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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Questions for those who routinely train in mail Reply to topic
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Clint Schaaf




Location: Sunny PA
Joined: 20 Jun 2018

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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 4:41 am    Post subject: Questions for those who routinely train in mail         Reply with quote

I have a few questions for anyone who routinely trains in mail armor.

Is 6mm mail worth the additional cost, relative to 9mm mail?

If you bought a haubergeon today, with the intention of frequent use in training, what would you buy? (link size, rivet type, metal type and finish)

I am looking at 6mm, flat ring, alternating solid ring, dome riveted, blackened steel. Does this seem reasonable?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 6:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It doesn't matter what size the links are. If the riveting is a crappy job, the mail will fall apart regardless. The best mail for training is welded steel because you don't have to worry about the riveting.
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 10 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 6:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Please define your intended "training." i.e. what period, region? LARP, SCA, Living History, full contact, insane contact levels?

A 6mm haubergeon will be a bit heavier than the more common 8-9mm ring. Also more expensive, although all mail products from South Asia have come down quite a bit in price.

My gear is optimized for full contact, rebated steel combat including thrusts and unlimited grappling. Most people term this HEMA but there is a wide spectrum of practice within that field. Many organizations look askance at the risks we assume are normal at AEMMA. So then, we are hard on our gear and each other. 8-9 mm riveted mail is our standard. Alternating solid and riveted link is most period appropriate for our interests.

6mm mail is better for gorgets and inserts at joints where mobility should not be hindered. Armpit, elbow, back of knee, as a second layer over the groin, under the haubergeon or brayette.

I have a pair of 6mm chausses that I've worn a couple times under plate legs. Gigantic nuisance. As a primary leg defense for an earlier period presentation, they are perfect. Unfortunately they shed rivets like dandruff, being poorly made Asian products.

My advice is to define your intended use before you ask what's best. Lots of folks here can offer focused answers that way.
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Clint Schaaf




Location: Sunny PA
Joined: 20 Jun 2018

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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I will be using this shirt for everything up to competitive harnischfechten (HEMA), but I do not take part in SCA or HMB competitions. I will wear the shirt for basic exercise. I will wear the shirt while running. I will wear the shirt for solo drilling. I will wear the shirt during unarmored and armored HEMA practice. Last, depending upon the shirt I buy, I may also wear it during wrestling practice just for the added challenge.

From a historical standpoint, the shirt will be the basis for a late 14th century armor kit.

I was looking at the 6mm, but your comment about shedding rivets, Kel, has moved me towards the 9mm wedge riveted. However, as I will be sweating in this armor (a lot), I was also looking at a dome riveted stainless steel shirt. Do you have any thoughts about stainless steel? Is there any alternative where I can keep the weight without the rust? To me, part of the experience is the weight of real armor. I have no interest in aluminum.
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Ben Joy




Location: Missouri
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clint Schaaf wrote:
I was looking at the 6mm, but your comment about shedding rivets, Kel, has moved me towards the 9mm wedge riveted. However, as I will be sweating in this armor (a lot), I was also looking at a dome riveted stainless steel shirt. Do you have any thoughts about stainless steel? Is there any alternative where I can keep the weight without the rust? To me, part of the experience is the weight of real armor. I have no interest in aluminum.

Most of my steel armor (plate and mail) is stainless. Personally I think it's great; and mine has seen plenty of use/abuse. The weight remains comparable to "plain" steel, as well.

It's still extremely rugged and durable like carbon or mild steel armor would be. However, it's far more likely to dent or bend than puncture or sheer; and that makes sparring/combat maintenance a much more manageable task . . . especially in the event of accidents or extreme punishment. If anything I'd personally say that my stainless armor has been more rugged and stronger than similar "plain" steel armors I've dealt with. As long as you get something in the same thickness/gauge . . . it should be just as good, if not better, than a "plain" steel counterpart. As an extra bonus, stainless isn't as likely to show a scuff or scratch as other steel types.

The corrosion resistance is wonderful. Anecdotally, being one of the only people at a Ren. Fest or similar event when it starts to rain and NOT running for cover is kind of funny. However, corrosion resistance does not mean completely maintenance free. If you're sweating into it a LOT (or get muddy or what-have-you), then make sure you at least rinse it off . . . the salts and whatnot that your body expels in sweat can eventually cause salt staining or -in extreme cases- minor pitting in stainless steel . . . not unlike what can happen with stainless steel cookware. As long as it's not left to get extremely bad, though, it's easy to clean and maintain. A quick rinse and patted dry (for mail) or wipe-down with a towel will do the trick, then polish if you desire.

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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Clint Schaaf




Location: Sunny PA
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Ben. That's a compelling argument for stainless.

Dan, do you know a specific manufacturer of welded mail? Also, is welded mail historic? I'm not a faire guy, so I don't need exact historical accuracy, but I would like to get close.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 5:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clint Schaaf wrote:
Thanks Ben. That's a compelling argument for stainless.

Dan, do you know a specific manufacturer of welded mail? Also, is welded mail historic? I'm not a faire guy, so I don't need exact historical accuracy, but I would like to get close.


http://www.weldedchainmail.com/products/
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.12049.html

No riveted mail on the market today goes close to resembling museum examples so there is no point looking for historical accuracy.
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19189

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Clint Schaaf




Location: Sunny PA
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 5:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That welded mail looks amazing, and is stainless to boot. I'll have to contact Mr. Osterstrom. I just hope it's not outside of my price range.
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Ben Joy




Location: Missouri
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Aug, 2018 7:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Clint Schaaf wrote:
Thanks Ben. That's a compelling argument for stainless.

Dan, do you know a specific manufacturer of welded mail? Also, is welded mail historic? I'm not a faire guy, so I don't need exact historical accuracy, but I would like to get close.


http://www.weldedchainmail.com/products/
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.12049.html

No riveted mail on the market today goes close to resembling museum examples so there is no point looking for historical accuracy.
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19189

I agree with Dan here, you're just not going to buy modern armor that's 100% historically accurate . . . or in some/most cases even remotely close to historically accurate.

Oh if I could actually afford new armor . . . I'd snag titanium in a heartbeat. Almost half the weight of steel, rather extreme corrosion resistance, just as strong, and far more resilient/durable. Pity though it looks like he doesn't do chausses. I'd love to replace the riveted chausses and voider sleeves for my plate. However, neither here nor there since I can't afford it and Clint doesn't seem interested in "light". Oh well, forgive the rambling.

Anyway, Clint, historic or not, I'd go welded over riveted any day. My mail is riveted; and sometimes maintenance can be a pain in the arse. While not overly complicated to repair blown links/rivets, you still need the space, tools, and it can sometimes get tedious. Let alone the fact that the guy from Dan's store link isn't kidding . . . a welded joint is going to be exponentially stronger than a riveted joint. Even if the price is a little higher -outright- than buying riveted mail, remember you still need to eventually purchase spare links and rivets for the sake of maintenance. That really won't be much of a concern for 100% welded mail. There's a reason that there's the "chain mesh" out there that's machine welded, in tiny links, for protection in meat processing, lumberjack work, and heavy industrial applications . . . welded links just aren't going to blow out unless it's an extreme situation.

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Aug, 2018 2:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Joy wrote:
Let alone the fact that the guy from Dan's store link isn't kidding . . . a welded joint is going to be exponentially stronger than a riveted joint.

Only because of the crappy riveting that you get today. A properly riveted link is just as strong as a welded link. When these links fail they don't fail at the riveted join but elsewhere along the wire.

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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Aug, 2018 4:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Clint Schaaf wrote:
Thanks Ben. That's a compelling argument for stainless.

Dan, do you know a specific manufacturer of welded mail? Also, is welded mail historic? I'm not a faire guy, so I don't need exact historical accuracy, but I would like to get close.


http://www.weldedchainmail.com/products/
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.12049.html

No riveted mail on the market today goes close to resembling museum examples so there is no point looking for historical accuracy.
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19189


This second one is a bit strong. Isak Krogh in Germany is doing some very high quality mail reproductions which are correct in ring thickness, riveting and so on. His work can turn 450lb crossbows with ease and holds up fairly well against lances. However, the price is correspondingly high.

Instructor and scholar, Cambridge HEMA
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Aug, 2018 7:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
This second one is a bit strong. Isak Krogh in Germany is doing some very high quality mail reproductions which are correct in ring thickness, riveting and so on. His work can turn 450lb crossbows with ease and holds up fairly well against lances. However, the price is correspondingly high.

Good to see someone trying to replicate extant examples.

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Ben Joy




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Aug, 2018 2:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Ben Joy wrote:
Let alone the fact that the guy from Dan's store link isn't kidding . . . a welded joint is going to be exponentially stronger than a riveted joint.

Only because of the crappy riveting that you get today. A properly riveted link is just as strong as a welded link. When these links fail they don't fail at the riveted join but elsewhere along the wire.


Without derailing the subject, I'll just say I'd argue very strongly against that. Welded joints inherit the strength of the parent metal in the bond. It also forms a seamless joining that doesn't have the weak points created in the punching hole required of a rivet joint. Now, if you're going to say that historic examples were riveted so tightly together that the metal bonded and made a thicker solid piece of metal, then you're not talking about a riveted joint, anymore, you'd be talking about a pressure welded joint; and that's an entirely different story. There's more, but as I said, I don't want to derail the thread to talk metallurgy.

Again, I'll stand by the remark that welded mail is going to be significantly stronger than any riveted mail -of equal thickness and ring size- on the market; and there are very solid reasons that welded ring mesh is being used in industrial applications and lumberjack professions where there's potentially a lot more than 450lbs of force coming at you, in the case of potential accidents (most lumber axes/mauls strike at about 880 joules, or 650 foot lbs of force, and the ring mesh stops that blade in its tracks without blowing a link . . . but you might/will still have problems from blunt trauma).

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Aug, 2018 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When stressed, a properly riveted join does not fail at the join. It fails elsewhere along the wire. That tells us that a riveted join is stronger than the strength of the wire itself. Whether a welded join is stronger than a riveted join in absolute terms is irrelevant. For this application there is no functional difference between the two.
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Ben Joy




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Aug, 2018 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
When stressed, a properly riveted join does not fail at the join. It fails elsewhere along the wire. That tells us that a riveted join is stronger than the strength of the wire itself. Whether a welded join is stronger than a riveted join in absolute terms is irrelevant. For this application there is no functional difference between the two.

First off, you just said yourself:
Dan Howard wrote:
Only because of the crappy riveting that you get today. A properly riveted link is just as strong as a welded link. When these links fail they don't fail at the riveted join but elsewhere along the wire.

However now you're saying that the strength of the joint doesn't matter and making a false claim that a riveted joint is just as strong as a welded joint? In the context of any armor that Mr. Schaaf would be purchasing, it would matter, because any mail he is likely to purchase would be most likely to fail at the rivet. You even admit as much yourself. Therefore, it would greatly behoove someone looking to buy mail armor for training/sparring to purchase welded mail, as the stronger bonds of the welded links are less likely to fail than riveted mail. That, in turn, will have a notable impact on long term maintenance costs for the armor.

Secondly, what tests are you talking about with riveted mail usually failing somewhere other than the rivet? Even a test on this very forum HERE showed that unless the force was so great as to utterly overpower the strength of the metal (the poleaxe test) that the riveted mail usually fails around the rivet. There are also a number of tests on youtube showing the same kinds of results. That myArmoury thread also touches on some of the misconceptions that some people have over historical mail being vastly superior than the riveted mail that people are getting today and a great deal of debate around that. Given all of that, I'd be more inclined to believe the tests shown where riveted mail was more than likely to fail at the joint.

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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T. Kew




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Aug, 2018 2:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are two things going on which are getting mixed up:
  • Most modern repro mail is very badly riveted.
  • Well-riveted mail tends to break elsewhere in the link.
If you have really good reproduction mail, with properly formed and set rivets, then the joint will normally be stronger than the wire of the link. Replacing good rivets with welding therefore won't increase the strength of the mail in question, as long as you have really good mail.

However, if you have bad reproduction mail, it will normally fail at the rivet. This is why for practical use nowadays, welded mail is typically stronger then most reproduction riveted mail. Although it has the downside that you can't tailor it, so in practice there are some significant advantages to riveted mail.

Finally, it's worth noting that the big reason welded mail is standard for protective use is ease of manufacture. Constructing a machine which closes wire links and spot-welds them is pretty easy - making that machine instead drift a hole and rivet the link shut is much more of a faff. So welded mail is cheaper and more consistent than good riveted mail.

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Ben Joy




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Aug, 2018 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
There are two things going on which are getting mixed up:
  • Most modern repro mail is very badly riveted.
  • Well-riveted mail tends to break elsewhere in the link.
If you have really good reproduction mail, with properly formed and set rivets, then the joint will normally be stronger than the wire of the link. Replacing good rivets with welding therefore won't increase the strength of the mail in question, as long as you have really good mail.

However, if you have bad reproduction mail, it will normally fail at the rivet. This is why for practical use nowadays, welded mail is typically stronger then most reproduction riveted mail. Although it has the downside that you can't tailor it, so in practice there are some significant advantages to riveted mail.

Finally, it's worth noting that the big reason welded mail is standard for protective use is ease of manufacture. Constructing a machine which closes wire links and spot-welds them is pretty easy - making that machine instead drift a hole and rivet the link shut is much more of a faff. So welded mail is cheaper and more consistent than good riveted mail.

I don't think the issue is that it's getting mixed up, per se. Part of the issue is the assumption and/or creating an argument around the pretense that all rivet joints are going to be absolutely perfect extreme high-end mail; and therefore have a strength that's purportedly on par or stronger than a welded joint. However, that kind of mail doesn't seem to be within the price range of Mr. Schaaf, since it's even stated by yourself that the strength of a rivet joint is only applicable in "really good reproduction mail" which also means really high cost (as mentioned in your post about the cost of Isak Krogh's mail). Combine that with the false pretense that a riveted joint is as strong, if not stronger, than a welded joint and it creates an illusion over the reliability of purchasing most riveted mail on the market. Mr. Schaaf wants affordable armor that will be reliable for regular training and apparently a substantial amount of abuse.

There's also the assumption that, again, the really good reproduction mail is going to have flawless consistency across all of the rivet joints. A machine welding links is going to be far more consistent and precise than a human element riveting link joints . . . sadly that's just a fact of life. Combine that with the ease of manufacture, the strength of the joints, and the reduction in the costs, and we can see why it's being used the way it is. You say that "well riveted mail tends to break elsewhere in the link" (I am sincere in wanting to see those tests, all the tests I've seen show the opposite unless there's overwhelming power involved . . . I'd love to see more/other tests), but that also implies that a flawed rivet joint or a strike at the weak facets of a rivet joint will cause it to fail. On the other hand, a welded joint isn't going to have the same flaws, which provides greater reliability . . . again, an important part of Mr. Schaaf's requests for information.

Therefore, the important parts really boil down to the costs and consistency in reliability. That said, the welded mail will be relatively cheaper for high quality while at the same time the welded links will be more reliable, overall, for training and maintenance, which are the primary concerns of Mr. Schaaf.

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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T. Kew




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Aug, 2018 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, a welded joint is more reliable. At similar price points, welded mail versus (cheap) riveted mail will be an easy win for the welded mail in strength and consistency. Everyone in this thread, including Dan, agrees with that.

That doesn't necessarily make it the best choice for training, though, for a very simple reason - fit. Commercially available mail is near-universally untailored, whether it's welded or riveted: simple straight sleeves and other such problems are absolutely standard. With welded mail, there's basically nothing you can do about this, you're just stuck in a badly fitted suit.

With riveted mail, however, you can pick up a few sets of pliers and some spare links and adjust your mail to fit quite easily. The importance of proper fit is doubled if you're wearing it as a layer under armour, where unnecessary bulk really has dramatic impacts on the weight and mobility of the whole panoply.

Instructor and scholar, Cambridge HEMA
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Ben Joy




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Aug, 2018 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
Yes, a welded joint is more reliable. At similar price points, welded mail versus (cheap) riveted mail will be an easy win for the welded mail in strength and consistency. Everyone in this thread, including Dan, agrees with that.

That doesn't necessarily make it the best choice for training, though, for a very simple reason - fit. Commercially available mail is near-universally untailored, whether it's welded or riveted: simple straight sleeves and other such problems are absolutely standard. With welded mail, there's basically nothing you can do about this, you're just stuck in a badly fitted suit.

With riveted mail, however, you can pick up a few sets of pliers and some spare links and adjust your mail to fit quite easily. The importance of proper fit is doubled if you're wearing it as a layer under armour, where unnecessary bulk really has dramatic impacts on the weight and mobility of the whole panoply.

It'll be very worthwhile for Mr. Schaaf to look into that welded mail website that Dan had posted, then, because their welded mail is tailor made; and the buyer must provide proper measurements to get a quote on pricing. I'd say that's a solid route for getting great armor to train in and wear regularly.

While not exactly related to the kind of mail that Mr. Schaaf wants to purchase, the ring mesh that I've gotten to handle seemed like they're making more improvements in machine welding mail for fit and form. Maybe it's anecdotal, maybe it's just the company, maybe it's because it was specifically a show piece, or maybe it's because it's a much finer right mesh, but it fit nice and didn't feel like it needed tailoring. I think it'll be worthwhile to keep an eye on the welded mail industry in the future. After all, it'll be in the industry's best interests to constantly improve the product -if riveted mail starts to compete more overall- and that certainly means improvements in fit are likely.

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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Clint Schaaf




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Aug, 2018 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I already sent an email to Mr. Osterstrom. For my purposes, historically accurate and high quality riveted mail, though awesome, is too expensive. I'm onboard with the general sentiment, welded mail is superior to cheap riveted mail, and so I'll definitely go that route if possible. I also like the mesh shirts, but they are just too light. As I said, I am making an armor kit for the feel of the armor and the enjoyment of wearing (semi)accurate medieval gear.

I've learned a lot with this thread. Thanks to everyone for the knowledge, and if you have any more advice, I'd gladly take it.
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