I've been planning on making some banded mail for a long time, and I've found some aluminium to make it out of.

I'm looking to use 2 sheets of 1000mm by 250mm by 1.2mm aluminium, and a 12 in 6 pattern of chain to connect the two. I'm going to try and roughly follow this design.

My main concerns are weight and durability. I don't really know what I'm getting into so I'm turning to Stack Exchange for wisdom. Something else I'm concerned about is the armour not looking terribly realistic, as it'll be very shiny.

What do I need to bear in mind when I make banded mail?

For reference I've been larping on and off for 5 years now often wearing chain on banded (one layer of chain, one layer of banded on top) and I'm only now planning on making my own.


Round the edges of the plates. Then round them some more. Then sand them smooth. Otherwise, they'll chew up your co-LARPers weapons like they were going out of fashion.

Consider riveting or soldering the rings shut, once everything is in place, otherwise you'll spend quite a while re-closing them after each time you've taken the armour out and about.

Before you take it to a game, build up to however long you'll be needing to wear it. Put it on for fighter practice, walk around in it, wear it. But do this starting from a short period of time, building up to however long you'll need to wear it for. Also, you move different with armour on than without the armour.

Make sure you have some sort of padding underneath. Any hit on metal armour that's resting on skin (or skin only covered by thin clothes) hurts, a lot.

Weight is less of a problem than heat. All that padding keeps you warm. That makes you lose water. Heat-stroke is likely and no fun (seriously no fun, as in "it can kill you"). But if you build up the time you wear the armour slowly, you should easily be able to adjust your water intake.

Some details about rings (specifically for maille, but probably relevant for banded mail as well). Rings made from wire can be finished off in, essentially, three ways. Butted, riveted or soldered/welded.

Butted rings are simply closed and held in shape by the material in the ring itself. This is quick and easy to make, but for rings that use a thin wire in relation to the ring diameter it leads to the rings opening and possibly unlinking themselves from the stress of being worn and hit.

Riveted rings uses a slight overlap of the two ends of the wire, pounded flat, with a hole punched and a rivet beaten in place. These may deform under stress, but rarely (if ever) come open.

Soldered/welded rings are butted rings where the join have been touched off with an oxyacetylene flame and possibly a small touch of solder. It's much quicker than riveting rings, but really isn't how it was done "back in the day". However, it affords a quick way of getting butted maille that can stand up to the stresses of full-on impact.

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    \$\begingroup\$ excellent point on the fluids and one that could easily be missed but should not be ignored. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Jun 6 '12 at 15:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is great advice! I've spent a good 6-7 hours in chainmail over padding in blistering sun (someone was literally burnt when they touched the 'mail), so I'm not too worried/surprised about acclimatising to the new armour. My current set of chain doesn't have rivets, but I can imagine it would be intensely time consuming to rivet all of them; is it really worth it? \$\endgroup\$ – Pureferret Jun 6 '12 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pureferret - As always it depends. If you have thick wire in your rings, the work-hardening from making the maille may well be enough. If you use thin rings, repeated impacts will open butted rings. Riveting is a right pain, but hard-soldering (essentially welding them) isn't too bad. It also depends a lot on what you expect in terms of impact. I expect frequent full-force blows to my armour... \$\endgroup\$ – Vatine Jun 6 '12 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Vatine if you could add some of those details to the answer I'd be very appreciative! \$\endgroup\$ – Pureferret Jun 12 '12 at 10:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pureferret: Done. \$\endgroup\$ – Vatine Jun 12 '12 at 14:20

I just asked my son, an amateur blacksmith who is studying goldsmithing, about this.

He said to head over to The Armour Archive for advice, as that's an experienced armorsmithing group. He hangs out there occasionally himself.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you ask one of them to give some advice here? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 9 '12 at 15:07

You could use a 3D printer to print all the pieces of your armour then assemble them and paint them. The main advantage is that you can re-print parts that get broken. Plus, the pieces should be fairly light and strong given that you are not going to ask it to protect you against hard cold steel.


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