This was actually a project that I started (and finished) today after trying to figure out a good “practice” exercise for gothic gauntlets, since the metacarpal plate shaping is “tricky”. Then it occurred to me that Besagews have the same “ridge and scallop” shaping, and should be something that I could teach an intermediate armourer in an afternoon. Instead of going into the historic background of these, I thought that I’d just put up the build. Even doing this as a quick post, the preparation of the post probably took more time than the Besagew, which I timed at 40 minutes (including the pattern)
I’m going to cheat and just include the gallery of photos at the bottom instead of embedding them inline, but they follow the order that I am outlining here. here are pics of the (rough finished) besagew, as well as the edge view showing the “scallop”. The center hole will be used to mount the attachment (probably a leather loop)
[Edit] – added a pair of videos at the end, one of shaping the besagews once the flute lines are roughed in, and a second showing the sanding (at 240 grit). I have also added some “fancier” Besagews, which are the second set of photos below
Here are a couple of alternate versions, which were made by spending a bit more time cleaning them up, and different grinding for the edges. This gives a more “floral” version and a “needs more umlauts!!” gothic version. For comparison, the floral version was made by Dean, who has been making armour very part time for about a year, and this was completed in about 2 hours in an afternoon with almost no input from me other than a demonstration of the technique
These are really just circles of metal, although the “fancier” ones have nice scalloped edges (which I will retrofit with some grinding before I heat treat). I figured that a 5-51/2″ (75-90mm) circle would be about the right size, so I drilled a hole a bit too close to the edge of my sheet of steel, which constrained me to a 5″ diameter. I used the hole to anchor my dividers and scribed the circle in, then cut with the beverly shear, deburring with a 240 grit sanding disk. I then sectioned the disk (using the convenient center point) into 8 segments. Following this I ran another circle inside this to delimit the inner area. This was a 3/4″ radius. The “Fancier” ones used between a 1/4 and 3/8″ radius, and in my opinion came out much more nicely.
I quickly fluted the 8 radial lines, not being too concerned about how “pretty” these were since this was a proof of concept, and I was more interested in whether this would work as a training tool. I then moved to my creasing stake, changing the flute lines to “crest” lines instead, and pushing the areas between the flutes back, giving the classical “scalloped” look to the besegews. It is probably notable that the rough fluting (before the cresting clean up) took 8 minutes total…
Because I just can’t seem to stop at “rough” I then switched to my planishing hammer and (mostly) cleaned up the hammer scars. In retrospect I will do this clean up on the edge of my anvol next time, since the cresting stake imparted a “bulge” to the lines since it is intended for helms, poleyns and couters, not for “linear” scallops.
I then spent 5-10 minutes sanding the worst of my dings out of the piece with a 240 grit autobody sanding disk . In retrospect I should have either cleaned it up better, or started with ~100 grit and cut through the material to remove the imperfections. Since I started with 0.040″ (1mm) stock, and am using 1050 steel, I could have removed half of the depth and still had sufficient thickness for credible protection
Next Steps / things to improve
As noted above, there are a few things that I will do better next time, since it’s probably worth the extra 10 -20 minutes to make a nice piece of armour, particularly if I’m going to bother heat treating. These include:
- Taking a bit more time on the fluting so that I don’t have as much to clean up
- Using the edge of my anvil for the cresting, which should avoid the “bulkiness” imparted by my cresting stake. The “floral” look isn’t bad, it just isn’t reflective of the extant besagews I have seen
- planishing the flutes better
- Better / more sanding
- Full (mirror) polishing (after heat treatment)
- bringing the flutes closer to the center (and possibly raising the center section )
- Making a custom “rivet” for the center like the spikes that were so popular in the period. If I’m going to use this for re-enactment it needs to be a bit blunt and less than 1″ long
- Riveting a leather loop (or other attachment) to the back to allow it to be properly suspended.
- grinding the edge between the ridges to either be straight (making an octagon) or reverse the curves,which would probably be closer to the gothic style
- Heat treating and tempering the besagew.