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A.J. Hamler

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To arms!  To arms! - Part II

 

Taping things up for a test fit was pretty straightforward, although it did involve a lot of trial and error.  And, of course, the things kept wanting to spring back open every move you make, but I finally got both forearms to where I think they're about right.

 

TK%2050%20lo-res.jpg

 

I made sure to wear gloves to guarantee I could get my hands, which are large anyway, through the wrist opening.   (And, yes, before doing a final marking and cutting I'll do it with my undersuit on.)  I have to say that this feels really weird having these things on; very unfamiliar.  With that in mind I think I'll want to sleep on them at this stage of taping up before deciding if I have them right enough to start cutting.  Well, let me rephrase.  I'm not literally going to sleep on them, but rather come back tomorrow and try them on again to see if I still like them.  Or, what the hell.  Maybe I will wear them to bed.  It's a Saturday night.

 

Part of why they feel so weird is that one of them is really oddly shaped.  I read about this with A.M. forearms in another build, although I can't remember which one or ones it was.  Take a look at the photo below.

 

TK%2051%20lo-res.jpg

 

The one at the left of the photo is the right forearm, and the wrist opening is pretty good as far as it being a "natural" shape of a slightly flattened circle.  The left wrist, though, is more of a vertical oval.  I see a hot-water bath in my future.  (For the forearms!)   Meanwhile, the elbow ends are even more oddly shaped.

 

TK%2052%20lo-res.jpg

 

That's the left elbow end on the left of the photo, and it's shaped exactly opposite of what it should be and, as such, made getting the tape right difficult.  Even once I did get the tape to where I think it's correct, it's hard to tell since it doesn't sit naturally on my arm.  Meanwhile, the right elbow end -- on the right of the photo -- is, like the wrist end, pretty good and conforms to my upper forearm nicely.  

 

In short, the right forearm cross-sectional shape isn't bad at all as far as a natural fit is concerned, while the left forearm is  pretty much opposite of what it should be.  Again, I read about this in another A.M. build thread so it didn't come as a surprise.

 

I think that's all I'm going to do for today.  Tomorrow, a re-test of these forearms, and then I think I'll start fitting the biceps.

 

A.J.

Edited by A.J. Hamler
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4 minutes ago, A.J. Hamler said:

To arms!  To arms! - Part II

 

Taping things up for a test fit was pretty straightforward, although it did involve a lot of trial and error.  And, of course, the things kept wanting to spring back open every move you make, but I finally got both forearms to where I think they're about right.

 

I made sure to wear gloves to guarantee I could get my hands, which are large anyway, through the wrist opening.   (And, yes, before doing a final marking and cutting I'll do it with my undersuit on.)  I have to say that this feels really weird having these things on; very unfamiliar.  With that in mind I think I'll want to sleep on them at this stage of taping up before deciding if I have them right enough to start cutting.  Well, let me rephrase.  I'm not literally going to sleep on them, but rather come back tomorrow and try them on again to see if I still like them.  Or, what the hell.  Maybe I will wear them to bed.  It's a Saturday night.

 

Part of why they feel so weird is that one of them is really oddly shaped.  I read about this with A.M. forearms in another build, although I can't remember which one or ones it was.  Take a look at the photo below.

 

The one at the left of the photo is the right forearm, and the wrist opening is pretty good as far as it being a "natural" shape of a slightly flattened circle.  The left wrist, though, is more of a vertical oval.  I see a hot-water bath in my future.  (For the forearms!)   Meanwhile, the elbow ends are even more oddly shaped.

 

That's the left elbow end on the left of the photo, and it's shaped exactly opposite of what it should be and, as such, made getting the tape right difficult.  Even once I did get the tape to where I think it's correct, it's hard to tell since it doesn't sit naturally on my arm.  Meanwhile, the right elbow end -- on the right of the photo -- is, like the wrist end, pretty good and conforms to my upper forearm nicely.  

 

In short, the left forearm cross-sectional shape isn't bad at all as far as a natural fit is concerned, while the right forearm is  pretty much opposite of what it should be.  Again, I read about this in another A.M. build thread so it didn't come as a surprise.

 

I think that's all I'm going to do for today.  Tomorrow, a re-test of these forearms, and then I think I'll start fitting the biceps.

 

A.J.

Also, if you're shooting for Centurion don't forget to remove all the return edge from the wrist side.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, ukswrath said:

Also, if you're shooting for Centurion don't forget to remove all the return edge from the wrist side.

Yeah, you're absolutely right.  In fact, I mentioned that in the first part of the forearms post, although I didn't specifically refer to L3: "The A.M. kit includes a healthy return edge on everything, which can make fitting difficult, plus there's not supposed to be any return edge on the wrists anyway."  And then again a bit later: "In the photo below you can see the trimmed returns on forearms.  Almost nothing on the wrist end (I'll finish that later after assembly is complete), and about 3/16" on the elbow end. "

 

I hope you'll be pleased to know that everything I'm doing at this point, although it's for Basic now, is a preliminary for going for Centurion.  I'm leaving a bit of return on those edges until after gluing, at which point I'll then go back and remove the last little bit.  I want a really smooth transition, so I'll do the final sanding and stuff on those wrists after that.

 

A.J.

 

Edited by A.J. Hamler
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OK, no idea what happened with the previous two posts with nothing in them except a blank ukswrath quote.  Sorry.  Can a sysop get rid of them?  Thanks.  Was trying to post new stuff on my build.  But that quote form kept popping up and wouldn't let me type anything else in.  I'm clueless.  Anyway, regular posts resume in next post.  (I hope...)

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Button break

 

After lots of grinding off return edges all morning for my arms, biceps and such I decided I needed a break from ABS grinding, and decided to jump ahead to the Ab buttons for a change of pace.

 

First, I trimmed both the large and small button plates per Billhag's graphic and lightly sanded the edges, then used some really fine sandpaper to scuff-sand the buttons themselves for better paint adhesion.  Now, there are a lot of things I do pretty well but painting ain't one of them, so I bought some button masking templates from Trooperbay.  These things are a lifesaver for fumble-finger painters like me.

 

TK%2053%20lo-res.jpg

 

The real trick with these (or regular masking tape, for that matter) is to ensure that they're stuck securely as possible to the edge of the paint line, otherwise paint can easily go underneath.  So, once I had the templates in place, I used the end of a thin dowel to press around the edges to seal them.  Also in this photo you can see everything I'm using for this paint task: fine brush, Q-Tips, screwdriver for opening Humbrol tins and a razor knife.  Also on hand was some mineral spirits in a small cup and paper towels.  Note that once the templates are all smoothed out, I wrote a "G" or "B" by each button so I'd get the colors right.

 

And if you're looking closely at the items in that photo above you're probably thinking, Oh, look, the idiot has a magnet stuck to his screwdriver.  Well, there's a reason for that:

 

TK%2054%20lo-res.jpg

 

Don't know about you, but I have the hardest time handling those tiny lids without either dropping them or getting paint all over me.  Or both.  So before prying off the lid I stick a tiny magnet to the screwdriver.  Then when you pry the lid off it doesn't go anywhere.  With luck, it'll even flip around to the magnet itself as it did for me up there.  OK, let's paint.

 

TK%2055%20lo-res.jpg

 

I tried both the Q-Tip to paint and the fine brush, and preferred the brush.  I brushed on the appropriate colors over each of the buttons, brushing right over the edge of the templates.  Then I let the paint "set up" for about 10-15 minutes or so.  Not dry -- that will take hours to fully dry and cure -- but enough time for the paint to thicken in place a bit, then peeled off the templates.

 

TK%2056%20lo-res.jpg

 

It's important to remove the templates before the paint dries for two reasons.  First, if you let it dry all the way you run the risk of pulling up the edge of the button paint when pulling the templates off.  Even if that doesn't happen, the paint will dry with a little "ridge" at the edges where the templates were, and that's prone to flaking there.  But with the paint thickened but still wet when you remove the templates, it'll self-level at the edges and be quite smooth when fully dry.  By the way, note here that I lifted the corner of the templates with the razor knife, and used that to pull them free.  They're easier to handle this way.

 

Finally, let's see how they came out:

 

TK%2057%20lo-res.jpg

 

Nice.  Now, I'll set these aside where nothing will get on them -- this is enamel paint, and will remain sticky for hours -- and allow them to fully dry.

 

OK, break's over.  Time to get back to those arms.

 

A.J.

Edited by A.J. Hamler
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To arms!  To arms!  -- Part III

 

I think I finally have the forearms and biceps fitted correctly, but it wasn't particularly easy.  For those who haven't started your build yet, there's some things you should know about that impede proper fitting.  There are lots if things, really, but let me highlight three -- two of which really slowed me down.  First, not all armor is the exact shape it's supposed to be.  Because of how it's pulled from the molds, cooled, shipped or whatever, even the best armor (and I consider A.M. to be among the best) just doesn't always match the shape of the body part it's supposed to go on.

 

I talked about this earlier with the forearms.  The right one was shaped just right once I got it taped up, and it fit the contours of my arm as it should.  The left one, not so much.  In fact, the left one is way off, and will certainly require a hot water bath to reshape it to my arm.  Meanwhile, both biceps were very oddly shaped.  Take a look:

 

TK%2058%20lo-res.jpg

 

Taped up, this is what shape they are, which is not how my biceps are shaped.  First of all, these are basically very tight vertical ovals.  The upper ends (closer to the shoulder) aren't too bad, but the elbow ends of the biceps are both as weird as they can be.  Although rounded on the top, it's way too narrow and pinches my arm severely side-to-side.  Meanwhile, the underside of my biceps isn't a narrow square -- but that's the shape these are as you can see.  It was making fitting/taping so difficult, I pulled them apart and gave each lower section a hot water bath:

 

TK%2059%20lo-res.jpg

 

Taped up again you can see that the top curves are now wider and rounder, closer to the actual shape of my arm.  I also got the squareness out of the undersides, rounding those off as well.  This fix has made all the difference in getting the taping and fitting correct.

 

A second issue you'll hit when fitting armor is that of necessity you have to overlap the armor since it hasn't been trimmed to size yet, which effectively makes whatever part you're fitting thicker than it will end up.  Also because it's not trimmed, the overlap isn't really flat due to return edges, overall shape, etc.

 

TK%2060%20lo-res.jpg

 

There's not a thing you can do about this right now, but keep it in mind as you mark and cut -- even if the fit feels good, it's not quite accurate because of all this extra plastic.  This isn't entirely a bad thing, however.  When you do trim and that extra overlap is gone, you'll find the part a tad roomier than you thought.  Since you should trim slow anyway, taking off less rather than more, this is something that can help act as a safety cushion.

 

The third and final thing to keep in mind, and this has been said a hundred times before but bears repeating, is that it is absolutely imperative that you do any final fitting before cutting with your undersuit on.  This makes all the difference.  You obviously shouldn't fit armor over jeans or other street clothes, but even over bare skin you won't get the same fit as with your undersuit on.  With that in mind, I slipped on mine and checked my last fitting before getting out the knife.  Here's the right arm:

 

TK%2061%20lo-res.jpg

 

Feels pretty good.  I can tell I'll still need to do some shaping once everything is glued up, as the biceps have less room side-to-side than they do top-to-bottom (they were more or less vertical ovals before the water bath).  Plus, I may need to trim the inner edges at the elbow for better mobility there, but I think this works.  Meanwhile, here's the left:

 

TK%2062%20lo-res.jpg

 

The fit, I think, is OK.  This was the wonky forearm arm, remember, and it will definitely require reshaping once glued up.  That's partially why the wrist seems so big -- the end of the forearm is flattened vertically and not horizontally, the way your wrist naturally is.  (The other reason the wrist looks large is that I have large hands and need to be able to squeeze them through.)  So, what do you experienced armorers think?

 

OK, with everything taped as good as I think it's going to be, it's time to mark the plastic.

 

TK%2063%20lo-res.jpg

 

This is a simple matter of just splitting the difference in the overlap, marking at the midway point on each half of the part.  Once untaped, I'll use these marks as my guide to continue the line from end to end, adding a bit of a cushion (maybe, say, 1/4" for safety), and then make my cuts.

 

All that comes next, after a good night's sleep.  The prospect of finally beginning the cutting is daunting enough as is, and I certainly want to go forward with a clear mind in the morning.

 

A.J.

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Hey AJ! Good to see ya back at the TK build. Beautiful work sir! You are well on your way!:th_AnimatedBravoSmiley:

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To arms!  To arms!  -- Part IV

 

The day I've both been anticipating with glee... and dreading:  The day I start taking a knife to my pristine, precious -- and expensive -- armor.  Believe me, when it comes to expecting the worst to happen I'm Mr. Paranoid.  Look up "paranoid" in the dictionary, and you'll see my picture.  (Note to self: Ask the dictionary people to update that picture.  That must be like, what, at least 10 years old.)

 

But it has to be done, or no Shiny Whitey.  So I gritted my teeth, grabbed my knife, and started in with the biceps.  To make the straightest cuts possible, and to ensure that I stayed on my cut lines, I placed a sacrificial cutting board -- a square of scrap plywood -- on the edge of my assembly table and clamped the working piece with a metal straightedge on my cut line. 

 

TK%2064%20lo-res.jpg

 

One slow, light pass to set the cut.  Take your time with this first cut; you don't want to wander off the cut line.  Then another pass to deepen the cut a bit; it doesn't take much.  Notice here the glove.  Do yourself a favor and get a pair of cut-resistant gloves and wear one on your not-knife hand.  You don't need one on your working hand, plus I find wearing a glove on my working hand gives me less control of a tool.  Give the one you don't use to someone who's different-handed and share the love.

 

After making the scoring cut, unclamp the part and finish the scoring to the ends of the cut line (the clamp pads are covering those spots).  With the scoring cut done, just bend the edge of the waste away from the cut line:

 

TK%2065%20lo-res.jpg

 

It'll snap right off.  Save the scrap for ABS paste or inner cover strips.  Now repeat for the trim on the other side of the part, then do the same thing on both sides of the matching part.  The edge should already be straight unless your knife wandered off the cut line a bit, but it will be rough where it snapped, plus there may be a bit of a raised edge on one side where the knife first cut.  Smooth all of this out and give yourself perfectly square joining surface by running the cut edge back and forth several times over a fresh sheet of medium sandpaper (120-150 grit).

 

TK%2066%20lo-res.jpg

 

Don't press down so hard on the piece as to deform its shape as you sand, or it won't be straight and square once you relieve the sanding pressure.  Just lightly run it back and forth removing any high spots and roughness.  Repeat for all cut edges on all the parts.  By the way, even though all of this ABS dust would make ABS paste in a matter of seconds if you mix it with acetone, don't be tempted to: There will be grit, sand particles and other contaminants in it.  This stuff goes in the trash.  OK, let's see how I did on my first-ever, long-procrastinated, paranoia-laden armor cuts.

 

TK%2067%20lo-res.jpg

 

Well, look at that.  Am I da Man?  Why, yes, I am.  Look up "da Man" in the dictionary and you'll see my picture.  (It's probably 10 years old, though.)

 

All four parts -- both biceps and both forearms -- came out good, the joints go together smoothly and am every bit as pleased as I am relieved.  After all, I'm no longer an ABS-cutting virgin.  I've done it, the worst is over and now I can move on apace.  As I anticipated and mentioned in the previous post, once taped back up all the parts fit a bit better than they did with all that folded-over plastic making things awkward during fitting and marking; they slip on and off more easily, too.  Also, without all that overlapped plastic the roundness of each piece is now easily adjustable temporarily by just squeezing the part while trying it on.  Remember that both biceps and one of the arms were oddly shaped in cross-section, and a gentle squeeze was all it took to correct that.  Once glued up, a hot-water bath will make these right as rain.

 

I think I might be able to trim a hair more off the wrist ends of the forearms, and possibly shave a tad more off the upper (shoulder) ends of the biceps.  Not sure; they all feel pretty good.  Doing so will just be a matter of drawing a new cut line on the joint that tightens the openings just a little on the ends that seem roomy, but I'm going to wait for a while before doing so.  Garrison Carida has a troop this weekend that, as a cadet, I'm planning to Squire for so I may just take these four parts along to see what some of the guys think.  Plenty to do elsewhere on my build in the meantime; I'm thinking it's time to tackle the shins.

 

With that in mind, I'm gonna bring the arms section of my build thread to a close for now and revisit the arms when it's time to start gluing things together.

 

A.J.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, A.J. Hamler said:

To arms!  To arms!  -- Part IV

 

The day I've both been anticipating with glee... and dreading:  The day I start taking a knife to my pristine, precious -- and expensive -- armor.  Believe me, when it comes to expecting the worst to happen I'm Mr. Paranoid.  Look up "paranoid" in the dictionary, and you'll see my picture.  (Note to self: Ask the dictionary people to update that picture.  That must be like, what, at least 10 years old.)

 

But it has to be done, or no Shiny Whitey.  So I gritted my teeth, grabbed my knife, and started in with the biceps.  To make the straightest cuts possible, and to ensure that I stayed on my cut lines, I placed a sacrificial cutting board -- a square of scrap plywood -- on the edge of my assembly table and clamped the working piece with a metal straightedge on my cut line. 

 

TK%2064%20lo-res.jpg

 

One slow, light pass to set the cut.  Take your time with this first cut; you don't want to wander off the cut line.  Then another pass to deepen the cut a bit; it doesn't take much.  Notice here the glove.  Do yourself a favor and get a pair of cut-resistant gloves and wear one on your not-knife hand.  You don't need one on your working hand, plus I find wearing a glove on my working hand gives me less control of a tool.  Give the one you don't use to someone who's different-handed and share the love.

 

After making the scoring cut, unclamp the part and finish the scoring to the ends of the cut line (the clamp pads are covering those spots).  With the scoring cut done, just bend the edge of the waste away from the cut line:

 

TK%2065%20lo-res.jpg

 

It'll snap right off.  Save the scrap for ABS paste or inner cover strips.  Now repeat for the trim on the other side of the part, then do the same thing on both sides of the matching part.  The edge should already be straight unless your knife wandered off the cut line a bit, but it will be rough where it snapped, plus there may be a bit of a raised edge on one side where the knife first cut.  Smooth all of this out and give yourself perfectly square joining surface by running the cut edge back and forth several times over a fresh sheet of medium sandpaper (120-150 grit).

 

TK%2066%20lo-res.jpg

 

Don't press down so hard on the piece as to deform its shape as you sand, or it won't be straight and square once you relieve the sanding pressure.  Just lightly run it back and forth removing any high spots and roughness.  Repeat for all cut edges on all the parts.  By the way, even though all of this ABS dust would make ABS paste in a matter of seconds if you mix it with acetone, don't be tempted to: There will be grit, sand particles and other contaminants in it.  This stuff goes in the trash.  OK, let's see how I did on my first-ever, long-procrastinated, paranoia-laden armor cuts.

 

TK%2067%20lo-res.jpg

 

Well, look at that.  Am I da Man?  Why, yes, I am.  Look up "da Man" in the dictionary and you'll see my picture.  (It's probably 10 years old, though.)

 

All four parts -- both biceps and both forearms -- came out good, the joints go together smoothly and am every bit as pleased as I am relieved.  After all, I'm no longer an ABS-cutting virgin.  I've done it, the worst is over and now I can move on apace.  As I anticipated and mentioned in the previous post, once taped back up all the parts fit a bit better than they did with all that folded-over plastic making things awkward during fitting and marking; they slip on and off more easily, too.  Also, without all that overlapped plastic the roundness of each piece is now easily adjustable temporarily by just squeezing the part while trying it on.  Remember that both biceps and one of the arms were oddly shaped in cross-section, and a gentle squeeze was all it took to correct that.  Once glued up, a hot-water bath will make these right as rain.

 

I think I might be able to trim a hair more off the wrist ends of the forearms, and possibly shave a tad more off the upper (shoulder) ends of the biceps.  Not sure; they all feel pretty good.  Doing so will just be a matter of drawing a new cut line on the joint that tightens the openings just a little on the ends that seem roomy, but I'm going to wait for a while before doing so.  Garrison Carida has a troop this weekend that, as a cadet, I'm planning to Squire for so I may just take these four parts along to see what some of the guys think.  Plenty to do elsewhere on my build in the meantime; I'm thinking it's time to tackle the shins.

 

With that in mind, I'm gonna bring the arms section of my build thread to a close for now and revisit the arms when it's time to start gluing things together.

 

A.J.

 

 

yep, Yoda Man! hahahahaha! sorry had to go there. your build is looking great and coming along smoothly it seems. keep up the great work and keep those photos coming!

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Land o' legs -- Part I

 

I've set the arm assemblies aside for now till I can get some experienced eyeballs on them to take a look at my sizing.  I think I have both the forearms and biceps just about right, but I definitely want some second opinions before I start slathering glue and cover strips on those.  I'm eager to finish those assemblies, but there's plenty more to do with this build so I'm moving on to the legs for now.

 

With A.M. armor, making the cuts on half of the legs is waymo easier than other armor not as generously sized.  There's lots of extra plastic here, and a quick overlap and test shows that I won't need shims at all on the backs no matter how I cut the fronts.  With that in mind I can, without fear, go ahead and cut the fronts to 10mm on each side as the base for the front 20mm cover strips before doing the actual sizing of the entire part.  Unless you're a big trooper and need all that extra plastic, trimming the fronts of A.M. legs is important for the fitting process: As with the arms in the earlier section, there's just too much plastic to overlap during the sizing process to get an accurate fitting.

 

Starting with the shins, I removed all of the lower return edge.  Don't need any down there over my boots.  I found that I couldn't clamp the part to my assembly table as I did the forearms because of the shin's ridged top and overall shape.  Instead, I clamped a flexible metal straightedge directly to the shin itself to make my scoring cuts.

 

TK%2068%20lo-res.jpg

 

By the way, you'll probably use spring clamps for something like this, but since I have a woodworking shop I have boatloads of these small bar clamps and prefer them for any flat surface due to their unmatched strength -- clamp up a straightedge with these and it just isn't going to move.  If you use bar clamps for any part of your build, mind the free ends or you'll put your eye out, kid.   

 

The process of making all four cuts, two per leg remember because I'm only doing the fronts here, went smoothly.  I'm still taking my time and being careful, but I'm not nearly as terrified as I was making those first cuts on the arms and biceps.  As with the arms/biceps, I lightly sanded the cut edge to remove high spots and rough edges.  Let's tape up the shins and see how they look.

 

TK%2069%20lo-res.jpg

 

Yeah, that's the ticket.  Nice and flush all down the line.  There's still a lot of extra plastic on the backs, but I'll get that once I've marked the backs for fitting.  Here's the thing, though:  I can't do that by myself.  I have no idea how you folks who did these without help managed it -- without being able to see the entire back of my shins as I fit them, I simply can't trust my guesswork at getting them marked accurately.   Unfortunately, Mrs. Stormtrooper is out of town so her assistance isn't available.  I thought about calling the retired lady next door to ask for a bit of help, but stopped when I imagined the conversation.

 

ME: "Hi, Marion... Hey, have you got a few minutes to help me out with something?"

NEIGHBOR: "Sure A.J.  What do you need?"

ME: "Well, I need you to come over and hold my legs for me while I get out a bunch of tape.  Give me a couple minutes, though, because I have to put on some tight black leggings first."

NEIGHBOR: *click*

 

Yeah, that won't work.  I'll wait till Mrs. Stormtrooper comes home or till I can get a Garrison member to help out.

 

OK, I'll move on to the thighs.  (Ha!  Imagine replacing "legs" with "thighs" in that hypothetical phone call above.)  As with the shins, there's far more plastic on these than I'll need, so I can safely cut those fronts to the required 10mm per side and still have plenty of overlap in back for fitting purposes.  First, though, I want to trim the return edges.  After all the reading I've done here, I've decided I don't want any return edges at the thigh tops for comfort and mobility.  Plus, the A.M. legs are large and I'm sure I'll need to trim a bit off the tops anyway, so before fitting they have to go.  There's a good bit there so I first used my Lexan scissors to cut most of it off.

 

TK%2070%20lo-res.jpg

 

Then I went over to my drill press -- still fitted with that Microplane rotary shaper you saw in the arms section -- and ground it off the rest of the way.  I also removed some of the return edge on the lower raised ridge.  I didn't take all of that off, however, and instead trimmed it so it was at the same level as the inner sides of thighs, which I confirmed by laying a straightedge across the bottoms. 

 

TK%2071%20lo-res.jpg

 

My main purpose for doing this at this stage is so I didn't have extra material pressing into my legs during the fitting process and adversely altering initial fitting.  Secondarily, the inner surface of the plastic will ride and bump on my legs a lot while moving, and I didn't want large returns on the raised ridge digging into my knees.  When the legs are complete and I can put the armor on, I may elect to take a bit more of that return off the lower ridges, but for now making those edges flush with the inner surface of the thighs should be enough.

 

With the return edges trimmed and sanded smooth, I cut the fronts to the 10mm-per-side measurement and taped them up.  Both came out just fine.  Again, though, I have to stop until I get some help with the backs as far as fitting and marking.  With that in mind, this will be the last of the leg stuff for a while.  Still loads of other things to do -- trim and fit my chest, ab, back, kidney, butt... 

 

"Hi, Marion, this is A.J. next door.  Yeah, if you have a couple minutes could come over and help me trim and fit my butt?"

 

Uh, no.  I think I can handle these without help.

 

A.J.

Edited by A.J. Hamler
replaced incorrect photo
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Mostly questions this time around.

 

I've made great progress on trimming.  The forearms and biceps are all trimmed and -- I think -- ready to glue up, but I'm waiting till a Garrison armor bash next weekend to get my taped-up pieces some fresh eyeballs on it before I commit to glue.  Meanwhile, the shins and thighs are trimmed to size for the cover strips in the fronts but, again, waiting for the armor bash to get some help with the backs for sizing.  With those all done and set aside, I've moved on to other areas for trimming.  First, I've trimmed the button plates to size per Billhag's chart, and put them in place for a test fit on the Ab:

 

TK%2072%20lo-res.jpg

 

Won't attach them till after the belt work and all that is done; probably one of the last things I'll do, in fact.  But what think you all on the sizing and placement?  

 

OK, as I look at the body parts, I need to trim lot of the generous A.M. returns.  (Yes, I know that no return edges are required anywhere except for brackets, which I'm not doing, but I do want some for the illusion of thickness.)  I've been thinking about this a lot over the last year I've had my BBB, and have already made a couple decisions regarding return edges.  I've already removed them entirely from the wrists and ankles; none at all there.  I've also decided I don't want return edges at all on the tops of the thighs for comfort and mobility, plus I think I'll need to shave somewhere between 1/2" to 1" off the tops anyway. Elsewhere, I've trimmed the returns to about 1/8" on the insides (elbow insides) of the forearms and biceps.  Backs of the forearms and biceps I've been a bit more generous at around 3/16".  Anyway, I don't really have any questions for those unless anyone here has any specific advice or comments.  However, I have a number of questions on the "body" armor -- Ab, Chest, Back, Kidney and Butt.

 

Starting with the Ab, here's what the top edge looks like now right out of the BBB:

 

TK%2073%20lo-res.jpg

 

I've decided to trim the top edge to my preferred minimum of 1/8", or perhaps remove it entirely.  It's hidden under the lower chest, so visually no additional "bulk" is needed there for the illusion of armor thickness.  And, of course, the sides don't have any return edges.  Now, what about the lower portion and around the cod?  Here's the amount of return there right out of the BBB:

 

TK%2074%20lo-res.jpg

 

What have you all found to be a good amount of return cutting for this area? 

 

Moving on to the back, from most of the photos here on White Armor, making a visual guess it looks like most of you have trimmed this edge down to about 1/4" or maybe 3/16", and it looks pretty good to me.  Here's what's there now:

 

TK%2075%20lo-res.jpg

 

As you can see, there's boatloads of return edge on the lower portion of the back (on the right of the photo).  Recommendations there?

 

Finally, here's the side of the chest:

 

TK%2076%20lo-res.jpg

 

From looking at photos, most of you seem to have gone with no more than 3/16" to 1/4" or so.  Again, that's a visual guess.  It's around 1/4" to 3/8" now, and doesn't look bad.  Recommendations?

 

Thanks!

 

A.J.

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38 minutes ago, A.J. Hamler said:

Mostly questions this time around.

 

I've made great progress on trimming.  The forearms and biceps are all trimmed and -- I think -- ready to glue up, but I'm waiting till a Garrison armor bash next weekend to get my taped-up pieces some fresh eyeballs on it before I commit to glue.  Meanwhile, the shins and thighs are trimmed to size for the cover strips in the fronts but, again, waiting for the armor bash to get some help with the backs for sizing.  With those all done and set aside, I've moved on to other areas for trimming.  First, I've trimmed the button plates to size per Billhag's chart, and put them in place for a test fit on the Ab:

 

TK%2072%20lo-res.jpg

 

Won't attach them till after the belt work and all that is done; probably one of the last things I'll do, in fact.  But what think you all on the sizing and placement?  

 

OK, as I look at the body parts, I need to trim lot of the generous A.M. returns.  (Yes, I know that no return edges are required anywhere except for brackets, which I'm not doing, but I do want some for the illusion of thickness.)  I've been thinking about this a lot over the last year I've had my BBB, and have already made a couple decisions regarding return edges.  I've already removed them entirely from the wrists and ankles; none at all there.  I've also decided I don't want return edges at all on the tops of the thighs for comfort and mobility, plus I think I'll need to shave somewhere between 1/2" to 1" off the tops anyway. Elsewhere, I've trimmed the returns to about 1/8" on the insides (elbow insides) of the forearms and biceps.  Backs of the forearms and biceps I've been a bit more generous at around 3/16".  Anyway, I don't really have any questions for those unless anyone here has any specific advice or comments.  However, I have a number of questions on the "body" armor -- Ab, Chest, Back, Kidney and Butt.

 

Starting with the Ab, here's what the top edge looks like now right out of the BBB:

 

TK%2073%20lo-res.jpg

 

I've decided to trim the top edge to my preferred minimum of 1/8", or perhaps remove it entirely.  It's hidden under the lower chest, so visually no additional "bulk" is needed there for the illusion of armor thickness.  And, of course, the sides don't have any return edges.  Now, what about the lower portion and around the cod?  Here's the amount of return there right out of the BBB:

 

TK%2074%20lo-res.jpg

 

What have you all found to be a good amount of return cutting for this area? 

 

Moving on to the back, from most of the photos here on White Armor, making a visual guess it looks like most of you have trimmed this edge down to about 1/4" or maybe 3/16", and it looks pretty good to me.  Here's what's there now:

 

TK%2075%20lo-res.jpg

 

As you can see, there's boatloads of return edge on the lower portion of the back (on the right of the photo).  Recommendations there?

 

Finally, here's the side of the chest:

 

TK%2076%20lo-res.jpg

 

From looking at photos, most of you seem to have gone with no more than 3/16" to 1/4" or so.  Again, that's a visual guess.  It's around 1/4" to 3/8" now, and doesn't look bad.  Recommendations?

 

Thanks!

 

A.J.

A lot is going to come down to fitment honestly. I took off all the returns form the crouch area (lower abs and posturer) , and left everything else. I did get a crack though on my first troop at about nipple line on my chest armor, were the return is, so that will have to come off. The return edge on the top of the abs/kidney could be the difference between needing to shim, and not needing to shim. I left mine because I was lucky enough to have lost 15 lbs between ordering and assembling, and that allowed me to create the armor without needing shims, and did not trim incase I ever put the weight back on. I literally have wiggle room in my armor without looking like it is swallowing me.

 

Honestly time. At the end of the day this armor is yours, and will be on you to decide what you like best. if there is a return edge that doesn't NEED to go, leave it, you can always trim it later. mobility is key, for sure. I love my AM armor because of the size, I hope you will too!

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Thanks, Jordan.  I also won't need shims on the sides --  I did a tape-fit so I could order my Kittell belt right after getting the BBB, and the sides came together perfectly, so I don't need to trim or shim the sides.  (However, I've lost a few pounds since then, so I may need to trim the sides after all.)

 

Trimming off all return at the leg openings on the Ab and Butt sounds like a good idea, and was what I was thinking of.  Glad to have that confirmed.  

 

As to the back of the suit, I think I'd like to leave a healthy return on the bottom of the Back Plate and top of the Kidney so that once strapped the Back might be less likely to ride over the Kidney.  Might encourage a bit of air circulation, too.  Since you have A.M. armor, you know the returns on all the back pieces are big -- about the same size as the top of the Ab in the photo up above -- so I might trim down the returns at the bottom of the Kidney and top of the Butt just so there's not so much room inside (fitment isn't an issue with the A.M.), and since that joint is both strapped and covered with the belt there shouldn't be much issue of the parts going over each other.

 

But as you say everything comes down to the fitting and how it all feels, which I'll decide once I get there.

 

A.J.

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2 minutes ago, A.J. Hamler said:

Thanks, Jordan.  I also won't need shims on the sides --  I did a tape-fit so I could order my Kittell belt right after getting the BBB, and the sides came together perfectly, so I don't need to trim or shim the sides.  (However, I've lost a few pounds since then, so I may need to trim the sides after all.)

 

Trimming off all return at the leg openings on the Ab and Butt sounds like a good idea, and was what I was thinking of.  Glad to have that confirmed.  

 

As to the back of the suit, I think I'd like to leave a healthy return on the bottom of the Back Plate and top of the Kidney so that once strapped the Back might be less likely to ride over the Kidney.  Might encourage a bit of air circulation, too.  Since you have A.M. armor, you know the returns on all the back pieces are big -- about the same size as the top of the Ab in the photo up above -- so I might trim down the returns at the bottom of the Kidney and top of the Butt just so there's not so much room inside (fitment isn't an issue with the A.M.), and since that joint is both strapped and covered with the belt there shouldn't be much issue of the parts going over each other.

 

But as you say everything comes down to the fitting and how it all feels, which I'll decide once I get there.

 

A.J.

That was my thought exactly about the air flow, and true, I did an outdoor troop and hand no issues with "heat" on my body, the air circulated really well. So all the return edges I trimmed where the "crouch" front and back, the thighs top and bottom, the calves bottom, the biceps, forearms, and the neckline front and back. everything else stayed. the post and kidney lines up really well. I like having the return edge there because it insures no "slipping" of the kidney or post to pop out. One other reason I like the room is I have been thinking about a "cold shirt" to run some cold water to circulate, but this is just a dream as of yet, but the extra room will allow me the availability if able. Only thing I would say about possibility of trimming the sides, is only do it if you can be sure you wont gain the weight back. last thing you really want to do is trim it down, put on 15 to 20 lbs, and then have crazy gaps. just a thought of course  

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Just so you know I left the return edge on the chest and from the similar motion of “crossing” my arms the return edge cracked which lead to a crack on the front. Small enough to fix, but a pain none the less. So if you keep the chest return I’d support it from the inside.


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The Garrison Carida annual armor bash (and BBQ/get-together/general swell time) was weekend before last.  I took my whole kit, along with my boots and undersuit, and got some outstanding fitting advice and direction from several of the seasoned members.  Been spending most of the time since then finishing up my trimming/fitting and getting ready for glue -- a really big step I'm just about ready to take.  Before we do that, though, I thought I'd share a few of the trimming steps.  Plus some miscellaneous etcetera.

 

One of the things folks were doing at the armor bash was mounting snaps, and I thought that with it fresh in my mind I ought to do a few to become familiar with it.  After trimming the butt plate, I laid out pencil marks and drilled the butt plate for the two snaps at the bottom.

 

TK%2077%20lo-res.jpg

 

After drilling, you need to countersink the holes a bit.  Snap posts flare slightly at the base of the post, and if you don't countersink the holes a bit this flare will keep the snap post from seating flush.  I used a regular countersink bit mounted in a handle specifically made for this process.  (This is another of my woodworking tools being called upon in service to the Empire.)

 

TK%2078%20lo-res.jpg

 

There's no real set amount countersinking I can recommend as all countersink bits  are different -- plus, the flare at the base of the snap posts may vary -- so it's best to twist a couple times, then test-fit a snap post in the countersunk hole.  Repeat as needed till the post sits nice and flat on the plastic.  By the way, do this by hand!  Either find a handle like the one I used, or just hold the countersink bit in your fingers.  Don't be tempted to use a drill/driver.  ABS is soft stuff, and just a few twists may do the trick.  Using a drill you could easily blast right through unintentionally.

 

The idea of whacking away at my armor with a hammer doesn't appeal to me, so I've opted to set the snaps with snap-setting pliers, at least initially.  These do a great job of setting the post, depending on your squeezing strength and the variabilities from one snap to another. 

 

TK%2079%20lo-res.jpg

 

As it happened, for these two snaps one of them set perfect and tight against the plastic with no spinning.  The other snap, no matter how hard I squeezed I couldn't get it set tight enough to suit me so I did as much as I could with the pliers, and then a single whack with a hammer and setting tool tightened it down.  I'll probably do a combination of pliers and hammer as I move forward, but if I can minimize the hammering I'll be a happy guy.  Here's how the snaps came out.

 

TK%2080%20lo-res.jpg

 

Not all of the armor lends itself well for marking and trimming.  Flat areas like the fronts and backs of the legs, as well as the sides of the forearms and biceps you can mark and score just fine with a ruler and knife, but round areas like the bells and tops of the thighs you can't.  So I used a compass to do my marking in those areas.

 

TK%2081%20lo-res.jpg

 

For example, I needed to take off about 1/2" uniformly all the way around the shoulder bells.  (The A.M. bells are very large.)  To do this, I just set the compass for 1/2" with a ruler, hung the pointy end over the edge of the armor and just ran the pencil end right along the bell for a cut line that's perfectly even and equally spaced from the edge all around.  I marked both bells, then the tops of both thighs, which needed shortened a bit more than 3/4".  (I may need to shorten the thigh tops a bit more, but I'm going a little at a time.)  Once marked, it's just a simple matter of trimming off the waste with Lexan scissors.

 

TK%2082%20lo-res.jpg

 

After that, a bit of sanding smoothed out the cuts and removed all sharp edges.

 

OK, that's it for now.  Up next is gluing on cover strips. 

 

Holy yikemoly!  I'm actually about to start assembly!

 

A.J.

 

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1 hour ago, A.J. Hamler said:

 One of the things folks were doing at the armor bash was mounting snaps

Wait a second - that was ME hammering away at snaps!! I didn't know you were there! I've been following your build thread, too! Ha. The more you know. Glad you had fun. It was a great Bash. *coughPretzel* *coughFrank*

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Wait a second - that was ME hammering away at snaps!! I didn't know you were there! I've been following your build thread, too! Ha. The more you know. Glad you had fun. It was a great Bash. *coughPretzel* *coughFrank*


Lol I had a party at my house that weekend. I started planning mine in planned in February there was no way of changing it. I do a huge party for the neighborhood and all my kids friends every year. Would have loved to open it up to some Garrison friends but there was no way I’d ever be able to compete with an armor party. I wish I could have gone bough would have been great to meet so many people.

By the way your doing a great job AJ and I guess TheLorelei is the official garrison snap setter.


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:D Well, you were missed. Glad you were having fun, though!

 

10 minutes ago, Frank75139 said:

I guess TheLorelei is the official garrison snap setter. 

But seriously, I think I'm going to invest in a nice snap press, and then I will most definitely be the garrison snap girl. So let me know if you run into snags or want an easier way to do things when you get to the strapping stage, AJ! :)

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Hey A.J. looking good brother. Just and FYI the armor technically ends here with the rivets positioned as illustrated. 

 

 

TK%2080%20lo-resb.jpg

 

Here's a reference photo

gallery_12157_16_50082-crop.jpg

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Thanks for the heads-up on that, Tony.  I'm moving on to other areas of the armor for now, and will come back to those snaps later.

 

A.J.

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