We’ve talked a lot about gluing and piecing together armor throughout the course of this thread. Now, it’s time to start getting it assembled to wear.
Some parts of the armor are just worn because they’re closed together: forearms, legs, and so forth. Other parts require some slightly different connective tissue: strapping. In my older suit, I’ve used elastic straps with velcro. It works well - for a while. When the velcro starts to diminish with age, you have to replace it, and sometimes, parts fall off. This time around, I’m going to be using something better: snaps.
There’s two parts to this: there needs to be the strap, but also something to connect to. That’s where a snap plate comes in.
A snap plate is what the armor will be connected to. Technically, I should be riveting snaps right to the armor, but I don’t really like how that looks. It’ll knock me out of the running to get a higher qualification for the armor, but I’m not as concerned about that. So, we’ll be using a bunch of these, which I’ll glue on the inside of the armor.
A single snap plate has 4 parts: a female snap, a snap backing, a square of plastic, and a rivet. The rivet will connect all of them together. I haven’t used one of these before, so it took a little trial and error to get it right.
With a snap, the plate is assembled.
These are then taken and glued to the inside of the armor - a good blob of GOOP glue will hold them in place, and I clamped them overnight to ensure a good seal.
I started with the abs plate: two snap plates went on each side to connect to the back, two at the top (for suspenders that go over my shoulders, two at my hips to connect to the thighs, and one at the crotch to connect to the butt plate.
For the butt, three went on top, and one at the bottom:
For the Kidney plate, three went on the bottom to connect to the butt, while two more went on each side, which will connect to the abs plate. Another two will connect to the suspenders.
With those in place, it’s time to start making the strapping. I bought a length of elastic, which I then started cutting into smaller pieces. The other snaps (The male side and the backing button) will go on here.
The package that I bought included a bunch of pieces, including a tool to rivet the sides together (they wouldn’t work through the plastic I have, hence the riveter).
With a blow from the hammer, the backing and male side are connected - they’re not going anywhere. Each end of the velcro gets one of these:
These need to be measured out, and in all likelihood, I’m going to have to redo a couple as I assemble the suit. The first three are short, and connect the abs plate to the butt. My older suit of armor had these two pieces connected, so it’ll take a little getting used to, having them separated. The belt will cover the seam.
With those parts connected, I have four more straps which connect the sides together. The next step will be to construct a pair of suspenders, which will cross at my back. Unfortunately, I ran out of elastic, and I’ll have to do that later.
The snap plates go onto more parts than just the abs/back: the chest and back will get a set too, at the shoulders: This is vital, because the shoulders will see a lot of movement. Velcro doesn’t cut it here, and these should be a really durable means of connecting the shoulder bells to the chest.
The shoulder bells get a snap plate each. Later, I’ll add on a second pair, which will connect to the upper armors, to keep them from sliding down or rotating around.
Now, time for a test fit.
They fit perfectly!
I’ll do some more work on this in the meantime: I need to do a bit more of a proper test fit in the meantime, and need to get some more supplies.
While I was waiting for glue to dry, I did a couple of other things. First, I trimmed down a new set of Empire Strikes Back-style hand plates, and attached elastic loops to them.
Second, I got around to making a prop to carry around. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures while I did this, so you don’t get a play by play just yet. While troopers carry a couple of accessories, I’ve always wanted to make some handcuffs.
With a 4-inch PVC pipe, I cut three, 1-inch sections, and cut two in half, and added on a pair of hinges. The third ring was cut into 1-inch chunks, and glued around each cuff at regular intervals. I took a chain that I had and glued that to each one, connecting them, and used a pair of clips to allow each ring to close.
I had to buy a 5-foot length of pipe, so I’ve got plenty of material for more. Rather than sawing it by hand, I’m going to use a chop-saw -it should make the cuts a bit more even.
These are early prototypes, but I’ll throw some glossy white paint on them, and add on some padding. They’ll make for some great photos.
Photo Credits: Top Image, Anthony Commo. Others, Andrew Liptak