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Learn Chain Mail with Lauren Andersen, Part 3

Making your own jump rings is easy and economical, and offers you the flexibility to create exactly what your design requires. 

Facet is pleased to welcome back our guest blogger, Lauren Andersen, author of the book One Jump Ring: Endless Possibilities for Chain Mail Jewelry

WEEK 1: Learn Chain Mail with Lauren Andersen

WEEK 2: Tips and Mechanics of Chain Mail

A set of metal mandrels gives you the option to make jump rings in many different sizes. 

Welcome to week three of Chain Mail Month on Facet! This week, let's talk about making your own jump rings. There are several ways in which this can be accomplished.

This how-to on making jump rings demonstrates a very simple and inexpensive way to make jump rings. As an alternative to using dowels shown in the photos to make jump rings, you can also use metal mandrels like the ones pictured here. These metal rods are great for making rings in a more accurate size. The size of the mandrel is the “inner diameter” measurement of the jump ring, and the mandrels come in inches and millimeters. The inch size mandrels range from 3/32” (2.4mm) to 1/2” (12.7mm) in 1/64” intervals, depending upon the set that you purchase. The millimeter mandrels usually start with 1 millimeter and go up to 13 millimeters in either .25mm increments or .5mm increments, again, depending upon the manufacturer. There are several manufacturers of metal mandrels.

As demonstrated in the how-to photos, you will need to wind the wire around the mandrel to make a coil of wire that you will then cut into jump rings. You can wind them by hand, or use a winder that looks like the business end of a drill with a handle on the other end. Using a winder will help to make the process of making the coil faster.

New Pepe System

The how-to shows the coil being cut with either a jeweler’s saw or flush cutters to make jump rings. The other option for cutting the coil into jump rings is to use a flex shaft and coil cutting tools. 

Pictured here is a Pepe Tools Jump Ring Maker. It includes all the tools necessary for making coils and cutting coil with the exception of the Flex Shaft and No. 30-style hand piece. Learn more about it and watch a video on how it works on the Pepe Tools website.

Now you have all of your jump rings cut. The next step is to remove any burrs and polish up the jump rings. For this process you will need to place them into a tumbler. Always use stainless steel shot when tumbling your jump rings, and a small drop of dish soap. Check out this excellent video called How To Use A Rotary Tumbler To Polish Metal. 

Do not store your stainless steel shot inside your tumbler. Store it in a separate container. Be sure to dry the shot real well before storing. 

The cost of making your own jump rings can range anywhere from $20 (the simple wire cutters and dowels), up to several hundred dollars for a complete set of jump ring making tools. If you only want to make a few jump rings now and then, I would stick with the less expensive option of a set of metal mandrels and a jeweler’s saw.

Lauren's beautiful box chain bracelet

If you want to make your own kits or you give classes and make your own jump rings, then it would be worth it to invest in a complete system. Investing in a tumbler and stainless steel shot is also a good idea. You not only use it to remove burrs, but you can also use it to polish completed chainmaille pieces. Nothing is more gorgeous then a freshly polished sterling silver chainmaille bracelet!

Making your own jump rings gives you the freedom to make as many or as few rings as possible. Also, if you can’t find them pre-made in that perfect color you can make your own!

FIND MORE: chain mail , wire , wirework , finishing

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