My basic primer, with abridged step-by-step instructions

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Okay, let's get down to it. The tools, some patterns, and a quick photo essay in pictures;

 Every project requires some special tools. I began using small handsaws, keyhole cutters, even hacksaw blades hand-held, to cut the pattern pieces. Over time I bought power tools, which greatly increased the effectiveness of making the required parts. I recommend at least the following;
  • Electric jig saw: The most powerful and useful tool to have, this alone will save you many hours of tedious cutting and it is far more precise than using a hand-held 'keyhole'-type saw...
  • Electric drill: (A one-eighth inch drill bit) You'll be drilling many pop-rivet holes to attach the pieces together.
  • Pop Riveting Tool: a.k.a. "pop-rivet gun" A versatile tool essential for connecting parts with a strong, permanent and non-yielding connection. And you'll need plenty of:
  • Steel Pop Rivets: I use, prefer and highly recommend STEEL pop-rivets. I have recently (c. late 2003 - early 2004) seen STAINLESS-STEEL pop-rivets available! They would be excellent! Do not use aluminum rivets, -they are too soft and will break too easily. Or worse... break while you are wearing the armor!

 I use only the half-inch (important: half-inch) long & one-eighth inch diameter. And I always use one-eighth inch diameter 'backing plates' (aluminum backing plates are okay, or use the steel ones if you prefer), sold for about the same price, wherever you buy rivets. These backing plates must be used on every rivet, to ensure that the flared rivet-tail will hold tight and not 'pull through' the softer material, in this case, plastic. Backing plates are cheap... it's not splurging to over-use these. Use them on every rivet where feasible.

Follow the pictures by number (Pic. 1, Pic. 2, Pic. 3, etc.)
The paper patterns begin the project. Go to Pic. 2The first cut-out produces the main chest pattern. Go to Pic. 3
The two chest cut-outs are bent, aligned and riveted in multiple places to form the basic chest armor. Go to Pic. 4These shapes, riveted together and then riveted onto the 'chest' (Pic. 3, left) roughly approximates the appearance in the 'non-pro' armor photo. Go to Pic. 5
The chest and waist componants, completed. The 'Chestcage' here is not sanded smooth yet... Go to Pic. 6.The softer plastic is used for the belly & back cover, attached with rivets. go to Pic. 7

Soft plastic is rolled for wrist covers. Hard plastic for thigh covers. Both are pop-riveted using 'backing plates' for increased strength.

  By examining these photos and the ALT-image text (hold pointer tool over photo for pop-over text), the can see some (and not nearly all) of the steps involved. It is always best to make the parts with white posterboard first, and test-fit the part by holding it against yourself. The rolled wrist gauntlettes for instance were inspired by this procedure. And these are made with the 'softer' plastic like what is used for waste-paper trash cans as they have to roll fairly tightly. Leave enough room to get your hand through the tight end, however. -Experimentation is the key! The Upper Thigh Covers in the lower half of Pic. 7 are made with the white 55-gallon barrel, HDPE, and thinking ahead, small belt slots are cut into the upper/outer edges or an off-set handle is riveted inside the upper cover, and you can use small black canvas/nylon dog collars to attach these to your belt when getting 'suited up' to wear your armor. These dog collars make the Thigh Covers 'vertically adjustable'. You can raise or lower them accordingly. Use a non-stetching belt or pet collar... you want this to remain relative in position, you do not want this to 'sag' while wearing it.

 Not shown in Pic. 7 are the lower leg covers, but using similar techniques, these merely slide up onto the wearer's legs, and rest upon the wearer's shoes. Definately you will need to take your white shoes off before putting these on, then, put your shoes back on. No straps required for these Lower Leg Covers unless you want something to 'tighten' the unit to your leg. A tensioning elastic strap perhaps?. Make no effort to conceal these black dog-collar snaps and belts throughout the construction of this armor as they add to the texture and overall appeal of the entire armor, so leave 'attaching hardware' visible. Let your creativity take over and make it work for you.

 Now, proceed to Page Three to begin viewing my next project, a Stargate SG-1 "Serpent Guard Armor".

Go to Page 3