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I Forge Iron

Wire Choice

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I'm going to have a go at making some mail, in the weekdays, when I can't get to the forge.

If I was wanting to weld the rings shut, what sort of wire would be best to go for?
I'm assuming galvanised will give off nasty fumes!

Any tips on welding, or riveting the rings would be appreciated!

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Best bet would be hard solder I think. Pretty hard to weld such fine wire for thousands of repetitions. Hard solder and something like "The Little Torch" works pretty good with silver, brass or copper rings... I haven't tried it with steel. With practice you get the solder pieces just about the right size to fill the gap between the ends of the rings. I used a small brush to place the solder pallions and flux (Battern's self pickling) clamped with a tweezer like solder clamp and the small welding tip on "The Little Torch" will direct the heat with amazing precision. Remove the torch as soon as the solder flows. Since it can be difficult to get solder to flow on steel you might try pretinning the whole wire or experiment with some MIG wire that has a copper coating.

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Just closing the joint works pretty well. Use a thin cutoff wheel to cut your coils. If you use a wire cutter it will not leave a square end and will not close up tightly. Most mail used closed links. The better made was punched and rivited. You can make a punch to swadge both end flat at the same time and then punch the holes for the rivet. Use .030 wire for the rivet. You can get clothes hanger gauge wire in bulk roles and this works pretty well also.
Good luck and have fun. My buddy Joe made a thigh length, long sleeve shirt with a choif. 45,000 links weight 40 lbs.

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I strongly suggest you go to one of the Maille specific sites on the net where there are hundreds of maille makers with decades of experience.

Forge welding: use real wrought iron wire if you can get it as that was what they used! Do pinch welding in the fire and remember by working off the bottom row you can alternate rows of already closed rings with rings you weld up as you go.

Other welding: a micro torch and mild steel wire like bailing wire. Remember that a riveted ring is about 10 times stronger than a butted ring so most medieval maille was not that heavy a wire!

Some folks tig weld rings and will work in stainless or even Ti!

Riveting: seek out the other sites as I'm not going to type a dozen pages of how to do it right when it's been done *many* times before. If you need a lead on them ask over at armourarchive.org a series of forums dedicated to armour reproduction...mainly SCA-ish but some LH! Erik Schmidt and Steven of Forth Castle have done loads or research and presented at academic conferences on this subject; their post may still be in the archives though my spelling is probably off.

(I finished my first maille shirt in 1981)

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I've joined the ringlord forum and asked over there. A lot of people seem to be saying to use galvanised steel.
One person has suggested that I use an acid to burn off the coating and then weld it.

I'd rather do it with a more appropriate wire to start with, and cut out this extra step and not have to fiddle about with chemicals.

Can you pinch weld stainless steel? (as in, can you get it hot enough and will the chromium in it produce dangerous fumes).

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Galvy is the most common wire choice for most maille. Cheap, easy to come by, and it's not very difficult to work with. However, there are downsides: if heated, the fumes are toxic; if left on, the galvy will degrade, becoming powdery white and staining everything the maille touches. Stainless is a step up, as it won't rust under normal circumstances, but it is harder to work with.

As for size, most folks use 0.063" (14 gauge) wire wrapped around a 3/8" mandrel for armor. Generally speaking, you want the ratio of rod diameter/wire diameter to be around 3.5-5.

If you are just making maille as a hobby and don't plan on engaging in combat, butted rings cut with aviation shears or clean bolt cutters are sufficient. As stated earlier, if you're going to do some re-enacting or SCA, it would be a good idea to at least rivet the rings.

The Maille Artisan's International League (http://mailleartisans.org) is a wonderful resource for all things maille-related. I am a member, although my interests have moved more to smithing than mailling.

Have fun and happy linking!

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Forge welding of stainless is a female dog! Using toxic fluxes. Use modern welding methods for stainless.

If you want to do forge welding because it's medieval---do you have a medieval forge and fuel and materials---real wrought iron wire.

If you want to forge weld it because you don't have modern methods---well you could mow lawns and buy a welder and pay for a class and *STILL* come out ahead of trying to forge weld them. The old I'm going to throw away hundreds of hours of time to save a couple hundred dollars routine!

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Thanks Maillemaker and Thomas.

Just need to find a supplier for stainless wire round here, then make up a tool to form the coils.
So 3/8'' comes out at 9.5mm. Is that circumference, or diameter of the rod?

I have both at the moment!

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