Sorry for the 10 day delay – real life intervened. I am now employed, so, that’s good; and I don’t think it should negatively affect how much I post. I’ve found in the past that I think more often and more critically about my hobbies when I’m in work, even if I actually work at the hobby less. The worst you’ll see is more theoretical posts, but that’s actually probably just as valuable.
I got to planishing Cop #2 (‘Righty’) this morning. It would have been sooner but I opted to take it back to the dish last weekend to enhance the dishing on it a little. I’ve found that something rudimentary really helps with seeing the blemishes in your work: Silvo. A bit of silver polish wadding to go over the steel and suddenly you see all the little high points and low points, and you see the piece better in general – like how it’s not actually quite as deep as you thought, and not as deep as its twin. This has to do with how the light falls on the respective pieces from the outside, and is much easier to see. It’s very plain to see intuitively, as opposed to looking at the inside or the edges to somehow gauge logically. This may seem like a small finding but it’s actually a revolutionary revelation (!).
And back to talking about actual planishing. Here are the tools:
The round bag is a sandbag; strong, supple leather filled with silver sand. I haven’t used it in its intended capacity yet, but will do at some point. For planishing purposes its simply there to stop the shot putt rolling away.
The red-and-flaky ball is, yes, a shot putt. 6kg unturned, bought on Amazon (school surplus I think) for about £6, plus £4 p&p. Quite the bargain for what it lets me do.
And the hammer is a Polishing Hammer, Light; taken from Cookson’s Value Range. Cookson’s are a lovely jeweller’s merchant based in Hatton Garden, London. A brief thank you to the assistant at that shop who happily sold me first one hammer, then another (cheaper) hammer whilst refunding (at length) the first which I suddenly thought was too expensive… you were saintly in your patience. She may never read this, but the thanks are still deserved.
And this is the planishing head, seen head on. If the light was better and I’d bothered to run some Silvo over it before photographing it… well, you’d see the camera lens. It’s smooth like silk could never hope to be, and if ones strokes are proper (properly angled and kept light) it leaves no makers marks.
The process isn’t depicted, but largely doesn’t need to be; you polish the piece with compound to make it bright. You’ll see raised edges or nodes from the dishing process – these you will be beating out.
Place the piece over the shot putt or similar (you can use trailer hitches, and all manner of other round metal things) and press it so that the point you’ll be striking is flush with the face of your former (e.g. shot putt). Aim to strike lightly and directly (flat) down on to this mark – and let the hammer bounce up again after the strike. Then you bring it down, and let it bounce, and bring it down, and let it bounce. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s a very rhythmic process, and quite enjoyable. Once the blemish is gone, move to the next.
Remember to strike light and flat each time – weight or poor angle will embed the hard edge of the hammer’s face and put in more marks. You will get strikes wrong to begin with – I do, but less frequently with practice; as you’d expect.
The easiest way to tell if you’re striking properly will be the sound. If your piece is flush and you’re executing a proper, flat, light and bouncing strike you will make a keening ‘TING!‘ sound – if the sound is even a little bit tinny you’re not getting it quite right.
N.B.: sometimes you can’t get it right; certain parts of these knee cops are more curved than the shot putt, so I can’t get a perfect strike. A way around this is to get a smaller form. Trailer hitches are good. A purpose-made ball stake is best, if you have the money.
Here are some photos from a couple of weeks back when I’d just planished the first cop, but not the second. You should see the contrast quite easily:
Here Lefty is planished, Righty isn’t just yet. I can also see in hindsight – as you probably can too, perhaps easier than me – that the right cop is not as dished. They look a little bit more matched today; though, amusingly, Righty is probably even more dished than Lefty now. They’re close enough to uniform that you won’t notice the difference when I’m wearing them I think. Either way, pretty good for a first try.
I’ll get some photos up before too long. I want ideally to polish the cops right up to satin next. And then sometime before the year’s out I’m wanting to make my splint cuisses – which I’ll be running through here. Also I should be making a Coat of Plates for a friend soon (non-historical pattern unfortunately; his choice), which I’ll be documenting too. In amongst all this I might write up the chainmail aventail I’ve been making in dribs and drabs across the year (chainmail was my first armour hobby). I also have spaulders to dish and elbows to pattern. And there’s the possibility of conspiring on greathelms and spangenhelms with fellow SCAdians. We shall see!