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From Wire to the Finish -- A Look at Time and Speed
Article © MAIL User: Drax

From Wire to the Finish -- A Look at Time and Speed

The topic of speedweaving gets continually discussed on any chainmailling forum. And with good reason, since a faster mailling ability means faster production and the ability to get more done. However, there are a lot of misconceptions on what exactly speedweaving is, and how much it actually affects a mailler's speed.

The folks of M.A.I.L. recently decided to better codify the term speedweaving, so I won't tackle that discussion. The most important point I want to get across is that to increase your overall speed, you will gain the most benefit from speeding the slowest step. Let's look at a practical example of what this means.

For ways of speeding up mailling time, let's first consider "power-coiling" and "hand-coiling". Whereas hand-coiling derives from using your hand to turn a crank, power-coiling uses some sort of machinery to speed things up (either a drill or a lathe, or whatever). One common claim is that power-coiling is much better than hand-coiling because it is much faster.

Let's assume we are going to make a hauberk, and with the materials we've chosen, we are going to need 30,000 rings (I'm tall, this number works for me). I will also ignore the time to remove the coil and start a new one, as this time is comparable between the two methods. I can easily coil at speeds of 500 turns per minute on a lathe, which translates into 30,000 rings per hour, thus I will have enough coils in 1 hour. For hand-coiling, I assume a generous (and non-tiring) pace of 120 turns per minute, which translates into 7200 turns in an hour. For 30,000 rings, it will take a hand-coiler 4.17 hours to coil all the necessary wire. (Already you can see that there's not much of a time difference between the two).

But let's continue with the example. To cut all of these rings, I assume that I can cut 30 rings per minute (perhaps this seems slow, but let's imagine I'm cutting something hard and of a thicker gauge). That rate gives me 1800 rings in an hour, so for 30,000 rings it will take me 16.7 hours to cut everything. Finally we have to consider the time to weave the hauberk. I'll take a rate of 300 rings per hour (see my other article on the myths of speedweaving euro 4n1). For 30,000 rings, it will then take me 100h to weave the hauberk.

If we now tally the total times of coiling, cutting and weaving, we get:

hand-coiling: 120.8 hours
power-coiling: 117.7 hours

The difference is small. You may say "but it's THREE HOURS!!" -- well then, go see a movie in the time you earned.

In the example, coiling took 1-4 hours, cutting took 17 hours and weaving took 100 hours. Let's see what happens when we speed the step that takes the longest. Instead of only weaving 300 rings per hour, let's say I find a faster way to weave and bump my rate up to 350 rings per hour. I'll stick with the power-coiling rate and compare the slower weaving results with the faster weaving. At a rate of 350 rings per hour, 30,000 rings will take 85.7 hours (as opposed to 100 hours at the 300 ring per hour rate). That means the total time is:

300 rate: 117.7 hours
350 rate: 103.4 hours

That's an improvement of 14 hours, by a small increase in weaving time (that is, weaving 17% faster -- note that the power-coiling is a 417% improvement over hand-coiling, and yielded a much smaller time increase). Note that this improvement is irrespective of what weave you are doing because weaving is generally what takes the longest.

Hopefully this demonstrates, if you're obsessed with timing issues, where you need to focus your attention: your weaving speed. Though power-coiling (and constructing a power-cutting device) do speed up the overall production time of a hauberk, an improvement in weaving time yields the most benefit.
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