This is a brief primer on chain mail basics. We will cover the very basic terminologies and provide some clarifying explanations. There are a lot of terminology connected with the ancient art of chain mail, but for now we will just concentrate on the basics. (You will naturally pick up more terminology as you progress).
For starters, chain mail is variously spelt as chainmail, chain maille, chainmaille, or just as maille.
What is Chain Mail?
Chainmail is basically made up of jump rings connected together in various weaves. The rings are interlinked to form a flexible net.
Chainmaille is said to originate from the Middle Ages where they are created to from metal armour wear. The word “chainmail” comes from “chain” meaning flexible interlinked metal rings. And “mail” or “maille” is from a Latin word meaning “mesh” or “net”.
Basic Chain Mail Requirements
- determine the chainmail weave you would like
- determine what AR (Aspect Ratio) of the jump rings will be needed
Rest assured there will be many different chain mail weaves you can look forward to. For each chainmail weave, you will need to know what sizes of jump rings will be required. This is where aspect ratio comes in.
What is Aspect Ratio?
In general jewelry making, jump ring sizes are normally stated by size, e.g. 4mm. This normally refers to the outer diameter of the jump ring. Also common, but less frequently, you might also be told the diameter (gauge) of the wire that was used to make the jump ring.
In chainmail, we still need these same measurements. However we focus on different aspects of the same facts.
For chain mail, we need to know:
- WD (wire diameter) – the gauge of the wire used to make the jump rings
- ID (inner diameter) – the inner diameter of the jump ring
- AR (aspect ratio) – which is calculated from the above 2 measurements as follows ..
AR is all important in chainmail. Getting the correct AR will determine the ease of fitting the jump rings together in a specific weave and how the final project will feel.
Aspect Ratio is all important in chain mail.
There is often a range of ARs that will yield a pleasing result. Most tutorials on chainmail weaves will provide a suitable range of Aspect Ratio.
Example: How to Calculate AR
Say you are buying jump rings that have the following measurements:
- ID = 3mm
- WD = 0.8mm
So then, what is its AR?
Note on Wire Gauges
Wire gauge is the diameter of the wire.
Whether you choose to make your own jump rings or purchased ready made ones, you will need to know the wire diameter.
The wire diameter is specified in gauge sizes or in inches or in millimeters.
If specified in gauge size, you will need a conversion table to convert into either inches or millimeters to work out the AR (Aspect Ratio).
It is best to stick to one unit of measurement (imperial or metrics). Personally I convert everything to metrics for maximum convenience.
- middle-ages.org.uk – Chainmail