Making my own rings?
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Joined: July 17, 2009
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Material Choices
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Posted on Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:23 pm || Last edited by Pfeiffer on Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:53 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Galvanized is rather unattractive to look at, so you might not enjoy wearing it around. It makes your hands dirty when you work with it, and has a tendency to smell bad. Just not a very nice metal for body wear. For the amount of work you will put into a shirt, strongly recommend you choose a different metal.

Stainless really has a nice look and is among the least expensive choices. You can weave with it fine provided you have beefy pliers. Only down side is that it's hard to cut. (See Score-and-Break below).

Rebar Tie Wire (soft annealed steel) from the hardware store is dirt cheap. But it is very soft (butted links tend to pull apart) and somewhat dirty. It may rust eventually too.

Salvaged Copper Electric Wire - if you can do some dumpster-diving, this would be by far the cheapest option. Easy to work with and reasonably attractive. Very heavy.

Bright Aluminum is a good choice and not too expensive. Very easy to work with, both to cut and weave. Makes a nice lightweight shirt to wear. Well worth considering. Cutters



Joined: July 17, 2009
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Location: Denver, Colorado

Score-and-Break Cutting Method
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Posted on Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:40 pm
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Score-and-Break is another way to cut stainless which is well worth learning.

See this article, which is very informative:
http://www.mailleartisans.org/articles/articledisplay.php?key=223

It gives you a nicer flat cut than snipping all the way through (aka pinch cut). And it is much easier on your hands as well. Takes a little practice to master (with 30k rings to cut you will be an old pro in no time.) If you want to make your own stainless rings (I think you secretly do), then this might be the way. Coif Smiley



Joined: July 17, 2009
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Location: Denver, Colorado

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Posted on Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:52 pm
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ashemdragon253 wrote:
I don't care if it would actually protect me from a knife stab or a sword slash or whatever; my pals and I like to casually debate the actual defensive value of chainmaille


Butted Maille links, like we are discussing here, WILL NOT PROTECT YOU at all. It is for decorative purposes only. There are many threads on the forum about the strength of real chainmail if you are interested. Surprised



Joined: July 17, 2009
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Location: Denver, Colorado

Slitting Saw - Mark ///
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Posted on Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:59 am || Last edited by Pfeiffer on Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:56 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Here's what it takes to cut stainless well (and without burrs):


This is the culmination of many years of trial and error learning to build a slitting saw. I thought it would be cheaper to make my own rings (and it is...now). I have spent well over $1000. in materials alone to get to this point (including all the failed attempts). But it works great, and I can cut titanium too (even more obnoxious to work with than stainless).

You have inspired me to finish the article I was working on regarding this saw.
http://www.mailleartisans.org/articles/articledisplay.php?key=787



Joined: March 27, 2002
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Posted on Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:10 am
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Galvy's color is different: SS wire is grayish-white to chrome-like silvery, and galvy is usually cloud gray when it's fresh. With weathering it darkens toward a rather light charcoal gray. I think random patches of both, like some kind of camo scheme, might sit poorly with you -- you'd find yourself thinking "Mad Max" not "artistic statement."

I wouldn't *just* throw them together. I'd use the SS as contrast, the way the Ancient Ones used brass links, if not actual gilding. With mail's self-abrasive habit, gilding amounts to conspicuous consumption! Accents, trim, decorative bands, that sort of craftsy thing. They did it with gold, brass, or silver back in those times.

I count galvanized as okay for mail you intend to have beat on. It is all function, no flashiness. It is fairly weather and moisture resistant. The medievals saw use in the idea too: instead of zinc galvanization (uses electricity) they would tin things, dipping them in the molten metal and shaking off excess molten tin. Fighting mail is not worn directly on the body, but over light to moderate padding: it's the resistant part of a two-component protective system.

I say "fabric" too -- the mail fabric is made out of, er, stuff. Things. Organizable things you can weave into the... fabric. You're not outta line.

Cutting SS, really, all you need is enough power. Knipex cutters are liked because they are powerful, and of high grade steel that isn't easy to break (though always watch out for the tips or corners of cutting jaws -- those are where they are weakest, so don't really bash those parts of a cutter). They're liked for being a lot of power in a small package, and while this is great, it comes at a premium price. With a larger, more boltcutter-type tool you can get the same cutting power, with the understanding that the wire will get parted in a pinch cut, as I said above.

Can be done. Can be done pretty cheap. Just not for five ninety-eight.

What you get with stainless wire, for four times the price of galvanized wire, is thoroughly incorruptible mail. And yes, stainless wire does take special effort to get -- maybe in boating supplies. Galvy you can find everywhere.

What Pfeiffer said, about mail to resist point and edge. That's gotta be fastened shut. Butted mail lasts okay in LARP and SCA rattan hardstick play. Some LARPs have standards for their mail armor, like steel but no aluminum, trying to inject a little reality into their fantasy. The SCA doesn't promulgate any standards for mail; the SCA does have some habitual AR's and wire diameters. Their habitual link sizes are the fruit of experience, and are typically 14ga 3/8", 14ga 5/16", and 16ga 1/4", the last perhaps looking the most true to the historical appearance of ancient fighting mail. Mail lasts very well under the blows of soft-stick padded LARP game weaponry; SCA sticks are harder and demand more and make eventual holes in the mail calling for regular maintenance, and HEMA rebated-steel players need their mail riveted.

Rebar tie wire *will* rust, guaranteed. Light oiling helps; light oiling, folding it together with oily cloth, and stowing the whole package in an airtight container/tight plastic clothes bin does about as much as you can do. Out in the atmosphere, mail in the race between maintenance and corrosion seems to have a shelf life of maybe six hundred years, seven hundred in especially favorable conditions. Rust from mail will smutch whatever is worn underneath it, so use that padded jacket known as a "gambeson." WD-40 can chase moisture off the mail.

The kind of open-at-the-front shirt you're working on was used for serious work in Japan. It was done in J4-1 weave, which is pretty much open-hang 4-1 mail, sometimes called "wrong-way." They made it up as a lining concealed inside a regular-looking Japanese jacket, like a gi top. An important part of it as an armor piece was it overlapped in front -- no gaps.

Closed hang is important in pull-over shirts designed to work as armor. Since they don't open down the front, you need to compensate for mail's extreme dragginess over each and every bodily hump and any clothing that gets rucked under it: you must persuade your mail to let go of your torso. To do that and remove an armor mail haburgeon, you remove your cinch belt at your hips, bend over to let your mail flop open under gravity (don't try this in space!), keep your butt way up in the air, grab your shirt by its neckhole and tug it over your head while you're bent over doing the shimmy. Gravity, again, helps. Your shirt, slackened open, slides rather reluctantly off you to land in a silvery puddle in front of your toes. Some girls like watching the armored boys wiggling their butts.

With something that opens in front, you've got less armor-ness, and no butt wiggling.

The very first article of mail I made was a really bad belt. I had to tie it shut with leather thong. This mail eventually got Borged into a shirt of mail.


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

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Posted on Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:27 am
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ashemdragon253 wrote:
But it seemed complicated to try to get that to fit in a way that i could actually pull it on and get my arms through the sleeves and everything.



And this is where closed hang is one of your friends in a shirt, and enough circumference in the shirt's torso section is another. Nothing here is exactly secret. Your other friend is gravity -- using the weight of the mail shirt.

In a tailored shirt, the smallest circumference is actually around your natural waist, navel level, if your build is youthful and lean -- not Buddha bellied. What you need in a pullover shirt is enough links around to get it big enough around that your shoulders and arms may pass through that belly part on the way to shoulders and sleeves.

Size: figure about your natural waist measurement with a tape-measure plus ten inches; this is your basis for how wide your body rectangle shall be. Close this into a tube, and open two slits on what will become the back of your shirt, to insert the contraction arrays in (I usually think of these things from top down, so if you can bear with me). These flare things out at the top of your body barrel to make the upper edge your chest measurement (nipple level) plus ten inches just like with the waist, for both shirt slack and room for your light gambeson under it. So what you've got is a kind of sloppy cylinder.

Your shoulder section from the directions I linked above is mainly a rectangle, draped over your shoulders. It has a neck-hole, set somewhat forward of the shoulder-to-shoulder line, not exact top dead center; your neck doesn't want to do that. You may include a slit to your neckhole that you can lace closed with a leather thong, so your neckhole fits closer but you can still put your head through. See below for putting the thing (and its weight) on.

Let me pick a size example out of the air and show how the number of links all round the shirt is figured directly from it, and thus you can keep track of how far along in building your shirt-of-arms/shirt of war. Say you're 44" around the chest and 34" around the waist. You are using 1/4" diameter links, inner diameter. Multiply 44 and 35 by 4, therefore, adding 40 more links to the top edge of 156 links for 196 links around your chest; add 40 more links to the 146 links around your waist for 186 links for slack in your shirt. Remember it will collapse in onto you when you put it on. (Hips and butt you can easily figure in later.) So both of those contraction arrays you insert, centered over each shoulder blade -- a helper is good -- are going to flare out enough to add 5 more links each, total of 10, to flare up from 186 to 196. This tapers your shirt smoothly from chest to waist. Expansion arrays for the mid-thigh hem over hips and butt and for leg freedom may also be inserted when you get round to putting them in, or else the skirt part on -- only depends on how you assemble the shirt, out of what patches of mail. Huge pieces or little, you get there in the end.

Getting into a pullover shirt: because of those extra ten inches of links, the shirt made in closed hang will make room for you as you get into it. A) slip your forearms into the shirt from its hem end all the way up to your elbows, getting your hands all the way to the shirt's shoulders; B) lift the shirt over your head on your forearms. keeping your hands at those shoulders as you go; C) let the shirt hem fall down over your head so your head's now in the shirt; D) pull your arms together a little so the rest of the shirt now slides down over you, and you guide your hands out the sleeves. Lastly, put on a waist belt to cinch the shirt pretty tight on your hips, causing the lower third or so of the shirt to be borne by the hips, and not have all the weight hanging on your shoulders. This makes a huge difference. BTW, if you end up doing the mailed warrior thing, don't use this cinch belt for a sword belt, but instead hang your sword on a separate belt so you can remove it when you sit down -- much more convenient. Short things like a knife or a belt pouch you can put on the cinch belt.

A mail shirt in wear has a weight like a backpack, and clings like a sweater -- if built closed hang.


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

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Posted on Mon Feb 18, 2019 3:51 am
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Speediest home hand-cutting method I know of:

Konstantin the Red wrote:

With the 300mm bolt cutters hung up near vertical by one handle, jaws down and a 5-gallon bucket underneath to let links fall off the boltie jaws when cut, you have a cutting cyclic rate of as high as 120 cuts/min. Mostly from arranging the cut steel cheerios to fall clear automatically. The in-the-lap-watching-TV technique I wrote about probably maxes out about 80. 60 being more realistically sustainable.


Requires some way of securing the boltcutter in its nose-down position, for instance a bench vise clamping one of its handles, leaving the other for you to swing back and forth.

I don't do two links at one cut-stroke; small boltcutter jaws don't go far enough into the coil and regardless, there's a tendency to get only halfway through cutting the second link in. Messy and it slows you down trying to fix it and to aim very carefully to try the cut again. I don't think it's worth the time you lose.


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

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