Picture of Genuine chainmaille from pop tabs

Constructing a genuine European 4 in 1 chainmaille weave using only pop tabs.

Turns out this is very easy and makes a really great looking piece of maille, and as an added bonus you don't have to worry about having a quarter mile of wire on hand to attach them together.

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Step 1: Assemble your supplies

Picture of Assemble your supplies
OK, you are going to need lots and lots of pop tabs. Don't give yourself renal failure trying to drink them all yourself. Spread it out or enlist the help of your family, friends, workmates, or maybe even the local recycling center. Here is what you will need:

Staple remover
Old key
Non-mangled pop tabs (however many you need, 1000 is a good start)

Step 2: Prepare the tabs

Picture of Prepare the tabs
You will need to prepare the tabs for the weaving. Bend the collar down from the "top" side of the tab using the tumbler side of the key. Then use the back of the key to continue bending it down against the side of the tab. Lay the tab face down and push the cupped part down flat.

Step 3: Cut

Picture of Cut
Now that all your tabs are flat and consistent, you need to cut and crimp them.

Cut them in the very middle of the pull part of the tab, or for a stronger connection, on the rivet side, either way just be consistent.

Step 4: Bend

Picture of Bend
The tabs will need to be bent slightly so they will lay together properly. This is where the staple remover comes it. Turns out it gives it just the right amount of bend. Put the tab in cut side first and close the tool down so that one side holds the cuts and the "bridge" is over the metal edge on the other side. Press with your finger and, bam! you're done.

Step 5: Repeat

Picture of Repeat
Keep making the links, do them all at once, do them in batches. Either way, its pretty easy to make them.

One note: If you are using cutters, you can bend the tabs first, if you are using scissors you have to cut them first.
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Ianflow1 year ago
Just a few questions:
Why do they need the metal ring on the pop tab still (don't you just bend it away anyhow?)
Also, why do you bend it with the staple remover, are there any other ways, or items to use?
quixotiCfluX (author)  Ianflow1 year ago
These are good questions. When the metal ring is still on the tab it allows you to have a folded metal edge instead of the the sharp irregular edge of a broken ring.

I used the staple remover primarily because it was handy at my desk and gave the tabs a consistent amount of bend. It can easily be done with any other tool, though. It can easily be done with pliers, but the consistency will be a bit more difficult. I think one person in the comments (buried way down there somewhere) said he was going to make a wooden jig in a clamp to do several at once.

I hope that helps, thanks for taking the time to send me questions.
jj.inc1 year ago
You got a feature on iFunny today
I made a shirt freshman year of high school for a Halloween costume, and here's how. I measured how big around my chest was, then made a strip the length of my circumference and 4 tabs tall. I pinned it down and continued adding rows until it was the length of my torso, then added tabs in a way that would go around my neck and connect together over my shoulders. I did the same for my arms (measuring circumference, etc.), but removed a tab every once in a while going down so that it would be more form fitting (since my shoulders/biceps are larger than my wrists). I then connected* the shoulder part of the arm pieces to the holes left by the shoulder part of the shirt. Finally I wore a gray shirt underneath to compliment the metal and protect my skin. Eventually I hand-sewed the edges of the cotton shirt to the tabs to keep everything from moving around too much. Everyone loved my costume, and years later I still have it, although I eventually took the sleeves off because I had little flexibility with them attached.
*connected using more tabs, not wire or any other means
chain mail close up.jpgchain mail.jpg
lycoris32 years ago
this is one of my favorite instructables, and am thinking about collecting to make a nice bag and decoration for a jacket. looking forward to the fun!
timothymh4 years ago
 I really need to make this wider; it keeps folding in on itself as I work. Takes five minutes to straighten out like in the photo below.



Your posting has won today's "I Made It challenge. For winning you are receiving a free 3 month pro membership.

Thanks for using instructables!

I made a chainmail with different colors for my littlebrother in christmas present (-:

I also added a cape on the back.

Could I make it look like a tunic where the sides are sealed, or would I have to throw it on like a poncho?

Riseto6 months ago

one question: do you glue again the tabs when you using them to form anything?

the staple romover bender wasnt working for me the one i have the thumb rests bend down messing it all up so i use the edge of my desk just a tip for anyone with the same problum as me

DragonBlue1 year ago

Do you experience the tabs constantly coming undone while trying to put these together? So far I've put together about 50 tabs and it is a nightmare when it all crinkles together into a roll of tabs that start to come undone when I'm trying to flatten it back out. Are there any tips or tricks that might be able to make the cut tips not allow other parts to slip back out?

daproben1 year ago
Thanks for this amazing post! :)
Oragami1 year ago
I now have something to do in my spare time (thanks to Isa for posting a link to this on her Tumblr :D)
cybercapri1 year ago
Wow, what a great way to make aluminum chainmail, thanks for sharing.
raen7142 years ago
After three years (most of which was gathering supplies), I finally have a wearable hauberk.
Delo974 years ago
I'm going to use this for airsoft battles
it probably wont work well seeing that there are a lot of holes in it
Ok, but I think I'll use two sheets for them to have one to cover the other
ilpug Delo973 years ago
Huge amount of work for something that is structurally weak and a tactical nightmare. If you need armor, wear a jacket. If you need more, wear two jackets. If you need still more, then play Nerf instead. This mail is awesome, but it really won't help on the field. Maybe as a little decorative patch on the back of a glove or something, but that is about it.
Delo97 ilpug3 years ago
Well, I just want something for non-professional, friendly battles. I am currently using cardboard.
cardboard works ok for this, a duct tape vest is better. if you dont want to put a lot of time into a duct tape garment, i suppose you could just put one or two layers of tape on the cardboard. or just wear a sweatshirt with a hood.
triforceftw2 years ago
My chainmaille tends to come apart because of the slit that is needed to attach them together. Is there any certain way I can seal it or keep the maille from coming undone? Thanks :D
should be able to solder it you might need extra flux
wow wonderful design but is it only for show or can you actually use it for something like maybe putting two layers or more of it so it makes arrow proof armor or somehing
arpoky2 years ago
At this stage, I find that just pinching the tabs a few times with the pliers helps to get a good, center cut. I also found that bending the tabs before cutting them doesn't make the cut side turn out so bent out of shape.

I actually tried this a few years ago, and I am now making another attempt at it. I want to make a shirt for a Link Cosplay I had in mind.
Kzummo2 years ago
Right now i'm making a chainmail head mask
Tim_C2 years ago
I know this is a really old instructable, but someone might read it. Depending on the way you prefer to join the links you only need to cut half the rings. I just crimp all of mine and cut only what I need before I start a 'mailling' session. I am sure it would increase strength too.
jedijaxson2 years ago
Just break the rivet collars off by bending them back and forth. Works for me!
Kianon2 years ago
heh, to me it looks like a combination of chainmail and scalemail.
GDfense265 years ago
are there any other methods that will bend them just as consistantly without using a staple remover?
I've been using a normal pair of Needle nose pliers.
It's worth a shot.. When I've been making standard ring maille, I use a pair of 'Duck-Bill' long-reach pliers from Sears.. (Item# 00945087000 | Model# 45087 ).. they have a wider width jaw than needle-nose pliers, about 5/16" width.. they might be about the right width to grab each tab, and use the other (or even a pair of lineman's pliers) to make the bend. I will say, from someone who's made chain maille for close to 28 years, I am impressed by this! Yes, it would take a L-O-N-G time to make an entire suit of these.. the present suit I wear to ren faires, is 14-guage FyShock aluminum electric fence wire. (well past 4000 rings!) it takes lots of patience, and persistence to complete.
Ok, but it takes FOREVER to put in precisely
I use an adjustable wrench, make it just wide enough to slip a tab inand out and duct tape the worm gear at that position.  I got prettygood at it.  If you want to see the finished shirt you can checkout my instructable
same here
I've made a small jg out of a 2x4(2 pieces) and a door hinge.
I line 3 up side-by-side in the groove   I cut.
then pull down on the "handle" and insta-bent tabs.
right angle edge of needle nose pliers
Yes. What I do is I hold one end on a table with the palm of my hand, and have the other half off of the table. then, I just push down with my thumb. But, if you do this, cut after bending.
Neko-Otaku2 years ago
wow, I was recently thinking of making something like this, but I guess you beat me to it :)
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