How do you make money at this?
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Joined: July 29, 2013
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How do you make money at this?
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Posted on Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:08 pm
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I'm a total newbie. I was browsing ebay for chainmail shirts just to have something to wear to the ren fest. Expain my costume. That's when i saw that the rings themselves could be bought in bulk for pretty cheap. $5 for a 1000 rings or something like that.

I thought to myself, hey that would cool. I'll just make it myself, it will be cheaper that way and it will give me something to do while I'm watching documentaries. I've always had to have my hands busy when watchng stuff ever since I was a teenager.

But then I started to really investigate it. Checking out the weaving pattern and so on. Turns out my first thought that a few thousand rings would make a whole shirt was completely wrong. I found a website called the ring lord that sells rings and kits. Their shirt kit alone is $150. Yet I've seen whole aluminum chainmail shirts on ebay for $200. So how does anyone make any money at this? Is it just something you do for fun? That's how I'm approaching it right now, I just make to make a shirt for myself for the ren fest which is coming up in a month. But if I like it and get decent at it maybe I can make a little extra coin on the side selling soem creations. I just don't understand how anyone makes any money when either the raw materials are that expensive and the sale prices are that low.

Another question; should I make my own rings using wire and a drill and some snips or buy premade rings?

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Posted on Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:49 pm
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Welcome!

You'll probably be interested by these threads:
wtf prices! - Pretty much the same question you just asked. Short answer: with $200 shirts you don't make money, you loose money.
A crisis of conscience - Or: "How to price correctly your items". Short answer: Overly expensive for the buyer, or your business is going to ruin.

Edit: Actually, raw materials are not so much expensive... compared to the time x hour-fee to make an item. Coif LoL

About making VS buying rings:
- Have you access to metal wire? At which price? (Personally, it's almost cheaper for me to buy+ship oversea already made Aluminium rings than to buy locally a 30m galvy roll.)
- If yes, did your local vendor gives precise info about it? (like tempering)
- Do you want to spend time to make the rings?
If you go with power-coiling, be sure to make a SAFE set-up.

Joined: July 29, 2013
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Posted on Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:27 pm
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Thanks for the links. I will read those threads.

As for making my own rings, I already have a power drill and would put together a mandrel pretty simply.

I did find this wire at Home Depot:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Zareba-1-4-Mile-15-Gauge-Aluminum-Wire-FW-00004/203415837#.UfZy3hZygts

$53 for a 1/4 mile of wire. That's 1320 feet or roughly 402 meters. Free shipping on that as well. At least here in the states. I don't know if that's the right type of wire or not. I'm also not sure how many rings that will make if I am aiming for 3/8 inch rings.

The rings seem like they would be pretty straight forward, at least in terms of making the coils. The cutting is the part I'm still unsure of. I have considred maybe a dremel tool with a thin blade. Maybe a jewelers type saw blade. Then getting a wood dowel and running a kotch down the length of it, putting the coil on that and using it as a guide for cutting the rings.

Still thinking about all of that.

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Posted on Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:18 pm
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That is fence tying wire and it is dead soft. If you make rings from it, they won't hold themselves closed for long. You need to use harder wire for maille. MIG wire from welding supply shops are a good source of wire.



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Don't quit your day job just yet...
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Posted on Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:28 pm
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-The raw materials are wire, and that is not particularly expensive.
-If you buy rings, that is an intermediate product, and people charge a good mark up on rings over just the wire.
-A full shirt on Ebay for $200 is ridiculous it is probably poor quality. In any case, they are certainly not making any money on it.
-Mailling is a difficult way to make money. It is a great hobby however. I -I recommend you just make beautiful maille things for yourself to keep them and wear it yourself. Then you can afford to be as elaborate as possible.
-If your determined to try selling things, consider thinking of it as a hobby that pays for itself (don't quit your day job).
-Maille on Ebay and Esty are absurdly underpriced IMO. Don't bother trying to compete with them, they are loosing money overall by disregarding the real overhead costs.

The other threads linked above discuss these topics in more detail.
Coif Smiley



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Posted on Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:27 pm
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roxics wrote:

I have considred maybe a dremel tool with a thin blade. Maybe a jewelers type saw blade. Then getting a wood dowel and running a kotch down the length of it, putting the coil on that and using it as a guide for cutting the rings.


Make sure you operate a safe setup, the blade can shatter and be quite dangerous. hand cutting is safest for smaller quantities of rings, and buying (either from one of us who sells rings or from a website) is not a bad option for a first shirt.

I've found that the first shirt is 3/8" rings, and then you want one with smaller rings, then smaller...

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Posted on Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:43 pm
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Like Knittingmetal said, be safe when making your own rings. When I power-wound them I almost lost my index finger due to slippage, which would've been devastating to me.

I personally use a wire cutter to snap the rings from eachother. While that is a slow process, and you MUST rest your arm once in a while to reduce stress damage symptoms, it will make very nice rings although they have a slanted cutting edge instead of a flat one as seen when sawing them.

Also, I have some tips to making money from this craft:

- Show off your work. Sit around your friends and not-yet-friends and let them see what you're doing.

- Price your items neither too high nor too low. Chainmaille is a lenghty craft and should be paid as such. Let your friends tell you what they'd be willing to purchase the item for. I have a friend who is willing to purchase a bracelet in Viperscale for up to 500SEK
(~ $70)

- Learn your weaves so you easily can pick up your calipers, tongs, whatever you have, so you can take requests from people and deliver within a short span of time. Learning a weave by heart is also very helpful when you don't have access to internet. Another thing to do is to have some items already in your stock so that you can simply just "put 'em on the shelves" directly so people can check the items out with ease. (EDIT: if this makes sense. don't know how to say this in another way, sorry) Razz


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Posted on Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:02 pm
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My advice: as a newbie, don't worry about making money at it, yet. Do a little learning first and decide if you want to try to put the time into it to try to make money. Making money at it is going to be a completely different story than doing it just because you can. You could probably make a few bucks off of friends who don't have the patience to do what you do, but that's about it.

Also, yeah, armor is not going to be where you will make money. Most people who want armor will not be willing to pay a reasonable price for the time it takes you to do a piece of armor. And neither aluminum or galvanized steel that you find at farm supply/hardware stores on 1/4 and 1/2 mile spools is really jewelry material to most people.


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"When you have bigger wire, you make bigger maille. It's neat like that." -Cynake, January 15, 2009

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Re: How do you make money at this?
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Posted on Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:00 pm
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roxics wrote:
But then I started to really investigate it. Checking out the weaving pattern and so on. Turns out my first thought that a few thousand rings would make a whole shirt was completely wrong. I found a website called the ring lord that sells rings and kits. Their shirt kit alone is $150. Yet I've seen whole aluminum chainmail shirts on ebay for $200. So how does anyone make any money at this? Is it just something you do for fun? That's how I'm approaching it right now,

It's a hobby. One really can't make much money from handmade things because, in this industrial age, nobody has a concept of what a handmade item is worth, of how long it takes to make and the skill needed to make it. Add to that the imports from countries where labour is cheap, and there is really no hope at all of getting a fair price for one's work. It is skilled labour, yet people sell it for less than an unskilled labourer's wages.

All my craft work I either keep for myself or give as gifts.
If I were ever to sell it, I would sell it for what it is really worth, which means that nobody would buy it. I don't care; I'm not going to undervalue my work. I'm also not going to give up my day job. Smile

roxics wrote:
I just make to make a shirt for myself for the ren fest which is coming up in a month.

A month for a whole shirt? I think you underestimate the time it will take. But good luck!

roxics wrote:
Another question; should I make my own rings using wire and a drill and some snips or buy premade rings?

Me, I'd rather spend my time making maille than making rings. IMHO, making your own rings is only worth it if you want custom ring sizes that you can't buy.


Craft isn't cheaper than therapy, but it's more fun.
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Posted on Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:17 am
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Step 1: Live and work in India.
Step 2: Use old but serviceable modern machines to do most of the work.
Step 3: Emulate the business ethics of Temugin, The Genghis Khan.


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Posted on Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:06 pm
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For a Newb, my advice echos that of ElementalDragon: do this for fun, don't worry about making money. Learn what you enjoy. I started out in armor--shirts and coifs. Now I do almost exclusively jewelry. If I'd started out trying to make money, I'd be going insane about now.

Secondly, don't try to make money off armor. Unfortunately, there's too much competition. Not just the visible kind, either--meaning the shirts from India and the like that are cheap crap. There's also people like me. I wanted a maille shirt, so I learned how to make maille. This website is your competition. Think about who buys armor shirts: it's people into the whole Medieval/fantasy thing. A lot of them are willing to put a huge amount of time into this, and you just can't compete with that.

If you DO want to do armor, make coifs. Focus on historical accuracy. Or do the Dr. T thing and make your shirts so unique that they classify as much as sculpture as they do anything else.

Jewelry, on the other hand, is completely different. Most people don't make their own jewelry; most wouldn't even consider it. It takes little wire, little time, and you can make a huge mark-up without people objecting (jewelry is expected to be relatively expensive, and fancy jewelry is expected to be more expensive in general). Plus, it has the added benefit of allowing you to use your practice pieces. I make unique necklaces, bracelets, ear rings, etc. for all my female relatives each year for Christmas, as much as an excuse to practice as anything else.

My recommendation for getting into jewelry? Buy yourself a spool of 0.03" aluminum welding wire (Home Depot or Lowes will have it). Play around with it for a bit. You won't sell anything spectacular, but your investment will be pretty minimal as well, and if you decide you don't like it you're not out that much. Alternatively, check out the bits-and-pieces section of the electrical section. They usually have scrap wire they can't do much with for a discount, and while 5' of wire isn't much to a contractor it's a significant amount of copper to play with.

As for rings, I've always made my own. Personal choice--I prefer the flexability of being able to say, at any time, "I could really use some bigger rings." Wire's cheap, and I'm using wasted time anyway (seriously, what do I care how long it takes? I'm watching Futurama; the maille is just to justify fidgetting half the time!). Plus, I'm impatient. I want to be doing something, not waiting for someone to get me the materials.

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Posted on Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:31 pm
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I have thought to myself a few times it might be profitable to rent armor items to a play or costume photo booth, (responsible / respectable people). this would mean constructing in aluminum or other light weight material but I think if you put your feelers out there is money to be made at anything.

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Posted on Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:59 am
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Shirluban wrote:
(Personally, it's almost cheaper for me to buy+ship oversea already made Aluminium rings than to buy locally a 30m galvy roll.)


Voici la difficulté.

Don't buy in 30m packages -- buy in a roll more like 2-3 kilometers. That's right. Or find a place selling galvy wire not by the meter but by the kilo, and in bulk. You're doing it the hard way!


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

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Posted on Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:12 am
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For a shirt, get your drill, a metal mandrel rod (wooden dowel will not do, not strong enough) and mini bolt cutters, the 200mm handle size. The pinch cut they give is okay for the humble galvanized wire for most armor applications like shirts. To powerwind with an electric drill, use a hands-free wire feed. This minimizes both production time and wire-whip danger of injury in the coiling phase. Mini bolties don't distort links, are sturdy and powerful and good for roughly 20 cuts/min. 350mm or so bolties cut faster and much easier on the hands, as you use the entire arm to actuate it -- it's good for about 30 cuts/min. You have to angle the coil so the tips of the jaws bear on it. Maybe a bit faster if you fix one handle to something vertical, jaws pointing downward, feed the coil to be cut up from underneath the jaws and let the cut links fall into a bucket placed beneath.

But a pinch cut, however happily speedy, isn't a pretty one, it's unsuited for jewelry.

Anyone who's made a shirt knows how many man hours goes into a 20K mail piece for just a small one. That's why nobody buys local artisan-made shirts for cash, though they may trade another piece of armor for something. The Indians just work for too cheap, and can provide riveted mail too -- half the weight of the butted stuff.


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

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Posted on Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:23 am
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Konstantin the Red wrote:
Shirluban wrote:
(Personally, it's almost cheaper for me to buy+ship oversea already made Aluminium rings than to buy locally a 30m galvy roll.)


Voici la difficulté.

Don't buy in 30m packages -- buy in a roll more like 2-3 kilometers. That's right. Or find a place selling galvy wire not by the meter but by the kilo, and in bulk. You're doing it the hard way!

I know Cutters I made this calculation when I started maille, and at that time I was more about to spend few money on easily available stuff to give a try.

The conclusion is: I can get already made rings, of a better quality, for about the same price (not counting my time), with about the same delivery time (VS hand-coiling and hand-cutting). So the point of making the rings myself was pretty much inexistent.

Of course, I could find a cheaper local supplier and build a set-up for power-coiling and power-sawing, but, for me, I don't think it worth the trouble.
Buying rings also gives me an easy access to many materials, like anodized Al, Ti, ...

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