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Maille Questions - Also Hello!
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Posted on Sat May 20, 2017 4:44 am
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Well, hello there, all of you amazing maille artisans! I've started recently (Within the last four days) the start of a maille shirt. Now, the uninitiated in my life who CONSISTENTLY force me to call it chain maille are not here, so I can begin with my questions.

The mandrel I am using for creating my own rings (I cut them with the thinnest dremel cutting discs I have. Flat join is so nice) is 1/4", and, being the gimboid that I am, I was buying wire for my jig that I built, and looking at 16ga, thought it looked a little... flimsy, so I went and bought 50ft of 14ga galv. steel wire.

Is it still possible to have a decent looking maille shirt with 14ga rings that are 1/4" ID? And while I do know that 3/8" is usually the size for 14ga, according to what I've looked up, is it still okay to continue the way I am going?

Incidentally, I will post pictures of my progress as I go (Sticking with 14ga for now), due to the fact that I am currently short a computer, and borrowing one from someone else so I can use this site.


Everyone should have a summer of "Why Not". It allows you to do new things.

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Posted on Sat May 20, 2017 8:37 am
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yes, 14swg is a good wire size for a shirt. keep in mind that 14swg galvanized will be very heavy to wear.

a word of caution. i don't recommend cutting galvanized with a dremel cut off blade. the fumes that heated galvanized produce are very toxic. if you must use a dremel, make sure you have a fan blowing for ventilation. a more ideal set up would include oil or other lubrication applied directly to the cut point.

https://www.hunker.com/12349925/the-dangers-of-cutting-galvanized-steel



Joined: May 20, 2017
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Location: Amtgard Ominous Valley

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Posted on Sat May 20, 2017 4:32 pm
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I am aware about the danger of the fumes generated from cutting, and part of the reason I'm glad I have a backyard table I can cut them on. Safety glasses and a respirator are used as well (After getting sick once off of spray paint fumes, I made sure to have a chemical filter respirator).

Thanks for the link, though. I'm passing it on to some other people I know who are interested in making maille.

(Wide backyard space. I don't cut things inside for health reasons, a.k.a. I live with a bunch of other people, and the ventilation system is weird.)

I'm always looking to figure out ways to upgrade, so thanks for the advice on the lubrication. Unfortunately, I can only get 8 rings max out of a coil when I am cutting with my thin cut-off disc before it explodes on me (The disc, not the wire). I'm adding your advice with the lubrication to my list of needed upgrades. At some point, I hope to make my jig an all-in-one ring production center.


Everyone should have a summer of "Why Not". It allows you to do new things.

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Posted on Thu May 25, 2017 5:20 am
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The fumes are not VERY toxic -- we're not talking hydrogen cyanide here, nor Methyl Ethyl Ketone (bad enough) -- but they are noxious. Google up "metal fume fever" "foundry flu" and "Anvilfire Paw Paw Wilson" (deceased) for a clear picture of what kind of trouble you *could* get into. At low levels, it's not much. At really high levels, it's not good.

Filings or dust really are not a problem. A paper dust/etc. mask is close to overkill for keeping your breathing-parts untroubled in the face of powdered zinc and iron with a touch of carbon in it. ("For what, we ask, is steel without a touch of carbon in it -- ?" (/Gilbert & Sullivan))

**************

For a mailshirt in either 16ga or 14ga, I accept boltcutter cuts for speed of cutting -- up to 1 cut stroke per second -- and durability of cutter: no consumption of cutting tool. Then I butt such links facet to facet rather than straight on point to point: /\\/ rather than ><. Ends up very slightly out of round, acceptable in an armor project (even mailshirts of riveted links are so), but still a tight, fairly smooth closure.

Dremel grind cutting is better suited for projects smaller than a shirt of approximately 25k rings or more. You've noticed it consumes hours as well as cutting discs. Cutters are comparatively swift as hand tools go. There is coiling/cutting machinery, which some professional sellers like Knuut, occasional poster here, use to fill orders. There is such a thing as saw cutting, both pro and amateur.

5/16" link ID gives substantially more room to work with in 14ga, and is about as small a link diameter as I would go with in that wire. 3/8", while quite convenient with this wire and more open, is just convenient, not sacred or anything. And lighter. In butted-link mail that's no small consideration, particularly if you're actually going to use your shirt for anything more active than a doorstop (dismal prospect for an ambitious mailshirt).

16ga (SWG) wire, .063" wire diameter, really starts to come into its own about at 1/4" link ID. It has a link Aspect Ratio (q.v. by searching this site) of 4, which is about ideal for weight/protection/labor-time, all in all. It suits this slenderer wire well, and I recommend it. In a 5/16" ID, such wire does a better job if you go to the trouble of riveting it, for fifteen times the strength. 18ga soft wire is about the ultimate feedstock for riveted-mail projects: light-ish, at 5/8 the weight of the same size links in 14ga, fifteen times as strong, and infinitely greater in bragging rights and for lectures about ancient war technologies. Which fascinate some people.

Back when mail was a commonplace instrument of war, they also never made headdresses nor other jewelry of it: mail was like a parkerized semiauto pistol, a tool of war, plain and simple, nothing but.

The historical look of a mail shirt had riveted links ranging mainly from 1/4" to 5/16" in inner diameter, so fairly fine albeit can also be finer, in 18ga (.048") wire, again for the best balance of weight and protection. The burden actually becomes reasonable to bear. Some historical mail halved the riveting labor by use of punched-out solid rings and riveted links of wire, the ends overlapped, flattened, pierced, opened, woven in, reclosed, and riveted shut. Four times the man hours of butted stuff, for far higher performance and less weight. Mail of this half-and-half recipe was called "demi-clouée," or half nailed. A fair description. If you adopt this recipe, see if you can buy about twenty thousand "spacer rings" from somebody like a washer maker. Washers proper are made too heavy for this sort of application; you want something lighter than a modern washer; you can specify how thick you really want a spacer ring. I would order them in thinner than the wire links you're riveting shut in this weave, for spacer rings have square corners that contrast unpleasingly with the round radius of the wire of the other half of the links. So I'd pull 'em in a bit, and save a pound or so doing it.

For riveted stuff, 16ga is doable, though it means it's wanted for very strong, special use mail, such as on very exposed or very vital spots. In armored sword fighting, this often means the neck. 16ga would be entirely right for a 14th-c. mail camail, hung off a 14th-c. bascinet helmet to protect all the neck and drape on the shoulders. It is a modestly sized mail project too, coming to about 5k links. The riveted shirt to go with, you might prefer to use 18ga wire for that. Or if possible, avoid the mailshirt altogether, as some swordplay groups can -- the SCA. To a lesser degree, the HEMA schools.


'The Minstrel Boy to the War is gone...'

Joined: May 20, 2017
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Posted on Fri May 26, 2017 7:17 am
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I'm aware of metal fume fever, foundry flu, the various names for something that I would rather not have under any circumstances (Stuff like that can lay me out for weeks - it's bad when I get sick).

First off, MASSIVE info dump. I appreciate it, but WOW, that's a lot of info.

I'm aware of the problem I'm already seeing with using 14ga 1/4 ID split rings (That I cut myself - Hit 1ft after 6 hours of off/on work. Mostly connecting it on work lunch breaks) in regards to the density and weight. The weight's not the problem. Because I go up against people with some fairly skookum weapons in the Amtgard group I am a part of, this was more to try and stave off getting hit directly with a buddy's weapon, a great he affectionately calls "Tombstone."

While, yes, 16ga would have been the BRIGHT idea for me to start out with, and, yes, I'm aware of the different maille creation types (Riveted would be cool if I had the better materials, or the time to dedicate to it). I've got 250ft of 14ga Galv. Steel wire, and I started with 1/4.

Considering how I end up "butting" the rings, they close REALLY nicely. My cut is not fully straight, but slightly to an angle, something which I've now seen makes the rings close more round, and more evenly.

When I get a decent-sized piece, I'll post a picture so you can see Gimboid's First Maille.

(As a note, I MAKE all of my own rings. It's cheaper and far less time-consuming than the wait for a package to be shipped to Western Canada, where I live. The cutting discs that I use are cheap enough that I can set aside my good cutters for other projects and when I'm pulling coils off of my mandrel.)

Also, Konstantin, I've seen a fair amount of your posts in this site, and a lot of them I go back and use as reference information.


Everyone should have a summer of "Why Not". It allows you to do new things.

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Posted on Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:22 am
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Glad I can be that helpful.

I've, like, only ever worked in galvy myself, what with the armor-nerd thing through the SCA, with which you may be somewhat familiar. Minus any Magic Missile water balloons -- or was that Dagorhir? -- and with bare rattan sticks as its swords, they are otherwise quite like Amtgard in many ways. SCA polearms (halberds, bills, blade-on-a-stick) mostly get their warheads shaped from stiff foam, like the stuff they pack electronics in for shipping in their cartons. Resilient safety thrusting heads are a feature.

So the mail's kind of simply a part of an overall hobby, a means to its ends. Riveted mail of skinny wire is slowly becoming more common in the SCA, and the steel groups like HACA, HEMA, and ARMA preferred to start out with riveted mail, often gotten of Indian make, where it is the primary industry of one small village.

250 feet of 14ga wire is, well, not that heavy an expense; it can always be reserved for larger-link (ca. 3/8" ID) projects later. For more bang for your Canada buck, see what's available from the town lumberyard -- anywhere they might sell galvanized wire by the pound, because that is cheaper than anything a hardware store will do for a package of a couple-three hundred feet of wire. Last time I did that, they clipped off not only the X number of pounds of galvy wire I ordered, but some extra as well to guarantee I had gotten the quantity. There's no market at all for short cuts of wire. Try fence supplies people also -- just anyone other than the ordinary sort of hardware store and their precut wire packages. Contrariwise, any price near $1CDN/lb of wire is a very good price, and even just sort of nearish will do, once you compare what you paid for 250 feet in what sounds just from that to be a package of wire from a hardware store. Not that it hasn't its place if that's all the wire you need, but you're looking at thirtyish pounds of galvy, everything included.


'The Minstrel Boy to the War is gone...'

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Posted on Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:41 pm
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There was actually only one place in town that sells this kind of wire. It's at a Home Depot, and they sell the rolls in 50-ft sections.

Just going to point out one thing - I'm in Canada, specifically a currently-led NDP BC (May God have mercy on my soul), so I have not been able to find anything larger. The town "lumberyard" is the exact same place I get the 50ft rolls.

Also, the fencing supply, I used to work for them, and I remember their stock quite well (They don't have galvy, or any other wire in a usable gauge for me.)


Everyone should have a summer of "Why Not". It allows you to do new things.

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Posted on Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:17 am
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Damn! Do you have a welders'-supplies place in/near your town? There, you can get nongalvanized wire in myriad diameters. You'd have to process the stuff a bit -- and a bit more for making riveted mail (an anneal/normalization; those differ a little and either would work).

Otherwise, looks like your one on-your-own recourse is online ordering. They bring the world right to your door now -- in cardboard boxes. You'd be looking for one that weighs fifty pounds. Or two of twenty-five pounds apiece.

Kind of in between store-buying and mailorder is inquiring if one of your two choices in town is willing to make a special order of something for you: in galvy, 14, 15, or 16 gauge, and quite a bit of it. You might have to do a bit of talking, but gee, just how would they object to selling some wire, eh? (And if they do, you can always politely ask them just why. The answer may be illuminating.)

Wire price breaks usually get seen by retail customers around the 50-lb mark.


'The Minstrel Boy to the War is gone...'

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Posted on Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:45 am
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Moving to problem-solving mode:

Do you reside, in the mundane and corporeal world, in Kamloops BC, as Ominous Valley would suggest?

Wesco Industries Ltd sells wire rope, or cable. Cable can be unlaid. It is likely to be high-tensile stuff, pretty difficult to coil conventionally, but there are unconventional techniques that get that tough ole wire to cooperate... we may speak of them; let me know.

The best sort of cable to undo for repurposing its wire into galvy links is probably a rather lean sort of cable comprising wires of around 16 gauge. Since there are a bunch of ways to arrange the strands of cable/wire rope, some research and inquiry is in order online, but it's simpler if you can lay hands on the stuff in town -- something like seven-wire guy wire/cable is about the simplest. Undo a length of that and you've got seven times that length of linear feet of wire. Doesn't matter if it comes out wiggly; coiling fixes that and tidily.

Random net hits centering in British Columbia:
http://www.kijiji.ca/v-fence-deck-rail-siding/williams-lake/fence-repair-and-construction/1269537494?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true
and so on. Somebody HAS to be sitting on a bulk supply of galvy wire SOMEWHERE in BC. Like as not near the thriving burg of Kamloops, no?


'The Minstrel Boy to the War is gone...'

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Posted on Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:43 pm
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Kamloops is definitely not "thriving" at the moment. Wesco Industries is industrial supply (They won't let me buy from them), and that other business is from Williams Lake, several hours away.

While I'm on the topic, very few places in Kamloops carry 14ga or 16ga galv. wire. I've checked while working on my armor (It's REALLY annoying.)

The main issue is that the cable you speak of, yes I know about that, however, the price is horrendous for any manageable length.


Everyone should have a summer of "Why Not". It allows you to do new things.

Joined: March 27, 2002
Posts: 3346
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Posted on Fri Jun 09, 2017 12:08 am
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Not galvy, being a welding-supplies place, but there's a brick and mortar outfit on Tagish:

Interior Welding Equipment Repairs Ltd
724 Tagish St

Ph 250-374-5545, open 'til 5pm.


Using welder wire would revise your mail project away from the galvanised direction -- but examine their pricing. See if it's attractive enough to work for your goal.

Mailorder galvanised, shipped to you from Someplace X, looks more and more like the one discount galvy option. Unless your fellow Amtgarders can turn you on to some wire sources.


'The Minstrel Boy to the War is gone...'

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