Making Samurai armor costume.


Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
*EDIT*
I changed the title of this thread as it has become more of a build thread for the costume.
*EDIT*


I was planning on using some black trashcans to make some costume Samurai armor for myself and my daughter. The kind that uses long lames, not kozane. We won't be fighting in them, they are just for costume wear.

Having trouble finding plain black cans without logos, or a bunch of bends and creases.

So now I am looking into sheet plastic. I've worked with styrene. I was hoping for something flexible and about as thick as a 30 gallon trash can has and black. Any suggestions?
 
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blastmaster

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

Look this up, Visqueen Poly Sheeting, 6 Mil, 20 x 100', Black, This is used a lot in the film business by the grips, If you google it there should be a;ot of vendors that come up. Hope that helps,
AL
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Darth Lars

Master Member
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

Don't get PP or PE. They are difficult to work with: are tough and fray. Both, especially PE don't take glue or paint well - which is why trashcans are made out of them.
 

Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

Look this up, Visqueen Poly Sheeting, 6 Mil, 20 x 100', Black, This is used a lot in the film business by the grips, If you google it there should be a;ot of vendors that come up. Hope that helps,
AL

Thank you for the suggestion. That looks more like a bag. I was thinking about a more solid flat plastic that can be cut and maybe gently bent or heat treated. Did I search the wrong thing?

Don't get PP or PE. They are difficult to work with: are tough and fray. Both, especially PE don't take glue or paint well - which is why trashcans are made out of them.

Thanks for the information.

Well, if I get black plastic I don't need to paint and the armor is all laced together or riveted, so no glue. Those are a few of the reasons I chose trash cans as my first option. I figured they'd also be relatively inexpensive and readily available. While the cost isn't all that bad, smooth-walled black plastic trash cans seems to be difficult to find in my area.

I found a few square cans with at least 2.5 usable sides going around logos, ridges, and wheels. I was hoping for some good old round ones without trying to use those super thick barrels. These are supposed to be light weight costumes anyhow.

I also thought about foam, but I've worked with it and the lacing has to be tight in some areas and I don;t want that tearing out the foam.
 

Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

I really think a large black polyethylene trashcan or sheeting might do the trick. It's relatively flexible, I don;t need to paint it, I could cut it with simple tools and it'd be light enough but still hold it's shape and be lace-able.

The problem is finding a simple round black can. I suppose I could order a couple online, but paying shipping for trash cans annoys me. :p

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Could I still use styrene? What about ABS? I have a series of long lames that need to curve around a torso or shoulder. Also around the helmet. Kind of like the armor below.

I just need some relatively thin flat plastic that can be cut without special equipment and can bend gently around the body and maybe stand up to some light wear. Think Con or Halloween.

What are those flexible cutting boards made from? I wounder if something like that in a 1/16" or so thickness might be available in large enough quantities?

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lmgill

Sr Member
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

ABS would be a good choice. In the US it is typically textured on one side, smooth on the other. Online, you may find a source who sells it smooth on both sides. But I have seen this used many times to replicate Japanese armour.
Fabrication is easy, because even thick (3/16") thermo plastics (ABS, styrene, Kydex and so forth) can be cut with a sharp knife (Mat knife or X-Acto) by scoring the plastic then bending it away from the cut, then back. You can then smooth the edges by using the same blade to scrape the plastic while holding the blade at 90 degrees to the edge. Unlike polypropylene or polyethylene, ABS can be glued, painted or polished. Generally it is only available in black and white. It drills nice and can be heat formed in a household oven.
 

Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

ABS would be a good choice. In the US it is typically textured on one side, smooth on the other. Online, you may find a source who sells it smooth on both sides. But I have seen this used many times to replicate Japanese armour.
Fabrication is easy, because even thick (3/16") thermo plastics (ABS, styrene, Kydex and so forth) can be cut with a sharp knife (Mat knife or X-Acto) by scoring the plastic then bending it away from the cut, then back. You can then smooth the edges by using the same blade to scrape the plastic while holding the blade at 90 degrees to the edge. Unlike polypropylene or polyethylene, ABS can be glued, painted or polished. Generally it is only available in black and white. It drills nice and can be heat formed in a household oven.

Thank you for your reply. I have not worked with ABS. I understand it can be heat formed or even vacuum formed. I would ask this though: If it were cut into the armor lames, is it flexible enough to bend around a torso without having to be heat formed?
 

lmgill

Sr Member
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

Yes. Up to .060" (1/16) it should be more than flexible enough. It is also available in .090" and .125" and in narrow lames, would also flex nicely. The advantage of using a little heat, is the piece can be made to stay flexed. Because as you lace together many lames, the armour will get stiffer. By heating the piece in the oven (about 160 to 200f) it will become flexible, like a leather belt, but not stretchy like a rubber band. The heated plastic can be formed over your body, over a sweatshirt or two. Start colder and work up. Too hot and the plastic gets too floppy to easily hand form without some skill. Experiment with technique and temp and you will find a very controllable process.
 

Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

I ordered some 1/16" and 1/8" samples. Thanks again to everyone for helping me with this.
 

Bengrim09

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

I ordered some 1/16" and 1/8" samples. Thanks again to everyone for helping me with this.
I hope your going to do a build thread, I think the Samurai armour is such a beautiful design and stunning as a show piece
 

Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

I hope your going to do a build thread, I think the Samurai armour is such a beautiful design and stunning as a show piece

I will show my progress, but not really a how-to. I got almost all my info from the fabulous Nihon Katchû Seisakuben: An Online Japanese Armour Manual.

I have made some concessions in material and base components. For example, I am following the scaled pattern of a Harami Do, but am using a plastic US Army WWII costume helmet as the bowl for my Kabuto as well as a cast Mempo I bought on Etsy.
 

Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

Yes. Up to .060" (1/16) it should be more than flexible enough. It is also available in .090" and .125" and in narrow lames, would also flex nicely. The advantage of using a little heat, is the piece can be made to stay flexed. Because as you lace together many lames, the armour will get stiffer. By heating the piece in the oven (about 160 to 200f) it will become flexible, like a leather belt, but not stretchy like a rubber band. The heated plastic can be formed over your body, over a sweatshirt or two. Start colder and work up. Too hot and the plastic gets too floppy to easily hand form without some skill. Experiment with technique and temp and you will find a very controllable process.

I found a local place that sells 103" x 54" x 1/16" sheets for about $40 cut into a few easy to transport pieces. Now to go get it.
Thanks for your advice!
 

lmgill

Sr Member
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

You should be able to roll it into a 1 ft tube, if you can fit a 54" x 12" tube in your car.
 

Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

Thanks for the input Imgill.

I'm a bit worried about the thinness of 1/16". With all the holes in the lames for lacing how flimsy will that be I have to wonder. 1/8" Thickness seems a bit excessive for costume armor though. I have seen some places offer a 3/32" (.0937") which is right between.

Any thoughts or suggestions before I pull out the old wallet?
 
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lmgill

Sr Member
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

.090 would be stiffer than .060, but thicker than real armour plates. Even the .060 is thicker than real Japanese armour plates but, once the .060 plates are laced together, they will be pretty stiff. That is why I suggested using heat to set the curve in the plates.

You can buy smaller sheets online and do a couple of tests to make sure the stiffness is good for the style of construction you want to do. Because, I could see wanting thinner for somethings, and thicker for others. But it depends on what you want it to look like and work like.

Also, depending on how involved you wanted to get, many of the armour plates on the real armour, have ribs on the top edge of each plate, to make them stiffer and perhaps act as a stop rib to prevent weapon edges and points from being able to slide into seams. You could cut thin strips of the .060 material or use plastistruct / evergreen plastic strips, (which would be much easier), and using solvent glue, bond them the the edges of your plates to create this look. This would give your plate some nice "dimension" as well as stiffen the individual plate.
 

Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

.090 would be stiffer than .060, but thicker than real armour plates. Even the .060 is thicker than real Japanese armour plates but, once the .060 plates are laced together, they will be pretty stiff. That is why I suggested using heat to set the curve in the plates.

You can buy smaller sheets online and do a couple of tests to make sure the stiffness is good for the style of construction you want to do. Because, I could see wanting thinner for somethings, and thicker for others. But it depends on what you want it to look like and work like.

Thank you for the advice. I've seen the metal examples and the often thicker lacquered leather scale and lame Japanese armors and was curious what you thought.

Also, depending on how involved you wanted to get, many of the armour plates on the real armour, have ribs on the top edge of each plate, to make them stiffer and perhaps act as a stop rib to prevent weapon edges and points from being able to slide into seams. You could cut thin strips of the .060 material or use plastistruct / evergreen plastic strips, (which would be much easier), and using solvent glue, bond them the the edges of your plates to create this look. This would give your plate some nice "dimension" as well as stiffen the individual plate.

I had given thought to rolling edges, ABS Welding on strips, even applying trim edging even (Like the Storm Trooper helmets around the neck hole.)
 

Sulla

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

Out of curiosity, do you know if the ABS cement you can get at hardware stores like Home Depot or Menard's will work on ABS sheet to ABS sheet gluing?
 

Darth Lars

Master Member
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

It should. It should contain solvent that would partially dissolve the plastic and leave a stronger bond than regular glue once it has evaporated fully. Because there is solvent in it, be very careful not to spill any of it where it isn't supposed to go or it will leave marks.
 
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lmgill

Sr Member
Re: Sheet plastic: polypropelyne, polyethelye, other?

Yes, that ABS glue should work fine.
Lars is correct.
Solvent cements are basically a solvent that melts the thermo-plastic (Note they have no affect on other plastics) and when the solvent evaporates, the plastic is returned to nearly the same state it was before. Thus making very strong bonds. The thicker versions of these cements, have dissolved amounts of the particular plastic in them and help fill gaps.
When bonding it is important to work with speed and efficiency, as the solvent evaporates quickly, and a thin skin will quickly form on the surface of the glue. This skin prevents the solvent component, from getting to the adjoining plastic completely. The result is a partial or spotty melting of the mating plastic piece, making the bond weak. It helps to move the piece to be bonded back and forth a tiny bit while pressing it into the cement. This breaks up the skin, allowing the solvent to completely attack the piece to be glued.

While they make different types of these solvent cements, the ABS, Styrene and Acrylic versions all work pretty effortlessly if you keep in mind the evaporation speed. Other versions for poly-carbonate and Kydex are a little finicky and you need primers and proper technique to make them work well. Some PVC cements also recommend primers, but these are usually only needed on commercial PVC pipe that can pick up surface contaminates easily. The advantage of "Weld-On" brand solvent cements, is they are readily available in different viscosity, or thickness. The "water thin" type can be applied with a tiny syringe. (I use my dogs old insulin syringes) You can tape or clamp your piece in position for bonding, and using a straight pins as spacers, squirt a small amount of cement in the space and the capillary action will carry the perfect amount all along your seam. Then, pull the pins out and let the tape or clamps press you seam together. Once dry, you can get a perfect bonded seam. This is the technique most often used for acrylic cases or fish tanks.
 
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