Introduction: Dragon Scale Chain Mail Bracelet

In this project, we will be constructing a chain mail bracelet in a dragon scale weaving. Please understand that this chain mail will be constructed with jump rings instead of real chain mail rings, as shown in our pictures above. This will not protect you against any real threat and is only to be used as decoration. The goal of creating these bracelets is to get students used to the manipulation of metals in constructing a physical project.

Learning Objectives:

This project works with STL Standard 19, in which "Students will develop an understanding of and be able to select and use manufacturing technologies". This will be targeted at students in the 6th to 8th grade bracket. Furthermore, we will be specifically looking at benchmarks D and G:

D. Manufacturing processes include designing products, gathering resources, and using tools to separate, form, and combine materials in order to produce produces.

G. Manufactured goods may be classified as durable and non-durable.

Step 1: Buying Supplies and Understanding Terminology


  • 80 AR 4 Jump Rings ($16 for 4000 Rings)
  • 120 AR 6.6 Jump Rings ($18 for 4800 Rings)
  • 2 Needle Nose Pliers ($2-$10 each)
  • 1 Jump Ring Opener ($5; Not required)

Understand that with this $40-$50 dollars, one will be able to create at least 40 bracelets.

AR is the calculated aspect ratio of inner diameter and the wire diameter of the jump ring. The formula to calculate this is Aspect Ratio= Inner Diameter/Wire Diameter. Make sure both use the same unit of measurement. When working on chain mail it is also common to use rings with the same wire diameter.

For simplicity sake, I will referring to the AR 6.6 rings as big rings and AR 4 rings as small rings.

There are three states of a jump ring:

  • Open - the ring is pulled apart in which another ring of the same wire diameter can enter
  • Semi-Open - this is the state of jump rings after they are cut, where the ends are barely touching each other
  • Closed - the ring is butted together flush

In the pictures above you can see each state of being.

Step 2: Bottom Layer

First, practice using the needle nose pliers and the jump ring by opening several big rings and closing several small rings. This is so later only the big rings will need to be closed. Now, take a big ring and loop it thru two small rings. From then on use one of the small rings connected to a big ring at one of the two small rings for the next big ring. By the end of this stage, one should have a line of rings that can wrap around their hand in a narrowed state. Finally, make sure both ends are big rings.

Step 3: Connecting the Loop

It may not look it, but the line of small and big rings are probably twisted, in which they need to be straight to get the desired effect. Use a set point for one ring and turn your rings until there are not twist in your line. I used one of my needle nose pliers and a desk drawer for this. After untwisting the line, raise one end to the other and connect the two big rings together with a small ring. This will be the bottom foundation for the rest of the bracelet.

Step 4: Middle and Top Rings

To create the dragon scale weave one needs to add a skip in between each stitch. To do this you will need big rings of both the open and closed state equal to the number of the small rings on the bottom layer each. First, find two small ring next to each other and place a closed big ring on top of them. Then, take your opened big ring and thread it thru both the small rings and close it, while making sure not to weave thru the closed big ring. Each of these small rings will need one big middle ring for themselves and two big top rings shared between them and their adjacent smaller rings.

Step 5: Resizing the Bracelet

At this point, the bracelet will become a little tighter and may need to be resized to fit over one's hand. If your bracelet fits over your hand then you may continue onto the next step. To resize your bracelet, you will next to open the one of your small rings and remove it from the big rings. Take the bottom big rings on both ends and open them. Then, you will continue making the bottom layer similar to step 2. After feeling the new size is right, place closed big rings on the small rings and loop the open big rings around thru the small rings, copying step 4 for the newly add rings.

Step 6: Adding the Next Small Rings

At this point you have finished you first weaving, now we are going to see how to connect that weaving to the next. On the current weaving you have so far, you should have 3 layers of big rings: top, middle, and bottom. For this, you will need to have open small rings. After you have stash of open small rings prepared, you are going to connect these small rings to two big middle rings in between the big top rings of the previous weaving and close them. The big top rings will act as the middle rings for these small rings. Make sure to have the new small rings on the outside of the previous small rings. This will help make the dragon scales really pop out.

Step 7: Continuing the Big Rings

After you have added the new small rings, with the previous big middle rings acting as the bottom and the previous big top rings acting as the middle of these new small rings, you will add their top big rings. Some of the small ring will have fallen down a little, in which you have to hold them up as you are weaving the big top rings through two at a time, but this should feel like a continuation from the 4th step. After you complete this, you have made another weave in your bracelet. From here on, you can repeat steps 6 and 7 till you get your desired width of the bracelet. Do make sure that the each new layer of small rings are further out than the previous.