Those of you who have never worked with chain mail before probably gaze at the incredibly complex-looking designs and wonder how in the world someone could figure out how to do that.
Indeed, some of the more complicated designs and larger pieces, such as a chain mail shirt, take many hours of tedious labor to complete.
That’s why beginners are often advised to start with a small, easy project, like a simple bracelet.
Successfully completing a few simple bracelets will not only teach beginners about basic weaving techniques but will also increase their confidence and love of the craft so that they can move on to more difficult projects without fear of failure.
How long does it take to make a chain mail bracelet? Chain mail bracelets made with a very simple weave can usually be completed in a few hours, but more complex designs can take much longer. Time required depends on the weave’s complexity, the weaver’s skill, and the type and number of rings used.
Being able to complete a project in a reasonable amount of time makes it more enjoyable.
While chain mail bracelets typically don’t take long to complete, you should be aware of the several factors that impact completion time so you can make an educated guess as to how long your project will likely take.
Time Needed to Make a Chain Mail Bracelet
There really isn’t one clear-cut, one-size-fits-all answer to how long it might take you to complete a chain mail bracelet, especially if you’re a beginner.
You see, many factors influence the amount of time required to make a bracelet.
Some very simple bracelets could be constructed in under an hour easily, but more advanced bracelets could take several work sessions spanning over a few days to fully complete.
The factors that affect how long it takes to make a chain mail bracelet include the:
- Complexity of weave used.
- Size and design of the bracelet.
- Speed and skill level of the weaver.
- Size, type, and number of jump rings.
- Type of metal.
Let’s take a quick look at each of the determining factors so that you will have a general idea of how long it might take you to complete your project.
Type of Weave Used
The type of weave used in making the bracelet is perhaps the biggest influencing factor in determining the amount of time it might take to finish a particular bracelet.
Obviously, a bracelet made of just a single strand of a simple, basic chain mail weave will take significantly less time to complete than a bracelet made of multiple strands or complex patterns.
You can learn more about the easiest patterns for beginners in my article here, but weaves such as the European 4-in-1, Byzantine, half Persian 3-in-1, and shaggy loops should pose no major difficulties for those new to the hobby.
For these simple weaves, a bracelet completion time of a couple of hours or so is totally feasible with a bit of practice.
For instance, this Byzantine bracelet kit by Weave Got Maille can be completed in around three hours even by those who’ve never attempted a project like this before.
More intricate weaves, such as the Celtic knot, roundmaille, or Olivia, and designs that call for the linking of multiple strands or the addition of beads and trinkets will take considerably more time.
Bracelets with complex weaves may require several work sessions of a couple of hours each to complete, depending on the weaver’s skill and speed.
Some people take to chain mail like a duck to water and are soon quite adept at opening and closing rings in rapid succession, pre-forming sets, and joining sets and strands together quickly.
Some weavers can close more than 800 rings in under an hour!
Others may naturally work at a slower pace, and that is absolutely fine. Making chain mail isn’t a race; it’s about repeating steps accurately.
Just one uncaught error can bump up completion time considerably as you would need to go back and undo some of the work that was already completed.
Your focus, therefore, should be on accuracy; not speed.
As you gain more experience, your skill set will naturally increase proportionally.
Those just starting out lack familiarity with the various weaves and don’t yet have the muscle memory acquired by repeated movements.
Progress for beginners will be slower until they develop a natural rhythm to their work and gain the confidence necessary to increase their speed.
Those who have been weaving for quite a while are often able to finish a bracelet up to ten times faster than beginners due to muscle memory and skills that can only be gained with time and experience.
Jump Ring Diameter, Gauge, and Number
Jump rings are typically categorized according to their inner diameter and the gauge (thickness) of the wire.
Imagine two simple bracelets of the same length lying side by side, the one on the left made of small diameter rings and the other with larger rings.
Clearly, more rings are required to make the bracelet on the left, right? The more rings used, the more time it will take.
So, you can see how diameter affects the time required to complete a bracelet.
Additionally, smaller diameter rings are usually more difficult to weave (it’s hard to see, grasp, and manipulate those tiny things), and thus, work time will be further lengthened.
The gauge of the ring’s wire affects the strength of the finished piece. If you don’t already know, the higher the gauge number is, the thinner the wire is.
Thick rings will make a sturdy bracelet that won’t be as fragile as one made from thinner rings, but the thicker the wire is, the more effort and time will be required to open and close the rings.
Tip: When experimenting with different wire sizes, be sure to stay within the recommended aspect ratio (inner diameter divided by gauge) of the weave to ensure all rings fit together properly.
Type of Metal
Common jump ring metals considered easy to work with include aluminum, jewelry brass, copper, sterling silver, and gold filled.
Because these metals are relatively soft, they’re ideal for making bracelets as they’re easy to open and close.
Harder metals, like titanium, stainless steel, and bronze, are more difficult to work with and will likely increase the time it takes to make a bracelet.
Easy Tricks to Make a Simple Weave Appear Much More Complex
Many of those new to weaving are not aware that by doubling the rings used in a bracelet, the design takes on an entirely new appearance and will make the weaver look like a pro even though very little additional effort is required.
For every ring placed in the sequence, simply link another one directly beside it.
In this manner, a very basic weave like the European 4-in-1 can be transformed to a King’s mail weave.
This technique can be applied to virtually any weave and will produce a denser, more elaborate version of the original.
Just so you know, the King’s mail weave is also known as the European 8-in-2.
When you run across a weave ending with an “in-2,” it is most likely just a double version of an easy pattern, so don’t be intimidated.
Even the simplest of weaves can be made to look more elaborate with the addition of strategically placed colored rings.
Jump rings not only come in different metals, sizes, and gauges but colors as well.
I particularly like the bright colors from Juvale and the metallic colors from Kissitty.
Many bracelets kits, like those featured in my article “Best Chain Mail Kits,” include colors and come with specific instructions for their placement, but you can certainly feel free to incorporate bold color additions to any bracelet you create.
Adding one or more colored rings to each section of a bracelet can make it easier to keep track of what step you are on while you work, and it’s a great way to personalize bracelets that you plan on giving away as gifts.