Wednesday, 3 October 2012

On armour - advanced chainmail tools.

In the previous post about chainmaille tools, I mentioned only hand tools that you can use everywhere at any time. Even if its in the middle of the nigh, nobody will know or care since you make no noise. However that good may be though - making everything by hand is time consuming and takes a lot of effort, not to mention blisters.

Unfortunately the 99% of us will never be the Ringlord, with his custom built and unique machinery that takes uncoiled wire from one end and produced finished butted or welded chainmail from the other.

Still, that does not mean we can't save ourselves some time right?

There are 3 processes of production in chainmaille.

1 - winding coils

2 - cutting the coils into rings

3- weaving the rings.

For your average hauberk, winding the coils will take you 1 day, cutting them into rings 2-3 days and weaving at at least 1000 rings per day would end you with roughly 2 weeks of production time. Obviously it will be nice to shorten that. The easiest to do is to start power winding the coils.

You will only need a drill with a variable speed option.(The ones that power up the harder you press the button)

There are a number of various designs for coil winding sets involving a drill. You can find them on the net or improvise yourself. I myself use a piece of pipe (same I use for weapon cores actually) held in a vice. I'll show some of these later on. The result though is roughly 10 times faster winding. Basically for 1-2 hours you will wind the coils for a chainmaille hauberk or shirt which is quite the improvement from 1-2 days. As with all electric tools though, you should be careful and wear gloves and perhaps glasses, just in case.

That eliminates process 1.

Next one is cutting. the rings. Here the water gets murkier unfortunately. A number of possibilities exist.

The store bought option is the so called Ringnator its a ring cutting machine, that can work with various metal types though its best for soft stuff - aluminium, copper and so on.

It has variations that require an outside motor - a drill in this case or ones that come with their own. I know it looks like it was made in someone's garage and that's because it is, however those things apparently work and people use them. The problem at hand is the price. The Ringinator costs about 500$ and when you add shipping, it will cost you the same as buying 2-3 finished hauberks online.

To put it otherwise its a fairly major investment and that makes it unsuitable for small scale work. However if you say, are getting one for common use by your entire larp group things start to look different, assuming your group is 40-50 people, everyone donating 10 bucks for the common good doesn't sound so bad now is it? I honestly don't know whats the situation with the extra blades for this thing and how easily they wear out.  There are also homemade rigs, that employ similar process of work. I'm not that much of a handyman, though if you believe you have the technical skills and know-how feel free to make one yourself.

Such rigs can also be made with a jigsaw. I've seen it work and I know it can be done but there are low points too. Jigsaws are noisy and make a lot of sparks, which means that you need a special environment to use them, you can't just set it in your bedroom, and using gloves and protective glasses is absolutely necessary. Also the discs will wear out - roughly 1 for every 4-5-6-kg of rings depending on the ring size etc. That adds extra production cost which makes jigsaw cutting less appealing.

Anyway, that's the two options I know of speeding up process number 2 - cutting the rings.

Finally we come to the last one - weaving the rings. Alas, only the Ringlord has the means to speed that one up as you can see on the video above. Only way I know of making chainmaille faster is by involving more pairs of hands in making it. If several people get on with it and separate the labour you can do quite a lot in a very short time.

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