Dagorhir Battle Games
Baked Waxed Leather Armor
1) leather, 1/4 sole if you want to use it in Aratari Dagorhir, 9 or 10 oz. if you want to use it in Pentwyvern Dagorhir, lesser weight may have other applications.
2) leather working tools
3) An aluminum baking pan. Try to find one which is larger than the largest piece of of leather you wish to wax, yet small enough that you can afford to fill it with wax, and it should be able to fit in your oven. It is also advantageous to commit the ban to permanent wax duty, this way you never need to empty it. I chose a cheap aluminum foil type rectangular roasting pan, very inexpensive at the supermarket.
4) Wax. It can be expensive to fill that pan full of wax. I use a mix of 50% paraffin wax which is cheap but brittle and 50% white candle wax which is more expensive and softer. If you purchase the really large candles you get a better price/lb.
5) Access to an oven. I think an electric oven may be preferable because I am under the impression it can maintain a low heat setting better.
6) Fire extinguisher. I am not sure at what temperature wax ignites, but it is always a good idea to have an extinguisher on hand any time you use an oven. Check to make sure it will extinguish a fire which would include burning wax.
7) Newspaper, and paper towels
8) Old piece of plywood. This will be the cooling area and will end up with wax drips all over it.
9) Tongs (like for chicken cooking) and old gloves.
Cut out your leather designs first. Not all of the cuts need be made, but you will find the leather easier to cut before it has been waxed. I often leave hole punching until after the leather is waxed and I have the pieces shaped. That way I know exactly where the holes need to be to rivet the pieces together. You can die your leather before hand or paint it afterwards. If you need patterns for various armor shapes I suggest you consult the many SCA publications.
Before you begin the waxing process, realize that there is a good chance wax will get everywhere. This is something to consider when choosing the kitchen where you will be working on your project. Try to minimize the mess by spreading newspaper on the floor around the oven and other areas you will be working. Put your plywood down in a convenient place for letting the pieces cool (not too far from the oven).
Preheat the oven to about 200 F. Ovens temperatures vary quite a bit, so we will start low and raise it as necessary.
Place the wax in the baking pan. I try to chop it up a bit or grade it with a cheese grader to make it melt faster. Place the pan in the oven.
It will take quite a while to melt, keep an eye on it. If you think your oven is a bit to cold bump it up another 25 F. My oven runs hot, so I keep the settings low. Just be careful not to get too hot, you don't want a fire.
Once in the wax is melted, you can start dipping your pieces. Place pieces in the pan so there is only one layer of leather (don't overlap). The pieces should stay in the wax until you no longer see small streams of air bubbles escaping from the leather (~5 min, depends on thickness).
When pulling the pieces from the wax, it is important to shape them. Use tongs to pull them out of the pan, let excess wax drip back into the pan. You may want to wipe of excess wax with a paper towel. While wearing gloves, shape the leather and hold it. As it cools it will take on the new shape. Place the piece on the plywood to continue cooling.
When finished let all the wax cool in the pan. Put the pan with the wax in it away until next time.
Waxed leather can be worked with most leather working tools, but it may get the blades waxy.
-David (Seldon) Graham