Glenn K!'s Chain Mail Page

a.k.a. - The Quick & Dirty Guide to Chainmail

I started making chain mail a while back. Being a grad student and trying to have a life, I haven't made all that many pieces. Certainly nothing show-worthy at any rate. Below are some of the pieces that I have made.
I haven't updated this page in a while other than fixing some text here and there, but I will be putting up images of bracelets, chokers, epaulet ornaments, bags (when it's done) and a really slick belt that I made. So stick around for more.

And be sure to check out what's probably the ultimate list of chainmail links on the web - Sara's Chainmail Connection.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in chain mail. I'm not in Society for Creative Anachronism. I'm no more than passingly interested in medieval culture. I am just an amateur hobbyist. I WILL make mistakes in terminology and method. I WILL offend hard-core SCA members with my ignorance. Deal with it.

This is the remnants of the first piece I made. It used to be a bootstrap, then part of it was a bracelet, then a sealed anklet on my friend Teresa. The rest became the long ugly part on the end of this keychain. It features irregularly sized and shaped loops. However, it also features a nifty box linkage. You can tell by the tarnished links that this keychain was actually being used by me. (Until I smashed it to bits seeing how much force it would take by hitting something)
Total Time: about 8 to 10 hours

This is a rather simple keychain I made (ok, it's the third one of these that I've made). See how shiny this one is? That's because I'm using a different kind of wire than I used for the piece above. On a side note, the diamond shaped part of the piece is made of a pattern called 4-link for those of you unfamiliar with chain mail, and the part linking the diamond shaped part and the key ring is a pattern called the box pattern.
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

This is my largest peice so far. I've had people try to convince me to start selling at rennaiscance festivals because of this one. I can't imagine why. It's not all that good. Once again, it's using the shinier wire, though it's still somewhat tarnished by wearing it around town and to shows and such. It is also constructed using a 4-link pattern.
Total Time: around 20 hours, but it's hard to say

belt strap chainmail buckle
This is the best peice I've made. It's a pretty cool little belt which uses mostly 4-link in the design. The belt strap and buckle, etc are all custom made by me for the belt. Ok, so I took the buckle off an old belt from the Salvation Army. Unfortunately, it's too small for me, which I suppose is alright because I didn't make it for me.
Total Time: around 15 hours, including leather work

How Glenn K! makes his chain mail

It's actually not all that difficult. Same as all things - a series of different steps.

  1. make the links
    1. get the wire
    2. wind it
    3. clip it
  2. join the links
  3. seal the links
I've made all my pieces so far with 14 guage galvanized stainless steel, formed into various sizes of rings. I've created the links by using a dowel or steel rods with holes drilled straight through one end about an inch and a half from the end. (see fig. 1 below) The rod was then placed in a drill and turned the drill on a medium to low speed to wind the wire around the dowel. (see fig. 2 below)
Make sure you keep the coils tightly wound as opposed to the way shown in the figure.
Also be sure to watch out when you let go of the loose end, because it will spin around and whack the hell out of your hand.

After that, using a good strong pair of end-snip pliers (none of those pansy wire cutters here... you need a good pair, expect to pay about $18-$20 for a pair) I clipped the rings one by one. I assembled them by hand usually, with assistance by a pair of pliers when needed, and sealed them with the same pliers. The pliers I use to seal have a bit of an overbite so that I can compress the two ends together with one pair, as opposed to requiring two pairs at a time to seal the links.

Please note that most chainmail folks dislike my methods. There are two main reasons why. Use of the drill tends to create a lot more wasted wire than used of a manually cranked mandril (it can also wear out a drill if you're not careful).
Also, by using the end-snips that I have, the ends of the links are somewhat rough and tend to snag finer fabrics and such. If you take a look at any of the close-up images above, you can see this quite clearly. The trick is that I do nothing to correct this. I could weld them if I were anal enough, or file them if I were anal enough. But I'm only a hobbyist, not a tradesman or shooting for historical accuracy. This is the main reason I don't consider any of my pieces to be high quality.

For a more - ah - informative version on how to make chain mail, take a look at There are several other chainmail sites out there, but these are some of the more complete ones. They have good instructions on how to make chain mail and list of links to many other sites.

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Glenn K! ( c 5 1 0 2 9 2 @ c c l a b s . m i s s o u r i . e d u )