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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Tue 21 Apr, 2020 2:33 pm    Post subject: How were the thick sections of helmets and breastplates made         Reply with quote

I looked at some 15th century Italian helmets and breastplates and noted that some example exhibit dramatic taper from the center or crest toward the sides.

From my understanding raising a helmet from sheet metal would accomplish the opposite with the crest being thinner than the sides (something which I have seen on some earlier helmets). Do we know how they achieved the opposite effect?

The taper on some historical pieces such as the Avant armour is also quite drastic. Did they achieve this with cold or hot working?

A picture like that from the Weisskunig shows cutout blanks, would these sheets be of a uniform thickness or already significantly thicker in the center?



I knew about the varying thickness for a long while but it never occurred to me this might be a challenge to make. I hope some of you can enlighten me.

Kind regards,
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Augusto Boer Bront
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Location: Cividale del Friuli (UD) Italy
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Apr, 2020 10:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Simple.

You start with a thicker and smaller blank, say 8 mm thick, and forge it down to the desired thickness.

With the right tools the forging will both thin the metal and dish the piece to a decent depth, where then it can be shaped with normal raising like most modern armourers do.

Armourers had either strikers with sledge hammers or water powered trip hammers at their disposal. Armouring was no single man operation.

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Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 591

PostPosted: Thu 23 Apr, 2020 8:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Augusto!

Do you reckon that while the initial hammering of say the 8mm blank would be done hot the latter raising was done entirely cold?

Kind regards,
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Augusto Boer Bront
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Location: Cividale del Friuli (UD) Italy
Joined: 12 Nov 2009

Posts: 272

PostPosted: Fri 24 Apr, 2020 2:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Thanks Augusto!

Do you reckon that while the initial hammering of say the 8mm blank would be done hot the latter raising was done entirely cold?

Kind regards,


Most of the shaping would have been done hot, especially with stuff like breastplates and helmets, even the raising. I suppose you can bang it cold if you need to hammer some kink in, but doing stuff hot just gives you more freedom and precision on how you manipulate the metal. Also it avoids unnecessary stress.

Armourer-Artist-Blacksmith
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Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 591

PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2020 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Augusto Boer Bront wrote:
Pieter B. wrote:
Thanks Augusto!

Do you reckon that while the initial hammering of say the 8mm blank would be done hot the latter raising was done entirely cold?

Kind regards,


Most of the shaping would have been done hot, especially with stuff like breastplates and helmets, even the raising. I suppose you can bang it cold if you need to hammer some kink in, but doing stuff hot just gives you more freedom and precision on how you manipulate the metal. Also it avoids unnecessary stress.


Great and thank you for pointing out the avoidance of stress/work hardening.

Would you allow me to pick your brain a bit more?

I understand the hot working can lead to (significant) material loss. How much would you reckon is lost if you start with a rectangular bar? Assuming it has to be worked into say an 8mm sheet and then hot worked into its final shape.

If you thus end up with a 2 to 4 kilograms breastplate how much should the initial bar weigh?
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Augusto Boer Bront
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Location: Cividale del Friuli (UD) Italy
Joined: 12 Nov 2009

Posts: 272

PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2020 8:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Something like a 30% loss, from rough blank to finished product.

But that was my personal experience, and only now other smiths are taking this technique seriously and experimenting with it in a serious way. So in the next couple of years we'll be able to know a whole lot more about those details.

Armourer-Artist-Blacksmith
www.magisterarmorum.com

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