Stretch Chainmail Bracelet

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Introduction: Stretch Chainmail Bracelet

This is my entry for the Instructables Gift Exchange. It is a standard 6-in-1 pattern, with every other column being rubber rather than aluminum rings. The unique thing about this bracelet is that there is no need for a clasp, which are hard to add to mail, and can be flimsy. 

The bracelet can be as narrow or as wide as you want, as long as it's a multiple of the ring width. Below you see 2 7 wides (the Silver, Blue, and Black; and the Silver, Blue and Green), and an 11 wide. 

The seven took me 3+ hours to complete, and the 11 about 5 hours. I usually do this while watching a movie or sports on TV, at night, or during the winter.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Tools:
  • Wide pliers x2
  • Needle Nose pliers, preferable curved x2
  • Cloth Measuring Tape
  • Cups to hold rings (optional)

Materials:
  • Rings (See step 4 for ring count)
There are multiple different sizes of rings you can get. These are 16 AWG (Gauge) 1/4" ID (Inner diameter) rings. I ordered mine from The Ring Lord.

Step 2: Optional Tools

You may have noticed the coating on my tools. This was to protect the finish of the rings, as they are easily marred by metal tools. You could go and by some tools specifically made for this purpose, but I found it easier and cheaper to just take some dollar store tools and dip them in Plasti-Dip. Plasti-Dip is usually used to repair the handle coating on tools, but I used it on the jaws instead. I found it for a couple bucks a Harbor Freight.

The large pliers, I actually ground off the teeth and cutters  so they were nearly perfectly flat, so it wouldn't damage the coating. The small curved pliers only had a little knurling on the surface so I didn't bother to smooth them. It won't last forever, in fact they were almost completely gone by the end of this project, but it does work well, and actually gives the tools more grip.

Step 3: Choose Pattern

Nothing says that you have to use a pattern, but I'm just OCD like that.

I placed overlapping rings in the order that I wanted to try, and placed them next to each other in a line to decide. I finally went with the bottom pattern. Place this pile to the side, and return the remaining to their piles or cups.

Step 4: Length and Ring Count

The first decision to make is length. I've always made my bracelets so they are fitted to the wrist , not tight, but also not loose. Too tight and the bracelet will leave marks and hurt. Too loose, and you'll be cursing every time it pulls a hair. Oh, and it will pull hairs, esp. when you are putting it on.

My only experience is with the 16 AWG 1/4" ID rings so that is what I will use here as well. 
  1. Measure the wrist of the recipient using a cloth tape measure, use a flush, but not tight measurement. 
  2. With this weave and ring size, there are 3 rings per cm. My recipient was 17cm, therefore, my bracelet will be 51 rings long. If you fall in between, round up on the rings.
  3. Count out enough rings of each color. For this pattern I needed 102 silver, 102 blue Al, 102 green rubber, and 51 blue rubber rings. Keep some spares incase you mar the finish or tear a rubber ring.
  4. Place them in your cups if you have them.
  5. Set aside 2 metal rings for each column of metal rings. I set aside 4 blue and 4 silver. This alerts you when you need to complete the bracelet.

Step 5: Split Rings

Before you can begin to weave, you have to split the rings. They come slightly offset from the manufacturing process, but you need to open them further to be able to get other rings into them.

Using the large pliers, split the rings as depicted, do this for all of the aluminum rings.

Step 6: Begin Weaving

  1. Take 1 of your aluminum rings and put 3 of the rubber rings on it.
  2. Close the aluminum ring making the two ends as flush and as close to gether as possible. I find it easiest to actually bend past the opposite direction, while pressing together, so the ends click past each other, then bend back to flush. This nearly always assures they are flush.
  3. place a second ring into the 3 rubber rings, and add three more rings, so this open ring has 6 rubber rings in it, and close
  4. repeat 3. again with another Al. ring and three more rubber rings.
  5. Add a single Al. ring to the end and close. You should now have  what is in the last picture.

Step 7: Continue Weaving

Continue in very much the same fashion as the previous step with a few exceptions.
  1. The Aluminum rings go through the last 2 of the previous rows 3 rubber rings, and add another rubber ring.
  2. Again, you are now only adding 1 rubber ring per row, as opposed to the 3 in the first step.
  3. Attached is a video to show how the rings are added to the existing bracelet.
  4. Stop when you have only the metal rings you placed aside remaining. You should have no rubber rings left at this point.

Step 8: Completing the Bracelet

This is absolutely the most difficult and least intuitive part of the whole project. I tried to make a video, but it didn't come out, and would probably have been more confusing than useful. 

The best way that I found to complete this was to curl the bracelet as it will be when finished, and take one of the last metal rings. Push the ring through the last two rings from the end, and 1 ring on the joined side. Close this ring, then take another metal ring and complete the same column. Push it through the last rubber ring and the first two on the joining side. It should get a bit easier from here on as the bracelet will stay together because of the first column.

Continue across until all the rings are in place. These last rings will be a bit awkward, but they will make sense, as they will look like every other ring when complete.

Step 9: Optional Weave

An optional method of weaving this, is to do it one metal, and on rubber column at a time. 

Start the bracelet as if you were making it only 2 columns wide, and continue until you have made it as long as you want, and in fact, close this up.

Now add a second column of metal, and a second column of rubber rings.

Continue adding columns of metal and rubber rings until you are satisfied, then finish with a single column of metal rings. I don't believe this would be any faster, but it could be a lot easier to complete the linking of the ends.

Step 10: Wearing the Bracelet

As you can see in the pictures, the bracelet will stretch quite a bit. 

To put it on, form a cone with your fingers and thumb, as if you were trying to pick up sand from a flat surface, and place the bracelet over. insert two or three fingers from your other hand inside the top of the bracelet, and pull away from your other hand, as you open the hand with the bracelet on it. Continue to pulse your hand with the bracelet on it until it slips on. At this point, it will look a bit funky and uneven. With your other hand, squeeze the bracelet flat against the skin, and the rings will fall into place, continue spinning and flattening the bracelet until it is smooth!

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    54 Discussions

    great instructable, but i was just wondering where you can get the rings? if you know of any stores or websites where you could get hem that would be great

    1 reply

    THANKYOU!!! It is so well made, i shall wear it with pride! I'm amazed at the care that has gone into it, and you've documented extremely well. it is quite bizarre watching the video and looking at the object on my wrist, now halfway across the map. I hope other people are as chuffed with their exchange as me.

    1 reply

    Well... you're very welcome! I can't believe how much people are liking this! So many views and ratings!

    So I made this a while ago, all metal, without the rubber rings. It worked out well, but I would definitely go with the rings. My hands have swollen (because I'm pregnant), and I can't get it on anymore.
    I'm making another one for my sister for Christmas, and I'm super excited!

    This is a fantastic tutorial! Thanks much!

    2 replies

    Did it still stretch with only metal rings?

    How many coats of plasti dip did you use in the needle nose pliers?

    1 reply

    Just one. The dip will go bad after a while in the can. You might want to consider the spray version, it might take a few coats, but won't go bad in a couple weeks/months.

    One more question. The only pliers I have have teeth and aren't smooth. Will the plasti dip make the pliers smooth or should I get pliers with no teeth?

    1 reply

    You'd be better off with smooth pliers, probably cheaper too.

    Is there an alternative for using plasti dip like covering the pliers in something?

    1 reply

    You could buy the plastic jawed pliers specifically made for chainmail. You could also use smooth jaw pliers without any coating. Otherwise you could use anything that is durable enough to withstand the use. I've found the plasti-dip fails fairly quickly.

    Thanks for the tutorial! Came out great. It's hard to tell but the middle is a matte white ring with a grey undercoat. And the outside is royal blue, and the rest is black rubber rings. Thanks again for the great tutorial!

    14, 6:00 PM.jpg

    I'm too lazy, but this looks awesome

    Steel rings are very simple to make. I used to make them by the thousands on weekend afternoons for my friends at school. Made a few dollars doing it too.

    Is there any way to get the plasti-dip to stay on the tools longer? After about 15min of use the rubber comes of my tools and mars a ring. also, for either weave, you have to keep putting the aluminum rings on the last two previous rubber rings throughout the whole project, right?

    1 reply

    If you're having that much trouble with the plasti-dip, maybe you should just by the tools that they sell with nylon jaws. I'm not sure I understand your second question, but every metal ring should have 3 rubber rings through it. So I suppose, yes, if using the row method, the previous 2 and one new rubber ring. If using the column method, on the completed side you would put out through 3, and the additional column would be through 2 and a new one. O hope this makes sense.