How to Make Chainmail

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How to Make Chainmail

Knights from the medieval times relied on armor to protect themselves during the heat of battle. There were many types of armor that protected the royal soldier on the battlefield, but chainmail reigned supreme as an effective armor material for centuries. If you’re interested in making your own chainmail, here are some tools and steps to help you out.

What is Chainmail?

Chainmail is an arrangement of metal rings used to make armor, jewelry, and costumes. Chainmail has many advantages over other armor types, which made it a very popular means of protection for centuries. Unlike plate armor, chainmail is lightweight and does not stress the wearer with too much excess weight. Chainmail is also very effective for deflecting blows from blunt weapons.

Chainmail is still a popular means of protecting the body; butchers may use chainmail to protect themselves from the impact of heavy knives. Chainmail is used more often today for reenacting medieval battles and for costumes. Fine chain mail items can also fetch high prices at stores.


Many craft stores sell premade rings that you can link together with some simple tools included in the kit, but you can have more control over your chain mail project if you make and link the rings on your own. Here are the tools you need to make your own chainmail piece:

    making chainmail

  • Wire. Craft wire is best for making chain mail. Thin wires are easier to work with, but they don’t last as long as thicker-gauge wires. Thicker wires don’t deform as much as thin-gauge wires, but they can be quite difficult to bend into rings and to close with pliers.
  • Rods. A pencil or dowel may be round enough to help you make rings, but the pressure and force from the forming and bending process can deform the wood, causing the rings to become uneven in diameter. It’s best to use a steel rod or even a screwdriver, or mandrels you can buy from the arts and crafts store.
  • Vise and hacksaw. While you can use wire cutters to make rings, you can have a clean cut by using a vise and hacksaw. The tools also help reduce the effort in preparing the workpieces.
  • Pliers. A pair of long-nosed pliers gives you the right leverage to work with the rings. A smaller pair of pliers also give you more control over the workpiece.
  • Goggles. The small rings can go flying when you cut them, so make sure to wear a pair of safety goggles or glasses when you’re making your project.


  1. Wind the spool of wire around the rod or mandrel. Keep the coil as tightly-spaced as possible to keep the ring widths even.
  2. Prop the mandrel into a vise, and cut through the rings with a hacksaw.
  3. Close four rings, and attach them to a fifth ring. Close the fifth ring, and lay the set of rings on a flat surface.
  4. Arrange the rings so that two rings go over the middle ring, and two rings go under the center ring.
  5. Thread two closed rings to another open ring.
  6. Threat the two closed rings from the first set of rings to the bottom of the new ring, and close the ring ends. Repeat the steps until you create a column of mail.
  7. To create a row of mail, thread two closed rings together on an open ring. Pass the open ring to the two rings on the column, with the upper ring on top and the lower ring on the bottom.
  8. Continue the process until you have a complete rows and columns for your chainmail project.

A full chainmail shirt is quite heavy, and will take tens of thousands of rings to complete. You can start with something simple for your first project, and progress to more complicated ones over time.