The plate armour for the lower arm or vambrace

The plate armour covering the forearm, the vambrace, is made of two pieces joined by hinges along the outer seam and secured by a leather strap over the inner seam. The vambrace is joined to a single cylindrical section of plate armour above the elbow, known as the rerebrace. The elbow joint is made up of the domed couter, on which is included a wing rather like the poleyn of the knee, and two lames.

The first image, Fig. 50, shows the cardboard patterns used for the vambrace, couter and lames. The making up of the patterns is very much trial and error - not infrequently they have to be modified as work progresses after it becomes apparent that the shape isn't quite right when translated into the steel piece. In fact the top curve of the lame seen here had to be flattened off somewhat to allow free articulation within the couter.

Fig. 50

Having cut out the two steel sections for the vambrace they need to be curved so that when fitted together they form a cylinder which tapers towards the wrist. I find the easiest way to impart a curve to these longish pieces is to hammer around a thick wooden stake using the rubber hammer. Fig. 51 shows the inner section after curving.

Fig. 51

Curving the outer section around the stake in the same manner makes it relatively easy to get the two halves to fit together accurately along the seams. The wrist openings of both pieces are rolled outwards, as is the elbow opening of the inner section, necessary to protect the arm from rubbing against the metal edge. The roll imparted to the elbow opening is deeper than that at the wrist opening and this is achieved by fairly light use of the heavier ball-ended hammer against the edge of the tip of the anvil horn ( this doesn't taper to a point, but has been cut off to leave the end about 2cm in diameter with rounded edges ). Fig. 52 shows the roll at the elbow being formed.

Fig. 52

So that there will not be a gap along the outer seam, the two hinges must be inset in both pieces. The cutouts are marked on the pieces using a permanent marker, with the hinge held against the edge of the metal to ensure they are just the right size. The area is then cut out by hammering against the flat top of the anvil with a sharpened masonry chisel. The cutouts are then finished with a file. Fig. 53 shows the cutouts for the hinges being made with the chisel -

Fig. 53

- and Fig. 54 shows the completed vambrace with the hinges in place ( this is the left arm with the hinges along the outer seam ).

Fig. 54

On the next page the elbow joint is formed by shell articulation of the two lames and couter.