A few years ago a friend taught me how to make chainmail (sometimes called chainmaille). I spent the summer learning this craft and finally made a chainmail shirt and coif. The coif is the hood.
We decided to use stainless steel wire so that it would never rust and be more safer than using galvanized steel. Using stainless steel is more expensive but worth the effort.
The wire was 16-gauge and about a quarter of a mile long and was delivered by UPS right to my house. It was wound in a spool and pretty heavy. The final project shirt and coif weighted about 42 pounds. I bought more than one of these quarter mile spools.
First a gig had to be made so that the spool could fit on it and come off evenly. You can see the crude contraption below. The smaller gig to the right is where the wire went and the whole thing was driven by a drill.
The drill held a steel rod and the wire was wrapped around the rod and made into a long spring. Then I used the drill with a small saw blade to cut the steel spring into rings ready to make into chainmail. (Photos are my own)
Working on the Chainmail Shirt
The photo below shows a table with the partly completed shirt. You can see the little pile of rings and the pliers that I used to to handle and weave the suit. I used wire twists to mark places on the suit to show me where I was and to mark where I wanted to start something different.
Notice the pile of tiny saw blades that I used for cutting the rings.
4x4 Chainmail Pattern
The photo below is a close up up a piece of chainmail that I made. Notice the 4x4 pattern. This is my most favorite pattern and it was always thrilling to start a new piece. I loved to weave the rings together and see how they fit right in place.
Just holding this piece of chainmail in my hand feels really good and if I pull it out and let friends see it they want to know all about it and it always starts a interesting conversation.
Close Up Look at my Pattern
Once the suit and coif was finished I could use it for costume parties and it was always a big hit. Others would want to try it on and have pictures taken of themselves in it.
My brother used it to attend a medieval party and became the hit of the party too.
One time I attended a renaissance fair and brought it out, which sparked some fun conversation. Most people like to use aluminum rings to make their suit lightweight, so a heavy stainless steel one weighting 42 pounds always got people’s attention. This one would really protect you in battle.
Byrnie - chainmail shirt that just goes to the waist.
Hauberk- knee length shirt.
Haubergeon mid thigh shirt.
Chausses – Chainmail leggings.
Coif – Hood
Mitions – Gloves.
(My wife wrote this article. I was the chainmail model)