Chainmail Armor- how do you make it?

I am making my mail out of chain and lock washers. Anyone have an idea on a cool design or how to make cheaper rings to connect the chain?

Man, this I gotta see!

Generaly Modern armorers take a spring and cut it dow one side in a line to make a bent ring then they use pliers to bent the ends together when they have threaded them into the pattern


eventualy you have a very expensive mail shirt

That’s more or less how my friend does it (the spring method). I can’t remember if he buys a spring though or if he buys spools of wire and wraps them on a pipe to get the coil. But then, he snips off the links and assembles them eventually getting some 900lb monstrosity. I guess if it’s want you want to do for a hobby, go for it. :wink:

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

Thick gauge Electric fence wire, a drill press, a band saw, a dowel and 2 pliers.

Drill a hole through the side of the dowel near the end and insert the wire.
Stick the dowel in the drill press chuck.
Put the drill press in the slowest gear, and coil the wire around the dowel in a tight spring.
Take out the dowel and squash the spring so the rings are slightly slanted (but not oval).
Use the bandsaw to cut the spring into the mail links and clean them.

Spend every spare moment for the next several months linking the rings together.
Once you get the hang of it its pretty easy.

You should have 2 people when you do the drill press one to operate it,
and one to keep tension on the wire.
Dont wrap too tighly or the spring wont slide off the dowel.
The links tend to fly all over the place as your cutting them, wear a face guard.
Patching the links together is VERY tedios and causes you hands to cramp a lot.
Fitting the chain to your body is a pain in the butt.
The links will “stretch” in along one direction and not along the other…When you breath ribcage expands breadthwise, not lengthwise… think about it.

A breif anecdote:
An acquaintence of mine made some mail and wore it to a party under his shirt so it couldnt be seen.
His girlfriend knew this, and as a gag, she made a huge production of stabbing him with a very large kitchen knife in front of the entire horrorfied assembly. He spent the rest of the night in the ER with 2 broken ribs.

Oh and as far as expense, I made a sleevless mail shirt with 23 worth of 10 guage wire, and a .75 dowel, and I had more than half of the wire left. Obviosly the expense if gong to depend on the guage of the wire and diameter of the dowel, but if I payed myself minumum wage to do it, it probably would have gone over $1000.

>wraps them on a pipe to get the coil
Crap! That would have worked a lot better. My biggest problem was getting the coil off the dowel, cause the wood got goovy after I wound it too tight.

Take a look at:
They show several different patterns. I use the “regular” 4-in-1, because I think it’s the easiest one that’s actually comfortable to wear. This is a preference thing, so YMMV.

I make my own links with 16-ga. galvanized steel wire, wrapped around a 5/16" dowel to make a spring. Cutting down the side of the spring used to be the hardest part, until I got a set of long-handled heavy-duty dikes. The long handles are key; without that leverage, I had to really lean on my cutters, which tended to raise blisters.

I’ve tried using a couple of different power tools to cut the spring, but it didn’t work out well. Small utility tools, like a Dremel, tend to be underpowered for the tough wire; large, bench tools are difficult to use safely when the bits are as small as these links. (Important note: if you do use a power tool of any kind, wear eye protection! Any metal can split or fragment, no matter how careful you are.)

falcon2, I also had a problem getting the spring off the dowel the first few times. But after making several coils with the same dowel, the wood compressed more uniformly, and it became easier to slip out of the center. Also, I wind my wire with only manual force; a drill press probably pulls a lot harder than necessary.

On fitting the links to your body, the trick is to not make a whole shirt in one piece. Make many squares of chain “fabric”, perhaps six inches (15 cm?) on a side; link these together to make swatches that fit your clothing pattern. For more exact sizing, a bunch of 1" x 6" strips are useful.

Chainmail Armor - the process

  1. Print all messages which contain the phrase “Send this to everyone on your mailing list!!!”*. These will serve as fabric.
  2. Store the printed messages on a flat, unheated surface until a sufficient quantity is on hand. In the early days of e-mail this could be very time consuming. Rapid growth of the home PC market means that you can often collect enough fabric in 2-3 hours.
  3. Begin taping the fabric swatches (one 8.5 X 11 printed message = one standard swatch). Scotch tape is less visible on the end product, but duct tape holds up much better in battle conditions. HINT: Duct tape comes in a rainbow of colors, so be imaginative!
  4. Once you have taped together enough swatches, lie face down on the taped fabric and have someone trace an outline of your torso and arms directly on to the fabric. This is the front of the armor. HINT: Tracing shouls be 6" wider than your actual torso and arms to allow for wrapping HINT II: Crayon marks on the finished product give a decidedly amateurish look to the wearer.
  5. Cut fabric along tracing.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for back of suit.
  7. Tape front to back
  8. With paper armor, thickness is key. Repeat steps 3-7 about 2000 times, overlaying each time.
    *messages beginning “Make $100,000 per hour IN YOUR HOME!!!” are technically spam, not chain mail. A reputable chain mail artisan will use a spam content of no more than 5% net weight.

Happy jousting!

The overwhelming majority of people have more than the average (mean) number of legs. – E. Grebenik

I did it with 5 geek friends, and someone decided to use very thick wire and wound it around a pretty small dowel, so it would have more stopping power.(Like we got in sword fights a lot) We also had a very cool highscool shop teacher who let us use the tools after school(he even let us make daggers). After a few days in the shop not getting much done, we decided hand winding and cutting was too slow. We did it assembly line fasion it went much much faster. Being kids we completly ignored the fact that power winding and cutting was MUCH more dangerous. One of the guys caught his finger winding a coil, it just pinched it and we didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back at it, in the lowest gear(highest torque), that press probably could have wrapped most of his arm around the dowel.

Dr. J. - ROFL

I say screw it, just hire some scab elves.

I made a chainmail shirt once. Here’s how I got the links: I went to a garage that gets its shirts done by one of those professional mechanics uniform services. Every week, they get, on cheap metal hangers, seven shirts for each mechanic. The mechanics throw the hangers in a box.

The garage was delighted to get rid of the hangers.

I straightened them, and wrapped them around a tire iron, to make a spring, then cut the links apart with a bolt cutter I already had.

Totally free.

Shopping is still cheaper than therapy. --my Aunt Franny

Actually it is called Maille Armour.

IF you would like to make historically accurate versions of anything Maille Armour-ish full instructions right here:

As the proud owner of one of these shirts, allow me to share some pointers.

One, these suckers are heavy. The one I own is a short-sleaved shirt made out of 14 gauge stainless steel wire and weighs 45 pounds. Although I consider myself robust (I could actually do a pull-up while wearing it), the constant weight on my shoulders eventually wears me down after an hour or two.

Second, you’re probably better off just buying it from someone else. I got mine at a renaissance faire for $800. The lady who made it told me it took 5 weeks to make. Which means, assuming she put in a full 8 hours a day, her total pay rate was $2.86/hr. At that rate, she’d probably be better off recycling cans.

Finally, remember to keep good care of it. The same lady recommended misting it with WD-40 after every wear. If it starts to get rusty, then your best bet is to get it sand-blasted (no joke).

But its worth it! You won’t believe the attention I drew when I wore it once while rollerblading. If that isn’t the epitome of coolness, than I don’t know what is.

To polish a rusty mailshirt, actual sandblasting is overkill. Just put it in a bucket or barrel, drop in a few handfuls of clean sand, and cover tightly. Roll the barrel around for ten minutes, and the shirt will be all shiny again.

If you plan on wearing mail for protection-- or you wear it during any sort of dangerous activity, like roller blading-- be sure to wear plenty of padding under it. A thick sweatshirt is usually sufficient. The mail may stop sharp things from skewering you, but blunt force (for instance, a fall onto asphalt) is transmitted straight through to your body, and can easily break bones or drive the links into your flesh.

Thanks for all your replies so far! I wanted to say thanks for your help. Also(so there isn’t any confusion) I am making the mail out of furnace chain and laying it side by side with itself after making the length by turning the topmost/bottomost link. Then I take my lockwashers (homemade rings now :slight_smile: ) and connect it together every link. I made a 10x10 piece (with the chain) in about an hour(although the washers/rings were a pain in the butt). I made a 10x10 piece with the rings (traditional chainmail) in around 12 hours. Personally I think that my version is stronger(and looks cooler) but that’s my opinion. If anyone has any more suggestions, PLEASE post them. Or if anyone wants a jpeg of what my version looks like I’ll send it to you. Thanks again!

I thought all you had to do was get enough steel wool and knit yourself one.

The Dave-Guy
“since my daughter’s only half-Jewish, can she go in up to her knees?” J.H. Marx