How do I make chain mail

Chain mail

LARP (live role play)

Compared to other types of armor, chain mail offers the wearer a lot of protection with very high mobility.
The prospective warrior or mercenary may still think about a few things:
chain mail weighs between 4 kg and 14 kg. The former would be a short, sleeveless chain mail, the latter a long and long-sleeved chain mail. Although the weight is evenly distributed over the shoulders, the additional load noticeably hinders the lifting of the arms when running fast or for long runs and with long-sleeved chain mail.
Depending on the stature, these restrictions are completely compensated for by the high level of protection.

The production of a chain mail takes a considerable amount of time and in some cases you will find your wallet as empty after completion as it would have been after buying a finished shirt. Therefore, you should make detailed calculations beforehand and make comparisons with finished chainmail.

With more expensive chain mail, the rings are riveted individually. This means that it no longer just depends on the material how easily your rings can be burst. But this processing is also reflected either in the effort or in the price.

Chain mail rings and tools

You can also make your rings from wire yourself. Due to lack of time, I decided to buy ready-made rings from an internet dealer.
The rings should not rust and be very difficult to bend open. Stainless steel spring steel is a good material if you have more practical than historical demands.
You can usually buy the rings in sizes from 7mm to 12mm ring diameter. You should keep in mind that smaller rings require a lot more working time, but the weight of the armor decreases noticeably with the ring size (ring diameter and wire diameter). The standard would be 10mm rings.
Depending on the type and size of your chain mail or the ring size, you will need between 15,000 and 50,000 rings, with an average of around 30,000.

Your most important tool are two combination pliers. Here you shouldn't save and pay attention to the softest possible grip. If you work on the chain network for a long time, however, the inexperienced must still expect blisters or calluses.
In addition, short cords that can be threaded through rings are useful in order not to miscount or otherwise make markings on longer sections.
I also use two petri dishes to separate the open rings from the closed ones.


Because this is your first step. You have to close half of your rings. You can do this all at once or over and over again if you need closed rings. The latter should benefit your motivation.
I usually take a handful of rings, close them and process them. Only then do I close the next handful of rings.

The beginning

You start the chain weave by opening a ring and threading four closed rings. Then you close the open ring again.
Now lay out the rings so that the middle ring points in one direction and the other four rings are two to one side and point in the opposite direction.

You repeat this step again. Then you open another ring and connect the previous two parts. The ring should point in the same direction as the other two rings in the middle.
You should not only pay attention to which rings you have to thread this ring through, but also in which direction the ring has to be threaded.
At the beginning you can leave the rings on the worktop to make it easier to thread the connecting ring correctly.

Expand the chain weave

In this way you continue until you have a long chain, the length of which should correspond to the width of your workpiece to be manufactured.
The second row is also such a chain.
The two chains are now placed one below the other and connected to one another. The connecting rings are in the same direction as the middle rings of the chains and are threaded through two rings of the upper and the lower chain.

You now put chain to chain until you can hold a closed, finished chain fabric in your hands.

Alignment and sewing pattern of a chain mail

Surely you have already noticed that this tissue has an alignment. This means that if you turn the fabric 90 degrees, the rows that were previously vertical are now horizontal.
Medieval chain mail is usually tied on the torso with vertical rows. This means that you are well positioned.
The above instructions are for a chain mail with vertical rows. Of course, horizontal rows can also have their charm, which, as far as I know, were sometimes used in Roman chain mail. Here you should make the chain shirt big enough, as it cannot be stretched in width.

However, if you want to make an entire chain mail, you will need a pattern first. A wide T-shirt is best.
Since I have not yet had any experience with chainmail with sleeves, I unfortunately have to refer you to other websites.
There are different ways to assemble a chain mail. The easiest way would be to recreate the front and back of your T-shirt as a chain mesh, to connect them at the shoulders (of course with a recess in the neckline), to manufacture and to close sleeve parts with the same or larger circumference as your T-shirt sleeves to connect a tube, to attach to the side of the body part and to close the remaining side seam of the body part.
The historically correct method uses additional, triangular parts on the shoulders and comfort rings (rings connected to three or five other rings) to narrow or widen the tissue.
From my own experience, I can say that you should never make the sleeves at the shoulders too tight, otherwise you will have some problems when putting them on. This also applies to a sleeveless chain mail. If you have knitted the chain mail sleeves too tightly or if you want more freedom of movement for your arms, you could leave the sleeves open under the armpits for chain mail sleeves.

If your chain mail should go longer than a hand's breadth over the hips, it is advisable to leave slits from the hips to ensure sufficient legroom.
These slots can either be on both sides or in the middle of the front and rear pieces of chainmail, the latter having a greater protective effect.

Combination of chain mail and leather parts

If you don't want a whole chain mail shirt, but only parts of the chain, these can be attached relatively easily to leather parts with a thicker wire.
You have to separate about 10cm long pieces of wire. These are pulled through the pre-punched holes in the leather and the chain mesh and twisted about 1.5cm high on the inside with a pair of pliers.
After you have pinched off the untwisted wire, bend the tip of the two twisted wires inward and insert them between the chain rings with pliers.
So that the wire does not come loose again and can stab your skin, you should cover the connection points of leather and chain fabric from the inside with fabric. Padding is an advantage on the shoulders and other places where the chain fabric presses on your body.