Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Making Chainmail

I've decided to make a set of chainmail. Ever since high school, I've known people who had either made or were making a set and I'd always wanted to give it a try. Finally, last weekend, I went and bought the equipment and materials that I would need to get started.

I've read about how to do it extensively and it was just a matter of getting started. Here's what you need to make chainmail:
- Wire. I chose 14 gauge aluminum wire. I plan to also get some copper, brass and maybe colored aluminum wire in the future to add some color and style to the armor.
- Wire cutters. Choose good, strong cutters with a nice grip. You'll be using them a lot to cut the rings and you want something that will last a long time and be comfortable to use.
- Steel Rod. You'll use this to wrap the wire around to make the rings. I bought a 4' long rod, but I might suggest a 3 or 2 foot rod instead as it can be hard to wrap the wire by yourself with that long of a rod. My rod is 3/8" in diameter, but I've read about people using other diameters.
- 2"x4" board. You'll build a contraption with the boards to hold the rod while you're wrapping the wire around it. I had some scraps in my garage that I used to build mine.
- Drill. You'll probably need this to build your contraption and also to help you wrap the wire around the rod.
- Gloves. You'll want at least one glove to protect your hand while wrapping the wire. Don't use gloves that have a rubber grip as it will stick to the wire and could get your finger stuck in the wrapped wire. Believe me that this hurts a lot.

I'm not going to go through all the steps, there are tons of tutorials out there from people with more experience. If you're interested, go check some of them out.

I started with the plan to just make a bracelet for my daughter, but it turned out to be so easy to make a chain that I just kept on going. My first attempt at wrapping the wire didn't go very well, I almost cut my finger off when it got stuck in between the wire and the steel rod when my gloves stuck to the wire and pulled my finger in. Ouch. Also, I had trouble keeping a constant gap, but I didn't have to throw away too much of my first attempt. I made 103 rings in my first attempt. I haven't had a second attempt yet, but I think I'll get to 115-130 or so rings when I do.

Here are shots of my progress. Stay tuned for updates!

My wire wrapping contraption
My first attempt made 103 rings.
My first two sets of five rings.
Connecting those two sets.
My first chain!