How to build a medieval suit of armour

Written by elijah clark
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How to build a medieval suit of armour
Polished armour is suitable for all occasions. (knight armour image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from

Knights are among the most romantic figures in history. They are portrayed as warriors dedicated to a code of honour, riding massive chargers into the midst of enemy lines, and jousting for the affection of a fair lady. Whether you are going to put one in your hallway or wear it next Halloween, a suit of armour makes a good conversation piece. Modern technology may have rendered the knight's suit of armour obsolete, but it has also made available the tools and materials that allow anyone to produce a fine suit of armour.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Metal snips or shears
  • Riveter
  • Grinder
  • Wielder (optional)
  • Leather

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  1. 1

    Measure the length of your forearm, around your wrist and around the meaty part just before the elbow and use those measurements to create the splint mail arm and leg protectors, called gauntlets and greaves respectively. Cut several strips of cardboard the length of your forearm and duct tape them together.

  2. 2

    Try on the cardboard models and adjust as needed. Use your measurement to determine how much the strips should taper from your wrist to your elbow.

  3. 3

    Cut the metal splints, using the cardboard as a template. Rivet the splints to leather armbands. You now have armour.

  1. 1

    Cut a symmetrical quadrilateral out of cardboard. The height is about the height of your head over your shoulders plus two inches. The length of the top edge should be the circumference of your head where a hat band fits. The lower edge should be longer, start with an extra five inches on each side. This will be the helm. A bucket helm is a cylinder wider at the bottom than the top, so it looks like an upside down bucket.

  2. 2

    Cut out a top piece and tape it all together. Try it on and mark where the eye holes should be. Cut strips from both sides until the helm fits. The helm must be symmetrical.

  3. 3

    Cut sheet metal using the template as a guide and rivet or wield it together. Rivet leather bands on the inside so the helm does not rest directly on the crown of your head. Glue padding around the inside. Add a large feather for decoration.

  1. 1

    Cut out a cardboard template shaped like the front half of a tank top. This will be the breastplate.

  2. 2

    Test the template by trying it on and wrapping it around your torso. Use the template to cut out a piece of sheet metal. Round or fold over all the edges for safety.

  3. 3

    Conform the sheet metal to your body shape. Use a ball peen hammer to create the classic six-pack abdominal indentations and pectorals.

  4. 4

    Attach leather straps and buckles. Place the buckles and straps in such a way that you can dress yourself if a squire or lady is unavailable.

Tips and warnings

  • Make your first suit as simple as possible. You can always add more pieces later.
  • If you use a historical reference as a model, choose one with a body shape similar to yours.
  • If loud sheet metal work and grinding are not acceptable in your home, consider making cloth, leather or mail armour. Making these suits will be just as rewarding and keep you on good terms with your neighbours.
  • Every edge should be rolled or folded. Sheet metal does not have to be "sharp" to cut.
  • Set up your workspace with safety in mind. Making plate armour will require room to swing a hammer, a floor that won't catch fire if you drop red hot metal on it, decent ventilation, and a solid workbench.
  • Working with metal and tools will create sharp edges, high temperatures, molten metal, dangerous vapours and other dangers. Always wear appropriate protective clothing.
  • If you are going to be involved in simulated or real combat, refer to the guidelines of an organisation that specialises in historical combat and make armour to those standards in order to prevent injury, maiming or death.

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