Sunday, July 05, 2020

The Miniature Medieval Armor Bridle

Sunday July 5th.

Today I'm working on making a bridle for my miniature armor set.  I've looked at as much documentation and photos of real armor at the various museums as I can.  I am surprised by the amount of bridles that are made from velvet.  I assume that this is due to the wealthy people at the time using extravagant materials to show their wealth.  I also know from reading through the years that real leather breaks down over time so there may not be a lot of authentic leather bridles left.  I may make a couple of pieces from velvet but my main bridle will be leather. I feel like that will lay much better under the armor.

Medieval bits are crazy long by modern standards  (See above link and this bit  )I've seen them in photos over and over again as well as some drawings out on the internet.  This was to accommodate the fancy decoration rein on the bottom of the bit but the top of the bit  is where the thinner rein is placed.  I'm guessing this is the rein used to actually guide the horse.  The Rio Rondo traditional bits are close to being the correct length but for Medieval 1:12th but I wanted to try to build my own bits on this set.  I want to use as few "bought/premade" parts as possible.  That being said, I am still going to use the 3/32nds fancy western buckles from rio rondo because they look correct and making that many buckles would take months and months.

Initial cutout shape.  You can see what will be my demise, that tiny cut up there ! lol

Sanding and refining tools.

My Diamond cut dremel burrs.

When I make my own bits I make a cardboard stencil to draw out the bit with a bead reamer or any metal hard point to help block out the bit.  Then I cut out the bit from the metal and then I'll do the finer details with the dremel. Eventually I will etch with my dremel etcher. (which I hate but that's what I know how to use)

When I made this stencil I covered the edges in super glue to stiffen it up.  I haven't tried this in the past but it made sense to do now. When I cut out the bit shank I cut it as close as I can to the design and then dremel the rest.  My current dremel is one that has a cord. I've used the cordless ones in the past, and they are less expensive but I am rough on a dremel so it's turned out that the corded ones are best for me.

I am using the heavier gauge aluminum here- probably close to 30 - as I don't think that the 36 gauge will stand up to all of this working.  Silver is harder than this aluminum and that's what I'm used to working with but I'm going to give this a shot.

Make sure that you use safety glasses or some kind of eye protection when working with metal.  Even cutting out with the scissors and ESPECIALLY When you're using the dremel.  One mistake and you can get a shard of metal in your eye!  Also make sure that you do not breathe in the metal dust as you refine your metal pieces.  I blow out while I'm doing it and step away when I need to take a break to breathe normally again.  A mask is a great idea here.  Make sure any pets or kiddos are out of the room too because that dust can land on their fur. (My cats like to be near me when I work but thankfully they hate the dremel and walk away when I work with it)

After I get a good smoothed out shape, I can poke holes to start the rings on the bit.  I use a needle for this and a soft backing (Like the back of my upholstered chair or a leather forming sand bag) and pliers.  I put the needle in the pliers and then very carefully punch/push/work my way through the metal to make a hole.  I then use the bead reamer and make it large enough until one of my round dremel bits will go through.

The Needle I used to punch tiny holes to start forming the rings.

Be careful of metal fatigue.  If you work with your shank piece and it breaks at a weak part, that means that either you cut it too close or that it needs a redesign so that it doesn't break so easily.

I see that with all of the marking out of the metal, it's gotten scratched up.  I will try to buff this out or etch it to cover up those marks.  

And then bam.. metal fatigue and breakage. which means this will need some redesign.  You can see the bottom looks pretty good but when I started in the top, that little piece broke off.  So a slight redesign is in order. Maybe not as many curvy parts..
Metal Fatigue and there was a small cut on that part.
Back to some redesign.

For those paying attention, yes this is also how I make my western plates for my western saddles.  


  1. Yay!! A great post. So sorry the top broke off!! One has to develop a sense of how much the gauge will tolerate: how narrow you can cut or file it. The only way I know is to break a few. I've certainly broken some! You're doing grand.

  2. Thank you sue! I think I need to redesign it altogether so that I can dome some of it out..


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