How to assemble your Balteus

Neil Lucock


Belt plates
Belt buckle
Belt dagger attachments
Brass strip or plate
Copper rivets (100)
Belt strap discs
Belt strap terminals
Leather belt
Steel bar for rivet block

Small ball pein hammer
Vice and or anvil
Tin snips
Cutting pliers
Rivet block
Scrap wood
Leather punch
Tools to cut leather

There's good news and bad news about making a Balteus. If you hate sewing, you are in luck, there's none needed. The bad news is that there's a lot of riveting. There's nothing difficult about the project, just a lot of work involved.

The first thing to do is find a source of brass plates etc. I bought my belt materials at the re-enactors' market from Vicus memberSteve Wagstaff. I bought sheet and strip brass from a model shop, try to find one that does model airplanes or trains. Leather can be bought at Le Prevo or at the re-enactors's markets.


I started with my leather belt. I fastened the buckle to one end then put it round my waist to find out where the other end should be. Once I cut the other end to shape and punched some holes in it, I put it on. I aimed to have a bit of adjustment available to allow me to wear it with mail.




Now you need to start making the straps that hang down the front. Mine are 40 cm x 2.5 cm (1 inch x 15.5 inches). The first job is to rivet the terminals on to the ends. 

You need to make lots of brass (or steel or copper) washers for this project. There's two ways of doing it. You can use strip or sheet metal.





Centre-punch your metal, then drill holes and cut out your washers with tin snips. It's safer to use sheet metal. Strip gets twisted by the power drill when the bit penetrates and catches in the hole.







You end up with a big coil of twisted metal. Once you've drilled holes the same size as the copper rivets, tidy them with a file.







I made a rivet block from some square section steel bar. Drill a shallow hole in one end the same size as your rivet head. Tidy it up with a file. You put it in the vice and use it to support your rivet head while you hammer the shaft. If you don't make one, you won't be able to support the rivet head and you'll damage your belt plates.






Once the strap terminals are riveted, fit the discs to the straps. I fitted 10 to each strap, spaced 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart. To support the discs during riveting, I hammered a small depression into a block of scrap wood and used this so the disc faces would not get damaged. Fit each shaft with a washer and hammer the shaft until it mushrooms. I used a sliver of wood to hold the washer in place, otherwise it jumps off when you hammer the shaft. This job takes a long time.





You need to lay everything out and see how it is going to look. I put on the belt and decided that the buckle would be attached to the part that comes around my back when it fastens on the left side. The dagger attachments need to be spaced wide enough for the Pugio. I spaced mine 4 belt plates apart. Start to rivet the belt plates on. Mark where each plates goes, make holes for the rivets and fit each plate before marking out the next one.





The straps loop over the top front edge. I used two part rivets to fit them to the belt. These are hammered together and make a very good union. They are behind belt plates so can't be seen. They are also flat when fitted. Make sure you get the straps on the right way round.




Once the straps are on, put on the last few plates and you are done.