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Chain mail

Hi Elizabeth and all, I’m wondering if anyone has any experience
they can share with me regarding chain mail. I’m trying to fix
several old wire mesh purses and would like to make some of my own.
I’ve tried knitting, chrocheting and weaving, but nothing works for
these bags, (makes them swing) like chain mail.

I have tried to do some and found that when I crimp the jump rings
I have made together, that it isn’t a totally tight bond and that
they could come apart. I’m sure it would be way too time consuming
to solder together thousands of these tiny rings.

I’m happy for any ideas,
Thanks so much,

Hi Skye

The way I’ve done chain mail is to fuse (using fine silver) half
the the links before hand. Then as you start putting together
you’ll see that about every other needs to be soldered (or fused)
as you go along. Yes, it’s very tedious but fun.


Chain mail resources:

The Known World Handbook., which is the guidebook for the SCA.
It’s available from the SCA, but I can’t find their contact info
right now. I got my copy from Poison Pen Press.

I would contact Poison Pen and ask her for references. Or contact
your local SCA group.

Poison Pen Press
951 Coney Island Ave,
Suite 111
Brooklyn, NY 11230

Hope this helps!

Elizabeth Schechter
Silverhorn Designs

Hi Skye,

    I have tried to do some and found that when I crimp the jump
rings I have made together, that it isn't a totally tight bond
and that they could come apart. 

I’ve made lots of chainmail, all the way from 22 guage silver to
14 guage steel. I’ll describe my technique & maybe from that you
can figure out what’s giving you the problem.

  1. Harden the wire before winding the coils. (Directions follow).

  2. Wind your coils. Hardened wire coils tend to open up (become
    larger after winding.

  3. Cut the coils into rings. Use either a jeweler’s saw with about
    4/0 blades or the Koil Kutter. Cutting with a wire cutter leaves
    sharp ends.

  4. Assemble the chain. Depending on your assembly technique, 1/2
    of the links can be closed as individual links before they’re put
    into the chain

  5. Open the remaining links with a twisting moition. The opening
    should b e about 4 wire thicknesses. DO NOT pull the links open. A
    little assembly experience will help define the correct opening


  1. Grasp the link between 2 pair of smooth jaw pliers. The pliers

grasp the link just a little to the left & right side of the

  1. Close the link (push the ends together) so 1 side of the link
    overlaps the front of the other about 2 wire thicknesses.

  2. Open the link just enough to allow the 2 ends to pass each
    other so th e end in front can become the back.

  3. Form the ends passed each other so the end that was in the
    front is no w in the back.

  4. Form the back side of the link so it goes past the other side
    about 1-2 times the thickness of the wire. (Similar to 2 above.)

  5. Now form the links so both ends line up flush with each other.
    When finished the centerline of both sides of the link should line
    up & the li nk should lie flat.

Actually steps 2 thru 6 all happen sequentially & very quickly.
It’s just in the telling that it gets complicated.

The purpose behind all the forming, side to side, back & forth is
to hardened the link in the closed position. Hardened wire resists
changes in shape & the forming gives the link a round shape that is
a little smaller in diameter than the original link. The smaller
shape causes the link end s to stay together.


  1. Secure one end of the wire to be hardened in a vise or to a
    secure object (nail in a bench).

  2. Secure a cup hook (or equivalent) in the chuck of an electric
    drill (a hand drill will work, but it’s really slow). Flexshafts
    are generally too fast & hard to control.

  3. Secure the remaining end of the wire to the hook in the drill

  4. Draw the wire taut with the drill.

  5. While holding the wire taut, start the drill.

  6. Twist the wire until it breaks, usually at one end or the
    other. If th e wire begins to bounce while it’s being twisted,
    laying a finger on it lightly will usually stop the bounce. If it
    doesn’t, stop the drill until the bouncing subsides, then resume
    twisting. Sometimes nicks & other imperfections in the wire will
    cause it to break prematurely. If this happens, just start again
    with the shorter wires.

This same technique can be used for making twisted wire. If making
twiste d wire, secure both ends of the wire in the vise. Place the
center of the wire over the hook & twist.

Feel free contact me off list if you have specific questions.


The SCA has a home page at Also if you do a web search
there are many pages such as that offer tips on
makeing chain mail. Scott