Making Chain Mail




Introduction: Making Chain Mail

About: Hello, My Name is Matthew, I have 8 (almost 9) siblings. I LOVE Woodworking (DIYing) me and my family are the Galicinski Family Band. Me and my brother Micah love composing music, please check us out on yout...

In this instructable I will go through two ways of making Chain Mail. will go over the best way to make Chain Mail.

I will go through two ways of making Chain Mail and you will learn the fastest way of make it.

Step 1: Where to Buy the Rings

Go to TheRingLord. The rings you want are the 14g 3/4".

If the link is not working the rings you want are the Machine Cut Bright Aluminum Jump Rings 14g 3/4".

Step 2: The First Way of Making Chain Mail

You are going to start by fully opening about 20 rings.

Then fully close 20 other rings.

You will end up doing this step throughout the process.

Step 3: First Way Step 2

Then put some of the closed rings in a row, then connect them with the opened rings. You can put the closed rings on a thin metal rod (look at the photo) then connect them with the opened rings.

Then repeat it again. and again... and again... and again until you are done for the day.

Step 4: The Second Way to Make Chain Mail, Step 1

You are going to start with opening and closing lots of rings as before.

Then take one open ring and four closed rings, put the closed rings into the open ring and close it. You have just made a star.

Step 5: The Second Way to Make Chain Mail, Step 2

Now make tons of stars then connect them all together(look at photo). Then make the same amount that you made before, but this time connect the side and the bottom.

Keep doing this until you have finish as much as you want to do today.

Step 6: Chain Mail

The first way I showed on making Chain Mail takes a lot longer then the second way on making Chain Mail.

I would suggest the second way.

In making chain mail you will want to leave enough room to take it off and on.

If you liked this please subscribe, like and if you make one share a pic.



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    30 Discussions

    Great job. I've always wondered what the integrity of the modern chain mail is.

    1 reply

    I actually really like how this turned out from a purely aesthetic viewpoint. I'd also like to weigh in with a historical perspective, since I'm passionate about this subject, and in the interest of preventing someone from being misinformed, cheated, or physically hurt while learning about, making, buying, or using Chain Mail, I've written a blurb on the topic. I do not mean to be critical of the author or the quality of Instructable, only to provide more context and information as a general PSA. Read on:

    These days, Mail is available in three general types – butted, riveted, and welded. Butted is what is shown here in this Instructable. It is a modern-replica style that honestly cannot be construed as real armor, and would have never been used historically in actual combat because the rings will not stay shut under impact. Riveted was how chain mail was made historically, since a rivet was reliable enough to keep a ring closed and welding each link shut would have been prohibitively difficult to do in a forge. Welded mail is another type of modern-replica armor, made possible by the introduction of welding-apparatuses that have made it much easier to weld the individual rings shut. I can’t comment on this type of armor much, since I know little about it.

    Historical Chain Mail (Riveted, in the vast, vast majority of cases) armor was in almost continuous use in the West for almost 2000 years, from the early Iron Age to the Late middle ages. There are numerous reports of warriors, knights, and soldiers being riddled with arrows, hacked and chopped, and beaten up while wearing this type of armor, yet picked themselves up and went back into the fight. There was no armor more reliable, durable, or portable for its time that also had little to no upkeep. A shirt of mail, kept in decent condition, could be used almost indefinitely. It's only major drawback was it's expense - no other personal armor to date was as labor intensive or as costly to make.

    I strongly suspect that many of the misconceptions surrounding chain mail are at least partly rooted in the fact that Modern replicas frequently use rings that from a historical perspective, are much too large for practical use. Larger rings are easier to work with, more affordable, and speed up production, hence their popularity in the modern day. Roman chain mail artifacts, however, actually have rings with inner diameters ranging from 4 mm on up to 13 mm. The finer the ID, the more protective and expensive the armor. To put this in perspective, the 3/4" ring size used here is approximately 19 mm (value rounded), much larger than would have been used for combat historically. The ring thickness could vary from .8 mm to 1.6 mm.

    In addition to the ring sizes, riveted chain was a highly effective and desirable armor for several other reasons:

    • It is unrivaled in flexibility. Unimpeded motion, as much research has shown, is critical to success and survival in combat.
    • It is virtually cut-proof. This should be obvious. Just try to cut even one ring on a good steel woven mesh and let me know if you can actually leave a scratch. If you don't have access to that, try to even cut a straight line through common types of Stainless Steel sheet metal with snips without a lot of effort. Let me know how easy that was, then imagine the metal even harder than that and on a living person in the form of a shirt. You should get the idea by that point. It is not easy to cut through that!
    • Contrary to popular opinion, Riveted Chain Mail is also quite stab resistant. By all historical accounts, breaking even a single steel riveted ring with a thrust was NOT easy, for the exact same reasons as before. Furthermore, the mesh is very dense, much denser than the pictures show here, and each ring is heavily supported by its neighbors. Even if you somehow succeeded, you would be stopped by the soft armor (a Gambeson) that soldiers almost always wore beneath the mail, the ancient and medieval equivalent of modern Kevlar. Most soldiers could not afford the chain, so as a testament to the quilted armor’s effectiveness at stopping swords, spears, and arrows by itself, the vast majority of soldiers used little else during the hey-day of chain. Instead, proper sword play demonstrated in any historical treatise on the matter always teaches techniques to exploit weaknesses and gaps in armor, and never shows anyone attempting to defeat armor by directly piercing it. This is for two reasons: 1) Because the attack would not work, and after your attack against the armor failed, you would be incredibly exposed to counter attacks. 2) Striking a hard-edged sword on hard metal was LUDICROUSLY ABUSIVE to most swords available when chain mail was available, and never a good thing to do with any sword. Assuming you even make it through the fight with a blunted and chipped sword, making and repairing swords is not easy or cheap.
    • Riveted Chain was instead defeated directly historically by two methods: weapons capable of exploiting the holes in the mail, or by heavy smashing weapons. In the first case, fine-tipped weapons or heavy projectiles with high-quality heads (most arrowheads, historically, were actually not made of high quality metal – the bodkin tip was the exception, not the rule) could be used to pierce the soldier without ever even damaging the rings. It takes only about two inches of penetration, if that, to kill you, so "threading the needle" in this way is in fact a very effective means to defeat chain armor. In the second case, there are more than a few accounts of how a heavy axe or club-blow could strike a wearer, not even scratch the mail, and still kill the wearer via the force of impact. These weapons could at least be mitigated though by wearing a proper soft armor beneath the mail.

    In conclusion, anyone wearing a real chain mail suit would have been terrifyingly impervious in antiquity and the early/high middle ages. By 1300 or so, the defacto rule was that the classic chain mail and soft armor combo was no longer quite enough protection, and gave way to plates, which deserve an entire article on their own. Even then, chain and quilt continued to be used in conjunction with plate for quite some time thereafter. Bullets and Gunpowder are another story - they carry far too much energy to be mitigated by any steel armor of antiquity or the middle ages, and spelled the death of chain mail until further notice.

    The mail made in this Instructable is NOT the type of chain I have described. I'd STRONGLY discourage anyone from using this for anything other than a costume or decoration. The rings are too large, not sealed shut, and are made of aluminum. Aluminum is nowhere near as hard or as durable as the right kinds of steel, and this size and gauge will bend open under with enough force, leaving sharp, pointy ends everywhere. You do not want those ends to end up inside you! Again, this mail is decorative, not armor. Even if this was real armor, you would need to wear a Gambeson beneath it to use the mail correctly. You have been warned!

    2 replies

    you should make a instructable on chain mail,l and I do have a Gambeson. I did not use it because it is bright red.

    I was not trying to be historical, I was reading the kingdom series and on chuck blacks website there was a starting kit for making chain mail.

    Been making chainmaille for far too long. Vice grips are not the tool to use. Find some spring loaded pliers without teeth. If you're starting with the aluminium, teeth will scratch your finish and dig into the metal.

    Before making anything, learn to properly close a ring. As described here, this is butted chainmaille. You want the ends touching, with no gap. It takes time and practice to do that without further warping the ring.

    I also agree that 12g is overkill and 14g 3/8" is better to start. Even better, 16g 1/4" or 16g 5/16". Smaller diameter wire is easier to learn to work with, but still relatively accurate.

    A few things to keep in mind, IF you're going to fight in it, I highly discourage aluminium. Galvanized steel is a bare minimum. If you're fighting in some sort of group like the SCA, always confirm what ever you're making is combat legal. Chainmaille was meant to protect against slashing attacks, not stabbing. I DON'T CARE what metal you use, chainmaille IS NOT bulletproof. Heck, it's not even sufficient protection against most arrows. Don't try it.

    2 replies

    Thanks, the vice grips are the only tool i had around.

    I have been making chainmaille for over 15 years and here are a few of my thoughts.

    1. Starting with 12 gauge is over kill. 14 Gauge 3/8 works very well and makes a great weave. It is also much closer to the historic 16 gauge.
    2. The Ring Lord is the best place to get rings. They get wire specially made for them with special alloys and harnesses.
    3. Aluminium wire can be very soft. Most fence wire is full soft.Rings made with it will easilly fall apart. The wire and rings from TRL are full hard and therefore much stronger. I know a few people who use 14 Gauge 3/8 TRL aluminium rings to fight with in the SCA. They occasionally need fixing but only after hard hits.
    4. The first method is a waste of time
    5. Get a good set of pliers with springs. Vice grips are a pain in the butt. Manually opening and closing pliers will drive you crazy.
    6. Use smooth pliers. Otherwise you will scratch your rings and the product will not look mas good. Attached is a good set of pliers to use.

    7. Experiment with how you hold your pliers. I hold mine far back in my hand so that I can hold my pliers and work at the same time. When I am making chainmaille I rarely put my pliers down.
    8. Be persistent. It takes practice to get good and you will get frustrated. Just keep doing it.

    1 reply

    Yes, the second way is much more productive.

    I thought aluminum rings are too easy to bend. I am afraid some of the rings may open when someone pulls your chainmail. Do you think so?

    5 replies

    The rings I got were pretty strong. There was one time when I got the wrong rings, I was able to bend them with my hands.

    Sorry, didn't understand you.

    "I was able to bend them with my hands." so are they NOT very strong?

    The rings I show in the instructable are pretty strong. But if you buy rings you need to buy those, because once I bought the wrong type of rings and I was able to bend them really easy (They are a lot thinner than the ones I mentioned in my instructable).

    It sounds great. Rings are strong and low-weight.

    I used to play RPG and we have to make chainmail of steel rings. It becomes too heavy for play.

    Good job, I voted and wish you to win the contest.

    Ok so im assuming its sleeveless right in not how do you go about making sleeves. Is there a fourth way or is the star method the best aganst pericing

    1 reply

    I never made sleeves I would just look it up and there might be another way but i think the star method is the best

    Im sorry is there a third way and how many bags of two hundred did you use

    1 reply

    I didn't cont them when i went through them, but I would start with about 5