Aspect Ratio

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This is a pretty big topic for any chainmailler. If you only plan on dabbling in it, and buy kits that have all your rings and instructions in it, then it’s not something you really need to worry about. If you really want to dive into it and play around¬† and experiment with different weaves, techniques and designs, you’ll need to know this stuff.

First off, I’m Canadian, and like to work in metric. Mainly because the set of mandrels I have are all metric (in mm). All dimensions are ID (inside diameter). If you’re used to working in imperial, or buy your rings from a supplier who sells in inches. It’s always best to measure with a digital caliper if you’re unsure, different suppliers may use different tensions when wrapping their wire on a mandrel, so you might get slightly different ratios, which can be critical in some designs. I’ve also found when wrapping my own rings that copper tends to wrap more tightly around a mandrel than sterling silver does, resulting in a slightly tighter ring. Here’s a handy dandy reference chart:


Inner Diameter Metric to Imperial Conversion Chart

Ring size in
Ring size in
fractional inches
Ring size in
decimal inches
2.5 mm 3/32 in 0.09375 in
3.0 mm 1/8 in 0.125 in
3.25 mm 1/8 in 0.125 in
3.5 mm 9/64 in 0.1406 in
4.0 mm 5/32 in 0.15625 in
4.75 mm 3/16 in 0.1875 in
5.5 mm 7/32 in 0.21875 in
6.0 mm 15/64 in 0.23438 in
8.75 mm 11/32 in 0.34375 in
9.5 mm 3/8 in 0.375 in
13.0 mm 1/2 in 0.5 in


If you have an odd size, or want to convert them yourself, here’s some more handy references. The formula is: AR = ID √∑ WD (aspect ratio = inside diameter divided by wire diameter). If you’re going to do the math, you’ve gotta be working in the same units. So, you’ll have to pick either metric or imperial. On top of that, there are two standards for wire gauges SWD (SWG = Standard or Sterling Wire Gauge, a British wire measurement system.) and AWG (American Wire Gauge, the North American one, and what American companies like Artistic Wire use).


AWG Conversion Chart

AWG Diameter (inches) Diameter (mm)
12 0.0808 2.05
13 0.072 1.83
14 0.0641 1.63
15 0.0571 1.45
16 0.0508 1.29
17 0.0453 1.15
18 0.0403 1.02
19 0.0359 0.91
20 0.032 0.81
21 0.0285 0.72
22 0.0254 0.65
23 0.0226 0.57
24 0.0201 0.51
25 0.0179 0.45
26 0.0159 0.40


Confused yet? Yes? Feel free to drop me a line, and I’d be happy to help. Or, you can always contact you’re supplier, they’re the ones who know their rings best.

Not confused, great! Here’s what you can do now that you’ve got all your fancy numbers figured out. Here’s a couple of great sites that list a bunch of different weaves, along with the best aspect ratio to use for them:

Chainmaille Basket
Blue Buddha