Putting together a suit of armor can be quite an undertaking. In this essay I offer my opinions on what to consider when designing your harness. Try to pick a general motif and stick with it. This assures all of your pieces will look good together when you are done. Try to do the job right the first time. It is a lot of work to build armor, taking too many short cuts creates more work latter on, looks sloppy, and is unsafe. Put a little bit of elbow grease in it the first time, and your suit will give you years of protection with minimal maintenance.
Cover as much area as you can allowing for reasonable movement. Better to err on the side of safety. Protect yourself as much as you can. If it can happen in combat it will, protect yourself from as many strikes as possible. You should feel completely protected in your harness. Many fighters neglect shoulder armor. After nearly having my arm broken, I ask that they reconsider. Well designed shoulder armor does not hinder movement, and does a great deal to improve the appearance of your harness.
2. Leave room for padding.
You should feel completely protected in your armor. In our combat system, it is not uncommon for combat to go to the ground, make sure you can take a fall in your harness. I design my pieces to accommodate .5 to 1 inch of padding all of the way around. I dont know how many times Ive had to reconstruct pieces because I made them too small. I make my pattern (with padding accommodation) and them make it 10% larger. This seems to get me to about the right size.
3. Edge treatment.
Any edges that may come in contact with the wearer should be treated. If a leather or padded gambason is worn underneath the plates, rounding may suffice. It is best if the edges are rolled or edged in leather. Edge rolling also greatly improves the strength of the plate (reference).
4. Spinal flute.
In the case of plate armor, a flute down the spine keeps metal away from the spinal column. The force of strikes directed at the spine is distributed to the sides.
5. Use Plates.
I do not wish to infringe on the stylistic freedom of the Knight in his armor choices, however safety is my duty as Armor Master. Plates distribute the force of an impact over a larger area, effectively reducing the force felt by the wearer (PSI). Additionally, plates can be used to redirect force away from sensitive areas, such as a spinal flute (see above). Plates can be made from a variety of materials. Metal, hardened leather, or even plastic on the inside. Although it may to some degree, chainmail is not designed to absorb impact and be defense against a crushing blow (reference). Adding a few strategic plates to a mail harness can greatly improve its force absorption qualities. In a leather harness consider hardening, riveting a double thickness of leather, or adding metal plates to areas that are more likely to receive crushing blows.
6. Shield Hand Protection.
Guards mounted to the inside of the shield to protect the hand gripping the shield. This hand is often without a gauntlet.
I hope you will find these tips useful.
Sir Dallas Vance Meana