All About Chain Maille
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Chain Maille

OK, ready to get obsessive... have strong hands and lots of time in front of the TV?   Consider making your own maille.  If you're looking for shortcuts, head to Chain Maille Cheats.

Please feel free to contribute articles, tips and pictures!  We're not going to teach you everything here... but we're going to give you tips and show you where to go on the web to pick up a new addiction.

Index on Chain Maille


LOTR Maille Patterns | Making PVC Maille | Chain Maille Cheats | Link Materials | Tools | Making Metal Rings | Pattern Making | Aging Maille | Tips

Introduction to Maille

Maille is a flexible armor made of interlocking rings of metal wire. It is also called chainmail, chainmaille, chain mail, and many combinations thereof, but the most proper name for this substance is 'maille'.

There are many different patterns, or 'weaves' of maille, the most popular being 4-in-1. This means that every ring is connected by four others. This weave and it's variants (6-in-1 and the 8-in-1), are generically classified as 'european' weaves. The european family of weaves is the most commonly known and also the easiest to create, and therefore most of the maille seen in the Lord of the Rings movies will be european weaves.

Maille is measured by two distances. The ID, or internal diameter, is the measurement across the hole in the middle of the ring, like taking the diameter of a hole in a donut. The other measurement is the gauge, or thickness of the wire used to make the ring, as if you were to measure the thickness of a donut itself. These measurements are important to the look and weight of the maille, and (if necessary) it's actual strength as armor. Smaller ID's and/or larger gauges make the pattern more dense, and thus protect more of the body. They look much better, but are much heavier.

For costume purposes, go for aluminum (dull is prettier but bright alu is cleaner, your call). It's much lighter than other materials and this will make it easier to wear during those ten hour trilogy movie marathons. The strength depends a bit on the alloy, but a 16 gauge 3/8" alu ring should generally do the trick.

Aragorn and Boromir's maille shirts are both made in this manner, as it is the most common. Larger ID's and/or smaller gauges can make the maille much lighter, but at the expense of both protection and the visual appeal of the maille itself. The pinnacle of the mailler's (maille-maker's) art, however, is to use a small ID in conjunction with a small gauge, giving small, tightly woven rings. Frodo's mithril shirt is made in this manner.

== Seamboat & JB


Real Maille Links

Buy the Maille Materials

When you order rings, they usually come 'raw', meaning they are half closed. Ring suppliers tend to have how-to sections on their pages. These range from basic to very helpful.

It is usually ok to ask a ring supplier for a sample. Most have free samples or give discounts on your next order with a sample. You really want to know if you like the rings before you get a few thousand of them.

Most ring sellers will calculate how many rings you need if it means they earn your business, but be sure to include enough information for them to work with. Also, ring suppliers know their materials best so most of them have a list of best rings for a purpose, which makes it easier to pick a ring size.

  • The Ring Lord
  • Lord Charles of DC Wireworks
    • (
      • US-based.
      • Wide selection of materials, pinch (hand cutter) cuts but very good cuts with very little pinch. Saw cuts available on silver and gold filled rings.
      • Good customer service. This is the guy who created the Chainmaille Board, one of the leading forums for maille makers.
  • Miron's Maille Manufactory
      • US-based.
      • Saw cut rings only. Limited selection of materials due to cutting method. Very helpful and friendly.
  • Chainmaille fashions.
  • Rosco
  • Zunft van Alders
  • Annic Malienwerkplaats
    • Dutch LRP supplier
    • carries different kinds of rings.
    • Reseller, some maille specific knowledge available.
    • Very friendly and enthusiastic.



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LOTR Maille Patterns | Making PVC Maille | Chain Maille Cheats | Link Materials | Tools | Making Metal Rings | Pattern Making | Aging Maille | Tips

LOTR Home | Up | All About Chain Maille | Armor Terms | Scale Armor | Armor Cheats | Armor Tips | Gambeson | Armor and LOTR

This page was last updated 04/22/08