|Posted: Sun 08 May, 2005 9:51 pm Post subject: Cutting rings for butted maille
I've received a number of questions regarding making maille, including making/cutting rings for maille. Hopefully this will be helpful...
I used to cut them by hand, one at a time, with a pair of concrete nippers. I scored the ring, then gripped it opposite the score mark, and twisted them off. This works, and I've made a lot that way. Takes a lot of mindless TV time, though, to get enough to actually make something. For the recent burst of creation, however, I needed somewhere close to 100,000. I decided there was going to be a better way.
What I decided to do was make a machine to perform the task for me, and the results are wonderful. Here's the process I now use.
First, I find the wire. I use galvanized 14 gauge electric fence wire, which I have usually been able to purchase readily or order from the local Co-Op/feed store.
Next order is to make the coils. I have used a hand drill (in reverse - lefties may find forward easier because of the way the rings twist) and a cold-rolled 3 ft long x 3/8 steel rod. I cut a slit in the side of the rod into which the end of the wire will slip down into the chuck. I try to spool up either a 1/4 mile or a 1/2 mile at a time. I've found a hauberk for someone my size takes around 1/2 mile.
Now, the machine... I use a drill press set at about 350 rpm, with an arbor-mounted 1/64 thick x 1.5 dia jeweler's saw.
Jeweler's saws are easy to find (mail or internet order) - got them for about $2 each. I used a 3/8 bolt with some washers to mount the blade, and stuck it threads-up into the chuck. To make the feeding chute, I found a piece of PVC that was very nearly the same ID as the coils are OD. I literally took a small coil to the hardware store, and stuck it into every different pipe I could find until I found the right kind. I drilled a block of wood and mounted the pipe in it, and use a 1/2 inch dowel (pointed on one end) to push the coils through when I get near the end. It takes two people - one to push the coils, the other to occasionally put a drop or two of cutting oil on the blade, and to catch the rings.
Here's the machine in action:
It cuts approx 120 14g 3/8 ID galvanized rings a minute, and 300 14g 3/8 ID aluminum rings a minute.
We cleaned the rings with some dish soap and boiling water, drained them, then tossed them out on a burner to burn off the remainder of the oil. A roll in a bucket knocks most of the cutting dust away...
Then off to weaving...
Fortior Qui Se Vincit
(He is stronger who conquers himself.)