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The Old Way

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About The Old Way

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  1. The Old Way

    Armored Hoodie Project

    I wouldn't use TRL's welded mesh. I bought some of it a few years ago, as a curiosity, and did some strength testing on it. With little pressure, I was able to snap the welds with a pair of pliers. I see this kind of weld failure on rings I have welded myself, but either didn't have enough heat or didn't have enough pressure. A knife strike is going to apply a lot more force than this; it will be as though the maille is not even there. If you're looking into welded, I would get TRL's resistance welder and do it yourself. I am able to get solid, 100% fused welds with some degree of reliability with this device. You can use the join as a visual cue as to whether your welds are good; I prefer mine to raise up at the join. This lets me know the material is totally fused. If it's for personal protection, I wouldn't go much below 18g stainless. Too thin and you start worrying about tensile strength. It is possible for a thin wire to snap under the pressures we're talking about, or at least to deform. I also wouldn't got much larger than 18g 3/16" ID due to penetration concerns. Nobody is going to slash with a knife; at least, not as a primary attack. It's too slow, and leaves too much chance to fail. Most are going to default to the more difficult-to-avoid thrust, which is going to go right through an open weave. You'll want something tight enough to counter pocket knives, just to cover most commonly available models. With that said, please do not take anything said on this thread as 100% reliable self-defense advice. The best method is to avoid defense situations altogether. Armor is there to give you a better chance to survive; not to guarantee success. I would hate to see something happen to you because you trusted maille to be an all-encompassing solution.
  2. The Old Way

    Male necklace - Ideas??

    Can't go wrong with a good Byzantine. It's what I wear. I originally only made it to show the fact that I can make maille (sort of a free advertising thing), but I eventually realized that I actually liked it. That was years ago. I never take it off. I'm not really a jewelry kind of guy, but I feel weird without my chain. As a general rule, I only work with stainless. I have a sort of...thing...against "precious metals" and what they represent. It's also the case that stainless is widely accepted as "a guy thing". The only thing I would suggest is a larger gauge. My neckchain is 18g 5/32 Byzantine and it looks great. I think going lower than that would produce the "feminine" look you're talking about. I also like Half Persian, when the mood strikes me. Try Maille Artisans International League. They've got hundreds of weaves on file; you should be able to find something you like.
  3. Just got my 10lbs of random uncut coils! Sorting will be difficult, but the variety is great. I look forward to working with the new supplies. Thanks, TRL!

  4. The Old Way

    Machine vs Saw cut

    I'll mirror what's been said. The difference between machine cut and saw cut is not as much in the quality of ring closures as it is in the availability of production equipment. If you're making your own rings, and you want good closures, you're sawing them. I've been looking for a spring coiler for years and haven't found one yet. Technically, saw-cut closures are superior. There's a little divot in one end of a machine-cut ring, where the cutting arm has come down and snapped off the ring from its wire. This divot will be present on any ring, and will show in the finished piece. However, it's a tiny imperfection, and won't be noticeable unless A) You're using 12g rings or better, or B) The people you show it to are using Jeweler's Loupes to inspect it. There is also the added benefit of machine cut being available for purchase at about 3x the cost of wire per pound, versus the same per ounce (saw cut). How quickly the machine cut rings can be churned out, as well as the lack of finishing time required to debur and polish, makes machine cut the better buy (if buying is what you're doing). However, if you're making your own, this is where you get into the real difference. As I said before, not many people have access to TRL's ring machines. This reduces available ring-making options to either pinch-cut, shear-cut, or saw-cut. Having made quite a few pieces in the 13 (+/-) years I've been at this, I can tell you that saw-cut has more advantages than just cut quality. Pinch-cut rings are absolutely the worst. The closures look terrible and, if aligned, can cause rings to slip out of the weave. There are also concerns of time and fatigue to consider: It took me a bare minimum of 20-30 minutes to get through a 24" coil of 14g galvanized with a pair of good bolt cutters. I was tired halfway through, most times, and had to take a break. The same coils can be saw-cut in less than 10 minutes, with no chance of RSI, and very little fatigue. I cut a 40lb spool of 14g galvanized in two afternoons, and that was only because I got a late start on the first day and had other things to do. To make a long story short: In regards to Machine vs. Saw, there is a difference, but it's not a big enough difference to matter much for most applications. Either machine or saw vs. anything else? Well...in my opinion, the quality of the piece can not be greater than the quality of the rings.
  5. The Old Way

    Looking for a nice coiling jig design

    You'll want to take a look at this video: I made some modifications to the design, including a sturdier wire feed guide and interchangeable coiling heads. Changing heads takes seconds and reduces the amount of space taken up by equipment. To really save space, each coiling head is collapsed into flat pieces! One of these jigs and several heads can be placed in a small folder or flat case, or at the bottom of your mailling kit. It's really handy. To help with stability and ease of use, I normally mount mine in a vise. You'll also want a wire dispenser, or something to hold the spool while you coil. The material is nylon cutting board, which can be found at any retailler. I was able to get my rollers from a TruValue Hardware, in the screens and doors section. They're just ordinary sliding door rollers. Couple of machine screws, some washers, and some lock nuts, and you're all set.
  6. The Old Way

    Saw Cutting Rings

    I also have the Ringinator EZ, but with a couple of tweaks. The first is a custom coolant and filtration system (explained below). The second is an alternate method for controlling the drill's throttle (also explained below). These two modifications have enabled me to cut not only faster, but also more reliably and for longer periods of time (prior to blade breakage). The Ringinator is a great system; don't get me wrong. But the system, as-is, can only do so much. The first thing I had to get rid of was that awful aquarium pump. The only thing the Aqua Lifter can actually move is water. Water will rust many of the primary components of the device, if left wet. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not in the habit of dismantling my tools every time I use them. I tossed it in the bin and replaced it with a Powerhead aquarium pump. I'm not sure of the model number, but it is a submersible pump rated for a 50 gallon tank. These pumps are meant to introduce currents in a larger aquarium, so that the water doesn't get stagnant. I think its flow rate was something like 370gph. To introduce this pump into my system, I had to modify the discharge on the main housing. There is an aeration intake and separate adjustable control meant to hook into that intake. For this device to work properly, that intake had to be jammed. I initially had some unnecessarily complex setup, but eventually honed and trimmed until I had something that worked. My current system uses a bit of tubing from a small-engine fuel filter, jammed into the discharge nozzle until the aeration intake is blocked off. The tubing is converted to standard air line via brass barb fittings and a reducer coupling. I've got the pump sitting in the bottom of about 10 gallons of vegetable oil I picked up cheap at a grocery store. Filtration was originally achieved by way of the fuel filter, but it was just destroying my flow rate, so I had to go elsewhere with the setup. I had the drip pan fitted with a drain tube (air line wedged through a small hole in one of the corners), so that the oil would simply cycle without outside help, but that idea had to be set aside as well. With the increased flow rate I'm seeing now, I basically have to stop cutting every 1-3 coils and empty the drip pan. It's annoying, but it's necessary. When I empty the drip pan, the rings go into a seive and the oil goes into a collection tub. When I have enough oil for filtering, I dump it into the aforementioned modified drip pan. The drain tube lets the oil out into a coffee filter, which drips back into the main coolant tank. It isn't the fastest method of filtering, I know, but it's effective enough to remove the smaller particles that the fuel filter wouldn't, and coffee filters are dirt cheap. With this setup, my oil is as clear as the day I bought it, and cutting has never been faster. With the right combination of speed and pressure, I can zip through a coil (about 18-24") of 14g Galvanized in about 5-10 minutes. That's not the best part. The increased flow rate and non-rusting coolant make for excellent blade life. I recently cut rings for a galvanized shirt. The yield on a 1/2 mile spool of 14g galvanized was about 100 coils. I cut at least 80 of those coils before I had to replace a blade, and that blade had already been used on a substantial amount of 18g stainless (5lbs +/-). The second modification I made was to the throttle adjustment. The Ringinator EZ shipped with a common rheostat, much like one might find on a household dimmer circuit. It had to go. I'm not sure what it is about that switch, but it just didn't "feel right" to me. I had already ordered a Variac for my TRL resistance welder, so I gave it a shot. I was able to use lower speeds much more reliably, and the adjustments were more finite than with the rheostat. Call me crazy, but I really think the Variac does a better job. In the interest of workplace safety and common sense, I like to put a foot switch between the Variac and the drill. If something bad happens, I like to be able to just step away and have everything grind to a halt. As for my drill, it's a Harbor Freight model, but not one of the teeny ones. I like my tools to be capable of heavy work, so I don't normally accept "good enough" performance. I got the one with the handle on the side (I forget which model it was, because it was at least 5 years ago that I got it). I have used this drill to cut, to coil, and to perform its intended task (i.e. drilling things) on just about everything. It's got a lot more torque than the model I got from TRL, way back when I first started mailling seriously, and its top speed is nowhere near the insanity I usually see on retail drills. I think 3,000rpm is a bit excessive for a tool that needs 200. This drill has performed admirably, and under abusive conditions that no drill should be expected to survive. I would get another one in a heartbeat. The last bit of advice I can offer for the Ringinator EZ is mounting clamps. The way I've had to run this device requires a bit more pressure than I originally thought. When I pressed gently against the coil, basically nothing happened. The blade would kick the coil out, resulting in tiny nicks instead of steady cutting. I had to give it a bit of tough love to get it to cut properly, which I was always told was a bad idea on tools of this kind. However, with the right pressure (not too much, not too little), and the right speed (the blade will slow down when pressure is applied), this system cuts beautifully. The drawback is that, with any decent pressure applied, you're going to move the entire rig across your workspace. I picked up a pair of very odd-looking vicegrips from Lowe's to solve this problem. Each of the jaws has a rubber pad on the end, and the jaws form sort of a rectangle when closed. They're for clamping oddly-shaped or oversize workpieces, but they fill this role admirably. Properly adjusted, they're easily removed and prevent any sliding of the Ringinator. They can also go over lips or overhangs on the edge of a table or desk, which makes them perfect for the application. I'll end my mini-novel here, and hope that it helps in your quest for great rings. Welcome to the craft!
  7. The Old Way

    What are your favorite metals?

    Without question, Stainless Steel is my favorite. It's strong, reasonably light, shines like the legendary armor of old, and doesn't cost a fortune. Let's not forget how well it takes a weld! The bad part of this metal comes in two-part harmony: It is both difficult to cut, and has some pretty decent springback to it. One has to handle the metal with a bit more care and attention than mild or galvanized. As to my least favorite, that would have to be Aluminum. I haven't handled Bright or Etched, but I have had my fair share of dealings with aluminum ladders, aluminum shafts on various tools, etc, etc. I find it to be an unusually dirty metal and, while its light weight does impress me, I can't bring myself to use a weak metal in maille. Every aluminum wire I've seen can be easily bent with my fingers. I have also been told that Aluminum has much less electrical resistance than Stainless, thus is more difficult to weld. Never mind how easily it can be saw-cut, this metal has too many strikes against it for use in my projects! I haven't handled Titanium, Niobium, or Inconel, but I have done some research on their properties and pricing. I find them prohibitively expensive for the few advantages they have over Stainless. About the only reason I'd ever use Titanium instead of Stainless is weight, but the price is much too high for a metal of same-or-similar strength. So, yeah. Yay Stainless.
  8. The Old Way

    how do you do it?

    For me, nothing beats a wide, open surface. Due to space constraints in my workshop (i.e. it's a cluttered mess I have yet to clean up, from another project), I'm currently using the island in my kitchen.
  9. The Old Way


    My first thought: That poor table! Aside from that, nice inlay. I've been wanting to do some of my own, but don't like the idea of coatings being scratched off. I'd have to get two types of similarly-strong material if I was going to do an inlay. Did you use a program to design this, or was it freehand?
  10. The Old Way

    Oh God..the comments...they kill me

    I have no doubt. My issue with the comment was more aligned with the expectation that it would be done for practically nothing. The material chosen would have cost over $500 in materials alone. I was offered $350 for the complete job. ...no. Of course, mass-produced imports of low quality aren't helping the average consumer's understanding of proper maille at all. It's a huge stumbling block we've all got to contend with. Occasionally I'll find somebody who knows handcrafted value; as an example, I use my current client: I am working on a 4ft nylon snake whip for a repeat client. He's already bought two whips from me for $150 each, and has come back for a $75 commission. He asked questions instead of simply assuming that the $5 costume whips you see at Halloween USA are proper whips. When told the price, he didn't even blink; he just ponied up the cash and waited for his whip. A client like that is like winning the lottery, however. Most folks see what we do, and the price we charge, and they (sometimes literally) laugh at us for it. Now, that's not to say that some people don't gouge; I've seen plenty who do. I would just like to be paid more than $2 an hour for a trade skill in artisan crafts. Um...sorry, that was longer than I wanted. Empassioned viewpoints tend to carry me away. I'll go back to my shop now.
  11. The Old Way

    Oh God..the comments...they kill me

    Top Ten Dumbest Questions/Comments I Have Received: -Hey, is that bulletproof? -Isn't that heavy? -How long did that take? -How much for X Item? (Specifically without addressing the different weaves, patterns, sizes, etc. Akin to asking "how much is a car?") -I'll bet it's hard to swim in that! -Ever set off a metal detector? (Har har. No, I haven't. I just walk right through them. Sure.) -Hey, cool! Armor! So, if somebody hits you with a club, it won't hurt, right? (I had to manually uncross my eyes) -Did you make that? -Oh, cool! I want a trench coat made out of that! ~offers less than cost of materials, is insulted when rejected~ (Let's not even talk about the weight issues) -Is it Halloween? (Every day, my good man. Every day.)
  12. The Old Way

    Specialized Pliers?

    Yes, I'm afraid I agree. I just wanted to test the waters and see if any particularly gifted individual had come up with a solution to the problem. It looks like it's going to be Chubby Checker for us for some time yet. Thanks for the answers.
  13. The Old Way

    Specialized Pliers?

    The spring-back issue is dealt with effectively by the fact that the jaws are meant to pass by one another. In this instance, the pliers would be designed specifically so that they are able to push the ends of the ring well past each other, allowing for a variety of springback ranges. To close the ring, you apply only as much pressure as is needed to compensate for springback, then let off the pressure. As to the other issues, I do agree. My main concern is that such a tool would not be able to prevent the ends of the ring from drifting away from one another, causing a gap in the closed ring. As it is now, I already use a twisting method with my pliers which pushes the ends of the ring slightly toward one another when opening, then slightly away when closing. When properly done, there's an audible "click" as the ends of the ring pass each other, which is how I know the closure is as tight as I can get it. I just look at things like butchers' maille and wonder "Is there a hand tool that can do that?".
  14. The Old Way

    Specialized Pliers?

    Hi, maillers. I got to thinking about maille and all its RSI-inspiring glory, and wondered "Why hasn't anyone yet invented ring-opening-and-closing pliers?". That's basically my question: Is there a special set of pliers which will automatically open a ring for placement and, once placed, close the ring? I have to believe this is possible. Below I describe a vaguery of how I believe it might work. Firstly, the jaws would need to be fairly complex in order to produce a perfectly vertical motion (to avoid moving the ends away from each other when closing). I imagine a shorter bottom jaw with a "ring slot" carved into its tip, and a longer top jaw equippped with the aforementioned actuator, capable of pushing on one end of the ring with a pin of some sort (probably with a V groove in its tip, just for security) while the bottom jaw holds the other end in place. Presumably, one could open the ring, place it, then flip the pliers upside-down and close the ring. Add a spring-assist to keep the jaws open, perhaps some compound leverage to lower hand strain and you have pretty much the perfect pliers. This is only how I envision it, of course. I have to believe somebody else has already come up with a proper solution. So how about it? I've seen pliers with a spring-loaded magazine, used for putting the steel rings around the top of a bag of ice. If we can do that, we can make pliers designed to make maille easier. I'd buy them. Hrm...that's getting to be a catch phrase for me. "Fountain drinks dispensed at the table? No waiting for the server? I'd buy it!"
  15. The Old Way

    Galvanized and Stainless For Sale

    The last of the supplies are claimed. I am now closing this thread as per Trading Room rules. Thanks to all who have shown interest.