Instructables
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Picture of PVC Chainmail
Interested in historically accurate chainmail for costuming or display? You may have found that a single chainmail shirt can run up in the range of $1000!

Now you can make your own chainmail out of pvc pipe for only a few dollars, just like they did in movies such as Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean!
 
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Step 1: What you will need

Picture of What you will need
1. Several feet of PVC plastic tubing, about 1/2 inch in diameter. The kind I got only costs about $1 for 5 feet
Tip: Using pipe with a low pressure rating will make it easier to manipulate.

2. A band saw, jig saw, scroll saw, or PVC cutters. I am using a scroll saw because it is what I have on hand.

3. Tin snips or a table saw.

4. C clamp and block

5. Nimble fingers

Step 2: Cutting the pipe

Picture of Cutting the pipe
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Pictures\Chainmail making 004.jpg
First cut your pipe into manigable pieces, about a foot. The shorter the piece, the easier it is to handle, however the more waste that will be produced. I've found once I have about 2 inches left I cannot cut any further without risking cutting myself (which would seriously slow down this process!).

Now, if you have a table saw, set the blade very low and cut all the way down one side of the pipe. If you are using the tin snips, we will do this later.

Now you are ready. Using a few test cuts, find the thickness that you want for all of your rings. Mine are about 3 milimeters. Use your C clamp and block to ensure that they are all the desired size.

Now start cutting! Including mistakes, I've found that you get just over 100 rings per foot. This takes about 5 minutes.

If you have PVC cutters, just cut the rings one by one. This probably takes a lot longer, but I haven't tried it so I can't tell you from experience.
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jackowens6 months ago

How durable is this? How much does it weigh compared to normal steel maille? Thanks

Idt they used PVC pipe in the movies and it can not be worth $1000
I don't believe that but other than that nice job
They didn't cut up actual pvc pipes, they use premade plastic rings though. Like these http://theringlord.com/cart/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=219
there are special PVC cutters that look like garden shears that would probably leave a cleaner edge if they will cut that skinny! I think I will borrow a pair from my neighbor and give it a try!
Wolf Seril (author)  artteacher052 years ago
Cool, tell me how it goes!
DanDevlinOS3 years ago
One thing you might try, to make this a little stronger, is to only cut slits in about half of the rings. Also if you do decide to glue them together it will make it go faster.
meburnfire4 years ago
Don't use PVC cutters on this.... 30 minutes yeilded 50 rings and a extremely sore hand. After a few hours, your hand will bleed :D
Wolf Seril (author)  meburnfire4 years ago
Thanks for the tip; I hadn't tried them myself. I'll put it in the 'ible.
"Now, if you have a table saw,..."  NO NOOO NO NO NOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!never  use a table saw to cut pvc! use something safer!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wolf Seril (author)  greymatter215 years ago
If you aren't smoking weed while operating the saw, as your profile implies you would do, you will probably be fine.
well,my uncle pat 1nce cut his thumb in half,tha long way,on a table saw.so now that his thumb is reconstructed he can no longer bend his thumb at tha first joint... soo ya....
Large teeth on a blade aren't very effective for PVC anyway. I tried to use a chop saw once, and it tends to crack and break the PVC. Stick with a small blade with fine teeth.
btw they used real chainmail in movies,not plastic...
Wolf Seril (author)  greymatter215 years ago
No, you are absolutely wrong. All of the extras and some of the leads wore PVC.
Go watch the special features.
When you made this, could you actually wear the chainmail or was it just the pvc rings all put together, because i'm thinking of making a helmet, cape or chainmail for the 2009 halloween contest, do you think any of these would work, besides the chainmail.
Wolf Seril (author)  flashanimator5 years ago
You can definitely wear it, I was just to lazy to make any finished product with it.

I entered this in the Halloween contest a year or two ago, though, so they might not accept it unless it was just a small part of a more complex costume. Good luck.
hey on this step I was just wondering when I cut my pvc rings do I cut a slit in them to link and then glue it shut
Wolf Seril (author)  master moose005 years ago
If I understand what you're asking, then yes, you cut them so that you can connect them. Gluing is optional. The sheet shown in the picture has just been sitting on my dresser for the past year, so obviously I didn't need to glue it. If you're just making it for display or to say "hey look at what I made", then you probably can just leave it. However if you want to use it for a costume or something, it's probably safer to glue it.
thanks
sharlston5 years ago
nylon washers also work
sharlston5 years ago
what weaving system is it? it looks like 4 in 1
william46325 years ago
that is awsome!!!!!
Silence5 years ago
your tumble method in a pillow case with a buncha marbles or small stones would basically ball mill em. would make a hell of a racket in the dryer tho :P
I tried this out and it seems to work pretty well! I just have a question about the material. I'm assuming the PVC tube used is ~1/2" inner diameter with a wall thickness of a little over 1/8"?
Wolf Seril (author)  armored bore5 years ago
Yeah that seems about right.
Speedmite5 years ago
Narnia and Monty Python and The Holy Grail!!!!
lol I posted earlier if it was necessary to glue now I c it's not rieally thanks my I'm heading out to the garage to get started I made metal Chainmail but it took for ever because my rings were only like twice as big as this O. so I spent hours and only produced a 5 by 5 sq in sheet it took to long thanks for this post man.
necropolian6 years ago
"""...just like they did in movies such as Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean!...""" oh my holy god (odin), do you really think that those big moviemakers can't afford a blacksmith?! this is nice, and sheap, but you can better make it from real steel. 3.5....
yes, they had a blacksmith...but almost ALL (to include the main actors) of the chainmail was plastic rings. 12.7 million plastic rings were used to make their chainmail. you can see that its not metal just by looking at the armor. all of the rings are flat, not round like wire would be. they explain this on disc one of the special features for Fellowship of the ring.
oh, sorry. most times, i don't look through the special features. i will check that.
no worries. alot of people dont notice it. i didnt know until i was at a LOTR panel at a convention and they were talking about it being made out of PVC-type pipe. Weta Workshop has a whole division dedicated to making chainmail now. Other movies they've used the pvc rings are Narnia and i THINK (not for sure on this one) Kingdom of Heaven. but let me correct my previous comment. not all of the actors' armor was made of pvc. Frodo's mithril shirt was made of the same material that butcher's gloves are made out of. its a very small, machine-made ring fabric.
Wolf Seril (author)  necropolian6 years ago
It's true. Although the main characters had genuine chain mail, most of the extras had plastic. How do I know this- 1) I originally got the idea from the special features about the WETA Workshop in the extended edition of LOTR: Fellowship of the Rings. 2) The captain of the ship I sailed on in the Bahamas was an extra in the third Pirates movie, he said part of his costume was plastic chain mail. Now lets see- with the average cost of a suit of custom made chain mail being around $1000, the movies had hundreds of actors, and each actor always has more than one costume (in case there is a malfunction), you are talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Or, get a team of 10 special effects technicians who work for you anyway to crank out a couple a day, would probably only cost a few thousand.
that's right, but if a person hears about LOTR, he will think about frodo, aragorn, pippin, merry, sam, gandalf, legolas, gimly and maybe théoden, and not about that soldier from the third house on the west of rohan. you're probably right, sorry...
cool. waiting for the hauberk! thanks!
zamirii6 years ago
it's easy enough to find a chainmaile shirt & coif online for about $65 --- the only drawback is that they use soft steel for the ring so it falls apart easy. my 2 shirts are made from galvanized - blued to black and stainless
what is that gunna protect you frum
yeah its just for a costume... dude......sorry i wanted to join in on saying dude
Rubber band guns (also homemade, also PVC) I might post a good instructable on this
Obviously, it will protect one from pipe swords!
Dude, it's for a costume...
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