Monday, December 24, 2012

Historical Weaves for Pop Can Tab Chainmail, or, I Think Other People do Normal Things over Winter Break

At college, in addition to normal classes, I've been learning sword fighting. There are a few reasons for this, but they mostly boil down to A) I had the chance, and B), it's awesome. Given this, and the lull over winter break, I've decided to add a pair of gauntlets to my armory, to match the chainmail shirt.

Chainmail shirt? Chainmail shirt. If you look closely, the material is...

I found the instructions for these on Instructables a few years ago, and the idea seems to have exploded in popularity since then. I even recall a bag made out of the material being sold by a company. With fair reason: It's lightweight and looks ridiculously pretty. I my shirt to school once and we discovered that it was also mostly resistant to pencil stabs.

These gauntlets, meanwhile, are a little different- partially because we're not practicing with sharp swords. (Right now, anyways.) The optimal gauntlet would not necessarily protect from sharpness, but reduce the impact of blunt weapons swung hard and fast. (Or both!) I think the result will be some kind of chainmail, over padding from a shinguard. Still, for chainmail with a little extra strength, my brother suggested looking to history.

With that, Control Group C presents:

Variant Weaves for Pop Can Tab Chainmail


The normal variety. Most variations I've seen on this involve the use of extra small wire loops, which aren't necessary to get different results.(See below.) Still, it's flexible, space-efficient, and easy to repair when the loops get caught on each other.

8-in-1, King's Mail subspecies

Essentially, double-thickness 4-in-1. Still attractive, and a bit thicker and tougher.
Normal instructions: For each single tab of the 4-in-1, use 2 stacked instead. I noticed that you'll need to bend each tab more to make the sheet lie flat. Some soda brands use squared tabs (the top link in this photo is one), which aren't great here because they have smaller openings (what I believe real some maille-makers call an aspect ratio.)


This one is beautiful, complicated, and deadly, much like a man o' war. I probably won't end up using it because it would be impossible to repair, but it's intensely satisfying to make.
Normal instructions: Each lobe of the tab goes into 3 “opposite-cut” other tabs. Side-by-side tabs share 2 links at the top and bottom.

5/6-in-1, Persian:

It took several actual hours to figure out if this one would work at all, and how it would work. Well, it does, more or less. This weave is thick, and assymetrical- links on one side are linked 6-in-1, on the other, 5-in-1 (should be 6-in-1 on both, but I couldn't make it work.) Has a tendency to look very ugly for the first few links, then magically come together.

Normal instructions: Start here and here. It's still not intuitive, so these photos should help. Again, this weave does not like squared tabs.

Click to expand!
Pros: Pretty, thicker than King's. Cons: Will make you crazy.

4-in-1, “Two up, two down” subspecies:

One I discovered on the way to the Persian weave, above. Looks like some of the geometric Japanese chain mail designs, but not quite the same because of the tabs' added chirality. Note that tabs in a row alternate directions. Call it the Beroe weave if you want.