I remember when Chainmaille was something you only saw in a few booths at the local “Renfest” (Renaissance Festival) or pricey medieval recreation catalogs. But these days, more and more jewelry do-it-yourselfers are tackling this gorgeous jewelry artform. So what are the biggest chainmaille making supplies you will need besides pliers? Chainmaille Rings!
Chainmaille Making Supplies
There are several different ways you get your hands on rings for making chainmaille, including cutting your own, or buying them. For this article, I’m going to focus on the topic of sizing of purchased chainmaille rings.
As you probably know, the success of a chainmaille weave depends in large part on the ratio of inner ring diameter to the wire diameter of the jumprings you create it with, called the Aspect Ratio or “A.R.”.
Different weave patterns require different ratios to look and hang right so this part is very important to get correct right at the start. If you purchase the wrong size rings in your chainmaille making supplies, you will have many difficulties on your project.
The eight chainmaille weave patterns I am going to focus on in this article are:
- European 4-in-1
- Full Persian/Foxtail
- Half Persian 3-in-1
- Japanese 12-in-2
- Parallel/Helm’s Weave
- Turkish Round
Byzantine Chainmaille Weave
The Byzantine Weave is also known by a few other names. You might see it called Etruscan, Birdcage, Fool’s Dilemma, Idiot’s Trap, Idiot’s Delight, or even Bird’s Nest. This weave is generally classified as Beginner level weave. It makes a very attractive ropelike form.
For Byzantine chainmaille weave, you can use rings with an A.R. of as little as 3.3, but 3.5 or higher will give better results. Here are two chainmaille ring sizes that fit the bill:
- 20ga: 7/64″
- 18ga: 9/64″
Dragonscale chainmaille weave is actually a slightly more advanced weave that involves the use of two different ring sizes. It’s a variation of the European 4-in-1 weave where each row of dragonscale has two rows of European 4-in-1 laying in opposite directions. It makes a very nice, tight and flat chainmaille weave.
The ideal ratios of the two different ring sizes you’ll need to make dragonscale chainmaille are 3.9 and 6.1.
The following ring sizes will work together to make Dragonscale weave:
- 20ga: 9/64″ AND 18ga: 15/64″
This is a very popular weave, partly because it’s so attractive, partly because it’s very easy to do, and also because it is flexible and drapes nicely. Much of the medieval chainmaille armor seen in use in Europe used this weave.
The ideal A.R. of European 4-in-1 weave is 3.3, though rings with a ratio as small as 2.9 may be used.
Here are two ring sizes that will work well for European 4-in-1 chainmaille weave patterns.
- 20ga: 7/64″
- 18ga: 9/64″
This weave is also sometimes known as Full Persian 6-in-1 and is another rope-form chainmaille weave. It is considered easy enough for even beginners to use successfully.
The ideal A.R. of chainmaille rings used for this weave is 5.5, but rings with an A.R. as small as 4.8 can be used. Keep in mind, the closer you get to the minimum size, the harder the weave will be to construct.
Here are two common chainmaille supplies ring sizes that will enable you to make a successful Full Persian chainmaille weave.
- 20ga: 11/64″
- 18ga: 7/32″
Half Persian 3-in-1
Half Persian 3-in-1 is what you get if you only do half of the full Persian weave above. It makes a great chain for connectors, necklaces, or bracelets, but you can also turn it into a sheet weave by adding at the edges.
The ideal A.R. for rings used for the Half-Persian Weave is 4.3, but rings with A.R.’s as low as 3.9 can be used successfully.
Here are a couple of appropriate ring sizes that will work well for this weave:
- 20ga: 9/64″
- 18ga: 11/64″
This is a doubled up version of the Japanese 6-in-1 chainmaille weave and is another weave that uses two different size rings in construction. When the correct sizes of jump-rings are used, sheets of this weave are more stable and you will see less slippage and twisting so the weave always lays properly.
The ideal A.R’s for this weave are 5.5 & 2.8, but rings with A.R’s as low as 5.2 & 2.6 can also be used with greater difficulty.
Here are two chainmaille ring sizes that will work well together to create the Japanese 12-in-1 weave.
- 20ga: 7/64″ AND 18ga: 11/64″
This chainmaille weave is also sometimes known as Helm’s Chain, or Parallel Chain weave. It can be expanded into a sheet weave instead of chain-form, but is most often seen in chains. It is another of the weaves that uses two separate chainmaille ring sizes instead of just a single size.
The ideal A.R’s of the rings which can be used in this weave are 4.0 and 6.0.
Here are two sets of sizes that will work for the Parallel Chain weave:
- 20ga: 7/64″ & 20ga: 3/16″
- 18ga: 9/64″ & 18ga: 15/64″
Turkish Round is a chainmaille weave that is very similar to one of the other seven featured in this article – The Byzantine Weave. It is a rope-like weave that looks great in very small rings.
Rings for the Turkish Round weave are best at an A.R. of 3.3, but can be used down to about an aspect ratio of 3.2.
Here are two ring sizes that will work great with this chainmaille weave:
- 20ga: 7/64″
- 18ga: 9/64″
There are many more chainmaille weaves in existence and more are being created all the time by chainmaille artists, but this should get you started with the right chainmaille making supplies for a few basic weaves.
More Information on Chainmaille Weaving
While researching this article, I discovered there are many great organizations and websites online that have information about chainmaille making. Here are a couple of my favorites: