Evil Medieval Chainmail Armour

Being interested in ancient and medieval European history (especially battles and weapons), I became interested in making some armour. This particular type is called mail armour (or, more commonly, chainmail, which isn't really the correct word for it). Other types of armour from this period include plate armour, which is much heavier, harder to make, but more protective; scale armour; and also armour made of heavy leather. Also, combinations of plate/mail, leather/mail etc can be made.

Mail is made from joining together many links. Traditional mail was often made from riveted rings, or a mix of solid and riveted rings, but thats hard to do and insanely time consuming, therefore, mine is butted (the cut rings are simply closed so that the ends meet). Solid or riveted rings would add protection against direct impacts from sharp object which would pry a butted ring apart. One would also wear leather padding underneath to absorb the blows. Without such padding also, if you were to get stabbed by a sword, it might push rings into the open wound which might be painful to take out... The steel that was used for medieval (and before) mail armour was mild steel. This is ordinary steel, that looks grey to dark grey in colour, and with time it darkens and rusts. It is therefore quite historically inaccurate when you see soldiers wearing nice glittering chainmail in the movies !

Below you can see pictures of what I have made so far, being worn by me and my room mate (he doesn't talk that much, has no arms - lost 'em in battle, and only one leg...but as you can see, he does complain if I take the armour away...). I have made a shirt, coif and a vest for myself, a vest/coif for a friend and a banner for my office. I make the rings myself; simply buy 10 lb spools of wire, wind it on a rod (5/16", 3/8" or 7/16" for these projects), then cut each ring with a pair of side cutters and use pliers to put them together. Over time I have learned that threadless rods are the best to work with, as they save lots of time and energy in taking the finished coils off the rod. A decent pair of sidecutters (for the 16ga) will last you longer and stay sharper longer than the cheapest ones you can find, and a pair of bit more expensive parallel-action jaw cutters works great for heavier gauge wire - its actually easier to cut the thicker wire with them than it is to cut the thinner wire with sidecutters!

For my first project, the shirt (called a hauberk) and the head cap (called a coif), the pattern used is the traditional "4 in 1" pattern that was used throughout Europe for hundreds of years. Simply, each ring goes through four other rings. The material used for both are both made from 16ga galvanized steel, and the rings are 5/16" inner diameter. The inlay on the shirt is made of brass and bronze. The double sword inlay symbolizes the famous Battle of Grunwald, between the Poles and the Germans in 1410. The shirt took me about 150 hours or so to make (about 4 months), it contains 18,000 rings and weights about 18.5 lb. The coif took me about 35 hours (about three weeks), contains 4,500 rings and weights about 4.5 lb. These were finished in the first half of 2002.

Below is my next piece of armour, a vest, finished in Nov 2002. Its made from heavier 14ga galvanized steel wire, the ring size is 7/16", and the weave is the denser "6 in 1". The total number of rings in this piece of armour is 10,000 and the total weight is 22 lb. It took me bit less than two months to make this piece (about 75 hours). For the inlay I decided on a nice double headed battle axe, for with I used bronze for the handle, and mild steel for the blade part. The inspiration came from medieval weapons, and Pink Floyd :-)

During the summer of 2003 I have finally made my first chainmail banner. I was thinking about it for a while, and finally the project was realized. I have used 3/8" 14ga galvanized and mild steel (black) rings. It contains some 4000 rings and took me only two weeks to make.

At the bottom you will find pictures of my kung-fu instructor, Paul Stiles, wearing the chainmail armour I made for him with my friend Muoi. It is also made of 16ga 5/16" rings of galvanized steel, with a brass/bronze sword inlay. This time I started with ready rings though, and both pieces took a month to make. The vest has about 12,500 rings, and the coif about 4,500. It was a B-Day present for him, and as you can see he is very happy :-)

My room mate wearing my armour

Me wearing my 4 in 1 shirt and coif

"Careful with that axe Eugene!" - Me with my 6 in 1 vest

The Banner of Death, in my office

Sifu wearing the armour I made for him with a friend

The Ring Lord

By The Sword Inc

Kult of Athena


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