Date Uploaded: August 6, 2004, 9:51 am
Last Edited: January 1, 2013, 2:43 pm
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Making Riveted Maille
Article © MAIL User: Eli
The steps I will discuss are:
Making the rings
Flattening the rings
Piercing the rings
Making the rivets
Riveting the rings
Weaving in a standard European 4 in 1 pattern
Making the rings:
First of you need to make a coil, just like in butted mail. I assume that you know how to do this. If not, I don't think you need to make riveted just yet.
After you have a coil of wire you need to cut the rings off of it. This can easily be done with your modified cutters. Depending on where the groove is located on the cutters you may or may not need to spread the coil a bit. The modified bolt cutter I use don't require for the coil to be stretched out, but for sake of clarity I will demonstrate the cutting with the coil stretched.
Here you can see the overlap being skipped:
And here's the cut ring:
You will need to make plenty of these rings. Make sure that the overlap is relatively consistent and suits your needs.
Some places sell pre-overlapped rings, like TRL. Spring manufacturers can also make overlapped rings. For them it's basically a one turn spring with a negative angle cut. You'll probably need to order large amounts of rings from a spring manufacturer.
In order for the rings to flatten properly you will need to normalize them (even the softest steel wire won't deform well enough). This is done by heating the rings to red-hot and allowing them to air cool. The slower the cooling rate, the softer the rings, so you can bury them in ash or similar materials to make them even softer. One way to do this is to thread several hundreds of rings on a wire and heat them with a torch. Any torch the will bring steel to red-hot will do. Here you can see my butane torch:
Heat the rings to red-hot:
Another way to heat the rings in large amounts is to use a stovetop gas burner. Use the biggest one with the strongest flame for this.
Thread the rings on a wire in a circular shape, so that each ring will be within reach of the flame:
If you want, you can tumble the rings to remove the black oxide, but this oxide will both prevent rusting and help the flattening process by making the two ends "stick" to each other better. This oxide comes off when flattening. Here you can see a ring before heating (on the left) and a ring after heating (on the right).
Flattening the rings:
In order to have a place where you can make a slit for the rivet you need to flatten the overlapped region. Depending on the historical time you want to reproduce or to your own taste you can also flatten the entire ring.
The simplest way to flatten the ring is to use a hammer and an anvil. Just put the ring on the anvil and strike it with the hammer. If you have a good hammer blow (that can be developed) you can make good flattened rings, but consistency would still be somewhat of a problem.
For a more consistent way to flatten the rings you can use a flattening tool. These are large metal cylinders with a piston inside of them that is struck to flatten the ring that is placed inside a hole in the cylinder. Unfortunately for you I don't have such a tool, so you won't see it in action. Go to Steven Sheldon's instructions on the Arador here or De Liebaart's instructions here (Ed - De Liebaart link broken, but remains here for antiquity) if you want to see it. Instead of a full flagged flattener I use a large bolt to flatten my rings (you can see it here). My technique involves first striking the ring with the hammer to flatten the overlap:
Then I put the bolt over the ring and strike it several times to get the entire ring flattened:
Piercing the rings:
Now that you have a flattened ring, you need to pierce a slit in it so that a rivet can be placed and secure the ring. If the piercing drift is of a good enough metal and temper you won't need to re-normalize the rings before this step. Some people do, and most likely that this was done historically, but I don't.
For my set of piercing tongs (Riveted Maille Tools: Piercing Tongs) I have attached two pipes to the handles to increase leverage. This makes the operation a bit different than piercing tongs with shorter handles.
I take a ring and put it between the drift and the bottom bolt:
Applying hand pressure I slowly squeeze the handles until the ring is pierced. This is pretty much a matter of experience, but some report that when the ring is pierced you will feel a light "snap". I have only experienced this once, so I rely on experience to know how much pressure to apply.
For short handled tongs the procedure is only different in how you hold them.
The ring shouldn't be pierced too much. It is enough that the tip of the drift will just barely break the surface of the ring. The ring may be stuck on the drift after you pierce it. Remove it gently.
Here's a pierced ring from both sides:
Making the rivets:
Wedge rivets are easily made out of flattened wire. You hammer a piece of wire flat and then cut small triangles from the strip. I use a lighter hammer to flatten the wire than I do with the ring. This is in order to achieve greater control on the width of the strip. The hammer I use is also more round, again facilitating in increasing control. I prefer to normalize the wire prior to flattening to make it easier, but have not seen a major difference between rivets made out of hard or soft wire. The width of the strip is a matter of personal preference, and you will learn to make a consistent width that suits your needs in time. The angle in which you cut the rivets is also a matter of personal preference.
Here you can see the hammer I use to flatten the wire, as well as a strip of flattened wire and some rivets:
Riveting the rings:
Now that you have both pierced rings and rivets you need to rivet the rings shut. For this you will need a pair of setting pliers. For standard European 4in1 you can preclose about half of the rings. Closing rings is easier when the ring has not been opened, so the various speedweaving techniques will make your life easier. I personally prefer the ribbon method, where you make a lot of 4in1 units, join them into long strips and join the strips to form a sheet. With riveted mail this is method is even better than with butted mail.
To rivet the ring, first insert the rivet into the slit with your fingers. If the slit isn't very deep (like I prefer to use) you may need to push the rivet firmly to keep it in place:
After you put the rivet into the slit, take the setting pliers, place the rivet end into the deep pocket and squeeze the handles until the rivet is secured inside the slit the and head of it is flush with the ring.
Once the rivet is set you need to peen it. This is done by putting the rivet tip in the shallow depression of the setting pliers and squeeze the handles. I found that a quick squeeze is preferable to a slow one, as it better simulates peening the rivet with a hammer, while still allowing you to control the ring. When done properly the rivet won't fold over (more a problem with big large rivets than small) but deform, taking the shape of the shallow depression and securing the ring. The rivet head should remain flush with the ring, while the tip of the rivet should make a small dome at the other side of the ring. With practice you will get better at this.
This is it! You have a riveted ring.
Weaving in a standard European 4in1 pattern:
I have yet to see an article on the web describing how to actually weave riveted maille. I will show here the ribbon speedweaving technique I use. When you weave the rings that are not riveted shut should already be flattened and pierced.
Take four closed rings and one open (not riveted). Take the open ring and twist the tips apart, so that the ring retains its round shape while allowing for other rings to pass through it. This is most easily done with the aid of normal pliers.
Since riveted rings should all face the same direction, you need to take extra care when putting the rings into the 4in1 unit. I use the following method: I take the open ring with the flat part facing me (if I put a rivet in the ring it would point down), and pass two of the closed ring into if, so that they lie with the flat sides up in the same way they would in the 4in1 unit. After this I put the other two rings, again with the flat side facing up. Note that in my hand is a 4in1 unit with the flat side of all of the rings facing up.
Now you need to secure the open ring with a rivet. Before you can safely put the rivet in, you need to shut the ring closed. Once the ring is closed you can set the rivet. Note that you most likely won't have the ring completely shut, but have a small distance between the two sides. This is acceptable, as long as the gap won't cause the rivet to miss the correct position. By twisting the ring shut with the aid of a pair of pliers I've been able to reduce the gap in the ring.
Once the ring is relatively closed, you can put the rivet in and peen it, as described in the previous section.
When you've made enough 4in1 units you can connect them into a strip. The process of connecting the 4in1 units is similar to making a single 4in1 unit. Place the units so that they face the same direction. Make sure their rivets are in the same direction also. Open a ring, and weave it through the top two rings of the bottom 4in1 unit and the bottom two rings of the top 4in1 unit. I start weaving the ring from the bottom right ring, continuing counter-clockwise through the rest of the four rings. Once the ring is in place, make sure it is facing the same side as the rest of the weave and peen it.
When you have two ribbon ready connect them together. Again open a ring and weave it. Check that it faces the same way as the rest of the weave and peen it.
Continue making the weave until you finish the piece.
Original URL: http://www.mailleartisans.org/articles/articledisplay.php?key=298