How to Make Chainmail

Chainmail is a type of body armour that is made from a large number of metal hoops or rings. This type of armour was particularly popular among medieval knights.

French Chainmail close up detail

Detail of French Medieval Chainmail 4-1 linkage Chain Mail in close up detail

However, having the chainmail made back in medieval times was quite a time-consuming thing to make and could be expensive. It is possible for you to make a chainmail armour right at your home, with the right materials.

*This should only be done by adults and sensible safety precautions should be made when using any equipment.

How to Make Chainmail

Deciding the Construction Material

Back in medieval Europe, the main material used in chainmail construction was iron. In some cases, brass rings were also used. Today, due to the availability of many different materials, you can choose between aluminium, iron, steel, copper, bronze, and many other materials.

Close Detail of Medieval Hauberk Shirt

The image shows the close-up detail of the interlocking rings of the Hauberk

Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. Steel, for instance, is a good balance between strength and affordability. Bronze is even stronger but more expensive, yet it is better resistant to corrosion. Steel is also lighter in comparison to most other alternatives. Aluminium is lighter but chainmail made from it will be very weak.

Ring Type

Medieval chainmail armour was made from different ring sequences. The most common was the 4-in-1 ring sequence in which each ring in the armour had four other rings attached to it.

Medieval Knights Clothing Haubert

Medieval knights clothing Haubert chain mail

Such armor is fairly strong in its build and effective for defense purposes against edged weapons. Another consideration in constructing the rings for chainmail is the thickness of the wire to be used. The thicker the wire, the stronger is the chainmail going to be, and vice versa.

Constructing the Chainmail

The chainmail itself should be built from countless metal rings. After you have decided on the material, ring type, and wide width, it’s time to pick up two solid pliers and start making rings from the material. A good start is to find a cylindrical piece of metal that is as wide as you want your rings to be.

Coif chainmail for the head and neck

Now you can use the pliers to wind the wire around the piece of metal. The next step is to cut the rings that the wire will form when wound around this cylindrical piece. This will give you a supply of the rings. You will then have to interlink the rings in a 4-in-1 fashion and after connecting them, close their open ends with the plier.

Finalizing the Chainmail Construction

Now that you have interlinked the rings and fastened them to each other, you are on your way to the final step of building chainmail. The final step is to carefully measure the dimensions of the chainmail that you want. Then you can lay the structure of your interlinked rings down and match it against the dimensions.

Anglo Saxon Armour

Anglo Saxon Armour

It is important to take into consideration the length of the chainmail and the fact that the neck hole should be sufficiently wide. Also, since medieval chainmail shirts were split from hem to crotch, it is a good idea to imitate this fashion since it makes the chainmail somewhat more comfortable.