My other favorite chainmail weave!
Byzantine maille is a series of little boxes, each made of two pairs of rings, linked to the boxes on either side by more ring pairs. I made this chain a few weeks ago, from scratch with brass and copper wire. (It took an evening, the night the latest WoW expansion came out, as my friends were ripping open their boxes and sinking into new realms.) Making your own rings is cheap and satisfying, but also time-consuming, and hand-cutting them tends to leave metal burrs that can catch on clothing. A little practice helps minimize this.
To make chainmail, start by gathering the right tools. For the rings, you’ll need:
- a long, uniformly round metal rod, or mandrel (Phillips-head screwdrivers are an obvious choice; flatheads tend to flare at the end, which is no good)
- wire clippers
- wire, of a type and gauge that will bend fairly easily but keep its shape
My friend Alex K. winds heavier rings with a power drill mounted on a jig. I just use screwdrivers, since mine are for jewelry and I don’t produce much.
Having these gathered, begin winding the wire around the screwdriver, such that the rings lie close together. After a while, it gets harder as the coil tries to tighten down on itself instead of winding more around the shaft. Just keep going until you have a good length of coiled wire. Then slide it off the screwdriver and clip rings off, with the blade a little off-perpendicular from the rings. Try to cut in the same location each time, making a straight line down the coil, to make even rings.
I could explain how to weave Byzantine, but it’s already been done better, so I’ll defer to The Ring Lord. As always, open your rings by twisting the cut ends sideways, not outward. I use two small pairs of pliers (pictured above) to manipulate them; you get the best torque by gripping the sides of each ring, with both pairs of pliers pointing upward.
Here’s my first piece of Byzantine ever, a keychain/pocket watch made with a stray digital face: