I purchased a Byzantine chain silver bracelet in Thailand. I want to
make one for myself in 22 kt and have been doing a lot of reading and
now practicing with 16 and 18 ga. Copper wire. The weave pattern and
the patience is no problem but the one I have that I would like to
duplicate has no spaces, is very tight looking but flexible and has a
square look. How does one achieve the tightness and the square look?
I suspect it is the smallest aspect ratio you can construct and some
kind of large draw plate or chain shaper. No chances for mistakes in
22 kt and I am assuming I will have to solder every jump ring.
Exactly*: *you'll need a square drawplate with successively smaller
holes (in the range you want of course!). You can make one of wood
if you have a nice piece of a hardwood (rock maple for instance would
be ideal) and can drill straight holes (a drill press will
help).Before using the drawplate if you make one "polish" the wood as
nicely as possible- remove drill debris with fine grit sandpaper, and
then using a product like 3M's Wet-or-Dry papers work from a larger
to smaller grit to smooth the openings to your satisfaction. You can
wrap the papers around a flat or triangle file to get into the
corners well. You can look for economy drawplates but often the
holes aren't large enough for chain drawing if you are making it with
heavy links. Use some bur lube or beeswax on the holes when you begin
to start the process and as you may progress and need to. add a bit
more if it begins to drag. remember drawing will add length as it
begins to get smaller so account for that when figuring the original
length of what size jump rings of high karat gold you will use.
Anneal as needed too. rer
Larry- Yes you will have to solder every jump ring. I solder half of
them shut while sitting upright in a bunch of slots cut into a
Then I hook the links together and solder the other half. I usually
pull my hand made chains through a hard wood home made draw plate. I
also sometimes use the square wire slots in my rolling mill to pull a
chain square and burnish it at the same time. I find using my water
torch the best way to solder in tight places. My torch tip is a
Good move on your part to experiment with copper. It will behave
much like 22kt.
Good luck I'm sure it will be lovely.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
...the one I have that I would like to duplicate has no spaces, is
very tight looking but flexible and has a square look. How does one
achieve the tightness and the square look? I suspect it is the
smallest aspect ratio you can construct and some kind of large draw
plate or chain shaper.
There is very little forgiveness in what the aspect ratio needs to
be for it to be the right shape and tightness. You'll need the AR to
be as low as possible without making the chain too tight. Start with
an AR somewhere around 3.9 or even a little less. Too much less than
that and it won't flex at all. Some experimentation will be required
with wire as close to the size of your gold wire as you can get it,
measured to the hundredths with a good digital caliper. Yes, it is
that fussy. And you'll need mandrels in 64th inch or smaller
The best thing to do is take the purchased one apart and actually
measure the ring to see what the exact AR is for what you want. And
don't forget to allow for springback when you wind your wire. Your
finished ring will always be larger than your mandrel and will
affect the aspect ratio accordingly. You'll have to test for that
too, with wire that's the same approximate hardness as your gold. I
suggest practicing on soft brass or half hard sterling.
You cannot draw this chain down like you can with loop-in-loop
It isn't "shaped" that way. It becomes more square as it becomes
tighter, with lower AR's. You'll just have to experiment.
Hope this helps.
This is exactly what I've been wanting to make for some time too. I
bought one in sterling silver and would love to be able to make
something similar. The jump rings in mine are indeed all soldered
and very tightly "woven". WhenI enquired about making such a chain,
I was told that the finished chain isdrawn through a draw plate. As
such, the rings do need soldering to preventdeformation damaging
them. The rings in mine are oval in shape, and I thinkthis is due to
the chain being drawn.
Your 22K gold chain is going to be amazing!
Byzantine chain does not need to be soldered nor pulled through a
draw plate. I use 1/2 hard 16 ga sterling wire, wind the rings to
the desired size mandrel, cut carefully, clean in ultra sound.
Assemble carefully, making absolutely sure the ends meet securely and
firmly. Tumble for final polishing in stainless steel shot. I sell
them all the time and have never had a problem. The only problem I've
had was one bracelet 18 ga. in box weave that a woman tore when she
fell and then I repaired. There are other constructions that do far
better soldered and pulled, but not Byzantine.
The focus of this thread so far seems to be on what's necessary to
draw a chain down to make it square. Certainly you could try this,
and theoretically it is a way of compressing the links and making a
chain tightly square.
However, my own opinion is that from a design point of view, the
Byzantine chain isn't really suitable for drawing down. First (and
assuming that are the links are soldered), the chain links would be
distorted into ovals as someone else mentioned. But more importantly,
the outside links of the Byzantine chain point in opposite
directions, so it might not draw smoothly. Even if you were able to
get it through the draw plate, drawing it down would thereby distort
the opposing pattern formed by the outside links. If someone else's
experience with drawing this chain is different, then I stand
I still think that the way to make it square and tight is to
experiment with the aspect ratio. I do know that the tighter it is,
the more square it is, until the point where it won't flex at all.
This requires experimentation. You may need to draw your wire down a
little until you get what you want for a particular mandrel.
I know I'm going to hear a lot about this, but chainmaille,
including round chain such as byzantine, traditionally is NOT
soldered. This flies in the face of some shop policies, and that's
awesome for them - you get to decide for yourself. Not soldering
does mean you can't pull it through a draw plate - but the square
shape happens organically with a small enough AR. (From 2 rings on
each side, results in square profile.) I do a lot of 20G 3mm, you
could *probably* go to 2.75mm - I don't make round chain from
smaller than half hard 20G wire - but you could, if you decide to
Hope this helps - at least you know you have a choice.
Thanks everyone for all your useful and detailed on my
byzantine chain project. I finished one in 18 ga. Copper wire with
an aspect ratio of 3.5. It's pretty tight and somewhat square but I
know in 22 kt I will need to solder the joints and pull it through a
draw plate. It was pretty easy and quick to make. Of course with no
soldering it went pretty fast. I think the real work will be making a
draw plate with varying size square openings. I think I will need to
make the bracelet first so I know the largest size holeto start
with. When figuring the size to start it is probably a good idea to
start larger to allow for bigger diameter links. I may talk to some
machineshops and see if they could make me a draw plate and the
cost. One advantage is theirs may come out more precise which is very
important and I imagine asteel one will flatten out and burnish down
the roundness which looks, pretty cool.
I hate to fly in the face of modern "tradition," but traditionally
European and Middle Eastern mail does, in fact, have each link
closed, generally by riveting. There are instances of welded links,
but riveting is by far the more common practice. It is important that
each link be securely closed so that the point of an arrow or other
piercing weapon will not penetrate the armour.
Mail from Japan, on the other hand, generally does not use riveted
links. But often it is not a full covering, as in the West, rather
only a flexible connection between plates.
Byzantine chain, also called "Konigslink," like all well made
chains, should have each link soldered. This is especially important
for your project since you are planning on making the chain from 22K,
which barely work hardens and thus will readily deform and open under
Purely as an aside, the modern spelling "chainmaille" is a faux
archaism, like "Ye Olde Tea Shoppe," meant to look antique or
artistic. "Mail" means armour, generally used to refer to the type of
armour composed of interlocking links, thus "chain mail." "Maille" is
an old spelling, but back when "maille" was a preferred spelling it
would not have been combined with "chain," and certainly not as a
single word. Have a gander at the OED's entry for "mail."
Soldering Byzantine Chain
I've made many byzantine chains. Some of them require soldered links
& others don't.
Whether a soldered link is needed depends on the link.
If the links are made from round wire whether it's soldered or not
depends on the size & strength of the wire & diameter of the link..
Larger diameter links may or smaller gauge wire may require solder.
Links made from twisted or other than round shapes of wire may need
Hi some history, from memory, chain mail was a great idea for a time.
But in the end was useless in the face of advanced technology, not
When the Mongol hordes arrived in Europe, them funny looking little
guys on "ponies" wearing silk shirts, made the European Knights
laugh. What no mail?
Till they pulled out their compound bows and in a few battles wiped
out most of the European knights.
The compound bow could fire an arrow through mail no problem. Also
the weight of the mail and the sizes of the knights horses made them
far less agile than the Mongols on their small horses.
Being able to fire arrows rapidly at a full gallop made a mess of
the ground troops.
Westerners are only here today because of the death of one man.
While outside the gates of Vienna, waiting to pillage, rape and raze
it to the ground, apparently what hordes do on their day off, the
Khan died. The hordes went home for the funeral and thankfully never
came back. The silk shirts did not tear when shot with an arrow so
the arrow could be pulled out leaving a clean wound.
So you medieval re-creators if funny looking guys on ponies turn up
don't laugh, remember your history.
Using a drawplate or for that matter the square side of your durston
mill, to change the shape of this type of chain from when its
assembled to a square section, is not the best way to do it.
As anyone knows a mill and/or draw plate will make metal square.
the problem is it also becomes not only thinner, BUT also longer.
What one needs is a method to make it square without it getting
This can be done by either hammering it into a square depression in
a block of steel, or much better still a milled square slot in said
hardened steel block with a steel punch to match the width if the
slot. Aligned to each other in a fly press. I have various sized
slots for different widths in one block.
If you dont have one of these then a hand held one will do at a
However any serious hammering needs the proper support for metal die
blocks. A bench block will not do.
Get yourself a proper leg vice on a strong bench. Its the way to go
for this type of forging.
I do a lot of metal reshaping from round to a lot of other shapes
and find its been worth the investment to make the tools to do this
job Its quick, accurate, and repeatable.
As for making square section draw plates, this is usually done by
drilling the said steel when its soft, then with a hardened steel
tapered square sectioned punch ,drive this punch into the said
various sized drilled holes to various depths to change the holes to
square. then harden and polish up.
Its not easy to drill square holes.
Let me just add that if you are making the links in 22k gold, then
you may be better off fusing than soldering. With a little practice
(try it first on fine silver) it goes quite fast, and then there are
no lumps or bumps, and no color variation, as from
Westerners are only here today because of the death of one man.
We'd still be here, we'd just have a different religion, and a
different set of masters.
While you're rejoicing the death of a Khan, you can also thank
Dracula while you're at it, for keeping the Ottoman Turks out ;-) CIA