Friday, 3 June 2016

Plates On The Cheap

New plate carrier vests often come with some sort of foam inserts to hold the vest in shape. They're usually not very tough or rigid though, so the illusion of a ceramic plate isn't really there. To fix this, you can always buy ready made dummy plates, but what if you are on a budget? Then this quick guide is just for you.

If you happen to have an IKEA nearby, you can source some plate materials very cheaply. The LEGITIM series cutting board just so happens to have measurements that closely match the Medium SAPI plate (24 x 32 cm for SAPI plate, 24 x 34 cm for the cutting board). The thickness of a single board is about half of a ceramic plate.

The tools you'll need are a saw, a straightedge and a file or some sand paper (possibly glue). If you want to get fancy, a hot air gun or some hot water may also be in order.

To begin, take a straightedge and mark the corners of the board for cutting (the angle is about 45 degrees), or follow the shape of the foam insert that came with your vest.

Next, simply saw off the corners, and finish by either filing or sanding down any rough edges so they don't scratch and tear the inside of your vest.

If you want to get fancy, you can use a hot air gun or some hot water and bend the board to get a curved plate. Use a form, such as a piece of pipe or similar to get a symmetrical shape (I'm doing simple straight ones here).

Glue two boards together for a thicker plate, or put the board in front and the foam insert on the back for a more comfortable wear.

You'll be ready to operate in no time.

Let me know in the comments how yours turned out!


  1. Hello, I just made one today, after I discovered your amazing blog yesterday.

    It turned out great! The material was very easy to cut with a saw for metal and clean up with a wood rasp and a file and knife.
    For bending it, I put it into the bathtub and then just slowly poured 2l of boiling water straight from the electric kettle over it. It softened enough so that I could form a nice curve, then I dowsed it in cold water, it firmed up and it kept its shape nicely.
    Very easy to do, and if the shape doesn't come out perfect you can always boil more water and try again. :)

    The foam I glued to the inside with hot glue, which seems to hold very well. The edges I wrapped with thin tape, so the layers can't pull apart there. The finished plate is a pretty stable composite and feels very sturdy.

    I like the plate very much. It gives great form and stability to the plate carrier and a firm base to the Molle system.
    You could even screw on things from the outside, I don't know why you would, but you could. Use short screws, though. :)

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this great idea on your great blog! I'm going to make a second one and then another pair soon, but I swiped the board from Mama's kitchen and didn't dare take the second, too! :D

    1. I love every bit of this, what you've done sounds absolutely brilliant! And thank you for your kind words regarding my blog :) If you have pictures of your finished plates, I'd be really interested in seeing them. Drop me a line on Instagram or Facebook (links should be in the upper right corner of the page).

    2. Hey, I just saw you replied! How cool! :)

      I'll be sure to take some pictures and send them your way tomorrow by good light!