Ohio University – 2019
Though I started with reference images, I wanted to start with the most basic form of a cuisse because I was figuring out the process for shaping the pieces to articulate together with only an armor-smithing article and my own engineering and problem-solving skills. I had examples of past students, but in all of those the articulation was either too close together, keeping the joint from opening completely, or too far apart which creates sizable gaps through which a sword, arrow or axe can pierce. After taking what I figured to be the most accurate possible example from the text, I sized and redrew it to fit my leg.
The first order of business was to create the knee cop, which I cut out of 12-gauge steel and then dished by hand. The first round of dishing I did cold, thinking that I couldn’t use heat unless I was raising the steel instead. After discussion with my advisor, I did a second round of dishing that mostly was to continue stretching the steel along the sides for which I used the oxy-acetylene torch to heat the piece before dishing. I then planished the whole piece.
The part of this project that took the most time was creating the lames and perfecting the articulation with the knee cop. I created my first set, carefully shaped and slightly dished pieces of 16-gauge steel and then began trying to mark and line up holes through which I placed bolts to attempt the movement. Even with these first sets, I drilled out and then welded shut at least 5 different holes. It quickly became clear that it would be faster and easier to cut out auxiliary pieces, simplify my dishing and shaping of them and discard the pieces after a hole or two if they didn’t work. Often, I would get close only to make a small adjustment and have the entire system bind or gap. After about 12 hours of fidgeting I finally figured it out.
The cuisse itself, the piece at front and back of the thigh, I cut from 16-gauge steel and then shaped over a pipe to get the long compound curves of my leg as best as possible. I then planished, sanded and polished each piece of the armor as best as possible.
The exterior fin for the knee was a patterned piece I drew out myself, which I cut out of steel and then cut and bent a small triangle to give it the “buckle” at the outside center edge. This piece I then welded in and cleaned to look seamless. I dished the whole piece slightly to give it extra support and style, then tacked it to the exterior edge of the knee cop and welded it in place. I created a decorative piece that I laid on top, drilling holes in the back structure to weld through to hold the detail in place and lend extra strength to the joint between the base fin and knee cop. I then bent and welded steel rod to the exterior of the fin, cuisse and demi-greave for flair.
I cut a piece of leather for the outside hinge of the main cuisse, then riveted it to the front and back cuisse with Tandy rivets. I used brass rivets for the articulated joints, setting them with a ball-peen hammer while leaving them loose enough to let the pieces slide. I then cut pieces of leather for the straps and buckles, using rivets to secure them.
Labor Hours: Approx. 36