Handmade Bracers by THFool Dagonell the Juggler

It's all Baron Magnus' fault! He taught a class on pattern making for leather work at a Hael fight practice. These directions are as much for me as for anybody. For the last few years, I been documenting everything as I go.

Materials:

* I get these from the local newspaper office by weight. Generally in the neighborhood of $5. No end of uses, patterns for gowns, patterns for armor, throwaway tablecloths for the children's craft area, etc.

** No, naugas are NOT an endangered species. They breed like rabbits. It's just that you never see the young naugas because they run so fast. Be wary of the old naugas, they fight like wolverines when cornered. :)

Equipment:

*** These are for cutting the paper and the shirt cardboard. Do NOT use your lady's fabric scissors. Hell hath no fury like a woman, period.

**** At most craft stores, you can buy grommets with or without a grommet set in the package. Buy one of each. The package with the set has fewer grommets. Use them up practicing how to make grommets.

Directions:

Wrap a piece of newspaper around your arm, tape it in place, mark how you want your bracer to look. Untape it, cut out the shape you drew, wrap it around your arm, tape it in place, if it's not what you want, mark and cut some more. If you screw up, start over.

"When you're done making the pattern, the top of your workbench should look like three spoiled kids just celebrated Christmas morning. If it doesn't, you probably haven't spent enough time making the pattern fit correctly." -- Baron Magnus

When you're satisfied with your paper pattern, trace it onto the shirt cardboard, cut it out and wrap it around your arm. The cardboard is stiffer and less flexible than the paper and will act more like the leather than the paper. Repeat steps as necessary until you have a shirt cardboard pattern that you're happy with. Now trace the cardboard pattern onto the lightweight leather you're making your bracers from. Since I was using thin naugahyde, I made one inch strips which I glued to each end of each bracer on the inside, so that the grommet would be punched through a double thickness.

Basically, a grommet set is a mini anvil that looks like a thick nickel with a circular groove for the grommet to sit in, and a mini punch that looks like a fat nail with another circular groove on the head. Follow the directions on the grommet set, and practice setting grommets into leather scraps. Seriously, I did four or five grommets before I was satisfied I could do it correctly.

Mark on the cardboard pattern where you want your grommet holes. Punch them out with a paper punch. Use the pattern to mark the grommet locations on the inside of the bracer. The directions for the grommet set said to carefully cut out a hole no bigger than the inside of the grommet at each location. 1/4"? Ain't happening. I developed a workaround. Use the hole punch on the leather and squeeze gently but firmly. It won't penetrate the leather, but it will leave a circular mark where you want the hole. Push the nail thru the hole marking. If the leather is too thick, you may have to use the hammer and block of wood. Once the nail is thru, use the box cutter against the shaft of the nail and cut away any material laying against the shaft. With a little practice, you can do this as one smooth continuous cut all the way around the shaft. Remove the nail. You now have a perfect 1/4" hole.

On top of the block of wood, place the grommet anvil. Place the outside of the grommet face down in the anvil's groove. Place the fabric over the grommet, outside face down, the inside ridges of the grommet should be visible thru the hole. Place the inside of the grommet on the fabric, face up. Hold the grommet punch down on the grommet. Hit it with the hammer. You now have a grommet. Repeat as needed. Lace with a boot lace of the appropriate length.

Finished bracers, inside and out Bracers being worn, inside view Bracers being worn, outside view