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Jerry Penner, The Chain Mail Guy

Authentic Armour - Cool Club Clothing - Gorgeous Jewelry

LINK 2003

January 2003 - Rumours of Titanium

February 2003 - Titanium is Here, How to Anodize it Yourself for Pretty Colours

March 2003 - Alternative Professional Anodizer Units

April 2003 - A New Lube that's Better than WD-40, How Tough is Titanium?

May 2003 - The Chain Mail Guy Gets Paypal, The Free Knitting Rings Program Explained

June 2003 - Wire Gauge Numbers and What They Mean, Finishing Annealed Steel Rings

July 2003 - Care of Non-Precious Metals, How to Age Galvanized Steel, Update on Titanium Colouring Durability, Update on Fluid Film

August 2003 - The Chain Mail Guy Offers 1/2" dia. Stainless Steel Rings

September 2003 - Summer is Gone

October 2003 - Ring Strength

November 2003 - Chain Mail Basics Third Edition is Ready

December 2003 - More Fun Websites

January 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!

The tree is down, the toys are unwrapped and forgotten, the children are sleeping at regular hours, and the hangovers are starting to wear off.

Welcome to the new year.

This month I'll announce a special or two, and pass on a rumour.


Over the Christmas holidays I've been winding and cutting rings like a madman. When I looked up and stretched my arms and back, I realized I've got a GREAT pile of aluminum 1/16" dia. wire 3/8" rings made up, and nowhere to put them. They're everywhere. Piled up in the living room, under the bed, a few bags are even propping up a row of books on the bookshelf.

Since I'd rather sell them than trip over them, for the month of January I'm offering a Buy-3-Get-1 Free deal instead of my usual Buy-4-Get-1 Free. This offer stands for orders placed in January, for the aluminum 1/16" dia. wire 3/8" dia. ring only. A bag of 1000 is $18.50 CDN, or $11.56 USD.

To order, visit www.chainmailguy.com and click on the order form at the top of the opening page. It's in PDF format. Just download, print, fill it out and mail it in. All the instructions are on the form.


According to the rumour mill, the Chain Mail Guy will soon be offering titanium rings for sale as raw rings for knitting and as an option for finished products. I've been doing my homework, and found a grade of titanium called Grade 5. This stuff is gorgeous.

It's 45% of the weight of steel and almost 3 times stronger. Regular commercially pure Grade 1 titanium is only a little stronger than steel. The stuff I'll be offering is designed for use in aircraft and rocket motors, so it wil withstand abuse, fuming acids, and things you wouldn't dream of.

It can be coloured either with heat or by anodizing. The resulting colours have an oil-on-water look to them, allowing for the freedom to create beautiful artwork panels or chain mail colour inlays that won't easily rub off. The anodizing process actually changes the chemical structure of the surface of the wire into an even harder substance that bonds right into the ring. Unlike paint, this colour will last a very *very* long time.

It makes great SCA armour. Lighter armour that provides the same protection means your stamina and speed of shots are both increased. Not to mention the ability to colour means your hauberk and your shield can be made to match. You'll be the spiffiest King in the Known World.

Is it expensive? The properties of titanium are so cool that you'll find yourself trying to afford it. Currently, speculation indicates the price for raw wire will be about $200/lb. CDN, or $125/lb. USD. Rings for DIY knitting will be more, and finished work will be more still. How much is in a lb.? There are about 166 - 168 ft. of round titanium wire .062" dia. per lb.. An off-the top-estimate suggests that 2 - 3 lbs will make a nice vest.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


February 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!


For the last six years I've been working with only seven metals. Galvanized steel, annealed steel, stainless steel, yellow brass, bronze, sterling silver and last year I added 14K gold-filled. The array of colours is pretty narrow.

Until now.

1/4" and 3/8" dia. rings in .062" dia. Grade #5 titanium is here.

Colour is now an option.

Titanium has some wonderful properties. It's a poor conductor of heat, making it warmer to wear. It's nearly as light as aluminum, 3 times stronger than steel, and dead easy to colour with flame or electricity.

I've done my homework and found the best titanium for making chain mail armour is Grade #5, or AL4V. It's the same stuff that's used for building rocket motor housings and is chemically identical to AL4V ELI, or medical-grade titanium. The difference between the two is that medical-grade titanium has each billet tested for chemical makeup before being rolled, pounded, hammered and drawn into shape and sold. The extra testing pushes up the price about 50 - 100%, depending upon your supplier.

All this means that the titanium rings offered by The Chain Mail Guy are the best of both quality and price. If you have metal allergies, this stuff is safe.

Colouring titanium is something that for the most part is a mystery. Ask pretty much anyone who colours titanium how they do it, and they'll smile and tell you they don't know. I'm here to let out the secrets.

The colours are generated the same way oil on water generates its colours. With oil on water, the light bounces from the surface of the oil and hits your eye, while at the same time some light passes through the oil and hits the surface of the water and bounces back and hits your eye. These two light rays interfere with each other since one has to travel a little further than the other, generating an interference wave. The colour you see is based on the thickness of the oil film. Same with titanium. The film in this case is an oxide on the surface of the metal.

At a certain thickness the colours repeat. Why? Because the thickness of the oxide film is now a multiple of the wavelength of light involved. What sort of colours can you get? In my experiments I've been able to get yellows, purples and blues. Rather than try and explain the colours, you'll soon find a colour chart on www.chainmailguy.com/pricing.htm showing what colours I can generate.

The colours appear by heating or anodizing. Since anodizing is a much more precise way of generating the same colour over and over again I'll be using this method for identifying the colours. A particular colour shows up at a given voltage so the colours you see will be identified by the voltage that generates them. This eliminates the subjective description of, "Blue, but a purpley blue, sort of dusky blue, but not so navy. More of a dusky humid sailor's blue". Nah, just call it "Ti-20".


Simple enough that anyone with a car battery, a set of jumper cables, and a glass of cola can do it. Connect the positive of the battery (the anode, hence 'anodizing') to the titanium, connect the negative to a piece of stainless steel as big as the titanium, put 'em both in the glass of cola without having them touch and connect the other end of the jumper cables to the battery. As soon as you do, you'll see fizzing from the cola. Wait a moment and disconnect the cables and remove the titanium. It's gold!

The cola acts as an acid to aid the conduction of electrical current. If you want to watch the action, use a teaspoon of TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate, get it at the hardware store) in a litre of water. TSP is alkaline, but it has the same effect of making the zapping easier. I've found that gold starts at 6 - 12 volts, then shifts to a royal purple at 20 volts, then light blue at 28 volts. There is no specific time to keep the work in solution, just pull it out when you see colour. The colour is voltage dependent, not time dependent.

You can't back up. If you saw a good colour at 12 volts but want to go back to what you had at 9 volts, too bad. You now need a harsh acid to eat off the coating and start over. The acid is a mixture of hydrofluoric and sulfuric. Very nasty, and not readily available. This also shows the lengths you have to go to for destroying titanium. Nothing short of a tag-team nasty acid is going to eat titanium oxide.

Once you have the colour you want just pull it out of solution, turn off the power, and rinse the piece in clean water. Anodizing works best when you treat wire or springs before cutting. This will give you the best colour match. The colours won't be perfectly even; they'll have an organic inconsistency to them, but that's part of the charm.

For funky colours, try knitting titanium mail in its natural state then painting it with a propane flame. Colours again cycle from yellow and gold to purple and blue, and flaming can be used to 'paint' stripes, rainbows, and soft colour palettes. Again, unless you've got access to some nasty acids, you've got one shot at it. Take it easy and slow, and don't expect fine detail; you're painting with flame. For more info on colouring titanium, visit www.reactivemetals.com


Is it expensive? The properties of titanium are so cool that you'll find yourself trying to afford it. Reactive Metals Studio in the U.S. offers Grade #1 .062" dia. titanium wire for 85 cents/foot, USD. Grade #1 is soft and as such works great for jewellry applications which is why they sell it. I'm offering Grade #5, only one certificate away from medical grade, for about the same price. Bagged rings in 1/4" or 3/8" are $18.50 CDN for a bag of 100, or $11.56 USD. Finished work is 25 cents/ring CDN, or 15.6 cents USD. The Buy-4-Get-1-Free deal applies to titanium bagged rings as well. If you want to order aluminum and dress it up with a bag of titanium, no problem. Just let me know when ordering and that's the way you'll get it.

Look for updated pricing at www.chainmailguy.com over the next week or so, but you heard it here first.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


March 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!

This month I'll talk a little more about colouring titanium, tell you about Picture Day, and tell you where I *can't* be found.


I've now had some experience with colouring titanium, and found that the commercially available titanium anodizers are not suitable for studio work. Reactive Metals Studio (www.reactivemetals.com) has been an excellent theoretical resource for anodizing titanium, but after awhile you just have to get your hands dirty.

They sell two types of anodizers. One is great for beginners and the other is for professionals dealing with large parts like bike frames.

As an Electronic Design Engineer I can tell what's inside the box based on the picture and the description. The beginner anodizer delivers up to 3A at about 200V DC, with a dial calibrated in percent of output. CSA and UL listed, this unit is double-insulated meaning you can't get a shock from touching just one lead, you have to touch both. Price of this unit is about $415 USD, plus the voltmemter adapter for another $25, plus the current limiter for slower anodizing is another $35 USD. This price does not include a voltmeter or current meter for watching the output.

The beginner anodizer rectifies line current directly from the wall and filters it without regulating the voltage. This method is inexpensive, but sloppy. The output is dependent upon the incoming line voltage. If there are any spikes, sags or brownouts on the hydro line, this will be reflected in uneven colouring of the titanium. The power company only guarantees line voltage to +/- 5% of nominal. Assuming a nominal voltage of 120V coming from the wall, that means you could have 114 - 126 volts available. This 12 volt difference represents many different shades depending on whether or not your neighbour is using his arc welder or not!

The commercial version they offer has full regulation of voltage and current, features analog voltage and current meters on the front panel, is fully regulated and double-insulated, and offers up to 150VDC at 4A of gorgeously controlled power.

This unit is $2000 USD.


Is there an alternative?


Like I said, I'm an Electronic Design Engineer. I've developed a unit that's less expensive than the beginner's unit, and has almost all the features of the commercial unit. Both the beginner unit and commercial unit offer *way* more power than is required to do the job, and trimming back that specification significantly reduces the size, weight, and cost of the anodizer without reducing the anodizing time. My unit offers a peak current of 2A, which still allows you to anodize 1 sq. ft. parts in no time. It features a calibrated 10-turn dial to directly read out the anodizing voltage so you don't have to use an expensive digital voltmeter add-on to read what voltage you've selected. The unit is fully double-insulated and regulated to provide clean, safe, stable DC power regardless of the incoming line voltage.

The unit passes all CSA and UL regulations required for a power supply of this type. It's not going to burn down your studio.

A digital current meter comes standard on the unit. This allows you to see the anodizing current fall to zero, indicating exactly when the process is complete. No more watching the bubbles to see when you're done.

The unit is fully protected against accidental shorting of the power outputs. It's not recommended, but you can turn the dial all the way up, short the work piece to the sacrificial anode, and not break the unit.

The unit comes in a small enclosure that looks nice and is clearly labeled. It doesn't take up much table room, and uses standard connectors for attaching banana plugs or plain wires.

This unit retails for $375.00 USD.

If you're thinking about getting into anodizing and don't want to build your own power supply, consider my unit. Full specifications will be on the website by the end of March.


Remember grade school Picture Day where your mother would dress you up in your Sunday best, fuss over your hair, and threaten you with physical harm if you got dirty before the class pictures were taken?

Picture Day with the Chain Mail Guy is nothing like that.

March 22, you are invited to visit the Chain Mail Guy's studio in New Hamburg and eat my food, drink my refreshments, and play dress-up with my clothes. If you find something that fits, you are invited to see the photographer and have your picture taken. Best pix will show up on the website. If you want a copy, you are invited to make arrangements with the photographer.

Date: March 22, 2003

Time: 8:00 p.m. - Late p.m.

Place: New Hamburg, Ont. Studio (contact for directions and to RSVP)

Cost: FREE!


The Chain Mail Guy has been banned from public places. According to sources at the Stratford Public Library and other public internet access points around Southwestern Ontario, www.chainmailguy.com is not accessible. It seems that the adult nature of the Naughty section has triggered some internet filters into blocking access to the whole site.

If you visit a public access point and have trouble surfing to www.chainmailguy.com, you can try a different computer (some computers feature restricted access for the children's sake) or visit a friend's house.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


April 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!

This month I'm going to talk about a cool new lubricant that works even better than WD-40, and discuss the toughness of titanium a little more.


For years I've been recommending that folks polish their annealed steel and badly galvanized steel by using a tumbler, rags and WD-40. Just put your piece in the tumber, spray it with WD-40, and toss in some rags. Tumble and change the rags every 4 hours until they come out clean. When the rags come out clean, you're done.

A few months ago I was told about a product called Fluid Film. I was told it's better than WD-40. This just didn't register. *Nothing* is better than WD-40!

Is it?

The stuff is available here in Canada from TSC Stores and Canadian Tire. Priced at about 3 times WD-40, it had better be better. The can lists wool wax as the magic ingredient. This is the difference between WD-40 and Fluid Film. The wool wax is thicker, and stays behind, forming a better protective barrier against moisture. According to the blurb on the can it works well against corrosion on steel, magnesium, aluminum, and brass. Hmph.

I tested it by polishing up an annealed steel corset I had just made. Not wanting to use up a whole can of the new stuff, I started my regular polishing regimen with WD-40. After two sets of rags, when the WD-40 was mostly gone and the steel was looking better, I sprayed the piece with Fluid Film and dropped in some new rags.

Two rag changes later the piece came out and I compared it with a similar corset made of the same material, polished only with WD-40. The Fluid Film-polished piece came out noticeably brighter, almost a sterling silver colour instead of the polished black-silver I usually get. I haven't had a chance to put it under the test of sweat (which makes a mess of annealed steel), but that will come. I'll let you know if this stuff is worth the price.


I've been asked how tough the colour coating is on titanium. The colour is an oxide layer that's molecularly bonded to the surface of the titanium, and is actually tougher than the titanium beneath it. Unlike paint, this is not easily worn off. I've kept a swatch of it in my coat pocket for the past two months, jiggling against itself, no wear. Starting this week, I've moved that swatch to my keychain where it will rub against my keys all day every day. I've also made up a titanium hackey sack which I'll be abusing as the weather gets warmer, to see how much road rash this stuff can take. More on this as things develop.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


May 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!

This month I'm going to talk about the rise in the Canadian Dollar, a more convenient way to purchase from The Chain Mail Guy, and the Free Knitting Rings Program.


For some reason, the Canadian Buck is steadily rising against the American Dollar. As of Thursday, an Ameribuck buys $1.42 Canadian Loonies. This is a 5-year high for the Canadian Dollar, which ultimately means American consumers purchasing from Canadian sellers are going to have to shell out a little more that they're used to.

The Chain Mail Guy is still being generous with the exchange rate, currently American purchasers can use a conversion factor of 1.50 instead of 1.42 when converting the CDN prices on the website to USD. That's an extra 8 points on exchange! This deal is open to anyone who places an order via mail using the order form on the website, using an International Money Order in U.S. Funds.


If you're willing to forego a few extra points on exchange for a faster and more convenient way to pay, you may now do so via PayPal. Just e-mail me and let me know what you're looking for, and I'll quote you a price. When I get your approval, I'll send you a Request for Payment via PayPal and you follow the instructions they outline. When I have your funds, I'll ship your order. Look for BUY NOW buttons coming soon to the website.

Unfortunately this convenience is restricted to family-oriented items, as per PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy. It seems that Paypal has a problem with having its services used for buying or selling adult materials and will close the account of anyone who tries. This means that if you want to buy it from the Naughty Section of www.chainmailguy.com, you'll have to use either money order or Visa.

People who choose Paypal as their means of payment will be paying in CDN funds. Paypal will convert to your local currency on the date of the transaction, so you get whatever the daily exchange rate actually is. Still, getting 40% off just for buying Canadian is not a bad deal.


The least expensive knitting rings on the Internet. This popular option for getting free rings for DIY'ers is still on. If you want to learn how to knit, order 2 bags of rings and a copy of "Chain Mail Basics". If you already know how to knit and know what a European 4-in-1 ribbon is, skip the book. If you catch me at an event on a weekend, ask me to show you how to knit. I'm happy to share, and it's a free half-hour lesson.

Knit up a foot or so of the rings into a ribbon and send it to me for evaluation. I'll contact you and let you know what, if anything, needs improvement. When I give you the go-ahead, send me the rest of the rings knitted as two ribbons, one per bag.

I'll then send you two replacement bags, plus a free "Thank You" bag.

You take care of the shipping from your end, I'll take care of the shipping from my end.

Q: If I buy 4 bags and knit them and send them, will you send me 6 bags back?

A: Yes!. Not only that, when you order 4 bags at a time, I throw in the fifth one for free.

Q: Do you send me what you want knitted, or do I pick?

A: We'll work together. You let me know what you're saving up for, and I'll recommend rings you might like to use. These will be your "Thank You" rings. We'll start you off knitting some easy aluminum rings until you get into it, and then I may get you to do something tougher later on if you think you're up to it.

Q: Can I specify gold and silver as my "Thank You" rings?

A: Sure! My pricing allows for that. All bags of rings are pretty much the same price, so I can send you whatever you want for your own use.

Q: Can I stop anytime?

A: Sure! Let me know when you've had enough.

Q: How do I get started?

A: E-mail me and we'll discuss which rings you'd like to try, and what you want to make for yourself.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


June 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!

This month I'm going to talk about wire gauge numbers and finishing bare steel with a black baked-on coating.


There exists the possibility that when you order rings, you'll get the size you ordered without getting the size you wanted.


Believe it or not, there are actually six different wire measurements called "gauge", and only two of them use identical numbers. To make matters worse, some of the gauge names are close enough to each other that they are confused for each other.

Here are some examples:

Gauge Name 18 16 14
AWG or B&S .0403" .05008 .0641
U.S Steel .0475 .0625 .080
British Standard (Imperial) .048 .064 .080
Music Wire <.041/td> .037 .033
Birmingham or Stub's Iron Wire .049 .065 .083
Stubs Steel Wire .168 .175 .180

Most wire sellers use the American Wire Gauge, or AWG to specify size. Now that you know there are six different gauges and you see how widely they vary, you can see how easily one can become confused when ordering wire. Toss in the metric system and four *more* ways of measuring sheet metal gauge (not counting English and metric measurements) and it's a wonder you can get what you want at all!

The Chain Mail Guy always uses either American Wire Gauge (AWG), decimal inch measurements, or decimal metric measurements. The rest of the wire industry is converting to the same. This way you get what you asked for.


I was reading up on the properties of steel recently, and came across this cool way to treat bare steel so that it has a permanent black finish. I haven't tried it yet, but I think I may do a corset in this. To put a matte black finish on bare carbon steel, harden the piece, temper in oil, then place the piece in an oven with the oil on the part. Oven is at 300 - 350 deg. F., remove in 5- 8 minutes. The black finish will be baked on.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


July 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!

This month I'm going to discuss care and cleaning of various non-precious metals, reveal the secret to aging galvanized steel rings, bring you up-to-date on how durable the colouring on titanium really is, discuss the performance of Fluid Film, and tell you where you can find my smiling face on TV.


One fellow at the Toronto Pride Day this year showed me his shiny chrome-plated shirt that was starting to rust through. It was an impressive shirt, except for the pinholes of rust everywhere. It was leaving rust stains on his chest. "How do I clean it?" he asked.

Here's the rule of thumb: if it rusts, use WD-40 and rags tossed into a tumbler. Change the rags every 4 hours until they come out clean.

If it doesn't rust, wash it in warm soapy water with dish soap and a nylon scrub brush. Rinse in hot clear water and hang to dry.

What can be used as a tumbler? An old dryer, an old front-load washer, a new cement mixer with the mixing fins cut down, a brass tumbler for reloading firearms cartridges (if your piece is small enough), or even a 2 gallon bucket and a paint shaker. As long as the piece can be made to move, it'll work as a tumbler.


If you're adding rings to a galvanized steel shirt that's been around awhile the colour difference is immediately apparent. The new rings stick out like a shiny sore thumb while the older rings maintain their medium dull grey look.

Aging galvanized steel to make the new look like the old is easy. After you've added the extra rings to your piece, place it in a plastic laundry tub and cover the piece with cold water. Add a cup or two of unscented household bleach and leave it alone for about 8 hours. Depending on how many rings you're aging, the process might not be complete. Scrub the piece with a nylon brush and leave it alone for another 8 hours.

Rinse it off when the new rings look like the old ones, or when you see rust forming. Use hot clear water and hang to dry. Then tumble with WD-40 and rags, changing the rags every 4 hours until they come out clean. You may notice that while the rings look aged, they feel soapy. This tells you that while the zinc coating on the new rings looks like the old ones, the zinc coating is still there. You'll still get that characteristic smell from time to time, and the piece will still have to be polished now and then to remove the odour. Once all the zinc is removed from the piece, you'll never need to polish it again. It'll not rust or get that metal smell.


Remember back in April when I mentioned I was going to test the colour durability of titanium by putting a piece on my keychain and wearing it until the colour came off?

That piece has been jingling in my pocket for from February to April all by itself. In April I moved it to my keychain that stays in my pocket all day every day. It's been rubbing on my keys for three months, and finally all the colour has been polished off the piece. It still looks good. Its three-month polish job has left it a very shiny medium grey colour.

The purple titanium crisscross dress that my girlfriend has been wearing pretty much every weekend is still the same colour. This leads me to conclude that under normal wear, the colouring of titanium will last a really long time. Under harsh conditions, it'll still take several months for the colouring to come off. Depending on the style of the piece, it may be able to be re-coloured. Smaller pieces re-colour better than larger ones. Why? It's an electrical process, and the colour film that builds up on the surface is an insulator. This means that as the colour appears, it prevents the electricity from passing through the piece and evenly colouring along the entire length. This by itself can make some interesting and funky looks, but inhibits the ability to make a large piece all one colour.


A little while ago I started using Fluid Film, a replacement for WD-40. It's supposed to work better than WD-40 because it uses wool wax instead of evaporative oils to do its job. The wax stays in place, lasting longer. This is supposed to prevent rusting for that much longer.

The corsets I've treated with Fluid Film haven't seen much active duty in the past month, but I did treat my swag-lamp chain shirt with the stuff. The colour that came up from tumbling it with rags and Fluid Film made my jaw drop. The colour is very much blacker, shinier, and gleams much nicer than with WD-40. This shirt is susceptible to rusting when exposed to the rain, and it got quite a dosing at Toronto Pride Day this year. I packed it wet, brought it home and looked at it the next day. Surface rust. No pitting, but definitely the shirt was in need of treatment. Another tumble with Fluid Film and rags took away the rust stains and brought the colour back to that gleaming black chrome look.

Conclusions? Keep the Fluid Film for finish work, use WD-40 for the bulk of your polishing and protecting. Until Fluid Film comes way down in price, (it's 3 times more than WD-40!), I'll be using the old standby for the majority of my cleaning and protecting.


So, there I was, standing in my booth at the Spring Fever Sex Show in Toronto, minding my own business, when my girlfriend dashes off around the corner. Where'd she go? What did she see? Moments later she reappears with Erica Stevens, Lily Kwon and a Naked News cameraman in tow! Lily performed the interview, while Erica modeled an outfit of mine. Never had I dared dream that someday I might play dress-up with the hottest sportscaster on TV today. Look for a segment called "Naked Goes Pop" on the SexTV channel here in Canada and at www.nakednews.com at a computer screen near you. Unconfirmed rumours indicate it'll be airing July 12th.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


August 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!

This month I'm going to tell you about some new rings I've been working on.


I've been so impressed with the way my work in 3/8" X 1/16" stainless steel has been turning out, I wanted to expand what I could do. Imagine a shirt made of stainless steel with aged galvanized steel for trim. The trim would be a medium dull grey, with a bright shiny steel all around it. The trim would be in the center of the shirt, as a giant cross.

And I need a shiny new vest. The one I wear I've been wearing for seven years.

I wanted a stainless steel; something less expensive than #316L, in 14 AWG, and with a reasonable hardness.

316L stainless is so expensive because it's medical-grade stainless steel. This is what doctors use to pin bones together. This is perfect for people who want to wear stainless steel but have metal allergies, but it *is* expensive. Increasing the wire size from .062" to .078" and the rings size from 3/8" to 1/2" greatly adds to the material in each ring, boosting the price again.

I was able to find a grade called #308 in the size I was looking for. It's hard and shiny so it will work well for SCA, AEMMA, WCJA, or street armour. The rings are tougher to work with than regular galvanized, so they will be able to stand up to a greater punishment. #308 is commonly used in the manufacture of kitchen sinks. I've seen how people treat their sinks, and so I'm confident that this material will stand up to a little wash & wear.

These rings feel incredible. They slip through your fingers very easily. The difference in feel between galvanized and stainless is like the difference between burlap and silk. I'm sure that anyone wearing a shirt or vest made from these stainless rings is going to get petted. A lot. Perfect for bar-hopping or clubbing.

The only downside with these rings is related to their hardness. Because the metal is so hard, it doesn't always cut well. My rings have a characteristic angle cut with no burr around the edge. Some of these rings have the point of the cut in the middle of the face of the cut, instead of being offset. This means that the ends won't line up as nicely on some of the rings, which can lead to pulling of hair. Personally, I'll be setting these rings aside and using them on edges where strength is really needed. I'll be brazing these rings closed, which fills in the cut very well.

Price? Bagged rings are $18.50 CDN per bag of 500, finished work is 10 cents CDN/ring. The Buy-4-Get-1-Free deal for bagged rings still applies. Expect to see these new rings on my website in a few days.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


September 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!

Days are getting cooler, kids are back to school, the leaves are starting to turn here in Ontario already, and the geese are flying south.

This summer was a challenge for the Chain Mail Guy. Many of the events I attended were in Toronto. Everyone tells me, "Your stuff would go great in Toronto!". When I ask them where I should be selling, they can't come up with names. I've done my research and found the Toronto Pride festival, the Whiplash Kinx show, the The Spring Fever Sex Show, and a number of other one-day events where I could show my wares.

Then the SARS scare landed in Toronto. An acute respiratory disorder, it seemed to focus its wrath on hospitalized elderly Asian women. The number of people killed was very small compared to the population of Toronto, but the number of people faced with the consequences were huge. Screening at every hospital, some people on the streets wearing masks, daily news coverage. SARS didn't just kill a few Torontonians, it killed any event that involved people gathering together. Attendance for each event I was at was way down. The Pride festival was most noticeable, because these folks are already too aware of what a killer disease with no cure can do.

Then it rained. Almost every single weekend, it rained. Sometimes harder than others, but it rained. Rain is even worse that SARS when it comes to outdoor events. Not that I have to worry about my merchandise getting wet (except for the books and the couple of pieces made out of annealed steel, everything else dries out without harm), but people don't like it and they go home.

Last year was fantastic, no rain each weekend, everybody was happy and sunny, just like the day. This year, I found out quite rudely that my rain shades which I use at outdoor events are really sun shades.

There is a positive side to all of this. The rain made me think about how I can make my rain shades rainproof, and I did. I now have tarps that nicely fit over my tent frames that will withstand a sudden bucket-dropping rainstorm. I made cool new super-duty tent pegs out of 8" ardox nails that will hold down my tents in the nastiest windstorm, and I now recognize that Toronto isn't as big as it thinks it is.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


October 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!


Wow. I've been so busy getting caught up that I forgot to let you know what I'm up to!

Chain Mail Basics is getting a tune-up... no, more like a major overhaul. The last time it was updated was in 2001, and I've learned a few new tricks since then and gotten a digital camera and a much fancier word processor.

Everything from the history at the front to the patterns in the back are getting more useful content. Pictures are going to be sprinkled everywhere. Clear black and white photos of what I'm explaining in the book. This has been a major drawback to the book; some people just can't get it from words alone.

There will also be a section on working with special metals like titanium, and more tricks and tips for cleaning and treating metals. I'll add in things like speed-aging galvanized wire to make new patches look like they belong in an old shirt. I'll describe two different ways to colour titanium. Look for the announcement on the website very soon.


Occasionally the question of the strength of various rings comes up. Other ring retailers offer a simple description beside each ring to tell you how strong it is, relative to all the others. They use words like, "jewelry", "armour" and "super armour" to describe the strength of a ring. The Metals Handbook gives an engineering formula for determining the strength of a ring, a way to calculate the exact amount of force required to open a ring if pulled apart. The formula involves moment of inertia, wire diameter/ring diameter ratio, and directions of force.

This is great if you know the moment of inertia, which is based on the strength of the metal, but does nothing if you're wanting to know how strong the rings are from one batch of wire to the next. The easiest way to find out the strength of a ring is to pull it apart. How far apart? A ring that's pulled open at the joint to 70% of the diameter of the wire will allow another joint pulled apart the same amount to slip through. This seems like a reasonable amount.

I've devised a tool that will pull apart rings and allow me to measure the force required to open them. The device is still on the drawing board, but it's so simple that I can't wait to build it and see how strong my rings really are. Once I know, I'll be publishing the results on www.chainmailguy.com in the Accessories section, listing the opening force for each ring I test. This will give a more accurate picture of what chain mail will actually put up with.

This will also help answer a question posed to me by an archaeologist. "How does butted mail stand up compared to welded and riveted mail?" His idea of an experiment to find out was to knit up several 1 sq. ft. test patches of butted, riveted and welded mail and cut them with an axe dropped from a specific height. I wasn't prepared to make that many test patches of material just to have them destroyed, even if it is for science. This measurement method means I can make one test patch of butted mail, cut it open as described and compare the pull-open strengths of the three different ring styles. Way easier.


Have you knitted your costume yet? If you're not done by now, you won't be by party time. I do have a few dresses and shirts in stock available for rent if you want to hit the local bars and win prizes for best costume. Rental price is 4% of the purchase price per weekend, and 10% per week. Contact me and let me know what you're looking for and we'll make arrangements.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


November 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!


Chain Mail Basics is ready!

Now with over 50 black and white pictures and illustrations showing the various knits as well as describing how to build your own winder and tumbler. There's a section on working with titanium and a deescription of how to build your own colouring kit.

The book has a new smaller easier-to-handle size as well. It now measures 8 1/2" X 7" wide instead of 11" X 8 1/2", making it fit easier on the bookshelf. Over 53 pages of great info as opposed to the last version which had 37 pages, but the price hasn't gone up. It's still $12.50. If you've got someone on your Christmas shopping list who is crazy about chain mail but you don't know what to get them, get the book.


If your order gets to me by the 19th of December and I have the item in stock you can still have it for Christmas within the USA and Canada. For exact shipping cutoff dates, visit www.canadapost.ca and check out the Expresspost delivery times. Add an extra day or two for me to prepare your order.


Now that the book is done I've got a little time to up date the website. I've been making hanging candleholders. These have a stainless steel wire base and glass holders suspended by nickel-plated or gold-plated brass chain. The holders can take tea lights, votives, or 4" pillars. They are perfect for lighting up the feast table, giving it a distinctive and unique style. The holders will not fall over even if they are set swinging because the base is large and the glass holder sits low. I've sourced out a supply of the glass holders and will be showing off a few more styles as time permits. You can see them at www.chainmailguy.com/accessories.htm

The website also shows my new stainless steel knitting rings. These are #308 stainless, the same stuff as kitchen sinks are made of. The wire is very hard, unlike some stainless steel wires available elsewhere. It's tougher than galvanized steel but still workable by hand with two pairs of pliers. This means your garment will be strong and shiny and need little repair if you use it for SCA, AEMMA, or WCJA fighting. The wire does cut pretty hard and there are some barbs on the cuts. I polish the points off of all the stainless garments I make and advise you do the same. Price for a bag of 500 is the same as the rest of my rings, $18.50/bag, with the buy-4-get-1-free deal in place. Knitted price is 10 cents CDN/ring.


Stainless steel corset. Probably ready for the New Year's Eve party. Look for it in the Women's section in a month or so. I'm excited and can hardly wait to see it myself.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy


December 2003

Greetings, LINK Readers!


Christmas is pretty much put to bed. If you haven't purchased all your gifts yet, make sure you take a sharp stick when you go to the mall; you're going to need it. If you'd planned on ordering online, the critical delivery dates for getting something to you are pretty much past. If you were planning to get something from The Chain Mail Guy in time for a Christmas delivery I can guarantee your item won't arrive in time. As an alternative, if you were to place an order for Christmas that I can't deliver in time, I *can* e-mail you a Promissory Note to include in the gift card, letting the recipient know that you haven't forgotten them, and their present is being hand-crafted which is why it's not ready yet. This makes sure you've got something to give on Christmas and the recipient doesn't feel left out.


So now that everything is over except for dealing with the annoying relatives, let's check out some fun stuff that has nothing to do with anything:


This site features a Virtual Stapler. Click it with the mouse and you can operate the stapler. When that gets boring, you can choose from a half dozen different staplers to play with.


This is a cool site, bookmark it. It allows you to convert English words to Latin and back, allowing you to make up your own Latin slogans. Imagine being able to tell someone to "Pound Salt" in Latin. It sounds so much more educated.

No matter how you celebrate this Midwinter Holiday, I hope you have a good one.

Jerry Penner

The Chain Mail Guy