Book: Introduction To Chain Mail

Project Type: instruction sheets, ebook, paper book

Tools: SketchUp, OmniGraffle, InDesign


In 2009, I started teaching chain mail making classes at Arisia, a Boston-area science fiction con. The classes have been extremely popular; I’ve been teaching them ever since, and occasionally teach elsewhere. In order to help my students retain what they learned, I put together a set of instruction sheets for the different patterns I teach.

I realized that these instructions  formed the nucleus of a book on chain mail making. I quickly threw together an e-book and posted it for sale, it did surprisingly well, but I was not happy with the format.

I decided to turn my instructions, plus assorted other information into a full paper book on chain mail. I would self-publish the book.

Chain mail class instruction sheet
I updated my instructions every time I taught, using feedback from the previous class to improve my instructions.


I researched the different self-publishing companies, and chose CreateSpace. CreateSpace is owned by Amazon; so my book would be for sale at Amazon immediately. It would be available through other booksellers, and through major book distribution channels. And I could buy the book in quantity at a low price for sale at my classes. The printing/distribution costs are low, and the site is (relatively) easy to work with.


I already had my instruction sheet illustrations that I made with SketchUp and OmniGraffle — I used the SketchUp image files to make the rest of the images for the book.

Because SketchUp lets you work in three dimensions, I could make one ring, copy it, and tilt/move the copy into place to “build” the weave pattern. I exported images of the model at various stages, and used OmniGraffle to add the text and lay out the instructions.

Once I had a copy of Adobe InDesign, this became my practical exercise. I learned to manage text and illustration flow, master layouts, and other advanced features. This is how I learn best — by working on actual projects, rather than on meaningless exercises.

Chainmail book interior spread 1
An interior spread from the book


I don’t market the book, but it consistently sells a few copies every month, and has four stars at Amazon.. I’m happy with that.

Chain Mail Book Full Cover
Front & back cover of chain mail book, as sent to CreateSpace.


“This was a gift. My son and his college friends have been busy making chain mail since Christmas. the directions are very clear and easy to follow.” —Kathleen, review

Chainmail book interior spread 1
An interior spread from the book