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I Forge Iron

Looking for guidance - menpō mask


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I work outside driving a large forklift for my day job and with the weather getting cooler I decided to try something I’ve wanted to do for a while. As a way of keeping some of the cold air off my face I thought I should make a mask but not just any mask would do. I’ve always like the intimidating look of the menpō worn by the samurai so why not bite off more than I can chew and try making one. 

I am wondering if anyone here has any experience making menpō or maybe someone has handled one or more that might could help answer questions as they arise. I am doing some reading from various online sources but I know very little about these and therefore don’t know where to find accurate and reputable information but I am doing some homework. 

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I haven’t found anything yet that shows any good information regarding the construction of the iron versions. I’m guessing this is going to be one of those projects I’m going to just cut some sheet and see how it moves. It also looks like a good time to make some tin knockers hammers. 

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I have not but that could be a really good idea. I have piddled with sheet a little and have a very basic idea what I’m doing but classes could always be a good thing. 

I plan on drawing out my design this week and hope to get started tooling up this weekend (provided I’m over my crud I’ve had the last few days).

For the record I do not plan to have the steel in direct contact with my face. I plan to roll the edges into a wide contact surface and put some kind of insulating material on it to act as a gasket. I only mention this because someone on armour archive made a comment about the mask being cold on my face. It was a detail I had already thought about but didn’t mention here or there. 

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For the sake of keeping anyone interested in this informed, I felt I should share a suggestion given to me on armour archives. 

I was basically told to make a plaster cast of my face and use modeling clay to build up the features I want to include. After the clay setup take some light weight kydek and mold it to the clay positive making a lightweight alternative to steel. 

I might go this way to make one for a quick fix but I don’t plan to cancel the steel mask build. 

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I plan to use steel instead of aluminum because I have sheet steel in sufficient quantity and because I know nothing at all about working aluminum. The mask made from 16 gauge sheet isn’t going to be too heavy I don’t think but I have thinner if it looks like wheight will be a problem. 

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That’s true, too much weight on the face/head can cause problems over time. I don’t think this mask will weight that much. Rough calculations based on 16 gauge put the weight at 1.25lbs at most. I doubt it’ll be that much after the proper outline is achieved. As I said earlier I have some thinner stuff but truth is I don’t know how well it’ll work using much lighter. I’d imagine it would be really easy to put stress cracks and/or tears in 20 gauge (?) roofing metal.

Once I finish the pattern I’ll be better able to judge the weight of the workpiece. 

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