Mail Armour Manufacture

Several patterns of linking the rings together have been known since ancient times, with the most common being the 4-to-1 pattern (where each ring is linked with four others). In Europe, the 4-to-1 pattern was completely dominant. Mail was also common in East Asia, primarily Japan, with several more patterns being utilised and an entire nomenclature developing around them.

Historically, in Europe, from the pre Roman period on, the rings composing a piece of mail would be riveted closed to reduce the chance of the rings splitting open when subjected to a thrusting attack or a hit by an arrow.

Up until the 14th century European mail was made of alternating rows of both riveted rings and solid rings. After that it was almost all made from riveted rings only. Both would have been made using wrought iron. Some later pieces were made of wrought steel with an appreciable carbon content that allowed the piece to be heat treated. Wire for the riveted rings was formed by either of two methods. One was to hammer out wrought iron into plates and cut or slit the plates. These thin pieces were then pulled through a draw-plate repeatedly until the desired diameter was achieved. Waterwheel powered drawing mills are pictured in several period manuscripts. Another method was to simply forge down an iron billet into a rod and then proceed to draw it out into wire. The solid links would have been made by punching from a sheet. Forge welding was also used to create solid links, but the only known example from Europe is that of the 7th century Coppergate mail drape. Outside of Europe this practice was more common such as the well known "theta" links from India.
Practical uses:-Mail is used as protective clothing for butchers against meat-packing equipment. Workers may wear up to 8 lb (4 kg) of mail under their white coats. Butchers also commonly wear a single mail glove to protect themselves from self-inflicted injury while cutting meat.

Woodcarvers sometimes use similar mail gloves to protect their hands from cuts and punctures.

Scuba divers use mail (against shark teeth) as do animal control officers (against animal teeth). Shark expert and underwater filmmaker Valerie Taylor was among the first to develop and test the mail suit in 1979 while diving with sharks. The British police use mail gloves for dealing with knife-armed aggressors.

During World War I, mail was evaluated as a material for bullet proof vests, but results were unsatisfactory as the rings would fragment and further aggravate the damage.[citation needed] A mail fringe, designed by Captain Cruise of the British Infantry, was added to helmets to protect the face but this proved unpopular with soldiers, in spite of being proven to defend against a three-ounce (100 g) shrapnel round fired at a distance of one hundred yards (90 m).

Stab Proof Vests
After an intensive period of study and analysis of stab vests starting in the 1980s revealed that vests capable of providing ballistic protection were insufficient to protect against "ice-picks" or knife thrusts. The highest threat-level of modern stab-proof vests are now being made which incorporate mail armour.

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that mail is a viable alternative to heavy leather for protecting motorcyclists from injury should they be thrown from their motorcycles.

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