Instructables
Picture of EUROPEAN 6-IN-1 CHAIN MAIL BEGINNER'S GUIDE
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A Short About Me:

I went to my first Renaissance Festival in Georgia, USA, last year and fell in love with them. From then on, I have been trying to improve my costumes and create something extraordinary! This was the first thing I found, and decided that I wanted to make a chain mail shirt. They say not to make a shirt as a first chain mailing project, but I did. I went all-out and even made my own jump rings. I didn't make the shirt for nothing, and I wore it to the next Renaissance Festival.

My only regrets is the tool I used to cut the rings. If you want to make your rings and good quality chain mail try to find something that will cut the rings as flush as possible, e.g. jewelry saw.
 
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Step 1: WHY 6-IN-1?

First, I want to make a comparison.

6-in-1 versus 4-in-1 made with the same ring size.

Notice the density difference between the two? For some wire gauges and ring diameters the 4-in-1 just doesn’t give your chain mail project the authenticity and functionality it needs. Would you be impressed with a hauberk that looked like you could almost poke your finger through it? No, not really. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with 4-in-1 and in some projects it looks amazing and it is much easier to make. But if you wanted your chain mail to look much more defensive and resilient, larger rings and a denser weave would be what you are looking for.

Is European 4-in-1 all you know how to make? Then this Instructable is meant for you! It is time for you to progress to the next level.
Dakaath made it!2 months ago

Just wanted to say I've been using your method. Made a mandrel using a 5/8 inch steel rod from home depot and drilled a hole through it. Made a guide for the wire using an old chair leg, and can turn out a 24 inch spring of wire in about a minute with an electric drill hooked up.A lot cheaper after sunk costs then buying the rings premade. Then I cut the springs using a pair of wire cutters. Little bit of a workout cutting all the wire by hand, and not as clean as a saw, but i like the workout as I spend so much time typing its nice to work the hands.i did start using a dremel and a metal cutting blade on it, but it burns through the blade too fast. I might look into your saw method, I'd love to see a picture of it. I've been using 14 gauge electrical fence, 12 was a bit too heavy, expensive, and tough to work with.

I've been using your speed weaving method and I have been making 100 ring long strips, since I didn't want to start joining them together until I figured out a pattern for the shirt, neck hole size, sleeves or sleeveless, etc, and 100 is a nice size for my body size. About to start joining the strips together. Made 4 250 length ones for the sides, and will work inward.

Great method and great instructable. I call it my manly knitting, and have been working on it while watching TV or movies, great way to relax and keep me still long enough to sit through the show.

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Shadow Ranger (author)  Dakaath2 months ago

Thanks for posting pictures Dakaath! I like seeing others' work and you're doing a right professional job! And cutting them with cutters is deffinately a workout, as I found out for myself. I made my first shirt with mild steel tie wire and I was cutting it with a pair of antique cutters, but after a while it started hurting my wrist so I decided an alternate cutting method was a must. My dad has a metal cutting band saw and we tried it out just to see if it worked and I was very happy with the result. Using a saw removes the metal instead of moving it out of the way like cutters, so it will make your rings a slightly smaller size but no different than if there was no spring back. So your actual inner diameter will be roughly the same size as your mandrel.

I will try to post a picture and a short how-to in the next couple of weeks so check back. :)

Shadow Ranger (author) 3 months ago

I would like to add for those out there trying to find a good cutting method: If you happen to have a steel-cutting band saw just lying around your place, you can rig up a rod to slip the coil onto, attach it to the machine and cut them that way. My ingenious dad figured it up for me and has made making chain mail so much more enjoyable...and less painful. I'll post a picture later for anyone that would like to know how he did it.

Would love to see a photo. I think I have about half the picture in my head.

AJMansfield10 months ago
Are those rings painted, or did you just color them with photo-editing software? At least in the last one, they definitely look like they could have been treated with an eggshell powdercoat or something like that.
Shadow Ranger (author)  AJMansfield8 months ago

No, the rings are not painted, nor have I edited the photo. They are simply mild steel tie wire that had the oil cleaned from them during the coiling process. Tie wire tends to be dark to begin with, and I just kept the look. After the shirt was made I did coat it in linseed oil to prevent rust, but that is the only tampering I have done with the color of the rings. :)

No, I meant the colored ones on step 8.

Shadow Ranger (author)  AJMansfield6 months ago

Oh! I didn't see where the comment was posted. Sorry! :}

Those in step 7 are indeed edited with the lowly computer program called Paint. I changed their color to make it more comprehensive so that people could understand exactly which rings I was talking about.

There is, however, some success in painting rings with spray paint (the automotive spray paint seems to work best) if you desire your rings to be colored. Of course, other paints are available, but I have yet to try any, with the exception of nail polish...which works fairly well. But test all paints before you do your rings, to ensure it looks the way you want.

Peter112351 year ago
Maybe 6-in-one looks cooler but in real combat situations both were about the same against a sword swing but 4-in-1 is lighter so it's better too. A knight wore about 40 kg of armor and it mate his moves slower and made him and his horse tired. So the lighter his armor was the longer he could fight and he was more efficient in fighting. But for projects, I agree 6-in-1 looks cool (well, both of them are pretty awesome). NO OFFENSE MEANT.

Actually, the density of the weave did make a difference in its protective abilities. This is explained in further detail in wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mail_%28armour%29#Effectiveness

I've been making this stuff for a long time now. The 6-in-1 looks way nicer because it's dense. The 4-in-1 is still adequate because it's meant to stop the cutting/piercing power of a weapon. (cutting primarily) A sword has a wide area that it hits, so having a few more rings doesn't always add anything to it. Either way, great work! Looks fantastic.
that's just what I was sayind :-)
lordgasmic11 months ago
This is a great guide! You have done the best (that I have seen) in showing how to link everything together. I will be using this for making my own mail. Thanks!
Shadow Ranger (author)  lordgasmic10 months ago
You are very welcome, lordgasmic.
ah64mech1 year ago
How did you make the rings? I rather like the crimping instead of the rivets, it seams a lot cheaper and less time consuming.
Makedo1 year ago
This would be OK for art or a costume. The rings would need to be welded so they would not split when hit. The ends are a bit sharp and will cut you a bit if not lined up right. Is there a way to make a cut more squared for flat ends to touch? Other wise a good leather undershirt would help.
Historically, the rings would not be welded - each one would be flattened at the ends, overlapped, have a hole punched in them, then riveted. I have seen one chainmailer do this - works well, but tedious...
Shadow Ranger (author)  Makedo1 year ago
Generally, an undershirt is REQUIRED anyways when wearing chain mail. Metal is not good to wear against your skin (especially galvanized steel) and will sometimes turn your skin different colors as copper would, so unless you have jewelry grade jump rings, I would recommend a gambeson to anyone who plans on wearing chain mail armor.
Yes. Saw cut the rings. You can use a jewelers saw to cut by hand or some have built power saws that use fine tooth slitting blades. The blade needs to be very thin to avoid leaving a wide kerf which when closed would distort the shape. I made one once using a set of brass tubes to match the OD of the worm which was fed through the tube into a 1"-2" slitting saw blade powered by a drill and a flex shaft. You can't permit any twisting or you'll snap the thin blade. And everything needs to be kept lubricated (I used cooking oil) to keep it cool. I believe I was cutting aluminum before my flex shaft bound up, twisted and broke. But with a slow enough feed rate and proper blade rpm, you can cut thin steel wire.
cybercapri1 year ago
Great instruct, as I have viewed many ways to make chainmail you method seems to be the best. The included photos are priceless as they show just how to link things up.

@Makedo no you are wrong, this 6 in 1 is too dense to be welded and chainmail is known to split from time to time so regular maintenance and care is needed to ensure such splits are kept to a minimum. Costume Mail is made from Aluminum and typically 4 in 1 pattern is used. If you read about chainmail you will see a think layer of cotton is used to guard from such cuts and scratches as you mentioned. A leather undergarment would be very hot and cause the body to sweat, hence the reason thick cotton is historically used.
Shadow Ranger (author)  cybercapri1 year ago
What you are referring to, cybercapri, is called a Gambeson. It is a padded, or quilted shirt worn under chain mail (not to be confused with a surcoat which is a tunic worn over chain mail with the knight's/lord's insignia emblazoned on it). As you say, leather does not breathe, however, a leather shirt lined with cotton underneath would work. It depends on personal preference and availability of leather (for me personally, leather is expensive) as well as if you have the tools and experience to work it.
Hi Shadow Ranger,

Yes as an SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism, member I am aware of the proper naming for period clothing, I was merely using simple terms so that the person I was responding to would be able to understand what I was saying. Thanks for the reply...
Shadow Ranger (author)  cybercapri1 year ago
Ah, I see. :D
Nice instruct-able. You may want to include in this:
• a shirt pattern(s)
• typical cost
• time to build
• and a side note that real chain mail links were individually riveted together by a blacksmith and not simply crimped--making them much stronger.
Shadow Ranger (author)  shawnlambert1 year ago
The cost of this shirt was around $30.00 (I made this shirt last year so I'm not entirely sure about the cost anymore) because I bought tie wire from a local hardware store. If you want to buy the rings online I would suggest doing much research and expect the cost to be much higher.

The time was around 3 months but I was doing it basically whenever I felt like it.

The shirt pattern I made from paper, cutting it to fit me, and then fashioning the chain mail after it (with additional space to allow for putting it on and taking it off). I simply used square pieces that I joined together, because chain mail forms to you fairly well.

Zimminger1 year ago
You brightened my day. Many years ago my wife was visiting neighbors and they asked what I was doing. Making chain mail. Writing chain letters? No, that armor stuff. I was only experimenting with heavy copper wire. It does hang differently in one direction than the other depending on the weave. They riveted the links together in the past. What fell on the field of battle rusted away and is lost because it was only wire and rusted to nothing. Making it took a lot of effort so I do like hearing that someone is still doing it.
Shadow Ranger (author)  Zimminger1 year ago
I have encountered that as well, Zimminger; people who don't even know what chain mail is! There are few DIYers out there anymore (present company excepted, of course) and people just don't think about making things themselves so when you tell them you're making chain mail, they say, "Oh, I know that that is! It's the letter writing thing, right?" Uh, no! It takes a picture or the actual thing to get them to understand sometimes. Then they think you're a bit crazy for taking the time to make something like that. The attitude toward chain mail has changed but I think the more you make things the better you are at comprehending life.
esmith371 year ago
If you want flush cut rings without the hassle of using a jewelry saw, I would suggest a pair of wire shears. I've had great success with them. It's hard to find them in stores, so your best bet is to look online.
xenor esmith371 year ago
I made a coif and a hauberk a few years back and I used a pair of sheet metal shears. It's worth the investment in a quality pair, the ones with the extra linkages to give you more leverage are best.

I'd also recommend grinding down the back of the blades to fit through the coils better. Another tip I can offer is to not fully close the shears, as some may distort the shape of the rings. It's no fun spending three times as long reshaping the rings before they can be used.

From memory, I used 1.6mm galvanised tie wire and the smooth part of a 10mm diameter bolt as a mandril for my coils, with an old spanner duct taped to the end.

A note on closing the rings, I use two pairs of pliers with one held upside-down. This gives you a balanced grip on each side of the ring, helping to prevent distortion. The rings should be twisted open, not pulled apart (ie, don't make the ring diameter larger).
Very,very nice. You did a terrific job!
If you are going to do a lot of jump rings, and you'll need to, put together a winder and make a provision to run a Dremel or other cutting tool with a cutting disk. You can slide it the length of your winding rod and cut the rings squarely. Allow for the width of the cutter in your overall ring size. Then rings will close flush and can be welded if desired.
Barqz21 year ago
You can also make chain mail using pop tops from aluminum cans.....start saving!!
Treknology1 year ago
I agree that 6-in-1 looks better.
Moyashi1 year ago
Hi, this is a fantastic instructable and a huge inspiration to me who has always wished to make a chain vest, but I was wondering if you could provide more details on the correct sort of rings to buy please?
I live in the UK so my best bet is to buy sets of 1000 or something from eBay but there are so many different sizes and thicknesses I can't tell which would be best..
This site at the section linked below has guides to wire diameter (gauge) vs internal diameter so you get an idea of what's gonna work. As this marvellous instructable says, too thin a wire with too big a ring size doesn't look good. Also too small a ring for the wire size gets really fiddly and less flexible. Of course it's for 4 in 1 so you'd have to use thinner wire or bigger rings for 6 in 1!
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/trevor.barker/farisles/guilds/armour/mail.htm#sect2-2
bnottle1 year ago
I've had a lot of success using the "score and snap" method when cutting my own rings. Using a mini bolt cutter you pinch the wire on your coil where you want to cut the ring, but don't cut through. This hardens the wire so that you can twist at that point and it will cleanly snap with a much straighter edge. Maybe not as flush as a saw, but a lot better than wire cutters and fairly fast too. It might be possible to score the wire with cutters but I have small hands and I need the leverage that bolt cutters provide.They
Great Instructable!

Making chain mail is something I've wanted to try for a while, but never been sure where to start.

My only thought/question would be where are you getting your rings and/or how are you making them?
I've come up with a few solutions of my own (and I think they are similar to yours given the photos [wrapping wire around a steel pipe and cutting into rings]). Perhaps you could add another step... or maybe I'll put together my own ible when I get my technique down :)
The site I've included below is fantastic for both rings and wire in an assortment of metals, sizes, and gauges. I made a hand crank that turns a really long bolt (like 1.5 feet) so that I can produce many at once.

A jeweler's saw works wonders but is harder to use than a nice pair of bolt cutters which make the work go really quickly but do not give as nice an edge.

http://theringlord.com/
Shadow Ranger (author)  RandomIdeaMan1 year ago
There are some Instructables regarding ring making, and the steps are also included in other chain mail Instructables.

European 4-in-1 maille (chainmail) speedweaving by Paul the Mole uses a similar method that I used with the table-top mandrel and I used antique nail cutters (which wasn't very practical, honestly, but it was really the only thing I had at the time) to cut the rings.

Scroll saw jig for cutting jump rings by wombatmorrison is a good one and it shows you how to cut rings fairly quickly. A saw, I would say, is the best method of cutting because it cuts the rings flush, whereas a compressive cutter, e.g. bolt cutters, leaves pointed ends, like my rings. Given the chance to change one thing about my chain mail shirt (picture in step 8), that would be it.



As far as my rings, I made every single one of them. I started making chain mail on a 3/8" knife sharpener (don't tell anyone, lol) just by winding some old, rusty tie wire around it by hand, which wasn't easy, I might add. Then, using the knowledge I had compiled from internet research, I made a small piece of European 6-in-1 chain mail and decided I wanted to defy all those people out there that said to not make a shirt as your first project, and make a full shirt. I got better materials (I still used tie wire though), a mandrel set-up (which my dad made for me) and a set of nail cutters and I was in business.

I didn't have a lot of money to spend on a hobby I wasn't sure I'd even like. So, by using things I had on-hand, I tried it out. Nobody can tell you the correct way to get into chain mail because it is all depending on your own circumstances.


Hope this has helped you RandomIdeaMan!