Chain Maille punch.


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Hi,

A few years ago on another forum a member was posting requesting help; this member lives in Ireland and was housebound; he is interested in making chain maille and was hoping a member with a lathe would help by turning him a punch; the punch though needed a tip of a very precise shape and size being tough enough to punch through the many small metal rings. I'm dead against anything to do with weapons when it comes to public use but chain maille is a defence and it caught my interest.

I contacted the member who kindly sent me a small quantity of the metal rings to experiment with; they needed tiny slits to accept equally tiny rivets hence the need for a metal punch.

I made two basic punches to be used with an hammer; I bored out two lengths of round bar stock to receive HSS tips these ground by hand to the correct dimension it not being a job for a novice; a number of test slits were punched into galvanized steel and yes these were the correct size.

With two punches now made I wondered if I could help further because there must be thousands of these tiny rings used to make chain maille and punching accurately by eye would be a major challenge resulting in many reject rings. I decided to help and spent the next four weeks designing and making a lever operated punch.

Kind regards, Colin.

1791


Test piece of galvanized steel showing front and back of the punched slits.

1792


This is what usually happens when I become interested in a project. I designed and made this mechanical punch constructing it from offcuts of metal I had to hand. The springs are tensioned just right to lift the arm after the slit is punched; the ram bottom is drilled to accept round high speed steel punching tips the tip ground by eye to precise shape and size; the base of the punch is drilled allowing it to be bolted down to a suitable surface; a "stop" is arranged allowing a ring to be inserted ensuring every ring is punched exactly the same and to the same depth; the handle/ lever terminates in a bearing arranged as a cam; as the handle is pulled downwards the cam engages the ram forcing the ram down under considerable pressure. The wooden handle was a bit of woodturning and the easy part to complete. If correctly lubricated I'm sure this punch will last many years of regular use the only long term problem will be the member having to grind more tips.

1793


Here are the accessories I sent with the punches; the two simple punches can be seen just above the Allen keys; spare punch tips ground precisely together with spare bearing and drill bits were all included. The tiny chain maille rings can be seen showing just how precise the rivet slits had to be. I boxed the lot up and posted it over to Ireland to a delighted member.

This proved a very interesting project for me and it's unique being the only mechanical punch of this design in the world; monetary wise I supplied everything including postage totally free of charge; a price couldn't be put on the many hours I spent or the interest this afforded me; I did it just to try an idea out; I know I must be barking mad but I'm never bored and I'm not money driven.

I'm passing a bit of time because the weather is so miserable today I don't fancy a soaking whilst wandering down to the workshop.
 
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Ian

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That's very kind of you to make something like that - it certainly looks like a very solid unit! I bet that member was over the moon :D. Do you happen to have any photos of things made with this? I'd be really interested to see what it was able to produce :).
 
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Hi,

Thanks Ian. :)

Once I'd made the punch and posted it off I was clear of it having spent so much time and effort; I was thanked on the forum and yes the member was delighted; the only problem then was the member posted now needing other things so I backed off thinking I'd already gone to extreme lengths to help him out. I've done hundreds of hours work over the years free of charge helping out; I don't begrudge the time or monetary outlay on my part but I think now the time has come to do a bit for ourselves.

I've also stopped giving things away because of the hassle involved; I once posted a vintage office intercom stating free of charge but must be collected from my home address; by the time I had finished I had made a bespoke wooden box to protect it during transit; I posted it free of charge and with free postage; (£12 to me though) about a week later I received a rather insulting message to say the drive belts had turned "mushy" with age and absolutely no gratitude; a simple thank you would have been most welcome. Most people are downright selfish and greedy these days which I find sad because both Bron and I would rather give than to receive.

Regarding what would be made with the mechanical punch here is a video showing what was being made but the video is an example only not the member involved;


Perhaps I should start a production line making these mechanical punches because the way knife crime is now heading we'll all be needing chain maille stab proof vests?

Kind regards, Colin.
 

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