Jump to content
Lumba

Newby question about chainmail suit

Recommended Posts

Hello! I am relatively new to making chainmail and I've been making a rectangles for a shirt on and off for the past few months. After looking at a few effigies I noticed that the grain of the sleeves on a few examples ran in the same direction as the rest of the shirt. I want to achieve a similar look so my question is this, using a mantle construction and contractions for my upper torso up to my neck could I join that seamlessly to the sleeves? Are there any pros/cons to this method? I do plan to larp in this so I want to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the foot my end goal is a hauberk with tapered wrist length sleeves and knee length skirt. I've been working wit 16ga steel wire with an inner diameter of 5mm. 

Edited by Lumba
wanted to add more detail and clarify my question

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beep Beep!  Sure thing.

Okay, with a mantletop construction, your sleeves are naturally going to be with their weave in "closed hang" -- like the body of your shirt.  You just weave the sleeves on to that part of the mantle where they link up to.  I recommend angling the sleeves rather forward of directly port and starboard, to give forward freedom to your arms' motion.  You need more slack in the back of your shirt at the shoulder level, to allow your arms to go well forward so you can fight.  Your arms don't go far backward, so your shirt needn't either. Total extra mail in the back would be about five to seven fingersbreadths -- not a super lot, but it makes a difference.  Don't forget to figure your gambeson in.

The "shoulder rectangle" or "European Modified Square" kind of shirt (your mantle is the other family of shirt) just runs the linkrows straight out from the shoulder and then down the arm.  This is okay, and it's actually better for letting the mail follow the hinge motion of your elbow -- even of your fingers if you build a hauberk with mitts to it.  This type of shirt fits expansion zones over the shoulder blade area to give that added slack in the back so your arms can come forward and across enough so you can cross your elbows in front of you -- that's enough.

European modified square type construction of the shoulders sounds a little bit improvised and strange at first look, but it *does* work, and makes a liveable shirt for any period.

Mantletop shirts work easiest, with their closed-hang sleeves, if you keep to about half sleeve max.  But the square-shoulder recipe works for easily letting you tailor the sleeves so you can bend your elbow without cutting off circulation, by expanding in some slack at the elbow -- expansion/contraction zones again, little ones.  The mail sleeve ends up looking quite like a sock with a heel in it.  That is a little messier to attain in a closed-hang sleeve; you may consider doing what you can with a 1066-era Norman Conquest type hauberk, which were half-sleeved, skirted beasts.

  Crusader 'berks of the next century grew long sleeves, and the century after that, integral coifs and mail mitts or mufflers attached.  I like to say the Crusader was armored from kneecaps to bald spot in one single piece of equipment, a record never equaled before or since.  Okay, he'd put a helmet on top.  By the thirteenth century, this was a full helm. (Some oddlooking but functional detours on the way, too.  Armour nerds call those helmets "saltshaker pots" because really they did rather look like the top of a saltshaker, and gave spaced armor to the head.)

Getting the 'berk skirts right is another important bit.  If you just leave a slit up the mail, the skirt gaps, a big A-frame chink in your armor.  You fix this using expansion triangles/zones to flare the skirts out wider at the hem than up at your hips -- that way the skirts don't gap but just have a pretty closed slit.  Expansion zones are really good for tailoring to fill in gaps of that kind; you can make just as much or as little expansion as you want.  Let the slit be almost up to your crotch, but not quite, so your warrior self can enjoy begetting his heirs in due course!

https://web.archive.org/web/20160508055350/http://homepage.ntlworld.com/trevor.barker/farisles/guilds/armour/mail.htm

Download this for safekeeping; it's all about mastering those expansion and contraction zones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Konstantin the Red! I may try full length sleeves with mittens that I can pull my hands out of and I think I'll just have the suit go up my neck with a close-able slit so I can use an optional coif. I'll try posting update pictures as I make it in the months to come.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a note regarding your ring size, you didn't specify SWG or AWG but it could be pretty tight for functional sleeves. Most historical pieces would have thicker rings covering the chest and thinner ones for the sleeves and skirts. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

True; .063" steel wire around 5mm is dense and won't have a huge lot of expand/contract to conform to you.  Wire of that thickness usually wants 6mm or 1/4".  Variation  in link ID for varied needs in the same shirt is quite all right.

We call this sort of calculation link Aspect Ratio, or AR:  link ID divided by wire Diameter.  An AR of 4 is a very good flexible strong one.  A 1/4" ID gets you that ratio.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm an idiot and can't read a ruler, my internal diameter is just a bit larger than 8mm. I will be posting pictures of what I've made so far. I am not sensitive to criticism and don't want to do this project twice so I'm willing to learn from more experienced hands. Also I've decided to do full sleeves down to my wrists but I'll cross that road when I get there. 

 

Edited by Lumba
more elaboration

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That should be a good ring size for your purposes. What kind of steel are you using? It sounds like you want this thing to last and not require a lot of maintenance, if that's the case I'd stay away from galvanized or annealed steel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do those steels rust too easily? I do plan to apply a wax to help keep the oxidation away while I don't wear it. I live in Arkansas and the humidity is killer on some metals here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Lumba said:

Do those steels rust too easily? I do plan to apply a wax to help keep the oxidation away while I don't wear it. I live in Arkansas and the humidity is killer on some metals here.

It's not a question of corrosion. Galvanized steel, like fencing wire, has a zinc coating to make it corrosion resistant. It, and annealed wire, are both rather soft and deform more easily over time (meaning more maintenance) than stronger wires do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally speaking that's correct, some galvanized is quite strong but it also has issues with discoloration and smell of the zinc coating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The zinc itself is less the problem than the interaction of the zinc with your skin chemistry, I think.  Over a gambeson, I'd expect much less zinc stink.  Just plain zinc smell is like putting  your nose on a chain link fence post on a damp day --  you  get this faint metallic smell.

Zinc coating gets darker with weathering, going to a charcoal gray.  You'll see this wearing a galvy-wire shirt in Arkansas.

Stainless wire costs more, tends to be stiffer, and stays changeless.  Bright silver-white.  Stainless plate is popular for helmets used by people that get them pounded on.  Since you can really polish the stuff, it will bounce hot summer sun better than a matte black helmet would, so you're more comfortable even with a comprehensive headpiece on.

Annealed wire, or baling wire, is soft like lead and very easily bent.  But it is good feedstock for riveted mail, though you likely will have to anneal it again partway through making such links.

Edited by Konstantin the Red

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×