Welcome to The Queen Ring

1. Chainmail basics

1.1 What is a good material if you’re new at making chainmail?

1.2 What material should I avoid when I’m new at making chainmail?

1.3 Which size of rings do I need for my project?

1.4 What do the numbers in the ring sizes listed on the website mean?

1.5 What is aspect ratio (AR) and why is it used?

1.6 What is the difference between machine-cut and saw-cut rings?

1.7 How many rings do I need for my project?

1.8 Which pliers should I use?

1.9 What do I need to start working with chainmail?

1.10 Tips

1.11 Where can I find instructions on how to make a specific weave pattern?

2. Ring sizes

2.1 How can I calculate between different sizing systems?

2.2 What does SWG or AWG mean?

3. Ring materials

3.1 The Queen Ring sells rings of various materials. What are the differences?

3.2 How do I choose a material for my project?

3.3 How stretchy are rubber rings?

3.4 What material would you recommend for making a chainmail shirt?

3.5 How do you weave with rubber rings?

3.6 Can I wear my chainmail jewelry every day, for example in the shower?

3.7 How can I clean / maintain my chainmail pieces / jewelry?

4. Scales

4.1 The Queen Ring sells scales in various materials. What are the differences?

4.2 What sizes of scales does the Queen Ring have?

4.3 How do you connect the scales?

4.4 Can scales take the place of a ring in a weave, can you use them together with a ring, or both?

4.5 Do the connecting rings have to be of the same material as the scales?

4.6 How many scales do I need for my project?

4.7 How can I clean / maintain my scale mail pieces?

4.8 How flexible or firm are scales?

4.9 Are scales fragile or easily damaged?

5. Beads

5.1 Are glass beads fragile?

5.2 What is the difference between glass rings / donut beads and glass beads?

6. Troubleshooting

6.1 In the instructions of my weave, sizes are indicated in SWG or AWG but the Queen Ring’s website only lists ring sizes in millimeters. How do I know which size I need?

6.2 The rings I bought are not exactly the same size and / or color as the rings I bought from the Queen Ring before. What should I do?

6.3 I have trouble getting a grip on my work, do you have any tips?

6.4 My rings keep getting damaged when I'm working, what can I do about it?

6.5 I have trouble following the weaving instructions, do you have any tips?

6.6 My bronze / brass / copper rings are getting duller and darker, is something wrong?

6.7 My rubber rings seem to be getting lighter in color, is something wrong?

7. Other questions

7.1 Can I make my own rings?

7.2 I’m looking for rings in a size / colour / material that is not listed on the Queen Ring website, can you get them for me?

7.3 I need more bags of rings / scales than is listed on your website, can you get them for me?

7.4 I’m looking for closures / findings / other chainmail materials that are not on the Queen Ring website. Can you get them for me?

1. Chainmail basics

1.1 What is a good material if you’re new at making chainmail?

Aluminium is a good starting point for beginners. It is light, easy to work with, affordable and comes in a variety of colours and sizes.

1.2 What material should I avoid when I’m new at making chainmail?

Brass, bronze, steel and stainless steel are heavier and firmer than aluminium and therefore not as easy to bend.

1.3 Which size of rings do I need for my project?

Pattern instructions usually tell you which size of rings is best to use, or within which range of sizes you should stay to have the pattern look best. Some patterns can only be made in very specific ring sizes, otherwise the pattern loses its shape. Other patterns need two ring sizes.

Find out if the sizes given are millimeters (mm), American Wire Gauge (AWG) or Standard Wire Gage (SWG). We give more information on these sizing systems elsewhere in the FAQ.

Sometimes a pattern instruction only mentions an Aspect Ratio (AR) you’ll need to match. This meand you can make the pattern in different sizes of rings, as long as the Aspect Ratio (the ratio between the wire thickness and the inner diameter) is the same.

To calculate AR you divide the inner diameter by the wire thickness. For instance, rings of 1.2x5.0 mm have an AR of 4.2 (5.0 / 1.2).

The minimum inner diameter of our rings for various patterns:

Wire thickness

0.8

1.2

1.6

2.0

European 4 in 1

3.4

3.2

5.0

8.2

European 6 in 1

4.1

5.9

8.2

9.9

Byzantine

3.4

4.1

6.6

8.2

Box Chain

4.1

5.9

8.2

9.9

RSD

3.4

4.1

5.0

Full Persian 6 in 1

4.1

6.6

9.9

Half-Persian 3 in 1

3.4

5.1

6.6

8.2

Half-Persian 4 in 1

4.1

6.6

8.2

9.9

Small scales

5.0

Large scales

8.2

Helms Chain (pattern requires rings in two sizes)

4.1 with 6.6

6.6 with 9.9

Dragonscale (pattern requires rings in two sizes)

4.1 with 6.6

6.6 with 9.9

1.4 What do the numbers in the ring sizes listed on the website mean?

Let’s take the ring size 1.2 x 5.0 mm as an example. The first number is the thickness of the wire (Wire Diameter or WD in English). In this example it is 1.2 millimeters. The second number is the inner diameter of the ring (Inner Diameter or ID in English), in this example 5.0 millimeters.

The inside diameter is the diameter of the "hole" in the ring. The ratio between these two numbers is called Aspect Ratio (AR). You get the AR of a ring by dividing the inner diameter by the wire thickness. So the AR of our example is 4.2 (5.0 / 1.2).

On the Queen Ring website, the size of the final rings is given instead of the size of the mandrel (rod) with which they were made. You can find more information about this elsewhere on this page.

Ring sizes can also be labeled in American Wire Gauge (AWG) or Standard Wire Gauge (SWG). More information about these sizing systems can be found elsewhere on this page.

1.5 What is aspect ratio (AR) and why is it used?

Aspect Ratio (AR) is the ratio between the wire thickness and the inner diameter of a ring. You calculate it by dividing the inner diameter by the wire thickness. For example, if the size of your rings is 1.2x5.0 mm, the AR is 4.2 (5.0 / 1.2). You can use AR to scale a weave up or down. As long as the AR of the rings used remains the same, it doesn't matter how big or small they are.

1.6 What is the difference between machine-cut and saw-cut rings?

The difference between machine-cut and saw-cut can be seen at the opening of the ring. A machine-cut ring has a slightly irregular edge and if the ring is anodized, the colour will extend onto the surface where the wire ends meet.

With a saw-cut ring, the end of the wire is flat and straight. If the ring is anodized, that color will not continue onto the area where the wire ends meet. Because the ends of the wire are flat with a saw-cut ring, you can have them join together almost seamlessly when you close the ring. With machine-cut rings, the seam usually remains visible. Because of the way they are made, the gap between the ends of saw-cut rings is slightly larger than the machine-cut ones, making them more difficult to close.

1.7 How many rings do I need for my project?

The number of rings you need, depends on the size of the rings and the weave that is used. The weave instructions sometimes mention the amount of rings you need to make a centimeter. If you need both instructions and materials, you can opt for a craft kit since that will contain all the materials in the quantities required.

Sometimes rings get lost, damaged or have a production error. It is therefore advised to have more rings than you need for your project. We also recommend to buy all the rings you need for a project together, since rings from different batches can have a slightly different colour.

1.8 Which pliers should I use?

The ‘best’ pliers depend on the project and your personal preference. You need two pairs, one for each hand. You don't have to use two pairs of the same ones, do try out which combination works best for you.

A chain (or pointy) nose makes it easier to get into small corners, while a flat nose gives you more grip on your rings. A curved nose has the same pointed tip as a chain nose, but because of the curvature you have more surface to hold your rings with and you can work at a different angle.

For beginners we recommend the basic pliers, with an ergonomic handle if prefered.

The pliers of the Xuron brand are nice for small rings, because they have a small tip. The Xuron "chisel nose" pliers have a flat nose with a pointed tip. For rings made out of thicker wire or firmer materials, pliers with a long handle are more useful. The long handles give you more strength and control.

1.9 What do I need to start working with chainmail?

- Material: you can work with rings, scales, beads or other materials. Furthermore, with jewelry you usually need a clasp or other closure, or, for example, earring hooks.

- Pliers: you need 2 pairs of pliers, in a combination that you like. Make sure your pliers are smooth and do not have teeth, this will damage your rings.

- Instructions on how to make a weave.

- A flat surface to work on, such as a table or a tray for your lap.

- Sufficient light: daylight is preferred, but a desk lamp that you can aim at your work will also suffice. Mood lighting is often not strong enough to see what you are doing.

1.10 Tips

- A large paperclip or bobby pin: by hooking it to the first rings of your project, you have a little more grip. This is especially helpful with weaves that take time to stabilize, such as the half-Persian ones. The paperclip or pin also marks the starting point of your work.

- A bead mat: a soft mat of foam-like material that acts as an anti-slip for loose rings and other materials.

1.11 Where can I find instructions on how to make a specific weave pattern?

In the category ‘Instructions’ you can find books and instructions sheets with instructions about a variety of weaves. The books are in English, while the instruction sheets are available in both Dutch and English. You can also find a lot of information on the internet, including tuturial videos about weave patterns on YouTube. Most weaves can be made in various ways. If you’re having trouble understanding the instructions on a particular website, you can always try and find another website or YouTuber whose explanantion does work for you.

2. Ring sizes

2.1 How can I calculate between different sizing systems?

The rings used in chainmail are sometimes called jump rings. To make them, wire is wound around a mandrel (a metal rod). Since the wire will always spring back a little after winding, your rings wil always be larger than the mandrel.

Usually, ring sizes in books refer to the size of the mandrel instead of the actual size of the rings. We prefer to note the actual size on our website instead, for clarity.

The sizes of various common mandrels and the sizes of rings made with them are noted below.


Inner diameter (ID)

Mandrel size in inches

Mandrel size in millimeter

Actual ring size in millimeter (approximately)

1/8”

3.2 mm

3.4 mm

5/32”

4.0 mm

4.1 mm

3/16”

4.8 mm

5.0 mm

7/32”

5.6 mm

5.7 mm

1/4”

6.4 mm

6.6 mm

5/16”

7.9 mm

8.2 mm

3/8”

9.5 mm

10.0 mm


The system used to indicate wire thickness is a bit confusing: the higher the mumber or ‘gauge’, the thinner the wire is. Additionally, two systems are used side by side: SWG and AWG. SWG means Standard Wire Gauge and is mostly used in the United Kingdom. AWG means American Wire Gauge and is mostly used in the United States and Canada.

Wire Thickness (wire diameter/WD)

SWG (Standard Wire Gauge)

AWG (American Wire Gauge)

Millimeter

20 ga.

18 ga.

0.8 mm

18 ga.

16 ga.

1.2 mm

16 ga.

14 ga.

1.6 mm

14 ga.

12 ga.

2.0 mm

The labels on many of our bags of rings have a code in the bottom left corner, for instance 18316 on 1.2x5.0 mm rings. This code consists of two parts: the first two numbers are the wire thickness in SWG (18 gauge, which is 1.2 mm), and the rest of the code shows the mandrel size in fractions of inches (3/16”, which is 4.8 mm. The actual size is always a little larger than the mandrel size).

2.2 What does SWG or AWG mean?

Both SWG and AWG are sizing systems for wire thickness. The higher the number (the ‘gauge’), th thinner the wire. SWG means Standard Wire Gauge, AWG American Wire Gauge. Among maillers these systems are both used, which can be very confusing.

Wire thickness (wire diameter/WD)

SWG (Standard Wire Gauge)

AWG (American Wire Gauge)

Millimeter

20 ga.

18 ga.

0.8 mm

18 ga.

16 ga.

1.2 mm

16 ga.

14 ga.

1.6 mm

14 ga.

12 ga.

2.0 mm

3. Ring materials

3.1 The Queen Ring sells rings of various materials. What are the differences?

- Aluminum: aluminum is affordable, lightweight, easy to bend with pliers and available in a variety of colors. This makes it an ideal material for beginners who want to learn how to make chainmail or advanced users who want to experiment with a new weave for example. It is also great if you want the look but not the weight of steel.

- Bronze: bronze consists of copper mixed with tin. It is heavier than, for example, aluminum. The rings have a warm bronze color and get a layer of patina over time. This makes the rings duller and darker in color.

- Brass: brass consists of copper mixed with zinc and has a golden color. Over time, a layer of patina develops, causing the rings to become dull and the color to change, usually to a matte brown-yellow. Brass is heavier than, for example, aluminum, but less heavy than steel.

- Copper: copper is a fairly soft metal with a reddish color. Over time, a layer of patina develops, causing the rings to turn a deep brown color. It can be treated to get an interestingly colored patina layer.

- Steel: Steel is a heavy material and very suitable for authentic looking work. These rings can rust.

- Stainless steel (SS): Stainless steel rings are the strongest we have, which makes them very suitable for chainmail work that is subject to force, such as a chain that has to support weight. Stainless steel is also more difficult to bend than other materials and quite heavy.

- Titanium: Titanium is strong and hypoallergenic. It is also only half as heavy as steel and only slightly heavier than aluminum.

- Rubber: the rubber we have is synthetic. It is very lightweight and has the advantage that it stretches, which can make closures unnecessary. Rubber rings cannot open and must therefore in most cases be connected with metal rings. Over time, they may lose their stretch slightly and lighten in color.

- Silver (sterling / 925): Silver is the shiniest of all the metals we have. It has a nice weight and a luxurious appearance.

3.2 How do I choose a material for my project?

There are a number of questions you can ask yourself when choosing a material:

- Am I looking for something in a specific color? Colors like blue, green and orange are only available in aluminum and rubber.

- Am I looking for something that is lightweight or slightly heavier?

- How strong should the material be?

- What is my budget?

- Is it a problem if the material develops a patina over time and changes color?

3.3 How stretchy are rubber rings?

The rubber rings are slightly stretchy, but they don't stretch nearly as far as say, a rubber band. The stretch also depends on the ratio between the wire thickness and the inner diameter. A large, thin ring will stretch more than a small, thick ring.

3.4 What material would you recommend for making a chainmail shirt?

Aluminium, stainless steel and mild steel are used most often.
If you want a shirt that is more decorative than functional, for example for cosplay, we recommend aluminium. While still looking authentic, it is much lighter than stainless steel and therefore more comfortable to wear.
Steel is stronger and heavier than aluminium. This makes the shirt more suitable for actual combat and gives it a weight that is more historically accurate. Mild steel will rust unless you treat it against it, for instance by keeping it oiled.
Stainless steel is the strongest option, and needs no special care after weaving (other than storing it dry).

3.5 How do you weave with rubber rings?

Rubber rings cannot open and therefore have to be connected by metal rings, in most cases. This means that you sometimes have to use a slightly different weaving method. With many weaves you can replace part of the metal rings with rubber rings, for example to make a stretching bracelet that doesn’t require a closure.

3.6 Can I wear my chainmail jewelry every day, for example in the shower?

This depends on the material. Stainless steel and titanium are best for constant wear, in which case cleaning it while you’re in the shower is just a lot more efficient.
Anodized aluminium and black stainless steel will lose their colour much sooner when worn constantly, especially when they are also washed.
Mild steel, blank aluminium, brass, bronze and copper may behave differently depending on your personal skin chemistry. Some people find their jewellery stays lovely and shiny, others may find it tarnishes quickly and/or leaves coloured marks on their skin. In the latter case it would be better to only wear your jewellery at special occasions.

3.7 How can I clean / maintain my chainmail pieces / jewelry?
Mild (hand-) soap and warm water works best for most materials.
Copper, and its alloys brass and bronze, tarnish over time and can be brought back to a shine by rubbing with a mild acid. Diluted vinegar on a sponge works fine, though any mild acid (lemon juice, ketchup, brass polish) will do the trick. Rinse afterwards with plenty of clean water to remove the smell.

4. Scales

4.1 The Queen Ring sells scales in various materials. What are the differences?

- Aluminum: Aluminum scales are affordable, lightweight, and available in multiple colors and sizes. This makes it an ideal material for beginners who want to learn how to work with scales or advanced users who want to experiment with a new weave, for example. It is also great if you want the look but not the weight of steel.

- Steel: Steel is a heavy material and very suitable for authentic looking work. These scales can rust.

- Hardened steel: these steel scales are tempered. This gives them a dark gray color and makes them stronger.

- Stainless steel (SS): Stainless steel scales are the strongest we have. Because they are made of steel, they are quite heavy.

- Plastic / polycarbonate: these scales are made of a type of plastic that is very light and sturdy. We have them in several colors, most of which are transparent. They can therefore be used to create fun effects.

4.2 What sizes of scales does the Queen Ring have?

All the scales we have are leaf-shaped with a hole at one end that allows them to be hung on a ring. We have scales in three different sizes: mini, small and large. 

- Mini: 12 mm long and 7.6mm wide, with a 3mm diameter hole. It is best to use rings of 0.8x2.8 mm for these scales.

- Small: 22.5 mm long and 13.9mm wide, with a 5.6mm diameter hole. It is best to use rings of 1.2x5.0 mm for these scales.

- Large: 35.9 mm long and 22.6mm wide, with a 8.8mm diameter hole. It is best to use rings of 1.6x8.2 mm for these scales.

4.3 How do you connect the scales?

To connect scales you use rings, which you put through the hole in the scale. There are two different ways in which you can connect the scales together: in series or in a sheet. If you connect them in series, you put them one after the other in a line. If you connect them as a sheet, you place them both next to and under each other, creating a sheet in the shape of a diamond or rectangle, similar to fish or dragon scales.

Which size rings you have to use depends on the size of the scales. You need at least two rings per scale, regardless of the size. For the mini scales it is best to use rings of 0.8x2.8 mm. For the small scales it is best to work with rings of 1.2x5.0 mm. For the large rings, it is best to use rings measuring 1.6x8.2 mm.

4.4 Can scales take the place of a ring in a weave, can you use them together with a ring, or both?

The short answer is both. The rings are necessary to connect the scales to each other and thus form, as it were, the frame on which the scales are attached. This can be clearly seen if you turn over a scalemail sheet. Although the rings are barely visible from the front, they hold the scales together.

It is possible to have a scale take the place of a ring in a weave. Because a scale cannot open, just like a rubber ring, it can be a bit more difficult to connect everything together. You can also add a scale to a ring in a weave by hanging the scale from the ring as you add the ring to the chainmail work. That way, you can also add scales to knitting or crocheting, for example.

4.5 Do the connecting rings have to be of the same material as the scales?

No, that is not necessary. The rings can be of the same material or of a stronger material. Aluminum scales can therefore be connected with aluminum rings or with stainless steel. However, for steel scales it is better to also use steel rings because aluminum rings can bear less weight.

4.6 How many scales do I need for my project?

You need 1000 small scales or 300 large scales per square foot (30x30 cm, say the size of a pavement tile). Since scales sometimes get lost, damaged or have a production error, it is better to get a few more scales than you expect you need for your project. We also recommend buying all the scales you need in one go. This is because scales that come from different batches can have a difference in color.

4.7 How can I clean/maintain my scale mail pieces?
If it is necessary to wash, you can use warm water with hand soap or liquid dish soap. Rinse well with clean water afterwards and hang upside down so that the scales are open; this will prevent stains in the areas where the scales overlap.

4.8 How flexible or firm are scales?

Scales are not flexible and quite firm. Although the edges and ends are finished, they may be a bit sharp or pointy. This is especially true for the metal scales. Incidentally, patches of scales are extremely flexible.

4.9 Are scales fragile or easily damaged?

The scales we have are sturdy and will not break easily. This also applies to the plastic scales made of polycarbonate. Scales can get scratched if they slide over each other. This can be more clearly visible on colored scales.

Scales, like rings, sometimes have production flaws or become damaged, making them ugly or no longer usable. We therefore recommend that you always have plenty of material, preferably from the same batch, so that you can finish your project without any problems.

5. Beads

5.1 Are glass beads fragile?

The glass beads we have will not break if they fall to the floor for example. They can break if you accidentally step on them.

5.2 What is the difference between glass rings / donut beads and glass beads?

The glass rings are also called "donut beads" in English because they have the shape of a donut. They are 10 millimeters in diameter, with a hole in the center of 4 millimeters. The bead itself is 3 millimeters thick.

The glass beads, also called seed beads, are smaller and rounder than the glass rings. They are 4 millimeters in diameter and most of them can be threaded on a ring with a maximum wire thickness of 1.2 millimeters. Because not all beads are exactly the same size, some may not fit.

6. Troubleshooting

6.1 In the instructions of my weave, sizes are indicated in SWG or AWG but the Queen Ring’s website only lists ring sizes in millimeters. How do I know which size I need?

SWG (Standard Wire Gauge) and AWG (American Wire Gauge) are sizing systems that calculate in gauge and inches instead of millimeters. In the explanation of ring sizes earlier in this FAQ, you will see conversion tables to help you find the right size in millimeters. These types of conversion tables can also be found elsewhere on the internet and in books about chainmail.

6.2 The rings I bought are not exactly the same size and / or color as the rings I bought from the Queen Ring before. What should I do?

We recommend that you first check whether the rings are the same size according to the stickers on the bags. If they are, and they are not the same size, they might be from a different batch. Although the rings are made by machine, it sometimes happens that the batches differ slightly from each other. If you email or call us, we will work with you to find a solution.

As for color difference, this can also be caused due to different batches. Please contact us by e-mail or telephone for this as well.

To minimize the chance of size and / or color differences, we recommend buying everything you might need for a project at once.

6.3 I have trouble getting a grip on my work, do you have any tips?

To start, see if you are using a suitable pair of pliers for what you are doing. Large pliers are less convenient if you work with very small rings, and small pliers are less suitable for very large rings. You can also try swapping pointed nose pliers for a flat nose, which you can use to grip a larger piece of a ring.

Switching your pliers or holding them differently can also help. There are basically two ways to hold your pliers: horizontally and vertically. If you hold them horizontally, you clamp the sides of your rings. You can also hold one of your pliers vertically, which will allow you to grasp a larger portion of the ring. You hold the pliers upside down, so that the nose points towards your wrist, and turn your palm towards you. With the pliers in your other hand, grab the ring from below.

Finally, getting a grip on your work is something that often gets better when you gain more experience with chainmail.

6.4 My rings keep getting damaged when I'm working, what can I do about it?

Some pliers have teeth or ridges, which can damage your rings. We only have pliers without teeth. You can try to clamp a larger piece of the ring with your pliers so that you have more grip and control. If you squeeze your pliers firmly while you're working, your rings can also get damaged. Especially with a light material like aluminum you often need less force than you think. Try to keep your wrists still and move your forearm and hand together. This can help the pliers to move the ring itself instead of sliding over it.

Finally, practice makes perfect. Most beginners have a hard time not damaging their rings. If you keep practicing, things usually get better after a while. Make sure you have plenty of rings for your project so you can throw them away if they get too ugly to use.

6.5 I have trouble following the weaving instructions, do you have any tips?

Most weaves can be made in several ways. Therefore, if you have trouble following the instructions in a particular book or website, you can always check to see if there is another book or website whose explanations work for you.

Are the instructions clear but do you find it difficult to connect the rings in the way that is explained? Then it can be useful to look at the way you open the rings. Most people are right-handed and open a ring by holding it in front of them with the opening at the top and bending the right side towards them. Rings opened in this way are easy to weave when you use your right hand. Most instructions are also based on this way of working. If you open rings by pulling the left side towards you, it can be difficult to link them in the way described in the chainmail instructions. The same is true if you open rings in the right-handed way but then try to weave them with your left hand.

6.6 My bronze / brass / copper rings are getting duller and darker, is something wrong?

Over time rings made of bronze, brass and copper develop a layer of patina, which can cause the rings to become dull and change color. This is a natural process and does not mean there is anything wrong with the rings. By cleaning them, they regain their old shine and color. Cleaning can be done by rubbing with a mild acid. Diluted vinegar on a sponge works fine, though any mild acid (lemon juice, ketchup, brass polish) will do the trick. Rinse afterwards with plenty of clean water to remove the smell.

6.7 My rubber rings seem to be getting lighter in color, is something wrong?

Rubber rings can lighten over time, especially if they've been out in the sun a lot. Unfortunately nothing can be done about this.

7. Other questions

7.1 Can I make my own rings?

Yes, absolutely! There are hundreds of pages written on the topic online. Basically all you need is metal wire, a metal rod to wind the wire into a coil and a pair of cutting pliers to cut the coil into rings. Or you can make a setup to cut your rings from the coil using as thin a sawblade as possible.

7.2 I’m looking for rings in a size / colour / material that is not listed on the Queen Ring website, can you get them for me?

Send us an e-mail explaining what you're looking for and we’ll try to get it for you.

7.3 I need more bags of rings / scales than is listed on your website, can you get them for me?

Send us an e-mail explaining what you're looking for and we’ll try to get them for you. If you need far more than we normally have in stock, you might be asked to make a downpayment before we order the materials.

7.4 I’m looking for closures / findings / other chainmail materials that are not on the Queen Ring website. Can you get them for me?

Send us an e-mail explaining what you're looking for and we’ll yry to get them for you.