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Balteus construction questions...

Before I complete construction of my balteus, I had a couple of questions that weren't really answered by the articles I found:

1) How thick is too thick for the belt? Most of the advice I've read basically says if it's too thick, it won't fit through the buckle. Mine does (Pic #2), but it still seems a little beefy. How's this? (Pic #1) I don't recall off-hand what the thickness was, but it's not the worst thing in the world if I have to make a quick run to Oregon Leather Co. to get a new one...

2)I've seen the apron strips riveted onto the belt itself, such as on the Legio XX site (, however I've also seen some aprons just loop around the belt and rivet shut (Pic #3). Is there a 'correct' method? Personally I like the loop better, because on a friend's belt the weight of the apron "pulls" the belt forward and doesn't really look attractive (Pic #4/5). Perhaps that will be remedied with a thicker belt and NOT using latigo, but if Matt's version is correct, what about the belt plates on some I've seen that run under the apron when worn? Should the strips be riveted on first, then rivet the plates on over it?

3) Is there a correct position for the buckle in regards to apron and pugio frog placement? Some belts when assembled place the buckle on the right side of the body, and others are in front, next to the apron. Is it acceptable to set the hardware so that the buckle will be displayed on the rear of the wearer instead? Is most of this not a question of 'correctness' but personal preference?

-Quintus Claudius Britanicus,
Legionnaire, LEGIIAVG





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-Stay safe, carry ALWAYS, and when the need is greatest, a 1911 is faster than 911.
My opinion:

1) I would say anything over 0.25" would be too thick...I think yours is 3/16" which is fine. Even 1/8" is fine. Remember, it's a belt that is going to be reinforced with metal plates, so it doesn't have to be anymore than what you have. You are good to go. I tend to use 5-7 oz for mine.

2)Rivet the apron straps for the full width of the belt, not just at the top as in your picture. This way the entire belt will help take the weight of the apron strap, not just 1/4" at the top. Also, the belt plates will help prevent what you showed. All of mine are made this way, and don't have any of the problems you picture. Also, you can use a lighter weight of leather (in fact, I would recommend this) for your apron straps. The thicker the leather the more weight, and less flex to them.

3) Buckle should be on the hip. That seems to be the majority. Definately not in the else would you show it off then? With the apron dominating the front, that basically leaves the sides (mine usually sit a touch to the front of my hip or so, but only by an inch at the most). Romans liked "bling" show yours off.

Good luck!
It amazes me how quickly stupid people are out-breeding the smart ones.

"The greatest impediment of all is the square-jawed, flat-talking Tatum, who is so wooden he presents a fire hazard." - The Toronto Star on Channing Tatum in "The Eagle".

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If you put your buckle plate next to the apron straps that should just about be right, then another good way to prevent the belt apron pulling over is to take the straps right over the back of the belt and use the upper apron studs to hold them on.
That way they can be riveted just a small fraction below centre and it will look tidy, as far as belt thickness I would say no more than 3mm but better at around 2mm.
Brian Stobbs
Wow, so it's been over TWO YEARS since I started on this project! :oops: Tools and procrastination were the enemies of the day, yet I finally got off my duff and secured a bench vise and a Whitney punch, which made this project MUCH easier...

At any rate, I just finished it tonight so I figure I'd let everyone know how it turned out:


I've affixed my pugio in accordance with Crispvs' article on the carriage of Roman weapons - [url=][/url] using some thong to tie the suspension rings directly to the frogs. The only issue I discovered is that when attaching the second frog I had to space it closer to the original frog (Rather than pulling to the maximum distance) so as to account for wearing the belt unarmored; pulled out to the full length, the tension was pulling the pugio out of the thongs. I'm still slightly concerned what will happen when my waist-size increases while wearing segmentata, but as the rivets are already set we'll burn that bridge when we get to it...


The buckle and pugio frogs are slightly different than the original belt-plates I was using. Those three parts were ordered from Raymond's Quiet Press, and are cast rather than stamped out of sheet-brass. Fortunately they match closely enough I feel...


The apron was originally started with bronze boat-nails. I discovered mid-way through the project that this is where I was running into most of the difficulties as the bronze doesn't peen over very well. I had to drill out the nails and start again using copper rivets, which worked out much better.


I decided to make individual apron strings, both because I feel it provides a much better appearance and allows me to also integrate the belt plates in that area, but also for utility in repair if there is some manner of failure, or I feel like changing out the terminals at a later date. They are looped over and secured by the third rivet.


This was also my first attempt at riveting. Dean Cunningham had provided a sample of what a completed one should look like, and although mine don't look very pretty they get the job completed.

-Quintus Claudius Britanicus

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-Stay safe, carry ALWAYS, and when the need is greatest, a 1911 is faster than 911.
Hello Quintus,

Nice work.....well done. I like to see people making their own things. I will go ahead with a belt soon enough. At the moment I am making a squamata and cannot do anything else until its done.

I would not be too concerned about how perfect rivets were. If you look at actual finds, you can see that not all the rivets were the same or perfectly finished after peening. This idea of how perfect, neat, or clean something looks is way too modern. Imperfections are the order of the day. Having said that, you cannot make terrible looking things. Roman armor was well made but not gleaming perfect the way many re-enactors have their kit.

I think the peen job is great as are the washers. The only comment I would make is the pugio hilt. To my knowledge there are no pugio hilts of that nature. What you have is a Main gladius type hilt. You should try to make an actual pugio hilt for the impression to be proper in terms of the pugio. There will be some who may mention....well there is no evidence that pugio hilts were not like that. Well, there is no evidence so there is no point to create a re-enactorism. Of course if there is evidence for such a hilt, then by all means use it...AND....I would like to see it. It would take a whole load off my shoulders since I would like to attempt at making a pugio and what turns me off is the hilt because of all the inlays in the really nice ones.

"You have to laugh at life or else what are you going to laugh at?" (Joseph Rosen)


I suspect you might not have seen the 'pugio' carried by the Herculaneum soldier. This appears, to my eyes, to have been a cut down Mainz type sword, reused as pugio, perhaps after being broken. Whatever the case, it has a handle appropriate for a Mainz type sword. There are also two known examples of pugios with replacement handles: one in the Museum of London, which has a replacement handle of turned wood, and the other from Vindonissa, which has a reused sword grip, combined wih what appears to be a Mainz type striker plate.

Therefore, while pugios with sword handles or other types of replacement handles should not be too common within our ranks, one or two here and there add variety and a touch of authenticity to overall impression of a unit.

Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

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Hello Crivspvs,

I also know of a pugio grip made from ivory. I think its in Michele Feguers book. Thanks for the examples....I totally forgot about the Herculaneum soldier although I have seen and read just about everything on the armor. Would you happen to have photos of the other two you mentioned? I would really be interested.

However, having said the above, the fact that they are replacement pieces and NOT what originally would go onto a pugio, I'd say not to reproduce them. This sort of thing where a replacement part can be used to describe something on an item which normally does not have it, will, to the uninformed, appear to be normal.

To us the infamous trooper helmet is out of the question but to the casual observer all the helmets are just fine. In my humble opinion it is our responsibility to present things that were normally the way they appeared to the best of our ability. Occasionally some extrapolation is required and I am good for that since we can only guess on what we know. However, when actual pugio examples are known with repetitive features, the safest thing is to go with those features.

I am ALL for variety and appearance....far be it for me to suggest that the Romans were homogenous. In this case, I think that for him, a proper pugio grip would serve him better and it would be far more accurate.

"You have to laugh at life or else what are you going to laugh at?" (Joseph Rosen)

Crispvs has got it right - When I approached Mark Morrow (Who did a fantastic job on the pugio by the way- He's in the process of working up a Mainz-style gladius for me) to have a pugio done I had a look at what was available around by him and others, and I noticed that everyone offers the plain-jane metal sheath style ([url=http://][/url]). It's not terrible looking, but everyone's got one. While I agree with the logic of "It's an ARMY - Of course they used the same gear!" I also feel that troops will have some customization of their weapons. Not every Roman was going to have access to the same smiths to produce the same gear, or their own would need replacement after being lost/gambled away/combat-loss'ed.

The Herculaneum find provided the inspiration to branch out and find something that wasn't "Off the shelf" at a glance. It was something that wasn't too showy, and still had the appearance of being a solid utilitarian weapon. It makes a nice conversation-piece among our fellow re-enactors, and gives yet another opportunity to teach spectators some of the more unique points of history. Both Doc and Crispvs are right in that we shouldn't get too ridiculous with irregular gear (We certainly aren't looking for units with ALL imaginifers or cornicen), however if the odd one or two crop up from time-to-time, I don't feel it's unreasonable. That's my $0.02, at any rate...

-Quintus Claudius Britannicus

-Stay safe, carry ALWAYS, and when the need is greatest, a 1911 is faster than 911.
Salvete omnes.

I hope somebody can help me with some advice.

I just bought two Vindonissa type pugio frogs, and I had the choice to have them cast with the usual headless spikes for fastening on the leather, and a type which has nail heads on the spikes (see attachments). and I thought the latter would work easier. 

However, holes made for the spikes with these heads with only the usual awl are not wide enough, and I must be sure that the heads can be flattened well enough to make sure the belt plates of the frogs remain in place on my belt.

Is making a cut in the leather for each spike sufficient, or will it result in holes that loose which in time will have the belt plates and frogs fall off?

Hope somebody here can give me advice out of own experience, gratias tibi in advance.        
Ils sont fous ces Romains!
I've used this kind of attachement with a small cut in the past. Works well.
Jvrjenivs Peregrinvs Magnvs / FEBRVARIVS
A.K.A. Jurjen Draaisma
CORBVLO and Fectio
Yes, a small cut with a hole in the middle. The hole with the diameter of the tube of the spike, and a cut with the width of the head of the spike centered respect to the hole.
Now that I think of it: would it have a little more effect to make the cut away from the hole towards the outer ends of the frogs' space on the belt, so that the frogs will stay in place better when hanging the sheath with gladius on them? Or have any of you experienced that it makes no difference whether you make the cut on both sides of the hole or only on one end?
Ils sont fous ces Romains!

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