Constructing Orbitals Chainmaille Tutorial



Orbital rings are rings that encircle, or ‘orbit’ other rings without actually going through them. Think of them like the rings around Saturn…or something. Adding orbital rings can snazz up ordinary weaves, such as Byzantine or Box.
There are several forms that orbital rings can take.

  • Helm Chain illustrates one form – the loose middle rings are orbitals: they go completely around the small rings, but aren’t explicitly connected to anything. This form is usually pretty loose and not too complicated.
  • Turkish Orbital uses another form – the orbital ring goes around the point where two other rings connect. This form can range from very loose to very tight, depending on the AR of the rings, and how many connecting rings there are. If a ring is connected to just one other ring, the orbital will be looser than if the ring is connected to 3 other rings.

This tutorial is for the second type, involving connecting rings. Note that this technique will be easier for larger AR’s, and may not work in all situations if you’re trying to add on to a stiff or crowded weave. But this should give you some ideas to help you develop your own style.


Orbital rings require very large AR’s – 6.5 and up. AR’s around 6.5 will be very stiff; higher AR’s will be looser and allow the connecting rings to go at odd angles. 20awg 3/16″ works; I haven’t tried any other sizes. 16swg 3/8 should work, I guess.

Metric sizes – approximately 0.8mm wire/4.8mm ID.


The connecting rings are steel, the orbital ring is brass.

Step 1: Open a ring. Place the ring you want to be the orbital on first, then put on the second connector ring.

Step 2: While holding the open ring with your pliers (or fingers or tentacles) slide the orbital ring up and over the second connector ring. Make sure to not knock the connector ring off the open ring.

Step 3: Continue sliding the orbital ring until the edge just makes it up and over the edge of the open ring. Then rotate the open ring up so the orbital ring can’t slide back inside.

Step 4: Close the open ring. You now have yourself a nice new orbital connection.

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