The making of titanium riveted mail
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The making of titanium riveted mail
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Posted on Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:31 pm || Last edited by Keptick on Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:25 pm; edited 3 times in total
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This thread will document my attempts at making a wedge riveted titanium mail hauberk. The goal is to make something that looks as period as possible while being made out of titanium. The reason I chose to use this specific metal was because of it's amazing strenght to weight ratio. I currently own (and use) a 30lb stainless steel hauberk (butted rings) that I previously made, and it gets rather uncomfortable after a while due to the weight. After some simple calculations, I figured that a titanium hauberk made with lighter gauge wire and similar sized rings would weight around 12 pounds, which is a significant improvement over the butted mail.

Here's what I'm able to accomplish so far:



And from the back:



The rings have a 1/4in id (~6.3mm) and are made out of 16AWG wire (~1.3mm diameter).

Before anyone mentions it: yes, I will be tumbling the rings. Having multicolored anodized blotches isn't exactly something something I'm looking for. I have ordered a tumbler and it should be coming in next week!

While I have looked at some period mail images, I'm unsure if any changes should be made to the rings (such the rivet shape or amount of flattening). So any comments/suggestions will be very appreciated!

Edit: It seems like the images are gigantic (ar least on my phone). I'm unsure if this forum automatically resizes images, if not please let me know and I'll scale them down.

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Posted on Sat Jul 06, 2019 2:13 pm
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They are large, but reasonable. The left margin of each pic might be shaved down some if wanted.

How did you accomplish flattening the Ti wire without it splitting into two curving flat ribbons? That's the effect I get with some old MIG Ti wire I have.

Since Ti also workhardens like instantly, how does one drift the rivet holes open to accept the rivet without the link-ends tearing? Or do you bore the hole with a very small drill?


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

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Posted on Sun Jul 07, 2019 11:36 pm
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Konstantin the Red wrote:
How did you accomplish flattening the Ti wire without it splitting into two curving flat ribbons? That's the effect I get with some old MIG Ti wire I have.


I assume that you're talking about the top part of the overlap splitting on the bottom part when a pre-overlapped ring gets flattened? If so, that happens with alpha-beta alloys of titanium (the non-pure/alloyed titanium alloys) due to their insane hardness. I'm using grade 1 titanium (i.e the softest grade you can get) which has been fully vacuum annealed at the factory, it's a lot more ductile than the grade 5 titanium I tried.

Additionally, I flatten the rings prior to overlapping them as I was getting extremely inconsistent results with the overlap pre-cut. That not only guarantees that the ring is properly flattened, but it also ensures that all my rings have similar sized overlap areas, compared to pre-cut overlaps (unless you're a god with that cutter).

Konstantin the red wrote:
Since Ti also workhardens like instantly, how does one drift the rivet holes open to accept the rivet without the link-ends tearing? Or do you bore the hole with a very small drill?


As mentioned above, using grade 1 titanium really helps. I also normalize the titanium twice while producing the rings. I actually use a simple wedge-rivet drift mounted in a set of modified pliers (having the right drift shape helps immensely). In addition, I have to flatten the overlap area some more after I overlap the flattened non-overlapped rings around the 1/4 rod. This step is crucial as trying to pierce the rings without additional flattening rapidly proved to be way too hard (if not impossible) to accomplish. That unfortunately meant that I wouldn't be able to add a watershed feature to the rings as there's not enough material to shape the ridge, but eh, it's not like I'm aiming to reproduce german mail in particular. I'd also like to mention that despite the overlap halves being thinner than the rest of the ring, destruction tests (twisting the rings in pliers until they break) showed me that the rings didn't have a higher tendency to break around the rivet/overlap. In any case I won't be doing any HEMA fighting with this so the rings are plenty strong for my needs. I'll do a test to see how much I can hang from a single ring, but my guess is a lot.

I'll write up a post describing the process I use to create the rings, honestly it's not much different than using mild steel, except maybe with some added difficulty and a few more steps.

In any case what do you think of the general characteristics of my rings (aside from the color)? Do they look right to you? I know that you're quite knowledgeable in the domain, hence my asking Wink

Edit: I just realized that I posted the same image twice in my original post. The second picture now shows the back of the weave, with the rivets being flush with the rings (since they're wedge rivets).

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Posted on Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:35 pm
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I assume that you already know you have one ring backwards?

Overall the rings look serviceable and sturdy but rather rough compared to most historical pieces. Shaping and polishing your flattening dies to be rounder and smoother will help eliminate those hard edges and tool marks.

The rivets, to my eye, look too long and narrow. I see significant buckling and gaps which can cause the joints to become loose and pull apart under strain. You should probably tighten the tolerances between your drift shape and rivets.

As far as tumbling goes, removing alpha case from titanium maile can be very challenging. I strongly recommend using at least 5/16" ID to ensure that the rings move freely against each other in the tumbling medium. If the mesh is too tight some rings can wear right through while others are untouched. With your wire being so thick to start with you can get away with pretty aggressive tumbling as long as the material doesn't bind up like that.

These are all pretty minor points but if you're going to go through the trouble and cost to use titanium you might as well be picky.


www.mailletec.com

Y'know, that might just be crazy enough to work!

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Posted on Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:17 pm
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lorenzo wrote:
I assume that you already know you have one ring backwards?

Yes, beginner mistake Razz

lorenzo wrote:

Overall the rings look serviceable and sturdy but rather rough compared to most historical pieces. Shaping and polishing your flattening dies to be rounder and smoother will help eliminate those hard edges and tool marks.


I'm actually just using a simple ball peen hammer and a railroad track anvil. The hammer actually had a bunch of small nicks in it's striking face which I have grinded/polished out since making the sample pictured above. I'll definitively be more critical of the finish on the rings though. By "flattening die" do you refer to a sort of piston setup, where a ring is placed under a flat cylinder (contained in a tube) which is then striked with a hammer? Is there any significant improvement to using such a setup or is a simple hammer more efficient with a bit of practice? I'll have to look into that.

lorenzo wrote:
The rivets, to my eye, look too long and narrow. I see significant buckling and gaps which can cause the joints to become loose and pull apart under strain. You should probably tighten the tolerances between your drift shape and rivets.


I'll definitely look into that, thanks!

lorenzo wrote:
As far as tumbling goes, removing alpha case from titanium maile can be very challenging. I strongly recommend using at least 5/16" ID to ensure that the rings move freely against each other in the tumbling medium. If the mesh is too tight some rings can wear right through while others are untouched. With your wire being so thick to start with you can get away with pretty aggressive tumbling as long as the material doesn't bind up like that.


I will be tumbling the rings before assembly, so that shouldn't be an issue. Also, I read from multiple sources that 1.2mm wire is pretty historically standard, so I'm surprised to hear about 1.3mm wire being "so thick". I would've actually gone with 1.2mm wire but that would've meant ordering it custom made, which ended up a lot more expensive than 1.3mm wire sold from an online retailer. The next step down would be 1mm, but I feel like that would be too thin.

lorenzo wrote:
These are all pretty minor points but if you're going to go through the trouble and cost to use titanium you might as well be picky.


100% agreed, before spending 1000+ hours on this project I figured that I'd spend a few extra hours getting the "formula" down perfectly.

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Posted on Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:47 pm
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I can't buy the 1,3mm "too thick" idea either. I also don't think 1,00mm is too thin -- so long as your link ID is around 5mm, for the pretty good, not very dense AR of 5. In that ID, 1,3mm of course has an AR of like 3.9ish, so fairly dense weave. Enlarging to 6,35mm ID and 1,3mm WD is AR5+, so really no problem at all. It's less of a concern with the links fastened shut.

So I really don't know where their objection comes from.


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

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Posted on Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:19 pm
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Konstantin the Red wrote:
I can't buy the 1,3mm "too thick" idea either. I also don't think 1,00mm is too thin -- so long as your link ID is around 5mm, for the pretty good, not very dense AR of 5. In that ID, 1,3mm of course has an AR of like 3.9ish, so fairly dense weave. Enlarging to 6,35mm ID and 1,3mm WD is AR5+, so really no problem at all. It's less of a concern with the links fastened shut.

So I really don't know where their objection comes from.

My thoughts exactly. I'm also pretty sure that 1mm thickness 5mm id mail would fall more into the realm of parade armor since mail designed for actual combat ranged from 1.2 to 1.6mm wire thickness from what I could tell looking at historical sources (I might be wrong though).

Not to mention that 5mm mail would be a pita to make, with 6.35mm id already being pretty small Razz

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Posted on Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:50 am
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Some fine historical mail went as small as 3mm for special uses such as the mail drawers known as brayettes-de-mailles -- or maybe showing off. Very smooth texture like butcher-mail at that fineness, and such a comfort it was, to be sure. You're not down in crazyland/Micro Village yet.


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Posted on Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:05 pm
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Konstantin the Red wrote:
Some fine historical mail went as small as 3mm for special uses such as the mail drawers known as brayettes-de-mailles -- or maybe showing off. Very smooth texture like butcher-mail at that fineness, and such a comfort it was, to be sure. You're not down in crazyland/Micro Village yet.


Yikes, I can't imagine making a whole shirt at that size. I wonder if the afforded protection is reduced. The wire is thinner, but there's also a much higher amount of rings, so denser weave compared to larger sized rings.

Altough with a shirt made out of mail that size you can impress your enemy into submission Coif LoL

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Posted on Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:40 am
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At that point its link size gets comparable with stainless butchers' or shark mail, of very fine welded links, such as is offered by AZON Corporation if that's still a going concern. Shark-mail underoos worn over wetsuits are proof against smallish sharks anyway -- one adjusts the diving weights since the suit weighs something in itself. Some fannish folk would call it Frodo-mail, because that was what they made Frodo's mithril shirt of, with some decorative nernies stuck on and the whole given a shimmer through trick photography. That stuff is machine made; yes, mailmaking machines feeding wire into one end and extruding mail fabric out the other do exist. The material itself doesn't look especially like medieval mail; it's so fine it seems from a few feet away to resemble heavy, silvery-gray cloth of some sort. Pretty sci-fi looking.

Brayettes of mail were used under plate hip-armor, the taces and tassets. It being very very difficult to armor a ball and socket joint like the hip and still retain enough freedom of movement to be useful, unlike the hinge joint of the elbow and the knee and fingers, that part of you was more or less roofed over, and under its shelter one hoped for the best -- and adopted a defense-in-depth approach, with the fine, comfy mail and a bit of quilting as the last line of defense for one's chance of getting heirs. And suitably enjoying it.

A brayette might feature a dart or two in front so's to put the thing on, and the darts then laced closed to keep it in place. I'm not sure how many surviving examples of them come down to us in armor museums.


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Posted on Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:52 am
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When I wrote "so thick" I meant in relation to your ring diameter which has a large effect on tumbling a finished piece. In medieval shirts wire thickness is normally varied, with the effect being that rings with such a small diameter compared to the wire thickness would only be used in the front of the torso which is a thicker and stiffer weave. The shoulders, back and sides are more average thickness and have more flexibility while the thinnest wire rings are used for the skirts and sleeves. 1.3mm wire is well within the normal range historically speaking and I agree that with grade 1 ti you wouldn't want to go much thinner.

Given good quality metal, maile armor does remain functional down to about .5mm thick wire, which is what butchers gloves and sharksuits are made of. Links of that thickness were historically used in gloves for duelists and undershirts for high value assassination targets as well. Small rings provide better protection against things like stilettos, rapiers or bodkins which might easily pass through larger rings but less overall protection against the broader points and heavy cuts from weapons of war.

Regarding sharksuits specifically, they will actually prevent smaller sharks from even attacking due to galvanic reaction in seawater. Larger sharks will still sometimes attack and some of the largest could theoretically bite through but none have managed it so far.

Every piece of medieval mail I've been able to examine either showed tool marks from some type of die or no tool marks at all. I've examined dozens of authentic pieces and have not found any conclusive evidence of hammer flattening other than some rare forge welded solid rings. Even with very worn pieces, the consistency of the rings leads me to believe that a die was likely used for all stages of riveting.

I can only guess as to what type of die might have been used for most of these rings. One notable exception would be Russian baidana style mail in which the rings are quite obviously coined and I would assume a coining style die was used. The dies I've used myself were basically end nippers or tongs with the desired ring profile carved into them. I used a torch to heat the rings and then a quick pinch with the die to form it. I had three dies IIRC. One for drifting with a replaceable drift, one for flattening the overlaps and one for setting the rivets.


www.mailletec.com

Y'know, that might just be crazy enough to work!

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Posted on Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:44 pm
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I will be moving the thread to the armourarchives forum since it seems like a more appropriate place for such a project, and this forum is somewhat dead Razz

I'll still check this thread out from time to time so feel free to respond here if you want

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Posted on Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:37 pm
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Keptick wrote:
and this forum is somewhat dead Razz


Yeah, MAIL is more oft used as a Weave DB these days...
Plenty of usage on a daily basis, but very little forum activity.

You'd do future generations a favour by documenting your process start-to-finish in an Article.



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Posted on Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:22 pm
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Daemon_Lotos wrote:
Keptick wrote:
and this forum is somewhat dead Razz


Yeah, MAIL is more oft used as a Weave DB these days...
Plenty of usage on a daily basis, but very little forum activity.

You'd do future generations a favour by documenting your process start-to-finish in an Article.

Will do!

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