Chainmail Armor Tutorial




Introduction: Chainmail Armor Tutorial

In this tutorial I will show you how to make and link rings together to make chainmail armor.

Step 1: Getting the Materials

Tools you'll need:

  • variable speed drill, 3/32 drill bit
  • two needle nose pliers
  • mini bolt cutters, here's the pair I have - Mini Bolt Cutters

Materials you'll need:

  • 14 gauge galvanized/stainless steel wire (I got a quarter mile of wire)
  • 3/8'' wooden or metal dowel

You can pick up 14 gauge wire online or at a local hardware store. You can choose a higher or lower gauge steel, but the higher the gauge the thinner your rings will be.

Step 2: Making the Rings

  1. Drill a hole in one end of your 3/8" dowel, about an inch from the end with the variable speed drill and 3/32 drill bit.
  2. Place the dowel in the drill and thread the wire through the hole.
  3. Spin the drill slowly. The wire will wrap around your dowel and will look like a spring. Continue spinning the drill until the wire coils right to the end of the dowel. Keep the coil as tight as possible!
  4. Once the entire dowel has wire coiled around it, cut the wire. Then cut the end of the wire you inserted into the hole.
  5. Slide the coil off the dowel.
  6. Using your mini bolt cutters, cut along the length of the spring. Individual rings have been made!

Step 3: Linking the Rings Into Chainmail

  1. With your needle nose pliers, bend 1/2 of the rings cut from your coil so that the two ends join and make a closed circle.
  2. You will also need to bend some of your coil cut rings open in order to connect other rings together as shown in steps 4 and 6.
  3. You'll end up with piles of open and closed rings. You'll need approximately an even amount of opened and closed rings.
  4. Hold an opened ring with your needle nose pliers and hook four rings onto it.
  5. Close the opened ring like in step 1. Your result should look like picture 5. You will need a large amount of these 4 in 1 linked rings. Arrange your 4 in 1's so that there are two rings over and two under.
  6. Take another opened ring (I used a blue ring in the picture) and hook it down and up through the two rings on the top of the 4 in 1.
  7. Place the bottom two rings of the top 4 in 1 over the opened ring.
  8. Carefully pick up the opened ring and close it as in step 1.
  9. After joining two 4 in 1's together this is what it will look like.
  10. Continue this pattern to make strips of whatever size and length you want.
  11. To increase the width of your maille, join strips together. Take another opened ring (the red ring in the picture) and hook the opened ring down and up through the first two rings.
  12. Place the next two rings over the opened ring.
  13. Carefully pick up the opened ring and close it.
  14. This is what you will have if you hooked it correctly.
  15. Continue this pattern down the strips until they are attached. (Refer to pictures 15a & 15b).

  16. Choose a shirt that's a couple sizes bigger--after all chainmail doesn't stretch! Expand your piece in width and length with chainmail strips until it matches the size of the shirt. Repeat again to make the back. Use your creativity to add extra strips at the sides and shoulders so you can fit into your custom armor. Attach your pieces together at the shoulders and sides. I used approximately 12,500 rings to make my chainmail shirt.

Step 4: Now You're Ready for Battle!

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    49 Discussions

    That is amazing!

    Hey i got the size that's above the 3/8 the 3/16 is that okay?

    How long did that suit take? I am making a pop tab suit. It is taking forever! Any ideas or suggestions?

    1 reply

    I would recommend not getting diabetus before finishing your suit. stick to fencing wire.

    Tim P

    2 years ago

    woa. speachless... this must have taken you a good while to make this! also how did you make it into a shirt? i mean ya making a chain mail square is (relatively) easy, but a shirt is much harder, right?

    1 reply

    1) It's not 'chainmail' but simply 'mail.' (2) Most armor was 18-22 gauge. (3) no coif had just eyeholes.

    1 reply

    If this is all you have to comment on butted maille i suggest you research a bit more.

    Nice ible! cheers, Knut.

    how long did this take dude!

    You should make some gauntlets to go along with the rest of your AMAZING looking armor.


    Great shirt, but I'd like to point out that the ring AR is too large to use as actual armor.

    Your pictured (and colored!) way of explaning how to make and connect those rings together is freaking fabulous!!! :)

    A couple of things.....

    First, awesome tutorial, this is about how I started making my first chain maille. I used a steel rod, cutting a notch in the end, using the drill to wind the coils.

    As for cutting them, bolt cutters, or tin snips work well, but leave 'v' shaped ends because they don't really cut the metal, they spread it apart, the problem with this is that when two of the rings meet at 90 degrees, the ends can slip right past each other. If you search, you can find a high speed drill bit with a high speed saw blade on the end, like a larger version of a dremel. If you take a rectangular piece of wood, drill a hole through the center of the length,, the outer diameter of your coil, cut a slit up the side for the saw blade to fit halfway down in this tube, get creative with mounting the block of wood vertically to a bench with the drill, you can feed the whole coil straight down into the hole, and it will cut the rings fast and smooth. The ends become flush and butt together nicely, eliminating coming loose and leaving any burrs. As for the dust, if you do it in a well ventilated area, and wear a filter, you should be okay.

    But an awesome starting tutorial, it is how I got started, and learned/expanded from there. Thank you for taking the time to put down such a well thought out Instructable, I look forward to seeing more!

    Great Instructable! I love chainmail and yours looks awesome!

    I used a dremel to cut my rings open, how difficult was the bolt cutter?

    4 replies

    I haven't tried this but I just re-plumbed parto f my home with PEX pipe. I had to cut through some crimped compression rings to reclaim a PEX fitting.There is a PEX Ring Cutting tool available that might work in cutting the rings off of your "Coil"... just a suggestion... link to example:

    Thanks for the suggestion. That cutting tool would very likely cut through rings with ease.

    The bolt cutters work well, but your hands will get tired over time. I never thought of using a dremel to cut the rings--that is a good idea. I'll have to give that a try!