Picture of How to make a chainmail shirt
so you might now how to put chainmail links together, but making a shirt is an entirely different thing. It includes hours of work and a lot of mistake-making, but the finished product can last a lifetime and looks pretty gnarly if you ask me.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Since i'm not going to teach you how to make rings (there are other instructables on that subject), wire,mandrels, and cutters will not be on this list.

24,000 (give or take 2,000) 1/4 inch, 16 gauge galvanized/ungalvanized rings (you can use other sizes/gauges but the number of rings will vary)

2 pliers (one for each hand)

PATIENCE! - putting 24,000 rings together is no small thing...it can take months, even years depending on your speed

Knowledge of how to make 4-1 European chainmail

This instructable teaches the basic principles of how to make chain mail rings and how to connect them using European 4-1:

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I want to make a chainmail shirt. Assuming I am using 16 gauge jump rings and a size 0 in women's clothing, around how many rings would i need?
DanielS592 months ago

I started trying to make a shirt and realized I prefer to work from a hanging position. I built a frame that would allow me to not only build my shirt but I also incorporated a setup on the bottom to make the rings. Using the drill I wrap the wire around a 1/2 inch steel pipe. All told I put about $45 into the frame including the hardware and the lumber. I didn't have ,uch of a plan before starting so I had to improvise the support for the spool and the "legs" out of scrap wood but hopefully this offers some ideas for people who might be getting ready to try a shirt. Overall dimensions are 3'X4' so I can either work sitting on the floor or in a chair.(So I can work on it while watching tv.)

ladymda5 months ago

This is awesome! I`m trying to find some good places to get my rings, so I was wondering where you got yours?

Do you have instructions for a shirt that doesn't have sleeves?

Shut Up Now6 years ago
hey guys, do you know if 17 gauge aluminum wire is fine for decorative maille?? also, will teh stuff meant for electric fences make everything it touches black??
 with fencing wire it does turn your skin black if you play with it for while but ive been trying to find a way to combat that by putting the finished project (or just a heap of rings) into a sand tumbler very similar to what you would use to polish bullets im going to make one out of a bucket and an old rolling platform. im hoping that will polish the rings and also clean all that black crap from the rings. ill post an update soon

Tumbling or polishing is a temporary fix for black ruboff from aluminum. The best solution I have found to prevent it is to use anodized aluminum.

It does cost more, but is so worth the quality. And it doesn't have to be a coloured anodize.
skimmo5 years ago
here we go it took me 12 long months
Jeanie and Petes Wedding July 2 & 3 2010 213.jpgJeanie and Petes Wedding July 2 & 3 2010 212.jpgJeanie and Petes Wedding July 2 & 3 2010 211.jpg
iaincwil skimmo4 years ago
nice job!! some work gone into that, er! how on earth do ya get it on and off LOL!!!

skimmo iaincwil4 years ago
to get it on you need to put your arms into into it, grab the inside of the sleeves then put your arms straight above your head and flick your head into the bottom, then let it go so it falls over you, then you need to do some bounces so that it settles. Then taking it off you need to touch your toes wand then wriggle your shoulders until it falls onto your feet in a big pile, its not very dignified... or graceful
Grey_Wolfe skimmo8 months ago
And this, my friends, is why squires were invented. :-D
iaincwil skimmo4 years ago
LOL!!!!!!!! would have to make it extra large and get a wench to help me drag it off,
COOLL!!!! only thing im doing differently is im going sleeveless
ineverfinishanyth (author)  skimmo5 years ago
very nice! what are the specs on the ring size, gauge, and material?
my spindle was 10 mm my wire was 3.5 mm fencing wire
And now we all know why tabards are so popular. Because honestly, I can do the chain mail. But I don't think I can bring myself to rip it open and add more chain mail, much less in an actual drawing.
A good tactic is too make a panel with your design first, then simply add it in while making the shirt. No need to reweave, and it's easier to work with.
mbennett133 years ago
Do you know how many rings it would take to make a much smaller shirt? How big is the shirt in this instructable?I'm probably going to need something like half this size. Do you know if there is a better way to determine how many I will need than just halving the amount suggested?
If you intend to use the same sized rings as the poster (16g 1/4"), then you are looking at approximately 3100 rings per square foot.

My advice is to make a pattern based on your measurements, then calculate the square footage.

I suggest purchasing/making 1-2000 extra rings, in case you need to make adjustments.

Good luck. :)
eulaliaaaa!5 years ago
Use the Pop Bottle Chain Mail for this. It would be quicker.
 Quicker?  Yes.
Better?  No.

It would fall apart unless you solder each gap together.  Plus it wouldnt function as armor, it would only [kinda] look like real chainmail.

You also have to consider, how long do you think it will take to collect thousands of pop tabs?

I ended up making it with pop can tabs, although it wasn't expensive at all. There are problems with it, first, it doesn't look as nice as real chain mail . Second, it comes apart somewhat easily. Third, it's near impossible to keep from tangling up. My goal is to soon make a real chain mail vest.

 Why would we use it as armor unless we are in a renaissance fair or went back in time?
 Well, in all fairness, I am part of a renaissance group, and considering we actually use live steel, real armor is always a nice thing to have.
The steel is alive? Fascinating! What does it eat?
probably you if your not fast enough or dont have Armour! my undestanding of a live blade is one that will cut! sharp in other words,
BodenM iaincwil4 years ago
Like live ammunition
troll harder bro
Oh, it took me about two weeks.
I made some poptab maile and it looks awesome but it definately is NOT practical because it falls apart i am working on improoving it by taking and combining this type of chain maile and poptab maile i am also working on dragon scale armor
But then it wouldn't be as flexible (i think). Although the pop bottle chain maille is good for like braceletes.

How big is the shirt when finished?

size is based on measurements that you take from yourself, so in theory it will fit you regardless. I would recommend adding an inch or two to the chest measurement, so that your underclothing will be accomodated.

george.gearing.1 made it!10 months ago

Took two months, and I'm very happy with the result, though some fitting is required. Having been making it for so long, changing it's dimensions aren't such a big deal. In fact, I'll be gradually increasing it's length and sleeves over time until I have a hauberk. This guide is a great for the relative beginner, though bear in mind that there are more advanced examples of byrnies made in pattern form that would have a better fit.

chocochobi1 year ago
How do you do the 45 degree triangle?
arpoky2 years ago
Chain Maille is the armor of choice for the impending Zombie Apocalypse.
cdando3 years ago
This instructable is awesome. I couldn't have made it without it. Do you know a good way to colour the rings? I'd like to make mine a bit darker and possibly colour my inlay rings
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