- 1-2 years of time
- A very strong will
- 1200-2000 feet of wire (6000-10000 links)
- 2 pairs of small blunt nose pliers
- A drill (with a chuck)
- ½ inch or ¼ inch metal rod
- A dremel or other cutting device
- A vice or strong clamp
- Some 2 by 4s
- 4 screws
For an interview with me about my chainmail click Here
Step 1: How to Make a Chainmail Shirt
First with the 2by4s you need to build a rig to support the rod (fig 1) that the links will be made on. Attach the 3 pieces together with the screws. Drill a hole in both sides of the wood, big enough for your rod to pass through easily. Now drill a small hole through the rod that your wire can get through. For wire I used a multi-purpose galvanized 16-gauge wire from Lowes. It is sold in 200ft lengths for around $8.
When you have all this assembled put the rod and drill into the jig (which should be clamped on a table) insert the wire into the hole and start the drill turning slowly. The wire will wrap it's self around the rod making a nice little spring. Use pliers to pull the wire out of the hole and slide the spring off the rod.
Step 2: How to Make a Chainmail Shirt
To cut the spring, slide it on to another rod of the same diameter and put both in the vice or other clamp. When you are cutting it with the dremel be sure to wear safety glasses and do it in an area with no combustible gasses.
Depending on the length of the spring it should take around 5 min to cut and then you will have roughly 40 links that you can start using.
Step 3: How to Make a Chainmail Shirt
You will need a pair of blunt nose pliers that preferably do not have teeth. First take 4 links and close them so they will lie flat on the table. Then take a fifth link and open it so that you can slide the 4 other links on to it, then close the fifth link. This is the building block of your chainmail. (Fig 1, 2, 3)
Now that you have the basic building block of the shirt you will need to make many more. To attach them together line the 4in1s up so that the pattern matches. Then take another link and connect the 4 rings that are in the center. This makes another 4in1 within the first 2.
Step 4: How to Make a Chainmail Shirt
Step 5: How to Make a Chainmail Shirt
Once you have these 2 dimensions you need to double the width so it goes back and front. Now take a ruler and stretch out part of the mail and count how many rows are in 1” so that you will know how many rows you will need for the sleeves.
You are know ready to make to identical rectangles that will become the sleeves of your shirt, once you have them attach the center of the sleeve to the center of the head hole. Do not connect the sleeves at the bottom.
Step 6: How to Make a Chainmail Shirt
Make 2 rectangles that are that wide and long enough to reach from the bottom of the sleeve to the edge. Go ahead and connect your sidepieces.
Finally you will need a small piece to connect the sleeves at the bottom if they do not already meet. Once again measure and add more if necessary.
When you have these pieces connected all you have to do is attach under the arms. Unfortunately the pattern does not match up here so just improvise: it is not too critical.
Step 7: How to Make a Chainmail Shirt - You Are DONE!
For more information on Chainmail I would recommend these websites:
Step 8: Make-to-Learn Youth Contest Questions
Over the course of 10 months (Nov 2011- Aug 2012) I, link by link, put it together by my-self in the way you have just read. I worked mainly in the basement of my house but also at my cottage during the summer. This project gave me something to work towards, I have a tendency to just sit in front of the computer all day but instead I would watch Netflix while putting together links. This impacted on my family and friends because if anyone came over to our house or asked what was up with me I would say that I was making a chainmail shirt and then explain what that was. My aunt is a teacher so recently I went to her school to tell the grade 4s and 5s about chainmail and show them how to do it.
I learned a lot from making the chainmail but the most important things would be patients and the meaning of silence. Patients is pretty self-explanatory because there are over 6000 links in my chainmail, all of which were connected by hand. The meaning of silence is more difficult to explain: what I mean by it is that in our society there is a constant flow of information and garbage being thrown at us from TV, billboards, and shopping mails. Basically I found that when I turned off my computer and just sat and did chainmail I rediscovered silence and it is a beautiful thing.
If I was ever going to do this again there are a few changes I would make. First I would use smaller links (¼”) so that it would more correct. Also I would have a better pattern of cutting a lot of links and then putting them all together. Finally I would use the dremel for all of the cutting instead of a hacksaw because it takes a lot less time.