Hey guys, as I might have mentioned in voice chat I do chainmail as a hobby. Recently I have been giving Torchlight a break so as not to burn out. Lacking anything else to play I dug out my tools and somehow decided to make a shirt. As far as skill goes I would call myself a "hobbyist", or if you want to get snooty and technical about it, "mail artisan". In order to call yourself an "armourer" you first have to demonstrate that you can make a piece of armour. This can be a belt, or something more complicated like a glove.
But the most common "rite of passage" is to build a chainmail shirt.
Now chainmail is one of those things that is really cool to see at first glance, and when completed. But otherwise boring as dirt to watch after about 5 minutes. Its like watching a sculptor shred his neighbours car into flakes with a chainsaw and then glue them together bit by bit into a dragon. Or build a full sized medieval castle out of sugar cubes. You get the idea.
But I thought you might enjoy seeing progress pictures and help motivate me to finish the damn thing.
Here is a small glossary so that later you will understand what the heck I am talking about. Will be updated as I go along.
Mail: Or "Maille", the original term for chainmail. "Chainmail" and worse "Platemail" are bastardized words that became memes mostly thanks to DnD.
Gauge: Thickness of the wire. I mostly use 16g SWG which is 1/16th of an inch wide or 1.6mm.
Mandril: A cylindrical metal rod that wire is wound around to form a coil.
Coil: Looks just like a spring.
Cut ring: A raw ring with its ends spread slightly apart.
Closed ring: A ring with its ends butted together to form a complete flat circle.
Open ring: A ring with its ends far enough apart that you can add closed rings to them.
Inner Diameter: The width of the mandril. This is what is used to determine the size of the ring.
AR: Aspect ratio, this is the ID of the ring divided by the thickness of the wire. Very important.
Springback: The tendency for wire coiled in a spiral to expand a bit. Affects AR.
Weave: The pattern you shape the rings into.
Stretch: How much a weave can be pulled in a specific directly. Most weaves are biased towards vertical stretch, but with many exceptions.
Flatnose Pliers: Small 6.5 inch pliers with a wide flat set of jaws. Great for general work.
Chain Nose Pliers: Basically miniature needlenosed pliers. Needed for tight spaces.
Seam: A seam is a line where the weave pattern changes direction, but the rows remain continuous. The most common are 45 and 60 degree seams.
Joint: A joint is like a seam only the direction of the weave changes between two pieces. For example when you attach two pieces together and one piece has its rows in perpendicular direction from other.
Rosette: A tight circle of mail. Most are round but they can take the form of other shapes. Usually built upon to form the bowl of a helmet and other rounded objects.
Trim: Decorations at the edge of a piece of mail. This can be as simple as changing the metal colour, or adding a band of another weave.
Expansion joint: A sub pattern in the weave that adds new rows of rings to make a piece larger. Can also be performed in reverse to produce a contraction. For the European family of weaves these can be done on two axis relative to the weave, vertical and horizontal.
Bias: A bias is the tendency of a weave to be flexible in one direction, but not another.
In the picture above you can see the current state of my desktop. Its rather dim because my room light isn't a good one and makes everything very yellow. My monitor is just above and the PC tower is out of the frame to the right. My PC in general only occupies about a third of the available space. Scattered across the desk are patches of mail and various tools. Nothing you won't get to see in more detail later. The white piece of paper is there to protect my desk from the sharp tips of my pliers. You can't see it but the veneer underneath is a mess. The circles are gauges that help me measure proper angles. The white bundles are stainless steel rings wrapped in tissue to keep them clean.
More pics to follow.
Lesson plan as follows. Stuff will be added all the time. Bold items are things that have been covered and will be tagged with a page number. If you think I missed something or are curious about something not covered just let me know and I can add it.
Demonstration: (Cool stuff)
- European family
- Byzantine family
- Persian family
- Spiral weaves
Methods and Materials: (How stuff works)
- p1 Coiling/Cutting by hand/Score and Break.
- p1 Cleaning/Polishing/Burnishing
- p2 Aspect Ratio
- Measuring in units
- p3 Stretch
- Speed weaving
From this point on it can be assumed that all work is done with elfweave and other european weave variations. I am focusing on these because they fit the overall theme that I want. Other weaves may come in later as trim and the like.
Experimentation: (Stuff I don't know is possible)
- Expansion joints vertical/horizontal
- 90 degree seams/joints
- Square Rosette
- Mirrored seams
Testing: (Stuff I know is possible, but maybe not practical?)
- Possible trim patterns.
- Perpendicular and diagonal seams
- Multi expansion test
- Weave transitions
- Size transitions
Design: (Figuring out what will fit)
- Armpit seam
- Upper arms
- Body tube
Construction: (Final assembly of the body panels)
- Same as above.