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Thomas Beckett




Location: Kansas City, MO
Joined: 23 Feb 2004

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed 31 Jan, 2007 5:19 am    Post subject: Beeswax as rust preventative         Reply with quote

This past weekend at an SCA Arts & Sciences event, a local armorer brought up the idea of using beeswax as a rust preventative for maille. Basically, you'd heat the maille up to around 550 degrees, then dip it into the melted wax, kind of like cour-bouilli. He said that blacksmiths use it on their tools, and it works, so why not on armor? The finish was much cleaner than oil, and seemed at least as durable as oil-blackening. The question I have for you is this: has anyone heard of this being done in period (600 - 1600 CE)? The armorer in question didn't have documentation for this technique, and was largely speculating, but as it seems plausible, I thought I'd look for proof. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
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Greyson Brown




Location: Windsor, Colorado
Joined: 22 Nov 2004
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Posts: 790

PostPosted: Wed 31 Jan, 2007 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have used a beeswax finish on coat hooks, candlesticks, and numerous other thing produced in the forge, but I would have reservations about doing it to mail the way suggested in your post. Dipping it is very likely to produce too thick a coating. You would probably end up with a block of beeswax that has a mail garment inside of it. I would recomend brushing the wax (you may have to warm it a bit, but it does not need to be liquid) onto the piece. That would probably be okay, but I am not sure whether or not the rings rubbing against each other would also rub off the wax.

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Thomas Beckett




Location: Kansas City, MO
Joined: 23 Feb 2004

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed 31 Jan, 2007 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The finish on the maille was actually very nice. the maille moved like normal, with no sticking of the rings. The armorer who'd made it said the coating was fairly durable. My question with this procedure is was it done in the middle ages? Are there extant examples with traces of wax coating, or any documentation of beeswax being used on armor?

By the way, why was this post moved? The "Historical Arms Talk" forum says it's for the discussion of "authentic arms and armor from various cultures and time periods", and my question was in regards to the authenticity of an armor finish in the middle ages. So why was it moved to off-topic when it's not off-topic?

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 31 Jan, 2007 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas Beckett wrote:
By the way, why was this post moved? The "Historical Arms Talk" forum says it's for the discussion of "authentic arms and armor from various cultures and time periods", and my question was in regards to the authenticity of an armor finish in the middle ages. So why was it moved to off-topic when it's not off-topic?


Because you're talking about the care of armour and not the armour itself. Specifically, you are discussing the historical viability of using beeswax as a tool for the preservation/care of armour.

It's similar to a discussion of displaying one's swords in a piece of furniture. Sure, the discussion includes the swords, but it's really about the display, not the sword. Another example is the discussion of how a sword is used from horseback. Again, that discussion would certainly include the sword, but the topic is about its martial use, not the study of the object itself. Likewise, if a discussion was brought up that asked about the types of swords to be used from horseback, then the "Historical Arms Talk Forum" would be appropriate because the discussion would be focused on the swords themselves.

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Thomas Beckett




Location: Kansas City, MO
Joined: 23 Feb 2004

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed 31 Jan, 2007 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

But I'm not asking about the viability of it. I've SEEN the viability of it. I know it works, I've seen it done. I'm asking if it was done in the Middle Ages. I'm asking about the historical accuracy of such a treatment.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 31 Jan, 2007 3:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas Beckett wrote:
But I'm not asking about the viability of it. I've SEEN the viability of it. I know it works, I've seen it done. I'm asking if it was done in the Middle Ages. I'm asking about the historical accuracy of such a treatment.


Yes. I know.

(Please note that the fact that this side conversation puts it squarely off-topic. These questions are better asked in private messages to me or a moderator)

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