Making Chainmail at an Iron Works Through History

One of the blacksmith’s working in an armory would have been called an armorer. Armor is defined as a protective covering. The coverings began as thick leather which led to large thick rings being sewn onto a leather shirt. Someone found out that if they linked the rings they created a stronger more protective type of armor. Plate armor was next to be made and used but this article will focus on the linked rings known as mail or chainmail. Those that make objects out of metal are called blacksmiths. Blacksmiths at iron works in Indianapolis can make chainmail.

Chainmail Clothing for a Knight of the Crusades

Historically, the wealthy were the only ones that could afford chainmail. The knights of the Crusades required chainmail to cover their bodies. The hauberk was a chainmail shirt that went to the knees. Chausses were the chainmail covering for the legs down to the feet. Sabatons covered the foot from the heel to the toe and were sometimes pointed. To protect the head, chainmail was made into a hood that covered the head and some of the neck. Camail was a chainmail collar that was attached to the bottom of the helmet. Mitons protected the hands and some of the lower arm. Under the chainmail was usually a padded undergarment that helped cushion the blows.

The Making of the Rings

Originally the rings were punched out of sheet metal or made from wire. To get the wire to the size they needed, wrought iron was hammered into plates and then thin pieces were cut from the plates. These thin pieces were then pulled through holes in a draw plate many times until they got to the size that was needed. A mandrel or wrapping rod is what the thin metal was inserted into and wrapped around. The end result when taken off the mandrel was a coiled wire. After slipping the coil off the wire the coils were then cut into rings one as a time. The rings were then pressed together, riveted or welded. To rivet them one end of the cut ring was flattened and the other was pierced to make a hole. A rivet was then inserted and secured.

Assembling the Rings Together

Chainmail pieces were fashioned differently for each different body part they were intended for. Where vital organs needed to be protected more rings were concentrated in that area. In places on the body that needed less protection fewer rings were used. The four-in-one pattern was the most common pattern used in the chainmail that has been found to date. The advantages of chainmail for a warrior is that it was easy to repair, and was flexible for ease of movement.

Plated Armor and the Elves

Eventually, the weapons used against chainmail could easily pierce it and plated armor became necessary. The chainmail was still worn underneath the plated armor for protection where the plates couldn’t reach. Now, craftsmen who produce iron works in Indianapolis can make beautiful chainmail in a variety of patterns. The making of chainmail from mithril, like the one in the works of Tolkien, should probably be left to the elves.