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Byzantine and Box Chain Maille Tutorials

Of all the chain maille weaves, the Byzantine or birdcage is perhaps one of the most attractive for jewelry. It looks intricate but is actually one of the easiest to learn and there are many lovely variations. It's my favorite weave.

You can mix metals or use colored metal for more visual interest as can be seen with this copper accented bracelet I made.

byzantine chain maille braceletOther options include adding beads to byzantine as you can see with the crackle beads on the left.

If you like to learn how, here are the 8 steps needed to form the basic Byzantine which you then repeat to lengthen the chain. Some people use insanely small rings but my recommendation is to use 18G 5/32" rings if you are just beginning.

1. Close two rings and attach a wire tie through both of them. The wire tie helps you grip better - trust me. Link two more pairs of rings.

2. Hold the first pair and "peel" back the third pair.

3. Those two peeled back rings will be raised up. To do so, first turn the chain so you look directly at the direction where I am pointing the awl (below left).

4. The picture, below right, shows these two rings now raised up with a space below them. The topmost rings are now splayed sideways.

5. Now open a ring and hook through that space.

6. Repeat with the second ring.

7. Attach two more pairs of rings (below left) which now brings you back to step 1.

8. Do the peeling back, lifting and hooking steps above and voila! A byzantine!

Still confused? It might help some to see the byzantine taught differently, so check this video out. The demo uses ultra large rings so you can easily see the crucial peeling back and hooking up of the rings.

To add beads as shown in the above bracelet, add pairs of rings as side extensions.  Then just feed beading wire and beads through those rings. Attach the beading wires to each end of the bracelet with crimp beads.

9. Box chain, Queen's chain or Inca Puno Chain begins like a Byzantine. Indeed, I sometimes refer to it as half a Byzantine! When you get to step 8 above, stop at the second pair of rings. Do the peel back and add two rings. Repeat.

The result is a slinky like chain. It is unisex in style. Use it as a plain chain or jazz it up with different metals and pendants as I did on the left. I like chunky chain maille so I use 18G 3/16" rings for the box chain.

One book I can recommend is Scott David Plumlee's Handcrafting Chain and Bead Jewelry: Techniques for Creating Dimensional Necklaces and Bracelets. He is a Byzantine whiz and his bead embellishments are inspirational! The byzantine is the main weave used although he also shows the box chain.

The author mentions coming across a South American blacksmith making the box chain without any pliers - just his bare hands! The Spanish term Inca Puno for this weave means "clenched fist" so each locking section represents the clenched fist of an Inca warrior. Plumlee explains it's traditionally awarded to courageous young men of the tribe.

Beader Designs #: 472 -473

Related Post
Chain Maille : Ancient and Modern Uses

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 


  1. I have Scott's book and am still trying to decide which design to start with. Byzantine in great for variations.

  2. awesome tutorial pearl, you outdid yourself today - i have to try this looks so complicated - thanks

  3. Thanks, Pearl, for the tutorials!
    Scott is a very helpful guy and has a great homepage. Have a look at his tutorials! They were very helpful in constructing my first chain maille bracelet (done 3 so far, 1 is in progress).
    If someone wants to dive deeply into chain maille, have a look at Infos, weaves, tips and tricks, links to suppliers, articles about making clasps, rings, pendants etc.

  4. Plumlee's book was the very first chain maille book I ever bought. The use of beads with chain maille was so good it really inspired me. Thanks Dagmar for reminding me about the other sites you can check for even more chain maille tutorials.

    I have also added a link to my past post on chain maille which also has the link to the

  5. Awesome How-to!! I love the byzantine weave! No matter how many times I make it, it's still complicated and beautiful. I also love those crackle beads combined with maille! I'll have to make one of those myself!

  6. Beautiful work! It's funny I have that book but just haven't had time to learn to do chainmaille yet. I love the byzantine style...someday. Thanks for sharing and the tut!

  7. Y'know I just don't have the patience. I think if I ever did attempt one of those - I would have to keep it for myself!

  8. Fantastic tutorial - wish I had seen it before I made my Byzantine chain. I'll definately be coming back for future tutorials and inspiration!

  9. i just learning chainmaille, if somebody know the best place to buy the rings please let us know

  10. There are many online sources of chain maille rings. Try Blue Buddha Boutique (US) or Ring Lord or Metaldesignz(both Canada).

  11. the biggggg problem that i have is how to find the best rings if somebody can give to me and idea i apreciate ,consuelo

  12. great thank you can i find there in silver

  13. Chain maille suppliers like The Ring Lord, Metaldesignz and Blue Buddha sell them in silver and all sorts of metals and in different sizes.

  14. Wow, what a great tutorial. I especially like the video. This makes creating a bynzantine chain look easy. The huge jump rings and the alternating color help tremendously.

    Handmade Designer Jewelry

  15. One day I just "fell" into this site while chasing an idea thru the web; now it's one of my favorites!

    Thanks for the tuts and all your great info! I would never have tried chain maille if I had not found this fabulous place!

  16. for the box chain I actually prefer to fold 4 in 1 in half and add a ring.

  17. I wonder...would it work with 6 in 1 folded in half? I'll have to try that.

  18. The folding of 4 in 1 does sound like a quick start but I think the 6 in 1 will not work.

  19. I should clarify my last statement - if you meant 4 rings onto 2 rings then, yes it can work but not 6 in 1.

  20. Another awesome tutorial. Saving and sharing this one too. Thanks

  21. I've just finished making this chain and it was called Idiot's Delight in the Tim McCreight Metalsmithing book. Very easy. I used 20g 2.2 ID rings all 300 and something coiled sawed and filed. Absolutely beautiful chain and I'm dying to make it again but will be buying the jump rings.

  22. You are very helpful ❤ thanks ❤ thanks ❤

  23. I'm getting a custom made bracelet in 22kt gold. Your tutorial is so helpful in explaining the technique to the goldsmith in India! Great instructions!
    What size ring should we use for a 5/16 in thick bracelet?
    Thank you

    1. You are best off using the following gauge wire and corresponding ring size for this weave :

      18G 5/32 inch ring size It will yield a very very approximately thick bracelet in the dimension you want. Hope this helps

  24. I am just starting to make a Chainmaille Cross. The video was kinda confusing on it. The guy started with 16 closed loops and 12 open loops. He said to put 2 open loops into the first set of 4 closed loops. Then said to add a 3rd closed loop to the 2 closed loops to make it 7 loops. When you split the 2 there is a 3rd one and makes it very difficult to do any of the step.
    Your is non complicated. I just wished yours was more captured to the right. The guys hands are to the right of the screen most of the time.
    Very good instructions.
    Thank you. Coodles to you.


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