Mastering european contraction/expansion/circles
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Mastering european contraction/expansion/circles
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Posted on Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:44 pm
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So lately I was in need for some finger protection, and since I make maille, I thought to myself: why not make some chainmail for protection myself?

The result being the picture above, which turned reasonably well for a first try, it protects well enough but I haven't put to the test (protecting my fingers while polishing/cutting/heating).
After some after though, maybe using smaller wire/ring sizes would have been better. I started off making a strip and checking my ring size to fit, even then it turned a bit loose, with 14 rings length for my thumb and 13 for the other two.

But what really got me was doing the contractions to close up at the finger tips, and it demanded a lot of trial and error and still there was some loose bits and odd ring sticking out. It got me wondering how to really learn and master this technique.
There are some ways of doing contraction/expansion, these reflected at the various articles here, how each does a little bit different thing.
From what I could there mostly are three types:

  • going on a regular mail and attaching one more ring up or down, in a way that the point of expansion connects to 5 rings (3 above 2 below).
  • one less ring in such a way that it contracts at that point, and it ends up connecting 3 only
  • sometimes a combination of the both above, where the ring above connects 3 on the row below, but one of these rings only connects to one
  • and one which the ring connects only one to the above row and three below, maintainng its 4-1 ring density.


I guess the last one is the most proper form since it maintains the 4-1 ring density, it creates a 60° seam and seems to make the best [s]circles[s] (hexagons), as described in this article https://www.mailleartisans.org/articles/articledisplay.php?key=344

To 5 ring types cause them to curl up with high density, the 3 ring one causes the occasional hole which may or may not be apparent, I've been using the 4 ring method that is however a little bit harder to visualize and balance (since the hexagon doesn't actually end in circle).

At the bottom of the finger I also made a persian 2-1 trim, to make it tidier at the bottom, and so I added the smaller rings to help it keep its form. It wasn't ideal but I ended up making a sort of a finger trap, that indeed helped keeping the mail firmer on my finger.

Anyway, I'm not sure what I'm asking here, but advice on how to use each technique, how to avoid them curling up or keeping a better shape. [/list]

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Posted on Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:35 pm
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Alright guys, I started doing another finger and took this chance to try and figure it out better. I started off with a same size core ring, and six around at it seems the magical number for this. It is a bit tighter, but I'm aiming for my index finger so it worked out well enough.


At first it seemed wrong because there was a lot of curling together, but that is just a perspective thing, I also figured something from my earlier concept:
Quote:
going on a regular mail and attaching one more ring up or down, in a way that the point of expansion connects to 5 rings (3 above 2 below).
one less ring in such a way that it contracts at that point, and it ends up connecting 3 only

From what I could understand these both are the only way, one can do a common expansion on regular grain, you can only add the extra ring with a 5-1 connection on the previous row and a 1-3 on the next one.
The other way being the hole-row method, which in the example serves for columns but could work in the grain direction too, the idea being that you have two 3-1 rings side by side.
https://www.mailleartisans.org/gallery/gallerydisplay.php?key=1111
In this case I'm nearing the knuckle joint of my finger, so it would be nice giving it a little extra breathing, this method looks leaves a bit of a hole which could help easing on the density.

Also figured out the case:
Quote:
and one which the ring connects only one to the above row and three below, maintainng its 4-1 ring density.

which is used at the beginning phase showed in the pictures, the first row goes from 6 to twelve, its nice because it holds the 4-1 density, but only viable for creating flat circles, in which you would hold that 60° seam throughout. Which isn't really a circle, ends up in hexagon shape, even visible in my early pictures, which begs the question how would you turn that into a proper circle in this case.

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I'll keep working and thinking over this, more than just something to do this has been kind of my learning pet project.

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Posted on Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:20 pm
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Ok some more testings, this time I took strips from one of the fingers, tried the hole thing but with a persian stich between the strips, it didn't quite work out because even if the persian 4-1 maintains its density, it still naturally tightens the area. But I wanted to do it anyway at to help me visualize and test it out, it gives off a nice finishing ...


Now what's more important, I want to find whatever is really, as in the origin of the project, is protection for my fingers while working. Finding something that is tight well covered but still fitting nice is best, I think I can do that, but the hard part is getting the whole thing to stay on the finger, not dropping off so easily.

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Posted on Tue Feb 25, 2020 5:58 pm
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The best way to do this in my experience is to first build a fairly sturdy structural ring that fits you snugly. HP3-1 is great for this. Springy rings are your friends here.

Then you build a sock off of that with a larger AR but smaller ring size in E4-1. You generally want to reverse the grain from how you have it now for better grip and flexibility.

Use the 3-1 method wherever contractions are needed, it results in a smoother piece and better fit overall. Don't worry about the gaps, they're only important in puncture resistant applications which require very small welded rings anyways.

Be sure not to make the rings too strong, if they get caught in a buffing wheel or something you want them to break before your fingers do.


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

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Posted on Wed Feb 26, 2020 5:59 am
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As a general rule, I'd build a protective glove with the mail's resilient direction parallel to the fingers, which lets the mail flow with your knuckles as they bend, and then flow easily back when you straighten your fingers. And fill in around your digits however you figure to need.

This is the way E4-1 mail fabric runs down the mailshirt sleeve, and for the exact same reason too -- that the mail accommodates the hinge motion of the elbow joint. Just the way your fingers flex.

Small link ID is your friend here. As for what it protects against -- almost entirely, it's against getting cut by a sharp edge. Won't do against heat or shrapnel. Won't help with grinder wheels either -- put those steel links on a moving wheel and friction will heat them branding hot immediately.

Even worse for a grinding wheel if those links are aluminum! Super bad for grinding wheels. Hot aluminum in the grinding wheel's pores expands and fractures the wheel -- while it's spinning at 1300 rpm -- yikes.

There is a commercial product of this kind -- it is called a butchers' glove, and generically butcher's mail or butchers' mesh. Welded stainless, very small links of fine wire.


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Posted on Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:56 pm
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lorenzo wrote:
The best way to do this in my experience is to first build a fairly sturdy structural ring that fits you snugly. HP3-1 is great for this. Springy rings are your friends here.

Then you build a sock off of that with a larger AR but smaller ring size in E4-1. You generally want to reverse the grain from how you have it now for better grip and flexibility.

Brilliant, I have thought about changing the grain of the mail, but didn't consider the effects of its natural stretch/curl. I've guess I just didn't think about because of the starting expanding circle, which naturally leads to this type of grain. Which brings the question, how can I close up the finger tip like that, I can imagine reducing ID near the tip but still it wouldn't that tight closing on what is arguably the most important part. Also how you would go about connecting the persian ring around the mail, I'm thinking it will be a different grain as well? Have you done anything like this in the past?


Konstantin the Red wrote:
As a general rule, I'd build a protective glove with the mail's resilient direction parallel to the fingers, which lets the mail flow with your knuckles as they bend, and then flow easily back when you straighten your fingers. And fill in around your digits however you figure to need.
Small link ID is your friend here. As for what it protects against -- almost entirely, it's against getting cut by a sharp edge. Won't do against heat or shrapnel. Won't help with grinder wheels either -- put those steel links on a moving wheel and friction will heat them branding hot immediately.
There is a commercial product of this kind -- it is called a butchers' glove, and generically butcher's mail or butchers' mesh. Welded stainless, very small links of fine wire.

What do you mean by "mail's resilient direction"? But I'm guessing is the same as the grain direction change?
But yeah, I'm gonna try it out, and the butcher's glove is pretty much my inspiration for this, though I only really want the fingers for protection.

Also worth noting, its not an actual grind wheel, but I use a handheld flex shaft motor, among other things. Polishing is done with some more softer materials, though I do have a steel broom thingy and some smaller grinding stones, which in any case heat is a problem, but it won't be heating the mail directly, the rings might actually help dissipate it. I also use carving with it which is a more pointy tool, and making sure the mail doesn't get all tangled is going to be important. I'm thinking of doing some tests with these mail on a stick. Surely making smaller wire/ID would help with tighter more secure mail, but I only 0.8mm (currently using 1.1mm) wire, and can't weld, these are steel btw.

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Posted on Wed Feb 26, 2020 9:42 pm
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There's a picture of how I do the fingertips on my gloves in the gallery, it's a bit complicated until you get used to it.

https://www.mailleartisans.org/gallery/gallerydisplay.php?key=5887

I'm pretty sure Konstantin does mean to change the direction of the weave as well, he's just using different terminology.

His advice is all correct except about the heat, he's dead wrong there. We have an entire product line devoted to heat protective mail gloves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reP2I9UPjqA

They're basically like wearing a radiator on your hand and we've tested them up to 1200C contact temperature.


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Posted on Wed Feb 26, 2020 9:47 pm
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I almost forgot, I've found the best way to connect the Persian ring to the European sock is with Japanese style connector rings. Use as small an ID as possible without them binding up.


www.mailletec.com

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Posted on Thu Feb 27, 2020 2:39 pm
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Thanks Lorenzo, great answers. I just did a small test using patches from the previously built fingers, still relative thick wire, its tight, but fits quite snugly, and I think even needs the structural ring to hold itself. The mail ended up working more like a finger trap, easy to put because you squeeze it together, but hard to take off, because if you pull it ends up contracting on itself, but still easy enough to take off rolling sideways, just perfect.

But I still don't get how to do the tips, do you have any more images with a better close up? I can see it sort off changes grain on the tip and converges in a traditional concentric circle over where the nail is supposed to be, I'll see what I can do. However the overall glove is pretty impressive, do you regularly make these for production workers? Is that video one of yours? That's pretty cool if they're using mail without any undergarment for that, but it would still be pretty scary with so much heat, even sole radiation would be hot as hell, but that was my idea, since I'm not heating the glove itself, but only holding a small metal that might heat up with friction.

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Posted on Thu Feb 27, 2020 10:29 pm
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The exact tip design I currently use is a trade secret, I'm not at liberty to share it.

I can share the industry standard design with you though, it s not quite as good but much easier to manufacture.

OOOOOOOOOOO
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.OOOOOOOOOO
..OOOOOOOOO
...OOOOOOOO
....OOOOOOO
.....OOOOOO
....OOOOOOO
...OOOOOOOO
..OOOOOOOOO
.OOOOOOOOOO
..OOOOOOOOO
.OOOOOOOOOO
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Fold the pattern in half at the narrowest point for your fingertip and connect the sides into a tapered cylinder. That should give you the general idea, ring count varies with finger size of course.

As far as production of these gloves goes we do make them regularly but it's small scale. They cost 2-4x what normal butchers gloves do so anybody that doesn't absolutely need that quality uses a cheaper glove.

The gloves in the video are some of mine, but they are definitely using an aluminized kevlar liner for insulation from that sort of heat. The liner would burn up in seconds on it's own, that mold is for casting titanium parts and it should be at about 2000C or 3600f. At low temperatures you can go without a liner but then cheap kevlar or leather gloves are more cost effective for industrial use.


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

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Posted on Fri Feb 28, 2020 12:46 am
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Gfurst wrote:

Konstantin the Red wrote:
As a general rule, I'd build a protective glove with the mail's resilient direction parallel to the fingers, which lets the mail flow with your knuckles as they bend, and then flow easily back when you straighten your fingers. And fill in around your digits however you figure to need.
Small link ID is your friend here. As for what it protects against -- almost entirely, it's against getting cut by a sharp edge. Won't do against heat or shrapnel. Won't help with grinder wheels either -- put those steel links on a moving wheel and friction will heat them branding hot immediately.
There is a commercial product of this kind -- it is called a butchers' glove, and generically butcher's mail or butchers' mesh. Welded stainless, very small links of fine wire.

What do you mean by "mail's resilient direction"? But I'm guessing is the same as the grain direction change?
But yeah, I'm gonna try it out, and the butcher's glove is pretty much my inspiration for this, though I only really want the fingers for protection.


Sounds like it is synonymous. Let me try some more description to clarify.

I write sometimes of "row-wise" and "column-wise" for these things, and here "resilient direction" and "row-wise" are generally synonyms too. Now think of a square patch of mail. If you put your hands on it, either side, in one direction the mail may be stretched out much wider, and pushed together again very smoothly and neatly, the mail going from way open to looking like stacks of coins all together. That's the resilient direction, and it runs in horizontal rows in the body of a mailshirt, as contrasted with the sleeves, of which more in a moment. It sounds like this suggests a "grain" to you.

Perpendicular to this is the non-resilient direction, where pushing edges together with your hands just folds and wads the mail-fabric up. This I dub "columnar," for in wearing a shirt, this direction is vertical on you. A "column" is also just a plain chain, one link into another and that into the next, so on all the way down the shirt. Resilience and non-resilience are owing to the interrelationship of each link to the next -- they are different, depending on row-wise or column.

In a historically faithful shirt, the resilient row-wise is horizontal on the body from the hem all the way to the tops of the shoulders and over. This is practically a necessity for taking a heavy, draggy shirt of mail off you when you want -- you take advantage of the resilience in that direction to get this draggy stuff to actually let go of you. Come now to the sleeves, the story gets different. The linkrows of the shoulder section just continue straight out from either shoulder. Quite undisturbed as long as you stand holding your arms out in a T shape. But then you lower your arms to your sides -- and with that, the mail of the sleeves is hanging at its fullest stretch, in what our jargon dubs "open hang," and in the past, "wrong way hang."

But this is okay for sleeves; you can still get the shirt on and off. With the sleeves angled forward by the addition of some mail over your shoulder-blades, so there's some more slack back there, your arms have full mobility, even with full-length sleeves of mail. As you can see, that's good for sword fights (I mostly pay attention to that in mail shirts).

Mail's resilient dimension only pretends to be elastic like a rubber band. It can expand, stretch out, smoothly, but European 4-1 and its variants 6-1, 8-1, and 8-2 are really a steel chain in two dimensions. Like a steel chain, when it comes tight it stops -- no more give. After that point it can only break. Because of this, certain places in a mailshirt require more links added in so it won't bind your movements. As with the upper back of a shirt, so also long sleeves: mail needs to be added in, in columnar-type expansions, followed on the other side of the elbow joint by mirroring contractions, to put a pocket of slack right at the elbow so you can bend your arm without cutting off your circulation exactly like a bent garden hose. The sleeve ends up taking on the look of a sock with a heel to it; it takes a gentle curve or bend.

Putting on or removing a mailshirt, well, you can read my article on this site for the method.


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Posted on Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:13 pm
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So funny, I started making another ring using some mail strips from the previous one, it happened to have a little persian stitch in it, it looks neat so I had left it in. This was the one that the fitter really snuggling, the stitch is basically just a continuation of the euro 4-1 grain, but a bit tighter, it had a slight tilt in the grain but then I suspect I just made a mistake while stitching it back and jumped a row.


But anyway, I had no idea how to keep the persian to the tip and then got rid of it, the above being the result.
It ended up really well, the fit was snuggly but not enough to hold it, I made one contraction in the middle point and its quite apparent with that lump, I know this is because of the relative large ring sizes I"m using, but I wonder what other contract methods are there use with this grain.
Another sticky point is the tip (no pun intended), I did two contractions and then reduced ID size, the result looking like a ferocious sandworm from Dune.

Overall, this is really what I was expecting, to experiment stuff and practice from the experience.
lorenzo wrote:
Fold the pattern in half at the narrowest point for your fingertip and connect the sides into a tapered cylinder. That should give you the general idea, ring count varies with finger size of course.

I had thought of a method similar to this, it does make the most sense if I want a round and not pointy end of the finger. But I fail to comprehend how can one just seamlessly stitch the sides, specially around the curves. Its sad that you can't share you trade secret either, but thanks for showing it.

konstantin wrote:
Sounds like it is synonymous. Let me try some more description to clarify.

Thanks for the explanation, I know what you mean.

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Posted on Sat Feb 29, 2020 7:23 pm
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Gfurst wrote:

I had thought of a method similar to this, it does make the most sense if I want a round and not pointy end of the finger. But I fail to comprehend how can one just seamlessly stitch the sides, specially around the curves. Its sad that you can't share you trade secret either, but thanks for showing it.


Yeah, it is sad, but there's no real protection from knockoffs except that they don't know how to copy us. If they were good enough to figure it out then I wouldn't be able to compete with the Chinese, so I'm not going to help them along.

I'd say that with the ring sizes you're using the front and back of the fingertip should taper to a 90 degree point. Make them offset from each other by half a column to handle grain direction change and join the tips together like that. Then you just work back from there with 45 degree seams.


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Posted on Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:19 am
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Oh, welcome and well come, JNovak.


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Posted on Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:38 pm
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Alright, @lorenzo, I'm going through making a strip like that, its just taking more time because of other projects.
This time I've started anew with 0.9 wire, both 3.5 and 3.0 ID. Even with the smaller wire I've found that density wasn't that great, so I'm using the smaller rings for around the tip where its more important, but even then this is moving very close to micromaille territory. Got me wondering what are the ring sizes on that industrial mail glove, its very fine work.


And here it is the progress so far, on one side I've completed the band on the base of the finger just to get the right size, if its close enough I don't it will need a holding ring. Also starting to see how the bend will work, but still confused about some tricky parts while stitching the sides, specially at the bend. But I can already see a much better result. I'll also triangulate the transition from smaller ring back to bigger ones.

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