Monday, 21 January 2013

On armour - chainmail - the simple chainmail shirt tutorial part 1

I've made enough progress with the commissioned chainmail shirt to make part one of the tutorial on how to make your own. Mind you part two won't be coming soon - it will take me a while to get to that point.

Anyway, on the point. As stated before - homemade chainmail is the obvious choice for good quality larp armor when you are on a budget and can't afford much. However, making something big like a shirt or a hauberk is the biggest possible project you can engage with so don't take on it without previous experience.

So - chainmail body armor - what do we need?

TOOLS. - the usual for making chainmail - pliers, a cutter of some sorts, mandrel and optionally electric drill.

BUDGET - depends on the material, the size of the shirt and your local prices. The ones you see above are from galvanized wire and cost about 30$ apiece in terms of raw materials.

First of all a bit of extra info. Chainmail body armor comes in 3 main types, depending on the size, namely - vests, shirts and hauberks.

After seeing my awesome photoshoping skills, back on topic. The given numbers are rough estimates of course, based on my own experience for standard 2mm thick wire and 10mm inner diameter of the links. Mind you there are hauberks with short sleeves and shirts with long sleeves so again - the numbers could be different.

The sleeveless vest is the easiest to do and a lot of larpers don't do anything bigger. However often it gives an "unfinished" look - it depends on the rest of your costume.

The chainmaille shirt is the most widespread type. Usually it has short sleeves covering down to the upper thigh. The tutorial will be for one of these.

The chainmaille hauberk is the biggest possible project and a major undertaking. Its slow to make, and heavy to wear for most people. On the bright side - its a full set of armor that covers  your body, arms, upper legs and if you have an integrated coif - your head as well and thus it can serve as a costume on its own. Just get some feet wraps and a norman kite shield and you are good to go with a garb that will be accepted pretty much everywhere.

So, how to make your own chainmail shirt?

First of all you'll need to make a lot of rings. That involves a lot of  coils - its better to wind all or most of your wire first, instead of making some every day. It will save you time spent on dismantling and re-mantling the winding equipment. To give you a rough estimate - here is what 8-9 kilograms of coils looks like. 

If you are making a shirt you'll need about 1.5 the amount shown - if you are making  a hauberk, twice that.
Don't worry if you have left overs. They will be used elsewhere.

The chainmail shirt can be divided on several parts - the main body, the sleeves, the skirt and the sides(they are optional - depends on how big you are yourself)
We start with making the main body of the shirt. For this I made a lot of veery long chains. 22 of them at 1.5 meters long each. Mind you this is for someone smaller than me. You should make more if you broad shouldered.

This is going to be the main body of our shirt - front and back combined. Once I weave them together in a big rectangular piece as shown above, I will check if it needs another 1-2 chains to adjust the size, then simply open a hole in the  middle for the neck. In the next part of the tutorial I will measure, adjust then close the sides. If you are making a chainmaille vest, that's when you stop. 

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