Any tips on making PVC chainmail? - PAINTED!!

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Well-Known Member
thanks, scout.

Dean, using a carbide-tipped rough-cut blade, have to look at the tooth-count on my finer blade, but chose to to use it because of melting / burring. And I think the masonry-style blades would just clog with melting plastic in short order.

I'll see about getting this archived once it's played out.

and leaisky - Monty Python, Grail, Sir Bedevere initially, but know leaning heavily towards the Black Knight - "None Shall Pass!" Have 48 hrs to whip up a helmet / bucket, too.

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Well-Known Member
Another shot -

NOtice the yellowed portions down the middle (no 'Coward' jokes, puh-lease) - used up my first batch of rings, bought and chopped another bundle of pipes. This bundle was yellowed from sitting in the sun. BEWARE!. PVC gets brittle when it's left out of doors (most of us already know this). But worse, in this case, this extra brittleness causes more broken rings / projectiles during sawing, and more shattered rings when clipping them, too.
Only concern it raised at the time of purchase was, 'hmm, different color, big whoop, I'm painting it anyways...'.
Now I've learned.

Tip #237 - This pattern in 3/4" Sched 40 pipe is actually working out to ~400 rings / sq. foot.

The hauberk sans sleeves, as pictured in this post, weighs ~13 lbs. It's approx. 7.5' long and 2.5' wide. And that's used up the ~7500 rings I've cut so far.

Have to go back for more pipe, enough for sleeves and a hood. Debating integrating the hood into the body...


Well-Known Member
ok, another (6) 10' lengths of pipe, for another ~2500 rings.

This time able to bundle (12) together (halved the 10' lengths, 5' long bundle easier to manage).

PVC Maille Factoid #47 - took approx. 2hr15mins start of cutting to end of cleanup to dice that 5' bundle. Cleaning up the 50% waste shavings is quite a chore.

Working on painting, tumbling idea had much appeal. Spraying just won't work well enough (I think). Also decided early on against pre-painting my rings, as the carbide rip-cut I did to most leaves their edges so rough that I figured I'd lose a good portion of my painted finish just in assembling the maille. Then again, the paint would have filled some of the rough edges and saved some wear and tear on my fingertips.
Looking at the very large size of my Hauberk, even without the sleeves (more on those, later), also figured the assembled piece would be too large to stuff in a 5gal paint bucket.
Came up with this idea, instead -

Wallpaper dipping trough. Just right. Have to glue it to something like a plank to give it some stability. Intend to fill trough with paint mix, then very slowly work the entire garment through the trough. Gonna be messy.

Bought an empty gallon paint can, a qt of semi-gloss black oil paint, a small can (6oz?) of flat white, and a jug of Mineral Spirits. Mixed it all together for a very dark gray.

Here's a quick paint test, a bit lame, paint's wet, strong camera flash glare, stupidly tried wiping it a bit, etc. etc. -

Color looks much darker to the eye. Intend to dry-brush (wipe) some steel gray or silver paint on the garment for highlighting / 'wear'.

Lastly, a question of sleeves - any maille fans have input on types of sleeve construction? tubular? trapezoid? appropriate length? binding in the armpits? bueller?


Well-Known Member
Bump from the dungeon.
Had to spend the 30th & 31st doing some urgent real-world work for a client, completely blew my last minute effort to finish this for Halloween.
And shortly after that, the maille-ring assembly -induced callouses on my fingertips cracked deeply and started peeling off.
So there the goods sit, wiating for a few other things to be finished first, and my fingers to heal enough for the final push.


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New Member
anyone willing to sell PVC chainmail rings? or a PVC chainmail shirt.

I know its a lot of labor. Reason why I gave up, and searching for someone who already have rings or shirt.



Well-Known Member
It's that same amount of labor that would make me ask a ridiculous price for PVC.

Fingertips finally healed enough for some fresh PVC abuse, and during epoxy curng stints on another project, I was able to get some more work done today.

Finally inserted the last extra bit of width to the hauberk. And added a few bits to tighten up the neck space a bit -

And some work on the sleeves -

Still fussing around with the sleeves. The trapezoidal shape on the right has the ring chains running lengthwise, initially thinking of them hanging from the shoulder.
But some quick fit tests showed there wasn't much 'give' in the rings when I flexed / moved my arm.

Another issue is that the change in orientation of the chains doesn't mesh / match well with the chains in the tunic portion. Won't look very good when it's 'stiched' together.

So then I did the portion on the left - the chains are oriented in the same direction with the tunic, making for a seamless joint at the shoulder. And the chains stretch the most around my bicep and elbow. Will have to leave the sleeve loose enough to ride over my elbow when bending my arm.

Lastly, here a tip on creating the mail, mentioned earlier. I've put two nails in the benchtop to stake out the mail. It's a bit stretched between the two. That lets me attach the next row of chain, running the cut ring through the two rings on the loose chain, then (relatively) easily pulling the ring through the two rings on the staked-out sheet.



New Member
Man this thread is cool as hell. I want to make some now, don't know what I would ever use it for, but its just so darn cool.

Great work all!



Sr Member

Rayra, your kicking butt on this one... Im with commonground, I dont know what I will do with it, but I want to make a set...

I might have missed this, but are you sealing the rings, or leaving them open when you cut them for threading?



Well-Known Member
Leaving them open. The sched 40 PVC is sturdy enough to support the overall weight, and it's only for visual costume use anyway, so no additional strength is necessary (or really possible with PVC).

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Well-Known Member
some more progress.

attached the now-matching sleeves -

and tightened up the neckhole by adding another chain on both sides -

Here's the overall look, and you can already start to see a bit of a problem -

Here's an initial sleeve fit. Looks like I should have used a much more sharply tapered shape for the sleeve -

And the top of the sleeve is nowhere near wide enough. Really binding in the armpit / trapezius area -

So I've opened the sides at the armpit 4 rows downward, and need to expand the upper third of the sleeve that much on both front and back. And you can see in the pictures, the sleeve is also WAY too big in the wrist area.
So chop some here, add some there. Nice thing about mail as that it disassembles. Nothing wasted


Well-Known Member
ok, have to say, tailoring a suit of maille takes more time and effort than creating the sheets / chains of maille in the first place.

Got the final re-re-shaping of the sleeves done, stiching up the side & sleeve seams (with rings).

Painting coming VERY soon.



Well-Known Member

Got all the seams stiched up today, kinda hard to make a good-looking join where the angling sleeve edges come together -

I left the last 4-5 rows of rings at the cuffs the same width, so at least the cuffs would go together cleanly / nicely.

I also placed some black fabric inside the suit while trying to close the seams. The 'visual confusion' of the background layer of rings got tiring after a while.

And here's the whole assembled hauberk -

ok, ready for paint

Started work on a separate hood, but I ran out of rings AGAIN.
I'm still finding shavings from the last saw-session.

PVC Maille Trivia:

(15) 10'-long, 3/4" dia Sched 40 sprinkler pipes (yields ~7200 rings) - $20
(1) QT. Flat Black Enamel - $5
(1) 8oz White Gloss enamel - $2.50

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Well-Known Member
go for it, yourself

I'd think drawn nickel wire would be a nice compromise in appearance vs cost and maintenance.


Well-Known Member
Well, here it is

Got everything laid out and got it painted today.

I'd considered sealing the hauberk in a container and tumbling it, but it's too large for anything watertight I have on hand. I used a wallpaper-dipping trough, which I screwed down to a scrap piece of 2"x10" lumber (to keep the trough upright while wrestling with the maille).

I laid out a tarp, and taped everything down, first, to prevent any mishaps during the process.

The maille was wired onto a heavy-duty hangar for later drying, before painting. Didn't want to wrestle the wet rings, later.

Dipping begins. Used a stirring stick and a chip brush to make sure everything was nice and coated. I also added some more thinner, both for coverage in the trough, and to put less paint on the rings. The first sample I did took some work to free the rings from their paint-welding. Didn't want that hassle on a much larger scale.

Here's the first coat. Looks nice and greyish, don't it? Well, that's pretty much an illusion. Up close, the PVC lettering is still plainly visible, paint was far too thin. And further inspection turned up 1/2" of settled paint goo in the bottom of the gallon mixing can. My previous 5mins hand shaking hadn't made a dent in that.

Here's the 'damage' from the first run. Making things worse, the knot in the wired hangar apparently tore the very thin tarp I used, and paint leaked all over the slab.

Setup for the second dip. Got the paint properly mixed and re-prepared, a fresh tarp + cardboard to prevent tearing.

Here's the fresh results of the second dip.

While hanging to dry, I used the 3" chip brush to slather on some more paint, especially on the most visible neck and sleeve regions, and the hem.

Lastly, (resaonably) dried, happy with the results.



Sr Member
Incredible work Rich!!! Looking at what you did makes me want to try this even though I have no need for PVC Chainmail!

Very inspiring!


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