Hashtag Cut and Weld
I was taken through the process of creating a cut and weld bascinet by my good friend and long time teacher Cornelius. He ran Von Becke Armour and Costume (VBA), and his most popular helmet was the cut and weld Bascinet. He has made over 100. When I worked in this armoury part time for a decade, and full time for several months, I helped with almost every process, but when it came to a decade between making them, I needed a refresher. This blog post is notes from my refresher day!
This is not a comprehensive guide, just my notes to hopefully allow me to construct my own if my memory blips again!
First of all, make a pattern. This is an exceptionally difficult skill in and of itself, so I will just give it this throw away line :)
Then cut the pattern twice and mark the heaviest dishing points. The circle with perpendicular lines is an mistake. If you make a marking mistake with a pen that doesn't come off, the perpendicular lines indicate your error. Another indicator is a wave through the line.
Dish the half. As you can tell, this is a number three Thor's hammer being taken above the head and brought down with significant force. These are not light blows. Not everyone can even deliver these blows, and aiming them takes considerable skill and practice.
You will need a helmet jig. This is simply a hash shaped pieces of wood screwed together.
The helmet sits in the jig and the curve comes from the half falling into the negative space between the wooden beams.
The splits begin to come together a little, then a lot. At this point the curve is in the neck end of the piece, and more shape is being put into the piece near the head.
Not all the shaping is dishing. The Bascinet halves are put over the larger ball stake at various times. On the day we did not have ball stakes in the swage block, we had them in a purpose built stake plate.
Once the tips are brought around to welding tightness, the welding begins. Due to the difficulties of photographing the welding process, I did not do so. Here you see dishing continuing after the weld has been made.
No pattern ever survives contact with reality, and if you can get the halves to match up first time, good luck to you. Here Mark One eyeball is being used in combination with a sharpie and the flat surface of the table. The sharpie draws a line of its thickness to indicate where the metal touches to prevent flatness, then the marked bits are trimmed. within a few passes of this method, a flat half down the middle of the head is achieved, and with much adjustment, the two halves will match to welding tolerance.
Taking advantage of the fact the the helmet is still in two pieces, planishing is done. Smaller hammers are used on the flat of the anvil and the various stakes to take the major flat spots and bumps out of the helmet.
At this point the first lot of surface cleaning is done. This was done with a combination of a sanding belt and a grinding disk on an angle grinder.
Corny was in a strange workshop set up by someone else, with a lot of stopping to explain steps, and including the building of the helmet jig, to get the helmet this far took about five hours. When VBA was at full production, the whole helmet including face plate could take seven hours.
Next session the two halves will be welded together, final shaping will be done, and the polishing stages will be completed.