Instructables
There are many websites that will show you how to manufacture chain maille items, focusing on the different styles of 'weave' (how to combine metal rings together to make a protective and attractive garment) that you can use. Unfortunately, most of these guides assume that the reader already has a supply of suitable rings, and seldom guide the reader in creation of their own rings. While you can purchase pre-made rings from a number of places online, I wanted to make my own rings.

In this Instructable, I describe how to take steel wire for making electrical fences and turn it into split rings suitable for creating a chain maille garment.

While other instructables document weaving rings into garments, or how to construct a mandrel (winding rod and stand), the originality in this instructable is in the winding tool that allows for very reliable, high speed winding, that creates perfect coils of wire every time. (see step 3)

This project is also documented at my personal website.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Problem Description

Our raw material is steel wire used for electric fences on farms and ranches. The wire that I found at the hardware store was made by a company called Oklahoma Steel & Wire. Since I purchased this wire probably five years ago at this point (around 2003), I think they have changed tag colors, as this is a 1/2 mile spool, not a 1/4 mile spool as the yellow tag would indicated (at least according to their website).

We need a way to make this wire into small, consistent rings. We're going to build a machine capable of winding this wire onto a metal rod to make a long coil of wire. We will then cut individual rings off of this coil.
1-40 of 84Next »
aelwero5 years ago
That brass winding tool is absolute Genius! I'm goin to the store today ;) I usually feed and crank by hand because i've been working 8GA steel tension wire lately (which a friend of mine is convinced would stop a bullet, but is VERY heavy. My wife had me knit her a purse and it ended up weighing about 15 pounds...) coil by hand and straight cut with an angle grinder. heavy duty stuff but it's really hard on your hands.
so you are saying that not even two layers of maille made by 2 cm thick iron rings will stop bullets , there is absolutely no limit to how thick the material can be of which the ring are made. yeah i know most chain mailes will not stop a bullet bue that does not in any way mean that one person with access to the right tools can't make bullet proof maille
 how would you know? did anyone try it? i think we should test it on you for using caps in inappropriate places. =P
Bullets were the main reason that men first went from chainmail to platemail, then went to hiding behind rocks and trees until the gunfire stopped before proceeding on. It also will not stop a long thin stabbing instrument like a stilletto or an icepick. R1Ch0 has a point, however. Bullet proof vests make you look like a guy being dragged to court for murder these days.
this chainmail would also not stop a powerful arrow of sword stab, the rings would just open up. that's why riveted chain mail was invented
actually, maces were invented to crush chainmaille, swords were ineffectve against modern day chainmaille.
Butted mail was virtually non-existent in Europe precisely because it was almost useless as armor. It wonl't even stop a decent hacking cut or a good draw cut with a sharp sword. Mail was ether round, wdge riveted or welded iron (not steel). It was highly effective with proper padding under it against stabs and arrows simply because the rings just didn't open up. You had to break the rings to get though the stuff. There are dozens of historical references of this as well as a number of modern tests. Riveted mail wasn't impervious but it damn good, evidenced by its span of life on the field of war. Transitional plate armours started to showed up almost exactly as more industrialization happened with water powered trip hammers (12th century) and steal plate becoming readily available and cheaper. Coincide this with a plague (14th century) whipping out most of your cheap labor. Suddenly plate was available in quantity and cheaper to make than mail. Guns actually made plate armour more valuable with some examples of thick steal chest plates being used into WW1. Even today a modern combat armour has steel and ceramic plates in it.
Nor can they stop a stilleto. They work the best against slashing attacks or axes.
R1Ch0 bluerose5 years ago
yeah but it looks cooler than a bullet proof vest.
AJMansfield9 months ago
Would be even better if you made the non-coiling half of the hole smaller, at only the diameter of the rod, not rod+wire. Add a large spring, interior ball threads, and a motor, and it could become completely automatic.
de05092 years ago
I like the idea. Just asking. Based on estimation, these shouls work excellently for slash attacks. But will these be strong enough to stop stabs from a knife? Not that Im gonna test them, just that, I want a functional armour and easily concealed so they can be worn in public. just to feel safer. I learnt martial arts and we do learn techniques to counter knife attacks but im not too agile until all attacks can be deflected. the armour is like an add on
cdando2 years ago
I've been doing this for a week and the plying is absolute murder on my hands. You need to have the forearms of a tiger to do this quickly. I'm just using a plier and I actually sweat just from that small motion lol. still, so worth it
zigzagchris4 years ago
how is c oat hangers as a wire?
matthewbeckler (author)  zigzagchris4 years ago
Wow! Coat hanger wire would make for very thick rings and _very_ heavy chain maille. If you wanted to do it "my" way, by wrapping it around a metal rod and cutting rings off, you would need a strong metal rod and lots of torque to wrap the thick wire. If you try it out, please post pictures and let us know how it works. Good luck!
haha...my uncle has been working on a knee length Hauberk made out of a 10ga (i think) copper wire for about 4 yeasr...i told him he was nuts!! just a 1'x1' section that i picked up weighed 10lb easy...the worst part is he hand coils and hand cuts ALL of his rings.
The one thing I heard about using coat hanger wire is that not all coat hangers are the same color, so you end up with motley colored chain mail.
 With a bit of time and sandpaper, you could get it down to the bare wire fairly quickly

The way I made chain mail was to get 16g galvanized electrical fence wire, available in a livestock feed and tack store, and wrap it around a threaded rod, turned in a frame by a reversible electric drill.  It has a hole drilled through the rod near the end opposite the drill to secure the wire in place.  I feed it on in short, slow spurts.  You end up losing about an inch (2.54cm) this way, but it is securely attached to the threaded rod, which is much less capable of breaking than would be a dowel.

ya and not the same guage. the first wire i tried broke the dowel and the second i used was softer but still dificult
I managed haha. i used a dowel in my room and and swissarmy knife to make a hole in it. spun it into circles fairly well. cutting it with the wier cutters was the hardest part. verry tough becuase i had to use the tips of the cutters as to not cut more then one wire. i managed 15 links with one closehanger. I did the 4-1 pattern succesfully using needle noses and a swiss knife. I would have made more but my parents aren't fond of disapearing coat hangers.

Id post a picture of my work but my phone hasn't been returned from my sibling yet. mabee later
one coat hanger worth...
100220_194832.jpg
I often use coat hanger, the trick is to make larger rings than you otherwise would because that way the rings don't fit too tightly
I've used the thinnest coat hanger I could find. I used a propane torch and heated it red hot inch by inch to anneal the steel, then it was way easier to work with. You can do it, just like the author said, it would make for very heavy chain maille.
arlon173 years ago
what is the most effective device to cut a door spring?
i agree wit Lord_Merlin, EXCEPT if you want to work with door springs, you would be wasting your time. because of the springyness of the metal, it would be very difficult to get the rings to close properly...especially if you were working on a large piece...by the time you got done messin with cutting and closing the rings while weaving, you could easilly done at least 2x that by making your own maille. good idea non the less!!
A door spring is pretty hard stuff and therefore difficult to cut. Probably your best bet would be a pair of mini bolt cutters such as the ones made by Knipex. You could also use a Dremel (or similar rotary tool) with a cut off wheel. The cut off wheel would be pretty time consuming and you would probably go through a lot of them to get enough rings to do anything. There are several good tutorials on cutting coils at www.mailleartisans.org you can check out for more info.
ok, for all you who think that "bulletmaille" will stop a bullet...just one thing...it wont. ive made it before and shot at it with a 7.62mm and it cut through it like butter...also, this stuff is credited to the Celts originating from the idea of Scale Mail and chain mail comes from europe then spread to northern africa, middle east, asia, and india. For all of your information...the mail in THIS instructable would NOT hold up against a knife, sword, nor arrow (really none would up against an arrow). i made chain mail out of 16GA aluminum electrical wire fence, and then stabbed my hand with a butcher knife and my hand survived...i then proceded to chop my hand in half and my hand survived...@ being 16GA chain mail is classified decorative and not for use as a means of defense or re-enactment in any way, especially if its aluminum. Riveted chain mail did not spring to life until the 19th & 20th centuries, and because they used it as a "bullet proof vest...didnt work well, but worked somewhat against 3oz fragmentation.
who ever said a high powered rifle they could just mean a .22 a 7.62 is a little over kill for a maille a good piece can possibly stop a bullet .223 probably not 9mm possible unlikely but possible
This great. This will defantly help me make the chainmail for my Monster Hunter Rathain Heart armor cosplay.
bluestone524 years ago
i decided to try this: very tightly woven 12 gauge will easily stop a small caliber bullet
ill get my .22 s&w and we can try it out you where it LOL
Mr. Thirty63 years ago
LOL... I have that brand of wire.
w00ty324 years ago
Nice 'ible, but the chainmail itself looks bad. You really need to make rings that big with a thicker wire, or use a smaller rod.
I'm new to weaving and I was wondering where I can get the wire I need and what kind of wire because I'm not really comfortable using pasture wire for paintball armer
whoa, you can do that?
Yes, you can if you have the blacksmithing tools for working with sheet metal.
lol paintball armor? why not just hammer out a pieces of sheet metal and connect them with rings, chain mail isnt gonna do you much good
http://theringlord.com

Its a good place to get wire, Galvanized steel or Stainless are good choices

only problem for me is that they are in Canada and makes shipping like 20 bucks for 3 day and 14-17 for 5-7 day. Also means I cant get a job there XD

Shipping Depends on what you buy >.>
Tommyhzy Vfef5 years ago
Yay I live in Canada The shipping to my house is still 12.00 for 12 pounds though...
skimmo4 years ago
you use to bull nose pliers, ive always need at least no needle nose?
1-40 of 84Next »