I am wondering what the convention is for chain mail used in
items of jewellery - whether it should be soldered or if its okay
to just close the jump rings tightly and leave it at that. I had
assumed that the only really correct way was to solder every single
I make a lot of chain in many different patterns. Probably 75% of it
Whether the links need to be soldered or not depends to a certain
extent on the size & material the links are made of. It also depends
on the pattern of the chain & if the chain will be subjected to
other operations after assembly like, drawing, rolling, filing, etc.
Then there's always the question of safety, how resistant to opening
do you want the chain to be?
If by chain maille, you mean the pattern usually seen as medieval
armor, the answer is the links probably don't need to be soldered if
the gauge of the wire used is heavy enough (above 22 ga aprox) & the
chain wide enough (at least 5 or 6 rows).
Even if it is desired to solder the links, soldering chain isn't
that difficult. For most patterns 1/2 the links can be soldered
before chain assembly is started. Then, again depending on the
pattern, the remaining links can be soldered as they are assembled
into the chain or assembled into shorter subassemblies that are
soldered & then assembled into the complete chain with final
For the most part, paste solder is the best to use for soldering
chain. It has the flux mixed in the paste. Paste solder is usually
sold in hypodermic type syringes with changeable needles. Using the
appropriate sized needle, it's quite easy to apply the correct
amount of solder to the joint. One of the nice things about paste
solder is that it stays where it's put. Paste solder is available in
sterling silver & all kts of gold in hard, medium, easy & extra easy
from many suppliers.
Applying the solder to the inside of the link & applying the heat
from the outside makes for a neat joint. The heat draws the solder
through the properly closed joint & any excess solder tends to
remain on the inside of the link where it's less noticeable.
When applying the heat for soldering, a small tip on the torch or a
butane fueled torch work well. If you use too large a flame, you may
find that you melt some of the rings into tiny balls.
If you elect to use solder chips, the way that works easiest for me
is to lay the chip on a fire brick & lay the joint in the link over
When soldering the 1st 1/2 the links, lay each in a row on a fire
brick as it's closed. Lay them close to each other but not touching.
Place the links so that all the joints are at 12 o'clock. When one
row of links has been placed on the fire brick, begin a 2nd row
leaving about 1" between rows. Continue closing links & placing them
on the brick until the surface is covered or all the links are
After the brick has been covered with links, begin applying the
paste solder. Apply the solder so it contacts both sides of the
joint on the top, inside quadrant of the link. A ball of solder
about the diameter of the wire is sufficient. After solder has been
applied to all the links, Turn the brick around so all the joints
are now at 6 o'clock.
The links are now ready to be soldered. Light the torch & adjust the
flame. Begin at the upper right hand corner (if your right handed).
Apply the flame so that both sides of the joint come up to soldering
temp together. When you see the flash of solder on the outside of
joint, move on to the next link.
After the all the links have been soldered, gather them up on a
copper wire. Twist the ends of the wire together & place the links
in the pickle pot. When they're pickled, remove from the pickle,
neutralize, rinse & dry. The 1st half of the links are ready for
assembly into the chain.