Sunday, August 12, 2012

Archery Arm Guard

Hey guys! Been a while. Well I won't get all blubbery on you. Let's get to business.

We're making an archery arm guard, because I've recently started attending archery practices again. See how this whole blog revolves around me?

First step is to get your measurements. Measure the length you want the arm guard (doesn't have to be all the way to the elbow, but I think longer ones look cooler) then measure your arm's circumference at the wrist (either over the bone or just behind the bone, depending on where you want the guard to fit, and on whether you have weird nobbly bones like I do), at the part of your arm where your arm guard will end, given the length you chose. Cool? Here's what I got:

Length: 8" (I'm starting back from the wrist bone a bit and also stopping the guard at the largest part of my forearm)

Wrist: 7 1/2"

Forearm: 12"

Okay, that should do it. Now we need to adjust to allow for closure. I'm just doing a simple lace job, so I'll need to modify these measurements down a bit to leave space for lacing. If you want to do another type of closure, you might need to add a bit to get some overlap. I might write instructions for that eventually, too.

I'm going to subtract an inch from my measurements to allow for a gap between the edges of the the leather where the laces will be.

So now we'll have a trapezoid, with the top being 6 1/2" wide, and the bottom being 11" wide. Cool? Depending on how big your arms are, you might not be able to get your pattern onto a standard sheet of typing paper. Also, paper makes for crap patterns, and we're making awesome patterns here! A basic manilla folder, like you'd see in a filing cabinet, is the best, cheapest pattern-making material you can find. I used to work at a place in a college that would go through those things like mad, and instead of trashing the dead soldiers, I stole them all and put them in my garage. I'm still working through them, almost 10 years later. They're good for leather and for metal, even for wood.

(Don't mind the weird curve thing on the side, I was trying something that didn't work out.)

Okay, so you've drawn your trapezoid, Now what? I decided to add a wrist tab to my guard after I'd already cut out the basic trapezoid shape, so I taped a piece of the cardboard back onto the pattern and then kinda roughed out a shape for myself. This way I get extra protection for the inside of my wrist, which is where I need it, but maintain the range of motion I get by having the guard backed away from my wrist a little on the back. Booyah.

Okay, so the pattern is pretty well cut now. Do a sanity check with it. Wrap it around your arm and make sure you don't have any parts overlapping or any parts gapping way too much or something. If you do, adjust accordingly until things look good. What I noticed is that the big end of the trapezoid, once I got it wrapped around my arm, ended up being kinda weird and pointy. I added a big curve to the bottom and everything smoothed out nicely. Once you get it the way you want it, trace it onto your leather. Cut out the leather. Do a sanity check with your leather as well. If you need to trim anything, now is the time to do it.

Next step is to strap that beast to your arm. Get your leather punch, your marker, and a ruler of some kind. Depending on how many laces you want, you can space your laces farther apart (I wouldn't do any fewer than 3 holes on either side) or make them close together for more lacing power. I started with 4 on each side, but I'm thinking now that I may bump up to 7. I'm using a shoelace as my lacing and it's really long. I think I could get away with more holes and it might make for a tighter fit. Also, I think it will look cooler. Draw your holes onto your pattern, punch them out with a paper hole punch (if you have one, otherwise you can use your leather punch to do it. Sacrilege, I know, but whatever. I'm not Michelangelo over here, I'm a dude who does leatherworking on his kitchen counter.) and then transfer the marks to the leather. When making these holes keep in mind that you'll want them away from the edge of the leather by a little ways, so there's some meat to withstand the force of many lacings and unlacings. If you put them way too far away, I think the whole thing will still work, and might even look kinda cool. This thing should be stupid cheap, so you have the freedom to experiment. If you make one that sucks, donate it to a boy scout or something.

Okay, now you've got your holes punched. Lace it up! See how it fits, see how you like it.

If all is well and you think this is the guard for you, you can do a couple things to finish it. If you have an edging tool, you can go around the edges, top and bottom, to take off the harsh corner of the leather. If you have a burnishing tool, you can also then burnish those edges. I have an edger, but not a burnisher yet, so my edges remain unburnished for now. And there you have it. Complete archery arm guard. Booyah. Now go shoot something.


  1. Simple enough item, but, nevertheless, a fun way of learning how to make one. Will seek out more of these tutorials.

  2. Whoa! Simple but very efficient! I will do the same! Thanks a lot!