Picture of European 4-in-1 maille (chainmail) speedweaving
First of all: maille, mail, chainmail... their all different words for the same thing. I like to use the word maille, but I'm sure some like the other words better.

Maille is a form of armour. It was invented by the Celts and it became very popular in the middle ages, where it was used as 'standard' armour for allmost all soldiers, because it's flexible and prevents cuts from swords, knives etc. Nowadays maille is made for other re-enactments, as 'alternative' clothing, or just for fun like I do.

Back in the days maille was made out of mild steel rings which were riveted. Which means: a lot of work. Today most of the maille is made out of steel wire. And it's not riveted anymore. It's called "butted".

The most common weave is without a doubt "European 4-in-1" (or E 4-1). This is the way the rings were linked in Europe in the middle ages. I'll come back later on the 4-in-1 thing.

I'm Belgian and I live in Brugge (Bruges). But when I was a child, I visited the "Gravensteen" (that's a castle castle) in Gent. There, someone was making maille at the time. I found it very fascinating and the thought of making some my own never leaved my mind really. Some time ago I started making my own maille. Currently I'm making a coif (have a look on Google Images if you don't know what a coif is).

The technique I use is called "speedweaving" because it's one of the fastest ways to make maille. What I will describe is not the only way to speedweave, but this is the one I use, and which works great for me. I did not invent this technique. I'm just sharing it with the world...
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 406Next »
Jordans1141 year ago
Hi! I am really interested in making some of this stuff, but I am having a hard time finding wire. I'm looking for Stainless Steel wire with a dimension of 16g SWG = 14g AWG = 0.063'' = 1.6mm. I live in Ontario, Canada, in the Waterloo region, if that helps anyone

A popular wire to use is 14 gauge galvanized steel electric fence wire, you can get a quarter mile for under U.S.$50 at most hardware stores

I'm jealous Jordans! I'd be living in this place if I was in Canada as well:
JohnV11 month ago

When adding the second row, and any rows thereafter, I found it is much faster and simpler to add one open ring with one closed ring and then work your way down the line one ring at a time, instead of adding a closed ring with two closed rings every other ring and then filling in the gaps. Hope this helps.

tonsfun43s9 months ago

sry, random question. what poster is that behind you lol.

Gorlakkur1 year ago
Great instructable, and great taste in music too! :-)
Professur5 years ago
The real grief is when you've gotten past the 4x4 inch squares and wind up with 8lbs of steel hanging off the end of your pliers while you're trying to join one more link. I started a mine as a time killer while working graveyard shift at a hotel front desk. After the third pair of mini-cutters, I started cutting the links with a cut off wheel on a Dremel. Much nicer butt ends.
(removed by author or community request)
Ahh, yet another fellow Night Audit.  Welcome to the group!
Yes, the sleep-deprived, waaayyyy-too-much-time-on-our-hands group. =)
1010tbone5 years ago
Do people not get that "DIY" means just that?  Of course you can buy this stuff, but what happens when you can't?  Learning crafts such as these insures the survival of the knowlege.  I read a comment/question about butter and why would you spend so much time making it instead of buying it.  Well again "DIY" means just that and by learning how you become more independent. Give a man a fish...he eats for a day..but teach a man to fish and he eats for life....THAT IS WHY WE LEARN DIY!
icy45 1010tbone4 years ago
I always heard, give a man fire and he will be warm for a day, lite a man on fire and he will be warm the rest of his life.  Anyway great instructable but, how do you do curves easily?
kleinz icy454 years ago
 i think u mean, give a man fire and hell be warm for a day, but show him how to light a fire an he will be warm for the rest of his life. 
Works both ways, but in one the life is a lot shorter!
wenpherd kleinz4 years ago
OR, give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a life time.
icy45 wenpherd4 years ago
If you're on fire, you'll be warm at least till you die.  I mean how do you get rid of people asking for free fish or fire, unless you use ninja fish against them...note we must research teaching fish to be ninjas.  Great idea teaching fish to be ninjas, I wish I thought of that.
wenpherd icy454 years ago
Yeah, Ninja Fish.
its not kung fu, its kung fish
I always thought it was "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll sit in a boat drinking beer all day".
I think you ALL mean........ "...Give a man a fish... they say... and he'll stink up a whole town.... Give a man a fishin' rod... Ya see where I'm going here? Yeah, Give him a fishin' rod and he'll poke your eye out..." Overheard from a drunkard of Albion
I like that, it's correct, albeit his life will be quite short and he'll suffer inflammation.
Good Gravy!! If it took you 50 HOURS to do that coif then my plan for full body coverage of mail will NEVER happen, that's out the window...
There's great pleasure to be taken from the satisfaction that you invested the time it takes to finish a long project. One can take a bag of rings along for all those wasted time of our lives like waiting or riding public transit where some might bring a book or knitting. Just make strips to assemble later as opposed to the whole project.
50 hours of speedweaving sounds funny xD
I'mma give it a shot and include some of my friends in making it. It's very cheap for what you get out of it :)
that aint nothing!!! i spent 50 hours making a 2" bracelet out of 24GA stearling silver rings. the bracelet was made for my son before he was born, and when he was born, it fit PERFECTLY.
yup, still not gonna happen!!!
a coif is a bit more complicated than a full ody maille suit tho. i made half a hauberk vest that went to my waist in about 3 or so hours...not counting the prep time (i made my own rings for that).
bored0ne2 years ago
How do you form it into shirts,hats,etc? Is there a template or something?
tinker2343 years ago
wow how small can i make the chain mail also could i use titam andd other materials to absorb shock to make a retlvy bullet proof material
by titam i asume u mean titanium second this would be impossible titanium is one of the most rigid metals on earth second to tungsten you could never bend them into shape also there is only one place on earth you can cut it so sorry.
"Only one place on earth you can cut it..." Are you smoking something? Titanium wire and jump rings are easily purchased from any number of places, and just as easily cut. You've been reading too many comic books. This isn't adamantium we're talking about here...
I am throwing in the BS towel. you can make titanium rings, and you can maille with it. and theres not one place on earth that can cut titanium rings. The Ring Lord based in Canada makes and cuts their own rings and then sells them for use as chain maille. its just a little difficult to work with cause its pretty springy.
yeah sorry about my spelling
Im sorry but no chain mail is going to be bullet proof no mater what material it's made of. If you want bullet proof armor that's not a BP vest get some 1/8 in. steel plates those were early BP vest. 1/8 in. is probably alittle overkill on it but ya kno.
i mean on top of some other bllet proof things just so it its easer maybe in the futre
adding the chain mail would just add dead weight you want it to be bullet proof you will need top of of the line mail made with using sumthing like silicone carbide and several layer's of it and i mean several as in like 7 3 or 4 i mean 7 or 8
ilpug ltailer2 years ago
That would make it unrealistically heavy. Bullet proof vests are simply best.
Allow me to elaborate upon why chain mail cannot deflect bullets. Chain mail is made out of tiny rings (which we already know). Therefore, it acts similarly to a suspended cloth, a curtain for example. If you were to hit that curtain with a baseball bat, it would simply move out of the way. The same would happen if you were to take a sweep at it with a somewhat unsharpened sword. However, were you to fire an arrow at the curtain, the arrow would puncture it entirely. This is due to the fact that the arrow cuts by putting an incredible amount of pressure on a very small point, whereas a sword sweep puts a lesser amount of pressure on a much larger area. Chain mail works by stopping a few points on that blade with the rings, because if one point on the edge is stopped, physics denies all other points on that blade passage. However, an arrow (or bullet, I suppose) is concentrated on so small a point that it is highly unlikely the small surface area of the rings would be able to catch it. Even if the arrow were to hit one of the rings, there is so much pressure that the ring would be forced inwards into the person wearing the armor. It is interesting to note that a bow and arrow can puncture Kevlar, because it relies on both speed and sharpness to kill, while bullets are considerably more blunt since they have overwhelming speeds. The Kevlar can stop them by spreading out the force, as long as it is not punctured. Why don't we all carry crossbows? I do not know. Long story short, there is a reason why bows were so popular and so deadly, and why rich people liked plate armor.
1. Maille can be as small as you want, but to make smaller maille you will need smaller wire.

2. Yes, titanium can be used to make maille. Titanium wire, as well as other hard to find maille supplys can be purchased at

3. Maille is not, and will not be bullet proof. Period. It was designed to deflect blades, and is not much good at anything else. If you are hit by a bullet while wearing maille, the bullet will most likely shatter the wire and drive it into your body; that would hurt.
1-40 of 406Next »