Steven Reich wrote:
Bill Welch wrote:Has anyone considered doing boiled leather for hand protection? It would certainly make it easier to form and would make it stiffer.
I've wondered that, too. A big advantage for me would be that I could do it in my apartment, since I live in a high-rise without a workshop.
I have actually been trying to make some customized "underarmour" using boiled and then dried hardened leather. My idea is to make pieces customized for my hand size covering my thumb and pinkie metacarpals. Also customized pieces to cover between my two knuckles on my thumb, forefinger and little finger. The idea was to make it form fitting enough to be able to slide an oversized motocross glove over the underarmour (flexibility and protection). Preferably I would use a motocross glove that had hard protection for the large knuckles already built in. The customized pieces will have holes cut into them where small Velcro straps are attached that would hold the pieces firmly into place on the fingers.
I decided to start by building the protective pieces for the thumb and pinkie metacarpals first since those two bones would be the hardest to protect. This is because the thumb metacarpal needs to move up and down and back and forth in order to have a full range of motion. The thumb metacarpal is also a hard bone to protect since there is nothing to strap the customized leather protector too. What I decided to make was a thumb metacarpal protector and a pinkie metacarpal protector tied together by a piece of elastic. This would hold both pieces in place under the glove and allow for movement of the thumb metacarpal. Pictured below is my first attempt. If I can make it stay in place under the glove and be comfortable, it will protect against blows to those two bones. Please forgive the fact that it is being held together with zip ties in the picture. I haven't picked up my elastic bands yet.
It is actually pretty easy and the leather forms easier to your hand than anything else I've found. Plus once it is dry it will disperse the full force of an edge blow. It might crack but it will prevent you hand bones from getting cracked which is what you want it to do. If the customized piece is damaged, it's easy to make another one.
On a few online tutorials I found out when you boil leather, two things will happen. 1) the leather will become almost twice as thick and 2) the leather will shrink approximately 40% so keep that in mind when you are cutting a piece to go around your finger. After the leather is boiled in water, it is very pliable. That is the time for shaping it; making holes for straps and so on. Once it dries , the leather has the consistency of ceramic or wood and is hard. I use sand paper for final shaping so the sharp edges don't dig into my hand.