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Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:59 pm
by Tod
I've just got myself some voiders. At the moment the mail is just natural and oiled, should I have it blacked? If so where? Or was that done by heat? In which case does any one do that?

Re: Mail condition?

Posted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:26 pm
by Phil the Grips
De-grease it with standard car degreaser or Cillit Bang stuff, or burn it on with a blowtorch.

Hang them off a broomstick for ease of handling and wave the torch over gently with long strokes like you are spraypainting. If you scorch the broomstick you know you are staying in one spot too long.

Re: Mail condition?

Posted: Sat Dec 25, 2010 10:31 pm
by Tod
Am I trying to blue it or burn the oil on?

Re: Mail condition?

Posted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:15 am
by Phil the Grips
Burn it on

Re: Mail condition?

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:42 am
by Tod
So best not to degrease it and try and burn the oil that is on it. If that doesn't work I'll degrease that and dip it in old engine oil and burn that on.

Re: Mail condition?

Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:54 am
by Phil the Grips
S'right. I also used an old towelling dressing gown to remove excess oil too- simply place the shirt inside the gown, since the shapes are similar, and pat it all over

You can then boilwash the gown and do it again to get the worst off.

Re: Mail condition?

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:05 pm
by Mark Griffin
Why do you need to black/blue it? Just remove the grease and leave it at that. Mail polishes itself as it moves about so you are putting work into creating a surface that will wear off no matter what you do. Its greased to stop it rusting on its sea journey from the other side of the world, the blacking is just carbon from the manufacturing process.

I bung my new mail in a cement mixer with hardwood chippings, comes up luvverly and clean.

Re: Mail condition?

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:07 pm
by Tod
Good point.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:42 pm
by Tod
I've got most of the oil off. I assume they are attached to my jack by several points. Maybe a daft question but worth asking.
I'll post pictures of them in the next few days.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:28 pm
by Mark Griffin
there is no hard and fast rule on the Tod. They can be pointed on or sewn on (with or without soft leather gussets to match underneath). Scant detailed evidence in this area so anything that seems like a suitable period friendly option will be fine.

So no velcro, codydex or zips. Ahh, the 1980's....

Although mine are sewn, I think a good few points would be better if you wanted to detach and clean either item.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:26 am
by Tod
What a pain in the a**e they are. Mine were too wide so they almost over lapped on the cuff end of the sleeve, so I've trimmed them back. I was thinking of pointing them on with leather points but there would need to be loads, so I'm going to try and sew them onto the sleeve and point them onto the body of the jack.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:11 am
by Mark Griffin
just bear in mind points will give some flexibility whereas sewing not much and the main abrades the thread more than points. But most people do that and unless out every weekend not a problem. Get your squire to do it....

Re: Mail condition?

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:42 pm
by Cap-a-pie
Mark Griffin wrote:the blacking is just carbon from the manufacturing process.


Ours are blackened by heating rings / maille items up and then dipping in oil, over time this finish dulls down to a nice dark grey colour. Certainly when making the rings from scratch I have found you do get the carbon effect but have found that doesn't last much due to the mailles self cleaning properties hence the oil bath step.

My understanding from talking to maille curator type folk, is that the non dark, uber clean effect was as a result of the Victorians wanting to get things nice n shiny, some of which ended up all pitted with the acid baths they endured mind you, not the Victorians just the maille that is.

As to getting the oil off I have found nice warm day (helps to reduce risk of rusting) and soaking the maille in water with sugar soap, agitating it around and skimming the sludge off from time to time. Then drying the maille off with either lots of rags, hair dryer or I favour 100deg in the oven for about 3 to 5 minutes at a time, taking it out and giving it a good shake before putting in the oven again. As long as you don't make the mistake on my first attempt and left it in the oven for 30 mins. Lots of smoke :lol:

If you do take the sewing approach, I would suggest tacking at various points, ie both ends as this saves the annoying problem if maille bunching up and you running out towards the end.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:49 pm
by Mark Griffin
My understanding from talking to maille curator type folk, is that the non dark, uber clean effect was as a result of the Victorians wanting to get things nice n shiny, some of which ended up all pitted with the acid baths they endured mind you, not the Victorians just the maille that is.


Although that is certainly true of plate armour, I don't know if the same can be said for mail. I only say that because shirts that are worn regularly self clean. The rings move over each other and abrade. I have a couple of your shirts in daily use by interpreters at a couple of sites Mark and they are bright and shiny with no cleaning whatsoever straight out the bag.

As to getting the oil off I have found nice warm day (helps to reduce risk of rusting) and soaking the maille in water with sugar soap, agitating it around and skimming the sludge off from time to time. Then drying the maille off with either lots of rags, hair dryer or I favour 100deg in the oven for about 3 to 5 minutes at a time, taking it out and giving it a good shake before putting in the oven again.


I'm not bothered with a bit of carbon or oil so don't get too involved with cleaning any mail I have but if I do, its into the cement mixer with a few shovelfulls of hardwood chippings/sawdust and it comes up a treat.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:27 pm
by Cap-a-pie
Mark Griffin wrote:I don't know if the same can be said for mail. I only say that because shirts that are worn regularly self clean.
Sorry should have put "some" but yep agree with you there is without doubt a self cleaning effect. Really helpful for when you can't persuade your squire to roll a barrel around the courtyard. Certainly I have seen a few original items, that up close really do show they have been cleaned with more than just wear, I think the suggestion was that hydrochloric was used? surprised me that this went on, although I do wonder if it was for items that were not so clean in the first place perhaps.

Interesting to see that the interpreters maille has lost its finish that much - certainly useful to know, lost track of when but guess some must be at least 3 years old or more now?

Yep have heard wood chippings also but no cement mixer, so unable to experiment, would save the problems of drying though - Um new tax year purchase perhaps

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:38 pm
by Mark Griffin
Really helpful for when you can't persuade your squire to roll a barrel around the courtyard.


find they do it better if you don't insist they get into the barrel.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:18 pm
by Cap-a-pie
But I bet they wont have as much fun :lol:

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:27 pm
by Mark Griffin
Fun?

Not part of my employment package. I'll go check the staff manual but as i wrote it, I'm pretty sure 'fun' doesn't feature. Unless fun is a word for unstinting toil and devotion.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:54 pm
by Colin Middleton
Tod wrote:What a pain in the a**e they are. Mine were too wide so they almost over lapped on the cuff end of the sleeve, so I've trimmed them back. I was thinking of pointing them on with leather points but there would need to be loads, so I'm going to try and sew them onto the sleeve and point them onto the body of the jack.

They're a pain to fit, but so appropriate. Remember that if you've got plate harness on your arms, the gussets (voiders) don't need to go all the way to the wrist, just to inside the vambrace.

I've sewn mine on (but they need a bit of expanding to cover all the gaps properly). It was tricky, but thankfully my wife did a great job of helping me. Remembe to get them right up under your armpits so that you've got plenty of movement. The last thing that you want to do it get them all set up and find that you can't raise your arms!

Best wishes

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:48 pm
by Tod
They aren't for under arm armour as such. I found a picture of an archer with them, or at least it looks like them, but then there are pictures of archers with all sorts or armour. Every thing form full upper body to breast plates on the thier own. Upper legs, jack chains, mail. Its like a selection box.
I've gone for jack chains or spaulders (maybe arm armour later but I have another project that is eating the armour budget) and voiders, upper leg armour, packart and open faced sallet.

I put the arms up to position the mail as I had to lie my jack on the floor. So I hope I don't have a problem moving my arms.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:29 pm
by Colin Middleton
How odd, could you show me the picture?

Are you sure that you want gussets and not full arms (i.e. closed at the top)?

Best wishes

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:40 pm
by Tod
I'll trawl back through the books but it looked like voiders.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:41 pm
by Colin Middleton
It might be voiders, it just seems odd to protect the inside or your arm, but not the outside. That's why I want to see a picture.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:13 pm
by Tod
Fair point. In my case I have jack chains. But if I recall there wasn't any other protection on the picture, my problem is finding the right book with the right picture (4 periods seemed a good idea at the time).
The person I portray has been round the block (I'm 50) and my kit isn't new by any stretch of the imagination. Although I've tried my best to keep it in the same period (I don't think there is any thing that isn't late 15thC) it’s a bit battered and is blued and rusty. I'm not professional soldier (archer) but have fought in various campaigns (indentured – spelling?). So I have what I’ve found works best for me within my (then) budget. Does that make sense?

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:37 pm
by Colin Middleton
Mostly. You'll probably not be indentured, but other than that, yes.

As far as I can tell, an indenture is a very strong kind of contract and you only give them to people who are powerful enough that you need a tight contract, most peopl just get a verbal contract with a couple of witnesses.

Best wishes

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:16 pm
by Tod
Verbal is good enough for me. :wink:

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:12 pm
by Fox
Colin Middleton wrote:You'll probably not be indentured...

Yes, probably part of someone elses indenture; "the lord of Such-and-Such manor is indentured to William Hastings to provide, at need, 45 Archers and 2 Men at Arms"-sort-of-thing; you are one of those 45.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:43 pm
by Tod
I've got a whole thread printed off some where on the subject. I just need the time to read it.

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 2:01 pm
by Tod
Colin Middleton wrote:It might be voiders, it just seems odd to protect the inside or your arm, but not the outside. That's why I want to see a picture.


I can't find the picture but don't think even my imagination could make it up (on the other hand.......). I'd agree its not logical to have no outter protection but to have inner but I'm sure thats what I looked at. Even if I can't find the picture the jacks chains would work for outer protection, and if I don't use them I have some spaulders, but would need upper arms (?).

I've only ever seen two pictures of late medieval re-enactment archers with any armour other than jack chains (friends of Phil the Grips I think) yet the pictures show lots. Am I looking at this through rose tinted glasses and in fact archers shouldn't be wearing any thing other than a jack?

Re: Mail condition and (new question) how to attach?

Posted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:08 pm
by Tod
Gavin the maille man now has my voiders and jack, he's going to sort out attaching them and tidying up the edges etc.