Making Rings from Square Wire
There has recently been discussion on The Chainmaille Board concerning whether rings were made from round wire and then fully flattened, or simply made from square wire to begin with.
As an experiment, I decided to make some rings out of wire with a square cross section. To do this, I took standard round low carbon steel 16GA (.0625") wire and flattened it with a hammer and anvil. This is actually somewhat difficult to do. The wire tends to twist as you work it, and it is easy to end up with polygonal cross-sectioned wire rather than square. Also, the wire work hardens significantly from the processes of making it square. The wire when I started was quite soft. But after the squaring operation it was quite stiff and hard.
I succeeded in making square-sectioned wire over a fair portion of a segment of wire approximately 6" long.
The first step was to wind this square-sectioned wire around a mandrel. I did this with a hand mandrel. The wire did want to twist somewhat as I wound it onto the mandrel, but it was not incredibly difficult to keep straight except as I began to run out of wire. I then used some small pliers to twist it back to the correct orientation. You can see the wire wound onto the mandrel below:
Next I cut the rings by making an incision down the side of the coil using end nippers. You can see the resulting rings here:
I then normalized the rings with a torch to make them easier to flatten and punch. I tried 3 different ways of flattening the rings. The first method I tried was simply to use a hammer. I admit, I am somewhat out of practice of flattening rings "freehand" with a hammer and anvil. In any case, the ring ends jumped off off one another on this ring. The second attempt I used a flattening tool as seen below:
This flattening tool is designed to only flatten the ring overlap region - a suggestion that had been floated on the Chainmaille Board in that it was though that perhaps the rings were woven into the maille and then the ends were flattened and punched. I had no luck flattening only the ends with this tool - the ends of 2 rings skipped off of one another.
Next I tried the tool I usually use for flattening rings. I actually succeeded with this tool in flattening a ring. Below you can see the results of my flattening attempts:
Finally, I punched and riveted the ring, which you can see below. You can also see that this ring does not have a completely square section - this ring got made of some of the wire with a polygonal section. Because of this, it may not be an accurate test of making maille from square wire. In fact, this whole test was somewhat rapidly thrown together, and these few attempts do not show much, but I thought I would share the results with you.