Introduction: How to Make Chainmail (European 4-in-1 Weave)

Chainmail is traditionally armor made from interlocking rings. The rings can be welded or riveted to increase strength. This tutorial will deal with banded chainmail, which has no reinforcement to make it stronger. It can be made of various materials in various patterns. Different patterns may be more useful for different projects. For this project, European 4-in-1 pattern will be used. It is called such because each ring is connected to 4 other rings. It is a basic weave that can be adapted into many uses.

Warning: The cut wire can have sharp edges and can cut you, regardless of the size of wire. It is recommended that you wear gloves for comfort and safety. In this instruction, galvanized steel wire is used. Galvanized steel contains zinc. Ingesting too much zinc can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. Be sure to avoid putting the rings or wire in your mouth and wash your hands when finished working with the materials.

Step 1: Tools & Materials

This project will be using the following materials

  • Needle-nose pliers (2)
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire
  • Mandrel
  • Leather gloves

Smooth jawed pliers are recommended so as to not damage the materials and make a better looking finished project

There are varied types of wire cutters. Use the appropriate size wire cutters for the gauge of wire.

The mandrel can be as simple as a wooden dowel with a hole drilled in it to secure the wire as it is turned.

Step 2: Make the Rings

Wrap the wire around the mandrel until you have made the desired length of coil

For heavier gage wires, use wire cutters to remove the coil from the mandrel and discard the excess

Cut the wire coil to make the individual rings. Use the flat edge of the wire cutters to make uniform size rings.

Step 3: Create a "butterfly"

Use the pliers to close 4 rings.

Open a 5th ring and place the 4 rings on it, then close the ring. This creates the "butterfly."

Lay the rings out with 2 rings on either side of the middle ring.

Step 4: Add Rows

Take 2 closed rings and connect them to the "butterfly" with an open ring, creating another row. Repeat this step until desired length is achieved.

Step 5: Adding Width (method 1)

To start a new column to add width, take two closed rings on an open ring and thread the open ring through two rings from the original strip made, then close the ring.

Continue to take one closed ring on an open ring and thread the open ring through two rings of the original strip. the open ring will pass through one of the rings that were thread through on each previous addition.

Repeat until the desired width is achieved

Step 6: Adding Width (method 2)

Take two pieces of chainmail and thread an open ring through two rings on each piece of chainmail. Repeat this until the two pieces are a complete sheet.

This step can be applied to vertical as well as horizontal pieces of chainmail. This can be especially helpful to join together two sheets of chainmail when making larger projects.

Step 7: Finishing Projects

Repeat steps 4 through 6 to make pieces of varying sizes.

These steps can be used to create pieces that are both useful and/or decorative. Pictured are completed projects which include: a sash, belt, necktie, and open coif (a headpiece used as protective armor). Experiment with varied size and color wires to add variety to projects.

Patterns for different types of projects can be found all over the internet as well as through purchased literature. YouTube and instructables have many different tutorials and instructions on how to make different chaimail weaves and patterns. The Maille Artisans International League website is another excellent resource that has information including instructions for different weaves, patterns and techniques, as well as articles and other resources.