Kit: Gloves

Protective gloves are a safety requirement for fighting with Wychwood, in order to minimise the risk of a hand injury. We recommend that gloves should be close fitting, well padded and backed with stiff 4mm+ leather and/or maille. They should not compromise your ability to hold and move your weapon safely. This page contains guidelines for making leather-backed gloves; click here for a guide tomaking padded mittens (e.g. for wearing under gauntlets).


Protective gloves are essential safety items. They should be close fitting, well padded and preferably armoured on the back. (The armouring should ideally protect your wrist as well as your hand and is essential for events run by certain societies, e.g. The Vikings!) Your gloves should not interfere with your ability to use your weapon safely. When making armoured gloves, you will probably want slightly different styles for each hand: the sword hand will need more protection and you can sacrifice the ability to move individual fingers to make better armouring.

Gloves are, as far as we know, entirely inauthentic. For shows, make sure they are inconspicuous (brown leather good, day-glo goalie gloves bad).

You might like to consider the following options for gloves:


  • Gardening gloves, padded with camping mat or thick fabric and dyed brown.
  • Some styles of motorbike gloves (non-bulky summer ones with sufficient padding/kevlar)


  • Gloves with padding and stiff/boiled leather attached to the back. This can be sewn or securely superglued on (e.g. Freya's quick & dirty "Hastings is in three days" glued gloves).
  • As above, but with a layer of maille over the leather.
  • Padded glove with a single moulded piece of boiled leather protecting the whole back of the hand (e.g. Heid's "mitten", below).
  • A riveted and articulated boiled leather gauntlet (e.g. Duncan's cunning "armadillo"-style gloves, below).

'Armadillo' gloves (aka Duncan's gloves)


Smooth on the inside, crunchy on the outside: a surprising alternative to Dime Bars

If you’ve been bashed on the knuckles once too often, you’ll definitely have the right incentive to make an armadillo. You’ll need three pieces of thick leather (I used the same 4mm thick leather used for making bracers that Wychwood picked up at a reenactors' fair). Hi-res photos of this glove are in the attached .doc file.

  • The armadillo will protect your hand when it’s closed and you’re holding a sword. Therefore make sure all your measurements are for your closed fist. Note that when it’s open I can only just reach the front grip to close it. Make sure that when you’re wearing it you’ll still be able to grip your favourite sword – some Wychwood swords have quite small handles and I can’t use them (assuming that I wanted to…)
  • Work out how big the bits need to be in advance, but bear in mind that the leather will shrink when you soak it. The exact shrinkage will depend on the leather you’re using, how hot the water is and how long you soak it for. See the article on the wiki about “the perfect armour improved: water hardened leather” for more discussion on soaking the leather. I’d recommend experimenting on an offcut to see how long you’ll need to soak to get the flexibility required. Depending on the leather you’ve bought, you may not need to follow the full instructions on water-hardening: my initial piece of leather was quite tough enough without any further work; I don’t think I soaked it for long enough for it to shrink much or thicken significantly.
  • Use one piece of leather for the main large section. My initial piece of leather was too small so I had to stitch the thumb piece on separately. Although it has stood up to many years of battery, it’s inherently weaker than making it all of one piece.
  • Make the palm strap as small as possible to avoid affecting your grip.
  • If you have proper rivets, all well and good, but I improvised mine using wire from an old shopping trolley and a hammer and small anvil.
  • My bit of sheepskin is an old offcut but it’s deliberately too big at the back to give my wrist a little bit more protection behind my hand (there’s a nice big gap between my armadillo and bracer otherwise). As you can see from the pics, the liner is only attached at the tip and can fold back out. This means that it doesn’t move or fold uncomfortably when you open or close the armadillo.
  • Apart from the three main pieces made from hard leather, there are several pieces of soft leather: fingertip catch, palm strap, thumb piece and a two-part wrist strap that I join with a leather tie.
  • If I were to build another one of these, apart from making the main section from one piece rather than having a separate thumb section, I would make the thumb section even more carefully. I find that my hand moves slightly inside the glove and after every fight I have rubbed the skin away from a section of the top of my first thumb joint. Now I pre-emptively put a plaster on my thumb beforehand, but if I’d taken a little more care shaping the thumb I could have avoided it I’m sure.

One-piece hardened mitten (aka Heid's gloves)

To be added.


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