Tools and The Basics

Chainmaille is a marvel.  All that is required to make a piece is wire and two pairs of pliers.  Really that's it!  Other supplies and materials can be purchased or made from household items, and in most cases you can buy manufactured rings which eliminates the need for additional equipment.  Even basic household items like knitting needles and twist ties are utilized when creating maille.

Suggested Tools
1 Pair Flat Nosed Pliers
1 Pair Chain Nosed Pliers

Other Handy Tools
1 Pair Round Nosed Pliers
Wire Cutters
*Knitting Needles (aluminum or wood)
600 or higher Grit Sandpaper
Mini File
Twist Tie  / Scrap Wire

Jump rings are made by spinning lengths of wire on to a round object, called a mandrel.  Mandrels do not have to be round, but for maille round is best.  The length of wire, called a coil is then cut in to rings by snipping the coil at a specific point, freeing a circle of metal from the coil.  Each ring is cut individually.  These days machines and gadgets are used to quickly saw through a coil creating hundreds of rings in a matter of seconds. *Many maillers hand spin their own coils, I use knitting needles as they are usually measured in millimeters and come in a variety of sizes.

The mandrel's circumference will be the jump rings Inner Diameter.  This measurement is crucial in some weaves and in other weaves it doesn't matter.  This is called Aspect Ratio or AR.

To determine the AR of a project or ring, divide the Inner Diameter by the Wire Diameter or  AR = ID ÷ WD.   It is important to convert the wire gauge to millimeters or inches before dividing.

Example: 3.0 ÷ 1.024 = 2.92

The example shows a jump ring with a 3mm inner diameter of 18 gauge wire, the aspect ratio is 2.92, an average for most weaves.  This ring will work well for most weaves.

Aspect Ratio determines if there is enough room to allow the jump rings to fit into each other.  Too tight an AR and the piece is stiff and impractical or just impossible to weave.  Too loose or big, and the weave will be lacy, or airy and the rings will not remain in place or will look messy.

*To convert inches in to millimeters multiply inches  by 25.4 

[Bookmark - Photos
From Left to Right: Chain Nose pliers, a 5mm mandrel,  flat nose pliers, graduated size mandrels from 1.5mm to 10mm

 Anodized aluminum jump rings, 10mm w/ 5mm ID

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