Basic instructions for assembly of an early to mid 14th C. Wisby style coat of Plates

 
(Note: these instructions are meant to be a general over view with tips to assist in the construction of your Wisby coat of plates kit that was so;d by GAA Armouries  Although this kit is no longer available, these instructions will give guidance to anyone constructing a Wisby style coat of plates. These instructions can not take into consideration the experience of each and every person who desires to use them, nor the tools available to each person. Adjust the instructions to suit your needs.)
 
     
  NOTE: The GAA kit is designed to fit someone of about a 32-36 inch waist, if you are larger than that, then create extra side plates. Each pair of side plates will extend the waist measurement up to 6 inches.  
     
  Your Basic Kit should contain:
a) four main body plates, with the top and the bottom plate trimmed.
b) 6 side plates.
c) 6 3X3 spine plates
d) 1 5X5 center breast plate
e) 2 2.5X5 side breastplates
 
     
 
Materials needed: (included in deluxe kit)
a) One coat of plates kit
b) Enough leather (med weight supple, or suede) or canvas type cloth to make the covering (see instructions)
c) 100 rivets (2 piece leather rivets or tube rivets suggested for ease of construction)
d) 5 1/2 inch buckles (5 washers for riveting the buckles to the straps)
e) 1/2 inch leather strap (enough to do your straps)
 
     
 
Tools: (not included)
a) Hammer (almost any metal type will do)
b) anvil surface for setting rivets (any block of heavy smooth steel will do)
c) sewing materials proper for your textile covering (sewing machine for cloth, waxed thread and awl for leather.
d) Tape measure
e) leather punch
f) ice pick, or awl.
g) leather punch (non rotary type)
 
     
  Basic Instructions:  
 
Painting your plates: Although we are now using galvanized steel to help prevent rust, it is highly recommenced that you paint your metal plates and allow them to dry completely before assembling the coat of plates. Any spray paint will do, but one that acts as a rust prohibitor is best. This will cover the appearance of the galvanized plates, and help prevent rust forming where the plates have been cut.

Metal forming: Most of the metal forming on your kit has already been done. You may need to tweak the four body plates to fit your personal shape. This can easily be done by hand.
 
     
 
Textile cover assembly: The basic form of this style coat of plates it a large upside-down "T" There should be a hole in the tail for your head to go through (fig A) Fig A also shows possible sewing lines (....) if your material is not large enough to do the coat of plates in a single piece. The most common sewing points are the shoulders (beside the head hole) and the join at the cross of the upside-down "T". Remember to sew it very strongly. Measure yourself so that the limbs of the "T" will wrap around your torso and nearly meet in the back. Make the tail of the "T" long enough to reach onto your butt. Leave this long if it is too long and trim it after the plates are installed so that you get it to match the hemline of the main part of the armour.
 
     
  Assembly of metal to the textile: (NOTE: When setting rivets do not set them overly tight. A too tight rivet will pinch the textile material between the rivet head and the metal plates causing early textile failure)  
     
  Lay the textile covering out on the floor with the inside of the armour showing upward. Use the tape measure to find the center of the armour and draw a line from the neck hole to the bottom down the center of the armour (on the inside). Do this down the front and back. (-..-.. line on fig A). Put the textile covering onto your body inside out. Place the bottom main plate onto your lower abdomen so that the bottom of the plate goes down to your belt line area. Make sure it is straight and level, then draw a line across the top edge, above the holes. Now do the same thing with the top plate, but place it on your upper chest so that the ends ride comfortably under your arm pits. Make sure it is straight and level, then draw a line across the top edge, above the holes.  
 
Take off the textile covering and lay it out on the floor and place your main plates onto the covering, aligning the bottom plate and the top plate on the lines that you drew. Place the other two plates on the textile cover spacing them evenly between the two plates you have in place. They should overlap about a 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches, or a little more. Make sure they are straight and level and overlapped equally, then draw a line across the top edge, above the holes.
   Now that your lines are drawn, remove all plates except for the bottom plate. Make sure it's center hole is lined up on the center line. If you are using leather, mark and punch your hole for the center rivet. If you are using cloth use your awl to make the rivet hole. The awl will spread the threads of the cloth without cutting them so that the cloth will not unravel around the rivet. If you are still worried about the rivets pulling through the cloth, then place a leather washer on the outside between the rivet head and the cloth. Rivet the entire plate in place and then move up to the next plate and repeat, until all main plates are in place.
 
    Place the center breastplate (5"X5") at the top of the top main plate, with about a half inch of overlap onto the top abdomen plate. Make sure it is straight and level, then punch/ awl one of the holes and start riveting it in place. Then do the same with the two side breastplates (2.5"X5"), Fig C shows the lay of the breastplates.
 
     
 
Side Plates: Basically it is the same as the front, lay out the textile cover, figure your overlap, draw your lines, and then rivet in place starting from the front and working your way to the back. On the plate furthest out the on the "T" (the last one you will rivet in) the leather straps for closing the armour will be placed on the same rivets that attach the plate to the textile covering. (See Fig E) One side will get three buckles on short leather straps, (Fig F) and the other side will get three straps. Both sides will get a long strap on the top rivet on the second row (Fig E) which will point upward to the neck line where there will be buckles installed with the top spine plate.
 
     
 

Spine plates: (Fig D) With the spine plates, just align them down the center line, allowing for about 1/2 inch overlap, mark the top edge, and rivet them in place, starting at the bottom. On the outside of the top spine plate, put a buckle on each rivet (on a short leather strap: fig F).

Finishing Touches: The bottom edge of the textile covering can be trimmed into embattlements, or scallops for decoration, or the entire garment can be edged in a complementary color. Have someone else trim the tail after the garment while you are wearing it, if it is too long, so that it will line up smoothly.
 
     
 
 
     
  Notes: Your coat of plates is made out of 18 ga mild steel. It will dent, so you will need to tap out the dents occasionally. Do not remove the plates, just lay out the coat of plates and tap lightly until the dents come out. Do not hammer too hard or you will damage the textile cover. I suggest a rawhide mallet, or a rubber hammer for this. Do not let that fool you into thinking that it will not protect you. Due to the overlapping of the plates, the energy received is transmitted to the other plates and you will be well protected, possibly too well. Be aware of this when you go on the field the first few times until you have gauged you new armour. 18 ga was used on these kits to help keep the weight down, as well as it is the equivalent of the original suits. I have fought in this very same armour for years and I personally love it, and will always have a set (although I also have many other suits which I fight in as well)