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
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.
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
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
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 the links
- get the wire
- wind it
- clip it
- join the links
- seal the links
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
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.
Please note that I am in most cases fundamentally opposed to web rings
since they're run by central sites which farm magic-cookies and are able
to track your movements across the web. However, as this is a
privately-held web ring, I'll tolerate it just this once....
Please feel free to leave
mail praising my efforts of chainmail.
Back to Glenn K!'s Home Page
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