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How do you make a MILITARY BLANKET COAT ?

Linked site complements of the 60th Regiment of Foote

How do you make PAPER CARTRIDGES ?

How do I make FULL GAITERS ?

How do I know my hand-sewn stitch is PERIOD CORRECT ?

How do I make my own CANDLES ?

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How do you harden a frizzen ?

      Here are step-by-step instructions to make your lock consistently throw an impressive shower of sparks.  CLICK HERE to visit our linked site.



How do you make paper cartridges ?

     Making your own cartridges is a chore most soldiers (in the present day) don't mind.  Of course, we do these today in the comfort of our own home, and not while shivering in camp huddled around a fire.  To make your own cartridges, you need a template for paper blanks.  Roll the cartridges around a 9/16" dowel, leaving enough at one end to fold into a secure enclosure.  This size will allow for cartridges to easy be placed and retrieved from the cartridge box.

     Originally the paper template would have been larger, but we are only making 'blanks' and not including a musket ball.  This requires less paper.  A 3/4" dowel would have been used to accommodate a Brown Bess's .75 caliber musket ball, and a 5/8" dowel to accommodate the Charleville's .69 caliber ball.  Once the tube is rolled, it's time to dip in wax, let cool, then fill with powder.  100 grains of FFg or FFFg black powder is the maximum allowed for muskets in the Continental Line.  For rifles, the maximum amount of black powder is 80 grains.

     Look at the pictures for a visual guide.


Roll paper around the dowel, with the smaller tapered end opposite the closure

Leave enough space to fold over to securely close

Fold the ends down

Completely folded


Some prefer to withdrawal the dowel a bit and create a rim to hold the paper folds in place

Prepare your wax - cut into manageable chunks for melting

Carefully melt in metal container, heat until fully liquid

Dip ends approximately one inch just long enough to soak into the paper

Allow excess wax to drip off

Allow the wax to completely cool before loading with black powder

Measure out the proper amount of black powder

Transfer the powder into the paper tube

Flatten out the end down to the top of the powder

Fold the flats into thirds

Fold down and the cartridge is complete




How do I make full Gaiters ?

     Click on the link below to download a PDF formatted document from the Office of the Northwest Territory Alliance Patternmaster.  It is a very detail document describing how to make a pair of full gaiters.





How do I know if I am using a proper period stitch in my clothing ?

     Click on the link below to download a PDF formatted document from the Office of the Northwest Territory Alliance Patternmaster.  It shows a variety of period-correct hand-sewing techniques to make sure that piece of clothing you are working on is correct.





How do I make my own candles ?

     Making your own candles does involve a fair amount of time, but if you make a dozen or so in a batch, you can make enough candles in a single session to last you an entire season.  Although beeswax is the ONLY period-correct material to use, it is very soft and candles only last between two and four hours.  The materials I suggest you use will make candles that not only look as good as their period-correct brethren, but they will last between 8 and 12 hours.

      All of the materials can be purchased at your local arts and craft's store.  Paraffin can be purchased in 20 pound slabs, and broken up and used as needed.  I use a double-boiler system as this reduces the possibility of fire, but as the wax will drip and spill, the water in the second vessel will keep the mess contained and keep your stove clean.  Although a large discarded coffee can will serve you to melt the wax, I found it didn't have the depth for longer candles.  I purchased a candle pot that holds roughly a gallon of wax and is 8 inches deep, perfect for the 7 1/2" candles I am making.  I add coloring and scenting to give the candles a more period appearance, and the scent is a nice touch if you want to burn them in the comfort of your home.

     Look at the pictures for a visual guide.  Skip to the bottom of this section if you want to see how to add a period look to store-bought emergency candles with minimum time investment.


This is a 20 pound "brick" of paraffin, already chopped down to 16 pounds.  It is white, roughly three inches thick and fills a paper shopping bag.  I use a hammer and chisel to break off chunks for the melting pot.  This is high quality paraffin and will burn a standard size candle for up to 8 hours.
Yaley makes excellent candle making supplies.  You want to use medium candle wicking (the large wicking burns to quickly).  Do not get the type with wire inside, it will heat up and melt the candle in a matter of minutes (been there ... done that).  For the candles I use in my lanterns, I cut the wicks into 7 1/2" lengths.  I use approximately two packages of scenting per gallon of wax (one pot full) and varying amounts of gold coloring to get the wax to resemble beeswax.
I melt the wax in a double-boiler.  You will find wax gets everywhere as you move between dipping and cooling, so the water vessel catches the wax that will inevitably drip and spill outside the wax pot.  I usually keep the wax within a half inch or so of the top, so I can get the full depth for dipping.  I turn the heat close to high, keeping the water just shy of boiling until the wax is fully melted, then turn it down to a low heat, just enough to keep the wax liquid.
I have a "cooling vessel" filled with ice water for dipping the candles into after each wax dip.  This helps cool the wax and allows the next coat to be put on a little thicker.  It also helps to keep the candle from becoming so soft that it bends and is difficult to keep it's shape.
On the initial dip I make sure the wax fully soaks into the wick.  This makes it waterproof for when you dip it into the water for cooling.  Don't dip any part of the wick into water without being saturated with wax, or it will soak up and water, which will subsequently be sealed in wax, and just plain won't burn.
After I have sealed both ends, I give it a dunk in the water to cool it.  Don't worry about the fact that the wick is anything but straight.  Once it is thicker, you can roll it straight.  As the wax repels water, I pull the candle out of the water just fast enough to allow it to fully shed the water.  I usually dab the bottom with a paper towel to catch any drop that may hold on.
A six-foot package of wick will yield almost ten 7-1/2" wicks.  I usually make candles in batches about that size.  It allows the candle to cool and solidify while you are working on the other nine.  It's also a manageable number to make in a single session.  I dip the candle fully into the wax, minus approximately 3/4" for the exposed wick (and to hold onto).  I do this at a speed that allows a new layer of wax to form on the candle without being so slow that it melts instead of adding.  I also don't take it out so fast that it drips wax.  You want to add a consistent layer.
After the initial dipping, I start layering on wax.  I usually make six dips, alternating between wax and cold water.  You can see here that, after the first round, the wax has thickened from the initial dipping (going crosswise) to about the thickness of spaghetti.  To facilitate cooling, I leave the just-dipped candle in the cold water to help solidify it while I work on the next candle.  When the next candle goes into the water, the previous one goes onto the counter.  I turn the wick over and dip both ends to build them both up until one end is the perfect thickness for holding securely as the candle grows and gets heavier.
Here you can see the difference between the first round of dipping on the left, to the second round of dipping on the right.  You will notice that I still haven't straightened the wicks out.  I usually wait until they are thicker before I start rolling them into a straight shape.
After the third round of dipping I roll them after taking them out of the cooling water.  Now they are straight.  By now they are about the thickness of earthworms.  At this point the holding end has enough build-up on it that I don't need to keep dipping both ends.  Now I just hold the dipping end and start building on more wax.
You can see both sides are tapered as I have been alternating dipping both ends.  I choose one end that will be good to hold onto and now concentrate on building the candle up.
As wax continues to layer on, the bottom continues to grow past the end of the wick.  Periodically I trim the bottom back to the wick.  This helps define the bottom as dipping progresses.
You can see the top of the candle where the wick is thick so I can hold onto it.  With each successive round of dipping, the candle puts on more wax and the size and weight start to grow exponentially.
I have spare brass rings left over from making my lanterns.  This gives me a good form for the base and the ring-side can be used as a cutter for when the size of the candle becomes larger than the holder it will be set in inside the lantern.  It allows the candles to be custom fit to match the base perfectly.
Here you can see some of the candles have reached their nominal thickness, as you can see ring marks on the bottom, indicating they have reached the thickness of the lantern ring.  If you stop dipping at this size, the candle will last approximately 8 hours.  I prefer a 12+ hour candle, so I continue dipping.
Once the candles have reached the size of the ring, I cease working on them as a batch, and work exclusively on each candle until finished.  I make another six dips, cooling between each wax dip.
Here you can see the candle is the exact diameter of the brass lantern ring.
After the next six dips, I push the cookie-cutter side of the ring into the base of the candle to slice off the extra wax.
Then I use a knife and cut the ring off, leaving a base the size of the lantern ring.
I scrape off the excess and make another six dips.  With each round of dipping, I use the ring to keep the size of the base at the proper dimension.
You can see how these candles are building up.  Usually I only go three rounds of six dips each after the candle has reached the diameter of the ring.  This usually yields a 12-hour candle.
I trim off excess wax on the bottom so it will fit properly into the ring in the lantern.
Once the candle has reached the desired size, I make a "beauty dip".  This is the final dip and I make sure it leaves a good sheen on the candle.  I turn the ring around and press the base into it as it would fit in the ring in the lantern.  As the wax is still soft, it form fits the base into the ring for a good fit in my lantern.
Now that I no longer need a heavy wick to hold onto for dipping, I move the tip around in the wax to remove the excess.
This makes the tip of the wick nice and thin, and easy to light.
Here you can see the difference between a ring-sized 8-hour candle, flanked by the larger 12-hour candles.
Want to make a candle in just ten minutes?  Take a standard 8-hour emergency candle, whose base is already the size of the lantern ring, and start dipping.  Use the cookie-cutter side of the lantern ring to keep the base at the proper size.  In only three rounds of six dips each, you have a nice thick, period looking candle that will last 12-hours.  On the left is the original store-bought candle, with the modified candle in the middle.  On the right is a scratch-made hand-dipped candle for comparison.  Not bad for just ten minutes of work.


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