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Neil

Weighted Maille

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Hi guys, new user here. I've looked through some tutorials and made a simple chain scrub for a cast iron pot before, but that's about all the experience I have with making maille. I used to wear a weighted vest for passive strength training however stopped wearing them due to the bulk, it wasn't really possible to wear them under clothes and go about your daily business unless wearing a bulky jacket was in season. 

So, for this project I'd like to make either a scale or chain maille vest with some unconventional properties

* As heavy as possible without adding noticeable bulk and keeping range of motion. Definitely will use steel over aluminum. I assume scale would be denser than chain due to having fewer gaps, but perhaps there is a heavier chain weave possible.

* Able to be hidden under / within street clothes. My initial idea was to essentially create a chain lining for a coat and fasten it it between the coats shell and lining. I'd still want to be able to remove it in order to wash the coat when needed, and I'm worried this is an overly complicated approach for my first real project. 

I've seen a lot of advice on how to reduce weight for clothing but none on how to increase it so any input would be appreciated. 

As far as being hidden, would it be possible to use a standard vest design like the kit on 
http://theringlord.com/cart/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=90&cat=Chainmail+Armor+Kits
with possibly ring shoulders so the scales stick out less, and be able to wear this between an undershirt and overshirt without being too obvious?

Thanks for your advice, I hope I'll be able to get started soon and I'll make sure to post updates when I can

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Scales would be one way to add weight, but you would be sacrificing flexibility. You could do something like 5/16", 16 gauge stainless steel in a European 6-in-1 pattern to add weight. It would sacrifice some flexibility but not as much as scales, and would require approximately 50% more rings.

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Steel´s your metal then.  Not only for density but strength too.

Don't even conceal-wear it; put the thing on like a pullover.  After doing your exercise thing, remove it in the known manner for removing mailshirts if you build a pullover shirt, which is in many ways really the best way to live with mail's enormous inertia.  You bend way over, haul at the neckhole with your hands, and shimmy to help things along.  Gravity is your friend; you end up with a puddle of mailshirt on the ground in front of you.

Trying to hide it inside a coat lining is rather overthinking things -- go simpler.  Ingenuity is plenty cool but not called for here to arrive at your exercise goal.  Really, the worst that might happen is somebody would take you for a Creative Anachronist if they see you jogging down the street in a mail shirt.  If you want to cover your mail in a windbreaker or warmup jacket, that's fine too.

Making it real heavy means weaving Euro-4-1 weave dense.  I'd pick a link aspect ratio of 4 for this job -- density of weave with flexibility too.  The lowest you can get E4-1 weave's Aspect Ratio, or AR, is 3.2, like the beer -- it doesn't drape, it sort of bends.  AR 4 is like wire of .063" diameter in a 1/4" ID link.  Not too dreadful tough to weave at home, and also of a rather fine texture when finished.  Heavier gauge wire than that, say 14ga .080" wire, needs 5/16" ID, and also feels coarser and rougher.  And will be hefty!

These will also be smoother than any scale shirt, and wouldn't shred up any clothing from the inside if you do go to the trouble of putting anything over the mail.  Something like two sweatshirst worn *under* the mail is enough.  If you want, one shirt sleeveless.

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Thanks for the replies guys! As I got suggestions both for Euro-4-1 and Euro-6-1 I made a test 12x12 patch of both to get a feel for what they are like to work with as I only had experience with the 4-1. Although the AR is going to be off as I'm using a different size ring then the final product, I do like the density to mobility ratio of the 6-1 I think. I also had my eye on Euro-8-2 but I think that would be too bulky for my needs.

I do appreciate the advice of wearing it as a pullover and if need be using a sweater or windbreaker to cover it, but my ideal is to be able to put 8+ hours a day in wearing the vest (adding time gradually to prevent injury of course). As my standard office outfit is a dress shirt and undershirt I thought it would be perfect to be able to wear it between layers if I was able to make the vest form fitting enough, possibly with a super wide neck and no arms like a tank top so it's still able to be put on and taken off without too much difficulty and to avoid the issue of bulking at the underarms. 

So at this point I'm planning on a tank top design tailored as closely as possible to fit under my shirt, preferably 6-1. The last few things I'm curious about before I get started is for the tailoring. I haven't seen much information for 6-1 relative to 4-1 as it's less common, are contractions and expansions essentially the same as with 4-1? I'm also not too sure if it would be best to make the tailor every few rows, regularly trying it on and adjusting as I build it downwards, or if it would be best to make the complete untailored vest and then put contractions in afterwards. If it's significantly more difficult to tailor 6-1 I'll do a dense 4-1 as suggested by Konstanin.

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The contractions/expansions with 6-in-1 aren't much different but you have to remember that each one doesn't buy you as much change as they do in 4-in-1. I've both tailored an already complete shirt and tailored as I go, and I prefer to tailor as I go. There might still be some fiddling needed after completion, but you're much closer to your final product.

If you prefer you could do a 4-in-1 overall with regions of 6-in-1 in patches, to increase the overall weight. It wouldn't be as heavy as a full 6-in-1 or dense 4-in-1, but would be easier to work with.

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In a given wire thickness and thus a given AR, 6-1 will be significantly heavier than the same area -- square footage -- of E4-1.  E8-1 will need a bigger AR to fit two more links through, so the wire goes skinnier for a given link ID.  It's a handsome, stripe-ish looking weave but perhaps more decorative than out-and-out effectual.

Rule of thumb is to expect 6-1 to be twice as heavy per area, between half again as many links in it (half again as much metal) and that the links will be propped into a steeper link-lie -- a hundred links' worth of row isn't going to go as far around you.  That's one reason expansions don't get you as much as with the more open 4-1 weave; you also don't get the same amount of stretch/contract.

Keep your shoulder straps as wide as will fit on you, to spread the load of this shirt on your shoulders.  A skinny wifebeater style undershirtlike strap will want to dig into your traps muscles, owie.  Now you won't have to discover this by experience.

Formfitting:  okay, what is your chest size (checking your t shirt size is good enough) and your natural waist measurement, at the level of your navel?  That is, are you an in-shape dude, star of track and field, lean of waist and broad of shoulder, or is your sixpack more a pony keg?

To truly broaden the shoulder and deepen the chest, we're talking either splitting a lot of firewood with a big ax, or resistance training, with weights, featuring a lot of (eventually) heavy bench presses, incline and decline bench presses, military (overhead) presses, and French (same as military except the barbell goes down the back of your neck on the bottom of the rep) presses.  Various biceps and triceps exercises also, so your arms stay in proportion to your massive pecs.  With these and heavy forearms exercises -- for only heavy exercises develop and grow those dense muscles -- your grip will become so strong that no pickle jar can resist!  The kind of development a daily wear mail shirt will give you is more nearly aerobic -- your endurance increases.  You will mostly detect this in *not* feeling so exhausted, so spent, at the end of your mailshirt hours.

Or you can join the military and do all that with calisthenics in basic training, and gym work after basic.  If you go combat-arms, that is.  Which will mentally suit you to bear a shirt of mail with conviction.  Rrahrr!  Allows you to pick up a viking-era sword to go with that short mailshirt, and do so as would a steely-eyed killer of men.  Because you'll know more, inside of you, how to do that.

Edited by Konstantin the Red

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