So, the weather is glorious today, I have all this week’s serious and nasty things out of the way… which means it’s cutting day!

I’m heading off to set up the Workmate in a few minutes, but thought I’d upload some photos and a few comments on patterning things to steel first. I could have done one big post for the day, but I’m not sure that’s good for the blog or for me – nicer to break it down into bite-size chunks.

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Here, resting on my canary yellow sofa and a footstool, is the piece of steel I am planning to carve up. I have two more (slightly larger sheets) where that came from, and what you see here is probably about £12-worth. The size won’t be that clear, so for reference it’s around 38″ x 33″ (96.5cm x 93.2cm). Must stay in the habit of converting for you, mustn’t I?

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Here is a look at the back end of the sheet where I’ve patterned for my splint rerebraces and vambraces. I will probably be redrawing these though. I’ve found that while it spares metal to pattern like this, it’s not conducive to a good end product.

I’ll take the time to draw the plates out as they’ll be arranged in the end on their leather shells – i.e. plates 1-9 laid out adjoining one another in that order with all their top ends up, and all their bottom ends down. It’s faster to pattern that way, faster to cut that way, you get better cuts, and plates that you know will adjoin each other well. It may waste metal, but metal is cheap, and scraps are useful.

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Here is the first knee cop drawn to steel with Sharpie, and the second one about to be drawn – the pattern held down and relatively flush with some iron weights I have around the house. The knee cop pattern, I forgot to say in my previous post, is drawn on wallpaper lining. In many ways this is your best patterning material, as…

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…the fabric patterning paper used here for the spaulders has a poor edge to draw against to begin with, and ink does nothing to shore it up. It’s too soft and flyaway, it wears out, and generally piss-poor as a basis for a reusable pattern because of these things. I had it to use up, so I used it up. I’ll keep the pattern for reference, but I’ll have to redraw it on sturdier material if I need to draw the pattern to steel again in future.

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Here I’m starting to set the lames down – their straight edges butted. I’ll mention now that when you’re cutting with something like a nibbler, you lose material. It doesn’t cut a hairline like a jigsaw might, rather it eats away a channel. When working with a tool like that you have to keep in mind where on your pattern lines you cut. You can cut on the inside of them, the outside of them, or on them – all these work fine. But you have to be consistent in which one you use if you don’t want to find one plate 2mm narrower than the others, say.

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Here is the whole lot patterned. Two knee cops, two spaulders, six lames.

I’m off out to the Workmate now. Look forward to pictures of new (to you) and wonderful tools and some tidy new blanks.