Good day to all,
Today’s How-To is about making maille, commonly known as chain mail.
Maille consists of many interlinking metal rings which was originally used as a form of armour which is flexible, allowing the wearer to move about while protecting them from attacks.
Today’s How-to is more related to making maille for the fun of it rather than equipping yourself for medieval warfare! Although once you get the hang of it you can make maille for a variety of purposes, including armour if you so wish!
What you will require:
Solid Wire (I used 2mm aluminium as it is easy to bend)
Something to cut the wire
Optional: Two pairs of pliers (if you find it hard to bend the rings by hand)
- Coil the wire around a suitably sized round implement. I used a 10mm diameter pen. I tried a few other sizes but settled on 10mm as the smaller size seemed like it would be too fiddly, and I thought the larger size didn’t look quite as nice.
- Cut the coil of wire into individual rings. I used aviation tin snips but this meant I could only cut 5-6 rings at once due to their size.
- Close up some of the rings you have made, and separate into a set consisting of 4 closed rings and 1 open ring. With the 2mm aluminium wire this was easily done by hand although small pliers can also be used.
- Put the 4 closed rings onto the open one, and close that one. You should be left with a set of 5 looking something like this:
It is possible to create maille without first producing sets of 5, but it requires adding each ring individually and is a much longer process, as well as providing more room for error!
- Produce a few more of these ‘sets of 5’ as per the above.
- Using some open rings, join the sets of 5 together. It should look something like a normal chain, except every other link is doubled up.
Once spread out slightly, it is already starting to look like maille!
- Join the strip you have just made to another strip/ the rest of the maille. Take care at this point to ensure that the rings are oriented in the right direction. Notice how each ‘column’ has rings overlapping in the same direction. The green column is the part of the chain with double links, and the red column is the part with a single link, and a second link is added in this column to join it to the rest of the maille.
In the image the first attaching ring has already been added. The second one will overlap in the same orientation as the red rings, the order to attach this ring would be down through Hole 1, down through Hole 2, underneath and back up through Hole 3 and finally up through Hole 4. The ring is then closed over the top between holes 1 and 4. This is repeated for each column which had a single ring in the strip (See red columns in image)
- Repeat Step 7 until you have finished the strip.
Well, you now repeat over and over again until you have enough maille! Once you have done a few rows you should get the hang of this as it’s a fairly simple process, then you can consider playing around with adding rings individually in order to make more complex shapes rather than flat rectangles!
It is also worth noting that maille requires a lot of wire! The amount of mail shown in the images above, which is around 15cm (6 in.) square required 10m (65 ft.) of 2mm aluminium wire!
The image below also shows the three different diameter rings I tried to begin with, I chose the centre one (10mm) as it seemed about right. If you are using thicker or thinner wire it may be worth trying a few sizes to see what looks right. I imagine that thinner wire would probably require smaller rings to look right! It’s worth remembering that the larger the ring size the quicker and easier it is to make the maille though!