Cutting rings for riveted maille

After the coils have been wound, the next step is to cut the rings from the coil.  There are basically 3 different mechanical methods of cutting rings from a coil.  The image below shows examples of 3 types of cutters.  From top to bottom we have:


Sawing: Dremel cut-off wheel


Pinching: End nippers


Shearing: Metal shears

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Any cutting method that removes metal as it cuts is a sawing method.  Though the image shows a rotary cut-off wheel as the sawing tool, a hacksaw is also an example of a sawing tool.  Sawing cuts make for the cleanest, sharpest cuts, which is a boon for butted maille makers, but completely wrong for riveted maille.

Sawing cutters are generally slow, and with the case of cut-off wheels, also tend to consume the tool rapidly.

The following two images (click to enlarge them) show the results of a flush cut before flattening:

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Sawed; before flattening

And these two pictures show what the overlap area looks like after flattening:

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Sawed, after flattening

Pinching cutters do not remove metal as they cut.  Instead, they squash the item to be cut between two "V" shaped wedges.  This pinches the metal, making very thin so that it breaks off.  Pinching cutters are generally considered the poorest cutters for making butted maille, because the "V" shape of the cutting blades is transferred to the ends of the ring, making them butt together like so: ><  

Pinching cutters are slow and make poor cuts for butted maille, but have an advantage in that they generally take little hand effort.

But as it turns out, the pinching style of cut also produces the most authentic looking overlap for riveted maille, which indicates to me that it is likely that the medieval maille maker used some kind of pinching cutter.

pinch_cut_unflat_10x.jpg (45098 bytes) pinch_cut_unflat_60x.jpg (47080 bytes)
Pinched, before flattening

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Pinched, after flattening

The last method of cutting, like the pinching style above, also does not remove metal as it is performed.  Instead, two blades pass very close to one another, shearing the metal caught in between.  Scissors for cutting paper are an example of a shearing cutter.  So is a hole punch.  

For the butted maille maker, shearing cutters are often found to give the best trade-off between speed and quality of cut.  The quality of the cut usually depends on the thickness of the wire being cut.

For riveted maille, the wire used is generally quite thin, and consequently the cut is very flush.  The cut is so flush, in fact, that it doesn't look much like what is seen in authentic samples.

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Sheared, before flattening

shear_cut_flat_10x.jpg (42106 bytes) shear_cut_flat_60x.jpg (56716 bytes)
Sheared, after flattening

The picture below shows authentic riveted rings.  Notice how the end of the wire tapers very gradually.  This indicates that the wire was not cut very flush at all.  I believe some kind of pinching cutter was used to cut these rings.

original_overlap.jpg (65822 bytes)
Authentic rings

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