chainmail how-to
April 14, 2003 8:55 AM   Subscribe

It's in the mail. Dylon Whyte's Art of Chainmail site features beautiful, clear renderings showing, step-by-step, how to join chain links to form different mail patterns, including European, Japanese, and (probably-not-)Persian designs. This is actually fascinating stuff even if you're not a medievalist or a Renaissance-faire type. Also, from the same source, a brief history of armour and the the secret behind the chain bra!
posted by taz (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Chain mail is boring to make, but good for doing while doing other things, like watching TV. I once decided to see just how interlinked a pattern I could create, and ended up with a really pretty, though somewhat inflexible, chain.
posted by Su at 9:08 AM on April 14, 2003

What a gorgeous page. I taught myself to make chainmail several years ago through bad geocities pages - I'd have killed to have this level of detail available. And yes, it's boring, and my hands always smelled of metal. I eventually acquired a dent in my thumbnail from where I'd push the links closed. But hey, I've got some seriously gorgeous bracelets and thingies now - guaranteed to frighten any potential suitors with evidence of my obsessive-compulsive jewellery-making disorder (OCJMD).
posted by some chick at 9:29 AM on April 14, 2003

One of my fraternity brothers who was really into the BDSM scene started making chain mail in college. He made some really nice stuff, including a chainmail brassiere. He also made some "personal" stuff for himself. One day another brother was looking through his "toy bag" and pulled out one of the pieces, a 6-inch tube about 2 inches in diameter and closed at one end.

"What's this?", he asked. "A salt-shaker cozy?" ;-)
posted by starvingartist at 9:32 AM on April 14, 2003

Interesting post taz - thanks! There's a wonderful museum in Worcester MA called the Higgins Armory that has an impressive collection of armor, including chainmail. In one exhibit, they discuss chainmail prior to 1250 AD.

For a cheekier application, check out this decked-out dude.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:12 AM on April 14, 2003

starving, I hope he cut his rings better than I did or that would be really, really painful...

I set out to make a 1-in-4 hauberk, lost patience (I was turning my rings by hand) and made a dice bag instead. :P
posted by Foosnark at 10:16 AM on April 14, 2003

A most impressive list of ring suppliers, including all the ones I've heard of previously and several I'd not.

I'm always on the lookout for cheap rings. My hauberk isn't finished yet.
posted by Cerebus at 10:30 AM on April 14, 2003

Chain mail is boring to make, but good for doing while doing other things, like watching TV.

Heh, now that reminds me of a guy I knew way back in high school. He spent a good chunk of a year working on making chain link, eventually deciding it was going to take too long to amount to anything. (He basically ended up with a small towel sized piece). Of course, it didn't help him that he was also making his own chain links (can't remember off the top of my head, but I think it was from metal coat hangers, wrapping them around a steel rod, and then cutting them into links).
posted by piper28 at 10:49 AM on April 14, 2003

Just in case someone thinks I'm a superhero, I was bending 24-gauge wire against my fingernail, not coat hanger wire.. and I bought the links premade at the local bead store.
posted by some chick at 10:53 AM on April 14, 2003

I spent a bunch of my free time last year making chainmail. I had most success making bracelets with fine-gauge silver and brass, using modified 4:1 and 6:1 patterns . Sometimes I threaded beads through the links, which was great when it worked and a real mess when it didn't. The one I ended up keeping is just silver, three rows of rings tied together in the 8:1 pattern - flexible and sparkly.

Then I got ambitious, and I'm sure you can see the rest coming. I decided to make a piece of club gear for my wife by riveting armor caps onto a pair of boots. I set about winding some huge quantity of 16-gauge steel wire around a knitting needle, cutting it into rings with a modified pair of tin snips, and linking it all together into a 3-D surface that would match the shape of the boot. The results looked just fine but I was sick of it by then and haven't touched my toolbox since. And it turns out I used the wrong kind of rivets, and the boots hurt her feet when she tries to walk in them, so they've been sitting in the closet ever since.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:09 PM on April 14, 2003

[this is good], thanks taz.
posted by plep at 12:09 PM on April 14, 2003

I thought this was about Chain letters . I was wondering why everyone thought it was so cool...
posted by jpburns at 1:17 PM on April 14, 2003

(I'm an SCA geek - I've spent far too much time knitting chain...)
You can spin links on a mandrel (either a hand mandrel used for jewelry or a basic mandrel clamped into a hand drill) pretty quickly, then either nip them off as you need them or (for neatniks who need to have both ends flat) cut them off the mandrel with with a rotary tool and jig.

I learned to knit chain (I call it "knit"; like knitting, it's something I do while watching TV) from another smith. However, there's some fairly useful books out there for those interested in making a mandrel or setting up a cutting jig. (Be darned if I can remember the name of one, though...I'll have to post another comment once I get home.)
posted by FormlessOne at 4:00 PM on April 14, 2003

What though the steed that carried the young knight over the streets of old Prague was foaled in far Araby, what though the sword at his side came from distant Spain, what though his armor had been formed on German anvil, yet the patriot heart of the warrior was all that mattered; in that mail there was a Czech!

--- Mr. Harry W. Hickey
Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
Dishonorable Mention, 2002
posted by SPrintF at 6:23 PM on April 14, 2003

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