Strategies for Starting a Chain Mail Weave

By on April 22, 2016
Print Friendly

by Judy Ellis,

Wire Jewelry Tip for April 22nd, 2016

Strategies for Starting a Chain Mail Weave

by Marilyn Gardiner

Today’s chain mail tip comes from our friend, Marilyn Gardiner. Enjoy!

Marilyn Says:


Starting some chain mail weaves can be frustrating because it feels like your fingers are way too fat to hold onto the start while you add the next ring.   Or, you just can’t seem to find the right path to add the next jump ring..  Or, the beginning rings seem to end up in a jumble—they won’t stay oriented the right way while you add the next ring.

Here are 3 strategies for starting a chain more easily.


Many chains can benefit by adding a “handle” to the first set of jump rings. It gives you something to hold onto at the beginning, tells you which end you started from, and makes the chain easy to pick up.

You can thread a twist tie or a length of scrap wire through those first rings, give it a twist—and shazam!, you’ve got an instant handle.

Another option is to thread the beginning rings onto a large paper clip.


I don’t recommend using a safety pin as a handle because a ring can get caught up in the hinge-part of the pin and be difficult to remove.


An awl is a tool with a handle attached to a rigid, pointed length of steel. It is typically used for piercing holes in leather or for marking on metal.  A similar tool is used for beading, for making metal clay, and for soldering.


In chain mail we can use one to lift rings, or to locate the path for inserting the next ring.

Alternates to the awl include: a recycled dental pick; a short, thin knitting needle; a crochet hook with a tiny hook; or a length of stiff wire.

The photo shows an awl being used for making a Byzantine segment. CLICK HERE to read about Marilyn’s Top 5 Weaves.



When the beginning rings end up in a jumble, you can tape them into submission. I don’t tape them to my work surface because I want to be able to manipulate the piece in my hands.

I like to use the tape that painters use when painting walls. It’s low tack, yet adheres well and doesn’t leave a residue.

This photo shows green tape, but your brand could be a different color. CLICK HERE to see what’s available on


1. I set the beginning rings down on the sticky side of a length of tape. I often use an awl to move individual rings into position.

2. When I have the rings where I want them, I tear off smaller pieces of tape to press down on top of those rings.


3. When it’s all stable, I’m ready to add the next ring.



I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip from Marilyn.  For more great tips and articles CLICK HERE!

Happy Wrapping!

Click to Receive Daily Tips by Email


  1. avatar

    Barbara Smith

    April 22, 2016 at 6:28 am

    Your ideas will be so helpful!

  2. avatar

    Heather Gale

    April 24, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    wow I use tape a lot but not for chain mail brilliant idea❣

  3. avatar

    Derek Mcdoogle

    August 2, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    My friend is really into chain maille and likes to create different designs with it. You mentioned that starting some chain mail weaves can be frustrating because it feels like your fingers are way too fat to hold onto the start while you add the next ring. I didn’t realize that using this material was so difficult and complex. Do they have any other techniques that make it easier for beginners?