How to Make Japanese 4-1 Maille (Speedweaving)


Introduction: How to Make Japanese 4-1 Maille (Speedweaving)

About: I enjoy building and inventing; I love creating new things and improving on old ideas. I am a student at BYU and am studying under a Mechanical Engineering Major. I enjoy camping, hiking, and backpacking.

If you're familiar with maille, you might know about European 4-1, possibly even European 6-1, but Japanese weaves can also be very useful both in jewelry and armor. By far the easiest of armor weaves, Japanese 4-1 can be picked up in a matter of minutes. This is the best weave for first-time "chain maillers".

Step 1: The First Strip

Depending on how large/small you want your piece of 4-1 Japanese mail to be, add more or less rings in this step. Take your larger sized rings and close all of them. Then, take your smaller rings and use one small ring to connect two larger rings. Continue this until you have a long chain of large and small rings. See picture below for example.

Step 2: The Second "Row"

Now that you have your chain, grab one of the ends and shift it around until it is the position shown in the picture. Now take a smaller ring and connect the two rings shown in the picture.

Step 3: The Third "Row" (Part 1)

After step 2 you will notice that you have made a small 2x2 square on the left-hand side. Shift the piece of mail so that the long strip coming off of the square is pointing away from you. With your left hand, hold the square down and with your right hand, swing the long line around until it is pointing to the right. Connect the two rings pointed out in the picture.

Step 4: Third "Row" (Part 2)

The last step, much like the others, is very simple. Take the chain that was left hanging off after step 3 and swing it down the side of the piece. Connect the rings in the spots shown in the picture. Now you're finished with your 3x3 square! The next step will deal with Japanese 4-1 variations and will lead into my next "maille" instructable.

Step 5: Japanese Variations

In japanese weaves, rings can be doubled quite easily in order to increase strength. Doubling rings to increase strength is known as making a variation. There are two main 4-1 variations: 8-2 and 8-1.
The first picture is a picture of Japanese 8-1. The second is an example of Japanese 8-2. In my next instructable I will cover how to make Japanese 6-1 and its variations!



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    Very beautiful technique, and great job.

    this is perfect for what it is- a simple kick start in the right direction. I'm thinking of making some, and this is very helpful.

    Would this be as effective as European mail? It seems that the larger rings would allow larger points (spears and larger arrowheads) than European.

    6 replies

    The Japanese didn't just wear the chain maille, they also wore thick pieces of leather (much more flexible than plate armor). This was actually more effective than you would first think.

    or paper armor as well. myth buster did a show on that as well.

    But still, pointed objects+maille= bad news for the wearer...

    Well, if you flatten each ring before putting it all together, it leaves less room for arrowheads to penetrate.

    well maille in general is not intended to stop spearheads and arrowtips, it is mostly for slashing weapons, swords being the best example. In regards to stopping slashes, japanese maille should be just as effective as european, while european might distribute the force of the blow a little better. However, european maille might be a little better at stopping arrows and spears, although it was not expected to do so.

    I am aware of what it was designed for, but in either Europe or Asia, the spear was the most, or at least much more common weapon on the battlefield. Swords used too much metal and were to much of a waste of money because of their lack of effect compared to other weapons. Either way, an armour that could protect more of the common weapons rather than uncommon would be a advantage. Also, it depends on the weave as to wether it is designed to stop fine-pointed weapons, a European 6 in 1 or 8 in 1 are great examples especially if they are 'king weave' (12 in 2), although I don't know if Asia, or more specifically, Japan, had an equivalent.

    This isn't actually 4-1 mail, it's 4-2 alternating. 4-1 means every ring is attached to 4 others, while 4-2 alternating means the rings alternate between being attached to 4 or 2 rings (as shown in these pictures). Please correct your title. Morgan Wolf, Historian (specializing in warfare and medieval history)

    2 replies

    hey wat with the (pc - polictical corrections here) the person is doing thier best. ok wheres yr instructible then. huh? mister know it all?

    Actually, in the mailling community, this weave IS called 4-1 japanese, and is related to 6-1 Japanese, 12-2 Japanese, 3-1 Japanese, and many others. It is called 4-1 because each larger ring is attached to 4 other large rings via the smaller rings. If you have a problem with the logic of the name I can't help you there seeing as I didn't invent it.

    Would be amazing to see this done with soda tabs *draws up a plan*.

    Where do you get the rings?

    the only japanese maille i like is their 6 in 1.

    I don't see any problem with using two different sizes. You could get the larger rings premade and solid, and just hold them together with the little ones.

    1 reply

    I think it would take less time than the standard European form of chainmail as well.