A proposal on how to line up the overlap of
The following photo essay came about as a result of discussions
on the Yahoo Clubs riveted
"I've always been under the impression that the rings
aren't round because the weight of the maille pulls the rings out of
I always attributed the out-of-roundness to wear, as well. I no longer do,
I have yet to see any maille example with perfectly round rings. It is possible,
of course, that all the surviving rings have been deformed over time, and that
none of the round ones are left. However, I have examined a lot of maille rings
specifically that would be under little, if any load over time. For example, the
rings at the bottom of a nasal on a coif, or the rings long the bottom of a
shirt, or at the bottom of shirt sleeves. These rings bear no load other than
supporting the weight of themselves, which is of course very light. And yet it
is often the case that these rings exhibit the same physical characteristics as
the rest of the rings in the garment. Except, of course, in cases where the
rings in these areas are obviously meant to be different, either through
intention or by later addition (i.e. lengthening of sleeves).
In summary, if the ring out-of-roundness was due to deformation under load, we
would expect to find the rings around the top of a coif to be more out-of-round
than those near the bottom. Likewise, the rings near the shoulders of a shirt
should be more out-of-round than those near the bottom. Though I have no actual
statistics for out-of-roundness compared to location in a garment, my general
impression is that this is not the case.
Because there are no examples of maille with perfectly round rings, I now
discount any theory which creates an overlapped ring that is perfectly
round. Thus I no longer put much stock in the theory of the funnel tool
for forcing rings into an overlap condition. This process, too, would result in
perfectly round rings, unless, of course, the bore were out-of-roune, and then
we are back to the problem of exactly positioning the ring in the bore so that
the overlap occurs at the desired place.
Of course, this means that cutting
the rings from a coil with the overlap built-in is also incorrect.
On Left: Authentic rings. Note ovoid shape. On
right: Reproduction rings cut from mandrel with overlap built-in.
I think it is more likely that each ring was simply overlapped by hand, the way
that Erik is doing it. One can get quite proficient at it simply using their
fingers and a small hammer.
The critical part of forming the ring overlap is that the two ring ends must lie
very closely over one another. If the ring ends do not lie very close to
directly over one another, when you attempt to crush them into one another
during the flattening process the ring ends will either skip off of one another,
or they will cross one another like the letter "X", only flattening
where they cross. Neither condition is
This is why I very much liked the method of cutting the rings from the
coil with the overlap built in. By so doing, the entire ring maintains the same
radius. Thus the ring ends match exactly the same radius, and thus lie directly
over one another. The problem, as shown above, is that the rings end up exactly
So regardless of how the overlap is formed, the critical thing is that the ring
ends line up well, or you will likely experience one of the failure modes shown
One way to ensure a good line-up is to take your crudely overlapped ring (done
by hand, with a hammer, whatever) and then stick a pair of small-jawed (needle
nose) pliers up inside the ring. That is, one jaw of the pliers passes up inside
the ring, and the other passes outside the ring, trapping the overlap in
between. When the overlap is then squeezed between the jaws it thus flattens out
that part of the ring and exactly lines up the two wire ends over one another.
The ring becomes, in effect, D shaped, with the flat occurring where you
squeezed the ring with the pliers.
I have tried this method, even with my perfectly-round pre-overlapped rings, and
the result is much much more authentic looking than when I leave them round. I
am thus not suggesting that it was, in fact, done this way, only that it does
exactly line up the ring ends and produces something that looks better than what
I'm currently producing.
I think it is plausible that the oval or D shapes seen are a result of some tool,
similar to the pliers I use, being used to line up the ring ends.
A small, flat-jawed pair of pliers, used to
"cross-squeeze" the overlap region. This lines up the ring ends.
Round overlapped ring, cut from mandrel with overlap built-in
After "cross-squeezing" with pliers
My rings still look too round, and I think that is because they
started out perfectly round. If the rings had been overlapped by hand,
they would be ovoid even before cross-squeezing the overlap region. Cross
squeezing the overlap region would make the ring D shaped or enhance any