Introduction: Soda Can (Pop-top) Chain/Scale Mail - PopScale (Advanced)

Note feel free to visit my site: for HQ instructions and more individualized tutorials. There's also a gallery page and an about page talking about how my Soda Can Chain Mail came about. For reference all my weaves are original and I've only seen 1-2 styles that are close to mine on the internet, and I felt it would be better to show off my work and inspire others to make their own soda can chain mail.

This is a new subset for PopScale which differs from TabScale since that is making a scale mail with tabs, where as this is more like ScaleMail in terms of looks. I've done this like the others to leave room for future PopScale variants to be added in, but for now there's the prep, build, and a look at some initial WIP.

Things needed.

Tabs - A whole lot of them, see each step for Sq Ft. per weave, but note it varies from 300-800 per sq. ft.
Rings - The rings used here are (Machine Cut) Bright Aluminum Rings I purchase mine from TheRingLord most weaves you need just about as many rings as you have tabs. I'll tell you in each tutorial what each weave requires.
Pliers - Again I use the RingLord's plier set - it's cheap and for over 4 years of use they've been perfect in every way. You can use your own pliers though.
Scales - I show you how to get, prep, and punch these for use as scales
Cutters - For Captured ChainTab for reference on how to do ChainTab visit this tutorial.
Time - These are harder still than ChainTab or TabMail, and it's very easy to confuse things and have to redo work.

Step 1: Prep Work

I’m separating this out as there are quite a few steps to take before making some PopScale – Now I have some WIP shots in that page.
  1. Now first you must acquire a can – and then remove the tab. Simply bend it back and forth – don’t throw the tab out as PopScale requires them.
  2. You can barely see it but what we’re aiming for is that little chad. Now of course you can get at this via cutting the can up – but the easiest way I’ve found is too make a little tool.
  3. Thankfully it’s cheap and easy to do. Simply grab a cheap pair of metal tweezers.
  4. And bend it that on side bends out more, and has a sharper angle at the tip – warning this does sort of make them useless as tweezers.
  5. To complete your toolset for this and PopScale you need, pliers, cutters, these tweezers and a 1/8th inch hole-punch. I got mine from Michaels, but any 1/8th should be fine as the metal is rather thin. (I have a pair of long-tipped needle nose to help ‘thread’ things better.
  6. You then take said tweezers and go into the can as shown.
  7. Once inside you turn it around and move it in place towards the side of the chad.
  8. Then you pull up using the little bend you made until the chad clears the hole.
  9. Then you simply bend it back and forth.
  10. And finally we have the piece we need – be aware you will need LOTS of these.
  11. As a note be aware that not all tops are the same, and they can vary in size by brand.
  12. As you may noticed on end of the scale where you bent it off isn’t flat (and may have extra material) – simply bend it flat with some pliers and if there’s extraneous material cut it off.
  13. Then using your hole punch place a hole at a little beyond where the metal pops out.
  14. And another hole level with the first but a few millimeters from the edge.
  15. Using the hole punch may cause the metal to bend a little so bend it back into place.
  16. Then using your previous holes as a guide punch out 3 scales total. Note I would only do the guide and 1 scale at a time as more than 2 scales tend to shift about.
  17. Then using your pliers line up about halfway through the scales (Make sure all 3 are lined up together as you generally can’t bend one a time and have the holes line up)
  18. And impart a gentle bend. No it shouldn’t be bent more than I show here and it’s best to bend downwards (I flipped it around for camera.)
  19. And finally you have a scale! Just as a note though you need about 350 ‘scales’ per sq ft, which considering that is a thickness of 3 means you need about  1000+ of these scales pulled out of cans – while this is a cool thing it’s not as easy to obtain materials as regular tabmail.

Step 2: PopScale - Original

Here we get to the good stuff, now this is without a doubt the hardest weave I have in terms of difficulty to put together, time spent to make even the smallest piece, and even hardest to acquire materials. It is however conversely bad-ass. I’m officially calling this the beginning of the 7th Gen as it’s an entirely new style from TabMail, and even the PlateMail I’ve made with cans. This will grow into a piece on the newly designed and engineered armor. Make sure to follow the Prep steps as you will need quite a lot of scales. This uses 16 ga 1/4 AR 4.2 Bright Aluminum Rings I purchase mine from TheRingLord, but as long as they are 1/4 and 14-18 ga any ring should work fine. I chose Bright Aluminum to match properly with the aluminum can tabs.
  • Difficulty: 5/5 – When it requires it’s own Prep tutorial, and a custom tool you have to know it’s a bitch.
  • Flexibility: 3/5 – Not as bendable as steel scale-mail due to the way it’s made, but it bends outwardly much like TabScale
  • Tabs per sq. ft: ~425
  • Rings per sq. ft: ~775
  • Scales per sq. ft: ~350 x 3 Chads per Scale = ~1050
  1. Prep your materials see PopScale Prep here to get your scales ready.
  2. Place 2 rings through the scale like so, but do not close them.
  3. The tab layout will be like this (so you understand before you start adding scales)
  4.  So we need those center rings to go through 2 tabs facing the other direction at the bottom.
  5. Then you add the tab and scale with the ring going through the new tabs middle, and the lower tabs bottom.
  6. Then you continue out down the line. (go as far as you wish for this, I don’t show it, but this is much easier to do at all once rather than piecemeal.)
  7. Now we start adding for the next row. Add a scale such that each side goes through one of the upper tabs top part, and a single lower tabs middle part.
  8. It should look like this from the back.
  9. Finish out the row.
  10. Add a new scale going through a new tabs middle, and connecting through 1 side each of the lower row.
  11. It should look like this from the back.
  12. Finish out the row.
  13. You can follow 10-12 for the alternating rows, but the initial steps cannot be repeated as they were done as the first ‘row’ and have a bit more structure. So for this row add a tab much like step 10. However have the tab facing the other direction and go behind the current row.
  14. It should look like this from the back.. Note how the section below has tabs going to the bottom part, this is to ‘lock’ in the row to make it easier to work on and handle if you plan to extend that section you will have to unhook rings.
  15. Follow step 13 to finish out the row.
  16. See how the row is floating above the lower, this gives the tab scale the freedom to move like scalemail typically does, while not being too loose.
  17. Keeping going up row by row until you desire.
  18. Just a look at the backside of a completed swatch.

Step 3: WIP Shots

Here I've got a look at some of the WIP that led up to my current design, this is the kind of thing I wish I'd recorded with the TabMail and ChainTab as there were tens of failed ways before I settled on a weave.