Re which way the rows run: European 4-1, and its variants with 6 or 8, pseudo-stretches more one direction than the other. You want that resilient direction, which I call "row-wise" horizontal on your torso so the mail not only stretches but also contracts down, to conform to your, well, form. If you have muscles like Ah-nuld, it will show. If you have a gut, that will show too. The interaction of your shape, the resilient direction, and gravity will tailor the mail to you. No rule against helping it along with a bit of waisting, so it won't always annoy you trying to slide through your waist cinch belt, transferring the shirt's entire weight to your shoulders. That wearies a man, and afflicts him with pains. Rob can tell you all about that, I think! -- he has a hauberk (lots of mail, like a rain coat).
In sum, rows horizontal on your torso, so you can both put on and take off the shirt without trouble, for mail will grab you; it has friction. Getting into a shirt of mail is pretty straightforward. Get your arms into it first, find the shoulders of the shirt, raise the whole over your head and let it drop easy. Getting out again has its secrets. Fortunately, we have Earth's gravity to help. Undo that cinch belt that has been keeping *some* of the shirt's weight on your hips instead of *all* of it on your shoulders. Bend over at the waist; your mail shirt will flop open as you do; you can peek down the whole front of your shirt. The draggy mail has now let go of your torso and is hanging at its full resilient-direction stretch. Crossing your wrists on your chest, take hold of the shoulders or collar of the shirt. Maybe bending a little more, to get gravity helping you, tug the shirt over your head and along, forward, with your arms. Do the shimmy, to help. The shirt slides off, over your head, and ends up a silvery puddle of links on the ground in front of you. It doesn't quite look like you just threw up a shirt of mail, thank goodness.
Horizontal rows on your torso. You can get away easily, and truly historically, with vertical rows on your sleeves. Long sleeves are easiest and functionally best with their rows vertical. It's also a total no-brainer, because these vertical rows on your arms' sleeves just continue the horizontal rows upon your shoulders and upper chest -- straight out. Also down. Thus, body and sleeves differentiate. (By using a variant construction or by attaching the sleeves funny, you *can* make the sleeve rows horizontal. This alignment suits short sleeves best, no more than elbow length. Elbows need a mail-tailoring that is easiest with the rows-vertical alignment, so you can get a long sleeve without any big trouble -- and even then, you have to taper the things down the forearm to aid control and cut some weight, which is important to swing a sword fast enough.
Sum up/TL;DR: link rows horizontal on torso from shoulder to hemline for expansion and fit, link rows vertical on sleeves, seamlessly continuing the linkrows off the shoulder, and cooperating with the motion of your elbow if they are long sleeves. Long sleeves are more complex than simple tubes: they have a pouchiness for your elbow joint like the heel of a sock -- and the elbow tailoring makes the sleeve hang rather like holding up a sock so you can see it bends in the middle; so does the long mail sleeve. That elbow tailoring keeps the sleeve from cutting your circulation off when you bend your arm.
Maybe. And maybe not. Pliers come in a smooth gradation of sizes, so you can easily pick and choose and do well. To work stainless links, you only need to keep in mind that you should use enough plier, which simply means pliers that are big enough. 9" slipjoint regular ole pliers have enough leverage -- and the broad jaw -- to close links easily. If you want, you can blunt their jaw teeth a little with a few strokes of a flat file, which you may not find necessary.
Titanium pliers you wouldn't want to buy unless you have a lot of dollars and not much sense. That kind of thing ventures over into non-sparking tools for special purposes -- beryllium bronzes I think -- and mail doesn't need that kind of tech to be workable. Mailling tools are mainly pretty basic things, particularly at the hobby level. All of them, including an electric drill and a rather short winding mandrel, would fit inside a medium toolbox with a good deal of room left over. (Excepting the drill, they'd fit into a *mailing tube.*)
Excellent for strength and lifelong durability, if rather bulky at their business end, are linesmen's pliers. They work well on large enough links.
Needlenose type pliers I don't much like for mailling work, except for a couple special uses prepping riveted links. To open or to close a butted link, you need breadth to the plier jaw; and needlenoses don't give the right grip and they slip. With slipjoint pliers, to twist a link open or closed, you grab the link right and left, 3 and 9 o'clock, with the cut link-end up at 12 o'clock, looking like =o=. Making a twisting motion with your pliers like you are revving a motorcycle, about 1/8 of a turn, you bend the link open. Closing is twisting in the opposite direction. You've seen it done once, maybe on a YouTube, you're an expert.
Now for a tip on Ye Mysterie of Saving Some Tyme, making the butted stuff. You can weave E4-1 mail together using half pre-closed links and half pre-opened links; they alternate. Very easy to pick up the knack of it once you're weaving at all; you can then cast links on two rows at a time (two columns at a time if you want to weave in that direction, too) -- maybe it's not really any faster, but it feels good. The timesaver for butted links is you can still spread them open, all at once, while they are still in the coil, then cut them in the normal manner even spread out like they now are. Grab the coil at each end and pull, stretching the coil to just a little over twice its original length. Cut these spread-out twists, just going along the length of this stretched coil. Stow these preopened links separately because they are tangly like a Barrel of Monkeys game. To weave them, just dip your pliers into this container and glom up a clump of tangled links and thump the clump on your worksurface so opened links fall off; use those. When you've run out, thump the clump again, rinse, repeat.
Your closed links, of course, are stowed separately, and a good many mailers who KISS will spend a bit of time preclosing a stash of raw links all ready to be woven. Hook a closed link (maybe two, depending on what you're doing) into an opened link, and weave 'em onto the mailpatch.
Wot Rob sed, about attaching mailpatches to, well, about anything like a garment, such as the padded underarmour jacket called in various centuries either a gambeson or an arming doublet, which is a more Henry VIII/Elizabethan-era word. The strong nylon thread they put in leather sewing awls is good, as is Tandy Leather's artificial sinew. Or ribbon-type dental floss, which is practically the same stuff, but the cord and the artificial sinew also come in several colors. You'd need to color dental floss with a crayon.
Straps, for anything to do with mail? -- special application only, since mail does so much of the structural stuff anyway. They're okay for making a closure up the front of a mailshirt; you want to locate them such that there is no gap in the mail when the straps are buckled, so cultivate a little overlap if you go this route. All you really need, actually, is some opening-up of the collar, if present, and if it's made that tight-fitting. With a slightly bigger neckhole you can get away without it. Workable mail shirts usually are pullover things -- no chink in your armor that way! To attach a strap and buckle to mail, I recommend using leather thong through holes punched in the strap and threaded through the mail -- tied off on the inside with the thong wetted with water, then the knot pounded flat with a mallet and something hard to back the knot up. That way it won't make a lump inside your shirt. And pretty much refuse to come undone; practice your square knot, not a granny-knot.
Lacing using leather thongs was fairly common, because it was smooth and simple. Done often enough on the inseam side of mail chausses, for that close fit. The less-armored stripe down your inseam wasn't such a big deal when you were riding across a battlefield on a horse, in a saddle. Earlyish in the fourteenth century, the legs were the first limbs to get armoured in plate -- because infantrymen were getting better equipped, and deadlier to mounted men.
For underneath mail, leather really isn't going to do much except make you spend lots more money. Don't get me wrong -- I too believe there are totally gorgeous things you can do to enhance your harness using leather, and I love tooling and carving the stuff -- it is creative, artistic, and it even smells good. Leather dye smells pretty good too, it's just that it colors your fingertips just as well as your leather, and then it doesn't scrub off, it wears off, and your hands look grubby until it does. Bleh.
What you really want underneath mail is a bit of padding -- about the amount of padding three sweatshirts worn all at once would give, say, three layers on the body and two on the sleeves. With a pullover, pop-top shirt of mail, have your padding, your gambeson/doublet beneath it be with long, close-fit sleeves. Otherwise that mail shirt will drag your sleeves into your armpits when you put the shirt on, and you have to stand there picking at yourself.
It took a damp, dank, cloudy, chilly place like Europe to make solid steel fighting clothes a practical proposition. It helped also that they often padded themselves with 100% linen -- that extremely airy and cool cellulosic fiber that wicks heat and sweat off you. Armored fighters who have used linen gambesons and helmet padding swear they will NEVER use anything else. It's fairly spendy, and if you find pure linen for less than four dollars a yard you've scored a real deal, but the results are worth it. (Not that Europe didn't use cotton in the Middle Ages, but it was a luxury import from exotic Egypt, near to silk.) Next best may be bamboo-blend cotton batting, a sort of rayon-cotton that rides cooler than all-cotton batting. Batting they make quilts with; it looks like muslin-colored flannel and comes in huge widths. Cotton breathes, but it also swells up when it gets wet, blocking further breathing until it dries again. Superb for canvas, even better for waterbags, not super great for the guy trying to avoid overheating while exerting himself banging away with a sword and shield. Lightweight wool actually works better for wicking heat and sweat. But damp linen will actually actively chill you. You can see where you'd want either.
For some reason there seem to be damned few pictures of how people attach closures to their mail. I've run lacing through rings and I've used a leather punch to create holes through which rings can be run. I've also punched straps for waxed heavy thread and sewn the straps right onto rings.
Maybe I should draw some samples up or find something online to compare it with what I have in my head. But there is a guy at my work, who got me into doing chainmail and I asked him about the ring sizes and difficulties that would come with it. One thing he pointed out was the difficulty of closing the rings with pliers. The pair I have now are like 8 bucks and are cheap. He had the same pair and he said stainless destroyed them. Now I need pliers that have a smaller end with the leverage to bend them. Do they make titanium end pliers or is there something you would recommend to use for is project idea? Regardless of the E4-1 weight difference to the E6-1, I still want to do the E6-1 but I loved the point you made about the weight and using E6-1 for the more vital zones. As for the leatherwork I'm putting into it (thanks for correcting my terminology), and correct me if I'm wrong but your saying not to make a full leather under layer only leather straps? And how do you make one with only leather straps not really sure how to connect it? I could see lacing because of the rings and by implementing a lacing ring but to do it with leather I don't really understand how it would really connect mail to leather. And my last question when making a chainmail armor which way should your weaves run horizontal or vertical? Once again thanks for any input, advice, or help. Ill try to reply daily if I got the time.