The bigger problem is to get it in form of a sheet.
Making your own steel sheets is NOT an option. It is by far more complicated as people tend to think. This also annihilates the option to make your own steel.
Getting mild carbon steel sheets is also here in germany quite a difficult task.

Another option is to carburize the pieces. However for this you need an electrical oven that can reach 950°C and a few hours of time, but every information about carburizing can be found online.


My I ask where you live?
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 8:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

1010, has a approximately carbon content of 0.08-0.13%, that's low carbon steel, quite similar to many mild steels. This can be worked good.

And can you show us some of your work? I believe some people here are interested to see what you produced so far Happy
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Julian C.





Joined: 26 Nov 2015

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 10:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@Mark: Thanks for the info, reading that one of the metal options is used in places where this interest is more common is always a relief. Regarding strength; I know stainless is hard, but hard also means brittle, so I’m unsure of how it compares to heat treated mild steel in the resistance department.

@Peter: As someone who is only getting started in working hot, those are some good news:)
Yes, I doubt I have the budget to even consider making my own sheets. Carburization might be something worth keeping in mind for the future though.
Of course, I live in Argentina.
I’m sure a sheet of 1010 can be worked, I’m just unsure is it’s suitable for being heat treated and how resistant would it end up being.
Sure, I moved recently and lost most of my pics, but here are a couple of very unprofessional photos of some friends wearing some of my stuff from a few years back;



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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

mild steel can not be heat treated, at least not hardened. If I were you I'd grab the 1010, learn how to work with heat and use more time for every piece, as well as to find a way to polish the pieces.

I like the gothic breastplate Happy
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Julian C.





Joined: 26 Nov 2015

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So you think that 1010 is good for practice working in hot and it should be a stepping stone for stainless or (If I manage to find any) a steel with a higher carbon content? Do you think armour made with 1010 is suitable for combat (if so; which gauges?)or just for display/ costumes?
Thanks! I was trying to emulate the ones from your country.
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 2:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

1010 will get dents when struck and be bent permanently, which will not happen with hardened spring steel as it "springs" back.
1010 is just fine, I would not use stainless steel, but that 's my personal opinion.
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Boris Bedrosov
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Location: Bourgas, Bulgaria
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PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For most of my projects I usually use 08KP steel - hot rolled mild steel with 0.08% Carbon. As far I am familiar with foreign standards, this should be something similar to so far discussed 1010.
In some other cases - like umbos, and recently - helmets - I prefer to use St25 or St30 (0.25% and 0.30% Carbon respectively). Compared with 08KP, they are harder to work and might want some annealing occasionally.

In any case, I would recommend to stay away from the stainless steel - it's harder to work, never to mention - historically uncorrect.

"Everyone who has the right to wear a long sword, has to remember that his sword is his soul,
and he has to separate from it when he separates from his life"
Tokugawa Ieyasu

Find my works on Facebook:
Boris Bedrosov's Armoury
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Julian C.





Joined: 26 Nov 2015

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 5:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@Peter: Yes, flexibility and hardness need to find a good balance, the way I see it metal teaches us a life lesson here Happy Do you work making armour?

@Boris: Can you tell me more about your projects? Are they subjected to stress? If so; which gauges you use?
Yes, if being highly historical correct is a concern stainless is not suitable. For some stuff I don't mind the look though, and as long as it doesen't require any extra expensive/unavailable tools I don't mind too much about the extra challenge of learning to work with it. The reason I lean more towards stainless is that so far I'm unable to find steel 1030-1050, and I would like to make armour that could take a beating.
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 11:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@Boris the carbon content of St25 and St30 is below 0,17%. Do you have a data sheet for those two steels? Maybe there is a difference between the german and bulgarian standardisation.

08kp has a carbon content of 0.05 - 0.11%.


@Julian yes, I work full time as the apprentice of an armorer in germany. I got no pictures of the stuff we finish during our normal work. The cuirass is going to be mine, a brass border will be added to the lower breast- and backplate. Right now I'm working on a one piece sallet, I also film the whole production and make a video just as Eric Dubé does.

Some of the previous work of my boss are these pieces here:
Reconstruction of a late 14 century effigy
Gothic harness
Three burgundians

For unknown reason we kinda never take pictures of over work '^^



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Julian C.





Joined: 26 Nov 2015

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 7:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's some good work right there! Your workshop looks like pure heaven as well. Couple questions; What steel did you use for your breastplate? In the picture with the three men how did you get the bronze colour on steel? Is it all spring steel? It sure is shiny!
Raising is the thing I need to perfect the most, tried making three sallets and I was never satisfied with the results, I think that for raising operations working in hot is a must, I also aquired a good ballstake, so I wanna give it another go soon. Any hindsight gained from the one piece sallet?
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

as I wrote above all of the stuff is made of spring steel. I believe my boss never sold something made of mild steel. The brass actually is gold. Applied by galvanization.
Raising -- cold O_O I definitely need to make a video, explaining how that really works, and yes, for steel it has to be hot. Otherwise you thin the metal out. When you raise hot, you can thicken the steel. Better wait with your next sallet until my video(s) are finished. I 'll make one where I raise a sallet and and additional one explaining how to raise and what to consider.

Also, do you have facebook?
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Julian C.





Joined: 26 Nov 2015

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Galvanization? Neat, never heard it used for armour, your boss must be a top notch guy at his craft.
Hahaha, yeah, first helmet I made I used a 14-16 iron sheet, a ball hammer and a strong bag filled with sand. That was years ago, but still trying to be less of a caveman about it!
Sure, any info is welcome, do you have a YouTube Channel?

Ja, I'll PM you.
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
Joined: 07 Nov 2015

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PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

youtube not jet, my sallet isn't even halfway-done.

galvanization was not used on armor, normally it would be fire gilded, but fire gilding needs more gold than gilding via galvanization, therefore to save money many armorers use a bath.
Do you know how to weld, or someone that knows how to weld? If you don't have heat right now, try to dish some helmet halves and weld them together. Later, once your fire works, you can give the pieces the final shape. And start with simple pieces like a cervelliere.

Also have a look on the videos of Eric Dube
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Boris Bedrosov
Industry Professional



Location: Bourgas, Bulgaria
Joined: 06 Nov 2005

Posts: 700

PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 2:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

# Peter
For steels, BDS (Bulgarian State Standard) usually uses Russian GOST system
St25 and St30 data sheets in Russian.

Just have in mind the abbreviations I usually use (St25 and St30) are actually rare, as their official markings are Steel Mark 25 and Steel Mark 30 (or just 25/30 or S25/S30).
Also, when speaking this or that steel has xxx% Carbon content, I mean this is the average. Of course, it's quite normal this content to vary in some limits.

# Julian
Look at my FB - could be found in my signature and some projects (usually in progress - this could be helpful) here at myArmoury.
The thicknesses I usually use depends what I want to do, and are in the quite great margins from 0.8 mm (for scale and lamellar armours) up to 2.0 mm (umbos and helmets).
If under "stress" you mean hitting during events - oh yeah. As a re-enactor, my works are very often in the heat of battle. In any case - dents, damaged surfaces and so, are inevitable.

"Everyone who has the right to wear a long sword, has to remember that his sword is his soul,
and he has to separate from it when he separates from his life"
Tokugawa Ieyasu

Find my works on Facebook:
Boris Bedrosov's Armoury


Last edited by Boris Bedrosov on Sat 28 Nov, 2015 2:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 2:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ah cool, always remember everyone has its own damn complex steel naming system Big Grin
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Julian C.





Joined: 26 Nov 2015

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did, nice work. I was just unsure about what type of use you gave to it.
Cool, so steel with a carbon content of 0.1% is suitable for combat. Do you work it hot? Is it the case it cannot be heat treated?
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

mild steel will be dented, but some guys even joust in that stuff. You stuff need to remove the dents later on with a hammer.
To be able to harden steel it needs at least 0.2% carbon.
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Nov, 2015 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian, don't be very concerned with heat treating, many historical armours were also made of steel with not enough carbon content to be heat treated and many were heat treated badly or smith didn't even try to heat treat them. If you use appropriate thickness, thicker in the places where its's needed and thinner where it's less important and proper shape and curves, your armour will be resistant to normal attacks enough that after a fight only some smaller repair might be needed to straighten the dents.
Btw, pieces you already made look quite good.
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