Chain Maille ... No Longer Just For Knights

Common Mailling Terms (aka Things You Should Know)

 Mar 25, 2013    Knowledge Base

Like many other crafts, chain mailling sometimes feels like it has its own language that you need to learn. Here are a few terms explained that you will find helpful, especially when first starting out with chain maille.

Aspect Ratio
Abreviation: AR
This is the relationship between the ID (internal diameter) and WD (wire diameter) of the ring. Many weaves depend on the correct aspect ratio to work. For more information see my Aspect Ratio Article.
American Wire Gauge
Abreviation: AWG
This is a numbering system that is used to represent the wire diameter and is traditionally used for non-ferrous metals. This is the system that we use for all of our Gauge listing. We also provide the wire diameter measurement in millimeters for your convenience. It's always best that you ask your suppliers about the stats of their rings so that you know what the AR of the rings are.
An anodized metal is one that has been electrically treated to change its colour. There are different methods to achieve an andodized ring. Reactive metals such as niobium or titanium are dipped into an electrically charged solution and an oxide layer is created. The various colours are a result of the voltage that is used. Aluminum is a slightly different process. The oxide layer that is formed is clear, the colour is achieved by dying the rings.
Around the Eye
Abbreviation: AE
In some weaves an eye is formed where two rings overlap each other. You weave a ring around the eye formed by these two rings.
Base Metal
At Aussie Maille we group Aluminium (bright and anodized), Bronze, Copper, Jewellery Brass and Stainless Steel into Base Metals. This is opposed to precious metals such as silver, gold and niobium.
A tool to measure components. Especially useful in measuring Ring ID, Wire Diameter and Bead sizes.
Inner Diameter
Abreviation: ID
The Inner Diameter of a jump ring is the measurement/size of the inside of a jump ring. It is normally listed as either millimetres or fractional inches. At Aussie Maille our ID’s are based on the mandrel used to form the ring, not the actual ID of the rings which can be slightly different due to springback.
Jump Ring
The name given to the rings used in Chain Maille. Some people refer to them as links.
The width of the cut made by a saw through the jump ring. A thick saw yields a ring with a large kerf, and thin blades produce minimal kerf. At Aussie Maille we used a blade that is 0.008″ in width, leaving as small a kerf as we can to produce a top quality ring.
This is a rod around which wire is coiled in order to make jump rings. At Aussie Maille we use both metric and imperial mandrels. Our listed ring sizes on the site are based on the mandrels used to create the ring.
One Ring At A Time
This is a chain mailling technique where you open and close rings as required, i.e. you haven’t prepared any rings by pre closing or opening rings.
Outer Diameter
Abreviation: OD
This is the diameter of of a jump ring from one outside edge to another. Traditionally maillers used ID, but you will find some beading companies use the OD to list their jump rings.
Precious Metal
At Aussie Maille we group Sterling Silver, Argentium Silver, Silver Filled, Gold Filled, Niobium and Titanium as precious metals. They are generally more expensive than base metals and create stunning pieces of maille.
When metal wire is wrapped around a mandrel it will relax or springback once the tension of the coiling is relased. This causes the inner diameter of a ring to not exactly match the diameter of the mandrel used. Different metals have different springback. Other factors such as tempers and gauges will also affect the amount of springback each ring has.
Generally springback doesn’t affect most weaves however it can become an issue for weaves that need to be rigid to hold the shape. If not sure it’s best to ask your supplier for details on their rings.
Speed Weaving
is when you have prepared rings in advance…usually closed rings are prepared in advance and it speeds up the weaving process.
Standard Wire Gauge
Abreviation: SWG
Also knows as Imperial Wire Gauge it is a numbering system to represent the wire's diameter and is often used for ferrous metals. Be sure you check with your supplier what gauge system they use. Just because your instructions say 18G doesn’t mean that all supplier’s gauge systems are the same.
See also AWG.
Through The Eye
Abreviation: TTE
In some weaves an eye is formed where two rings overlap each other. You go "Through The Eye" when you weave a ring through the middle of this eye.
The hardness or softness of wire. Tempers generally are known as Dead Soft (DS), Half Hard (HH), Hard (H). For chain maille half hard and hard are the best so that the jump rings do not easily open or change shape when worn.
Wire Gauge
Abreviation: G
Gauges are basically a number system used to designate the thickness of the wire used to make the jump ring. AWG & SWG are the two main standards used for wire gauge.
Wire gauges for jewellery will range from very thick 4G to a very fine 34G but for chain maille the most common gauges are from 16G (1.6mm) through to 20G (0.8mm). The main thing to remember about gauges is that the higher the number, the thinner the wire.
Wire Diameter
Abreviation: WD
The measured diameter or thickness of the wire used in a jump ring. Most commonly given in gauges, but since gauges can be misleading measurments, it is preferable to list WD in mms or decimals inches.
The name given to the “patterns” used in chain maille.
Chain maille is created by weaving jump rings around other jump rings.