Mail Stuff
I first encountered a shirt of mail in 1986, when I was at Reed College, in an International Fantasy and Gaming Society tournament. It looked extremely cool and I knew I had to have one. Returning home at Christmas, I purchased 1/4 mile of 12-ga steel wire, used for hanging suspended ceilings in buildings, and learned to wind it on a 3/8" mandrel and cut it with a hacksaw. There was an abortive foray into using bolt cutters or dikes, but the product was not up to my standards, so I returned and have stayed with hacksawing (aside from another foray I'll talk about later.) My first shirt (which I still have) is embarrassingly primitive, almost like a poncho, and extremely heavy, very lacking in flexibility.

Subsequent experimentation led me to two general standards for fighting armor: 14 ga galvanized mild steel wire wound on a 3/8" mandrel, cut by a 24 tpi Lenox hacksaw blade, or occasionally a metalcutting bandsaw under kerosine, and use of 17 ga galvanized mild steel wire wound on a 1/8" mandrel, cut by a 32 tpi Lenox.

Another abortive attempt in ring cutting was the design and use of an EDM from plans found in Home Shop Machinist. The EDM driver used light bulbs as resistors and worked fairly well, but the clamping mechanism for the kerosine-submerged rings, and the feedback, were both primitive at best. This resulted in continuous welding of the toolbit (a thin steel sheet) to the ring.

Specific details on the manufacture of mail are provided in my page, How You Can Make Mail At Home and if you want to try it, I'll answer what questions I can.

I've done some plate armor/mail mixes, including a lovely helm with a hammered (raised) copper bowl, with steel straps copper-riveted to it to provide extra strength and nasal protection, and fine mail descending to cover the shoulders. Picture forthcoming.

One little apotheosis was being allowed to handle, measure, and play around with a shirt of 22ga, 1/8"-ring-diameter, riveted (and partly welded) mail from circa 1510, that resides in the Gustafson Collection at Colorado State University. It is spectacular, and it's a moving experience to get to hold something like that in my hands. It was obviously heavily used, as it had a number of patches and repaired sections, some from rust and some from holes (ouch.)

Lately, my interests in jewelry, machining, and casting have rather eclipsed my mail fascination, although I still make quite a bit for friends. I'm somewhat reluctant to sell to people I don't know. If there is something you're particularly dying to have, and it looks like stuff I've got on my pages, send mail to me and maybe we can work something out, especially if it's challenging or unusual. I warn you in advance that my terms are typically half down, half on delivery, cash. (bad experiences come back to haunt total strangers.)

I have linked nearly countless rings, all of which I've made myself. This constitutes somewhere in the vicinity of 12 hauberks, five helms, two pair of chausses, and many many belts, bracelets, and necklaces. I've worked in steel, gold, silver, copper, brass, titanium, aluminum, and a number of alloys of those. Some of the pieces have involved tubing, custom-drawn wire, and non-round rings. I don't do much work with riveted or welded mail because of the equipment needed; 95% of my fighting armor work has been of butted mail, with all the precious metals silver-soldered for strength. By the time you read this, I hope to have a capacitive discharge welder for use in fine titanium wire welding.

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This Page was Created on 12/3/96, last modified 1/5/00

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