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View Full Version : Jump rings for chain maille - make them or buy them?



shelliem
03-11-2009, 11:33 AM
Hi all

I've just recieved my book which tells me how to start chain mailling and wanted to buy some materials to get going but I wondered what others do - is it cheaper to make your own or buy them pre-made?

snow_imp
03-11-2009, 11:36 AM
Hm, I don't know what George will say on this topic.

I started working from a book on chain maille that included instructions on making the jump rings. Since I was only playing and using silver plated wire for practicing I made my own.

As soon as I wanted to make a bracelet in sterling silver I decided to use bought in rings because I felt that end product would be of a better quality - I'm far too impatient to like sitting snipping/cutting rings.

I think there is another thread covering sources for jump rings in the forum somewhere - but I use maillequeen.co.uk for mine.

shelliem
03-11-2009, 11:40 AM
Thanks Anne

I'd be interested to hear George's suggestions.

I think I would be inclined to agree with you if I was making an item to sell I guess it also depends on how long it would take me to make the jump rings in the first place.

agent_44
03-11-2009, 12:27 PM
How many rings are you going to be using? If you are going to be making a lot of mail it will probably be a lot more expensive to purchase your own rings and I would definitely recommend a jump ring making tool (such as the Koil Kutter that George, I and others use). If you wanted to have a go with out any more investment then you could give it a go with just a jewellers saw. If you have any knitting needles lying around they make great mandrels for winding coils. Most people use them with some kind of drill. I use my cordless drill but I know others use manual ones.

bustagasket
03-11-2009, 12:48 PM
I have only done one "mailley" bracelet so far but intent doing many more, but i have no gadgets except my trusty knitting needle and my hands and pliers. I make my own simply cos, for me, it just wouldnt feel right to buy them, but i am so inexperienced in this area that i cant really advise lol, and i could be talking completely out of my rear end so i will let the others guide you :D

Kalorlo
03-11-2009, 12:59 PM
I bought some rings to start off with - cheap aluminium and brass ones to practice with plus some nice copper ones from DragonflyLynne (http://www.thedragonflycompany.com/) (she also does silver).

If I was going to be doing a lot of maille, I'd start making my own - I just don't have any of the equipment to do so right now. Got knitting needles... but no jeweller's saw or drill, and it's rather noticeable if you don't get a nice clean cut. (With the rings I have, you can see the difference between the saw-cut ones and the machine-cut ones. Machine-cut'll be a little cheaper if you're buying ready-made, but saw-cut gives a proper smooth join).

shelliem
03-11-2009, 01:00 PM
I'm going to need about 300 in total to make two bracelets one for me and one for a pressie!

I might not have read enough so far but the book states the gauge for the jump rings then in brackes has 1/8inch ID or 5/32 inch ID and I haven't the foggiest what that means???

I think I would like to make my own but this book doesn't show me how to make them.

snow_imp
03-11-2009, 01:34 PM
I have been using knitting needles as mandrels and simple snips for cutting - then I invested in a better pair of cutters for use with sterling silver wire.

I haven't got a jewellers saw or the money for a machine to help as others have mentioned.

I'd love to make my own jump rings for the maille work but all the cutters I have make an angled cut on one side which I don't like much. And when I've tried the technique of cutting off the point and making the circle smaller - it's failed miserably.

So for now I guess I'll use the expensive method until I can afford better tools. :'(

The book I used was "Handcrafted bead and chain jewellery" by Scott David Plumlee (sorry haven't mastered links yet) and it gave details about calculating inner dimensions and making your own rings.

Kalorlo
03-11-2009, 01:37 PM
Your book should have a section on aspect ratio (AR). Have a look at that, or see Aspect Ratio Demystified (http://www.cgmaille.com/articles/aspectratio.shtml) on CGMaille.

ID = internal diameter of the ring. The important measurements are the internal diameter and the wire diameter. The aspect ratio of a ring is the ID divided by the wire diameter, and different maille weaves have specific ranges of AR that they will work for.

shelliem
03-11-2009, 01:38 PM
Thanks Anne

I do have another book due soon and will see if it says anything in there - I have a feeling I'm going to have to take the expensive option at the mo because I can't afford any more outlay on tools etc.

Otherwise I may have to be ordering the book you mention!

My book is Beaded Chain Mail Jewelry by Dylon Whyte it has some lovely designs in it.

snow_imp
03-11-2009, 01:44 PM
My book is Beaded Chain Mail Jewelry by Dylon Whyte it has some lovely designs in it.

I was looking at that on amazon.com (my brother accidently but my birthday voucher on the .com site rather than the .co.uk <sigh>) and was thinking that might be a good one for more ideas as i've come to love the chain maille work - I find it theraputic in a way. Although I must admit to mangling the odd ring at times #-o

shelliem
03-11-2009, 03:33 PM
Given what you've just said I think you probably would love it - it has some really interesting designs that don't look too complicated - she says, having never tried it yet!!

I'm going to have to wait for a while to get jump rings it would seem the bank says no!!

jetlag
03-11-2009, 06:18 PM
How many rings are you going to be using? If you are going to be making a lot of mail it will probably be a lot more expensive to purchase your own rings and I would definitely recommend a jump ring making tool (such as the Koil Kutter that George, I and others use). If you wanted to have a go with out any more investment then you could give it a go with just a jewellers saw. If you have any knitting needles lying around they make great mandrels for winding coils. Most people use them with some kind of drill. I use my cordless drill but I know others use manual ones.

So you put the needle in the chuck of the drill and then just hold the wire while the needle spins? Do you need to wear gloves on the wire hand?

mizgeorge
03-11-2009, 07:53 PM
Oh, lots and lots of questions on one of my favourite subjects!

I'll try to cover as many as I can, apologies if I miss any first time :)

For a very first project, I'd say buy the rings. When you're trying to get a feel for how it all works, it's nice to remove one variable that can go wrong. Copper is great for practising with, and copper rings are inexpensive. I'd happily recommend the dragonfly company: home (http://www.thedragonflycompany.com) for these.

When you feel you want to cut your own, there are several ways to go. A jeweller's saw and a pack of blades really is very inexpensive indeed. You can get a basic frame and a pack of 2/0 blades for under a tenner. I have a koil kutter, but still like to hand saw a lot of my rings. It's satisfying, accurate, and can be really quite quick once you get into the swing of it.

If you want to use flush cutters (which is slower) you must use the cut/reverse/cut technique: make the first flush cut, then reverse the pliers so the new flush end is 'inside' the bevelled edge of the cutters to make the next cut. This will leave you with a round ring with two flush edges. Reverse the pliers again and snip away the next tiny piece of the coiled wire (which is bevelled) and repeat the process. If you try to cut the edge from a finished ring, it will no longer be a full circle.

Good books on maille are few and far between. The Dylon White book referred to (the beaded one) actually has very, very few weaves, and is far more about how to incorporate beads with jump rings, which is fine if you want to do that. The David Scott Plumlee is beautifully illustrated, but is only one weave (byzantine), and variations on it. There is Chains by Becky, but the recommended ring sizes tend to very odd, and virtually all the weaves are renamed versions of ones freely available elsewhere.

The internet is by far the best resource for maille patterns - CGMaille.com - Chainmaille Tutorials & Graphics (http://www.cgmaille.com) has the nicest renderings, and M.A.I.L. - Maille Artisans International League - Home (http://www.mailleartisans.org) is huge and rambling, but contains most weaves somewhere!

I use a cordless electric screwdriver with a snap in 3 pronged chuck for winding, just tuck one end of the wire into the chuck, and hit the power button. If you work 'off the reel' you only need to guide the wire gently to get nice tight even coils. Some people wear a glove (old golf gloves are perfect and very soft) but I only protect my thumb if I'm getting to the end of a coil of wire, when it could spin and cut.

If I've missed anything important, please remind me - I'm always happy to answer maille questions!

Jayne
03-11-2009, 08:15 PM
Oh, lots and lots of questions on one of my favourite subjects!

Good books on maille are few and far between.

Looks like there's a gap in the market there, George! Fancy writing a book?:Y:
J x

lesley
03-11-2009, 08:27 PM
Looks like there's a gap in the market there, George! Fancy writing a book?:Y:
J x

Good idea!

I've made rings by the knitting needle and flush cutter method before but found it very tedious and time consuming. Next time I'll make longer coils and saw them.

shelliem
03-11-2009, 09:16 PM
Ok complete amateur question but I am assuming you buy wire to make the rings? And knitting needles are used as a measurement to wrap the wire around so if you wanted 4mm ones you'd have 4mm needles?

I'm off to check out those websites - thanks George.

lesley
03-11-2009, 09:38 PM
Ok complete amateur question but I am assuming you buy wire to make the rings? And knitting needles are used as a measurement to wrap the wire around so if you wanted 4mm ones you'd have 4mm needles?

I'm off to check out those websites - thanks George.


Yes .....and yes. :)
If you use a 4mm needle you get a ring with a 4mm ID (inner diameter).

Emerald
03-11-2009, 09:44 PM
and as i have today, go to a charity shop for you knitting needles, went to get some for the kids school and they had allsorts although apparently they are not allowed to sell them! but still payed 50p a pair and even better odd ones so you only need by one lol x

shelliem
03-11-2009, 09:56 PM
Thats a good idea - I might check a charity shop out when I am out and about tomorrow - I've been wondering for a while why people keep mentioning knitting needles #-o

Trudy
03-11-2009, 10:14 PM
Looks like there's a gap in the market there, George! Fancy writing a book?:Y:
J x

I would be first in line to buy it if you do ever write one...you always explain things brilliantly :Y: :)

snow_imp
04-11-2009, 09:11 AM
Thanks for the information George it's all helpful to me too :)

One question tho - the saw you use, is it specifically a "jewellers" saw?

Oh, actually, a second question - whats the smallest size ring you've used for chain maille - I mean inner diameter and wire gauge?

I have loads of knitting needles for various sizes of inner diameter rings - I tried my local charity shops and they didnt' have any so I bought some - of course, should have realised that I should have asked my mum!! Picked up some extra sizes from her last week and I could have got everything I needed from her.

mizgeorge
04-11-2009, 09:15 AM
Anne, you can also use a coping saw - it's not as comfortable to use as a shallower frame, but works fine.

snow_imp
04-11-2009, 11:39 AM
Anne, you can also use a coping saw - it's not as comfortable to use as a shallower frame, but works fine.

Thanks George - especially as I happen to already own a coping saw. I think I'll get some 2/0 blades and give it a try.

lucy81
07-11-2009, 03:52 PM
this site has knitting needles in different sizes, and they're fast on postage! much cheaper than buying from a knitting shop:

Counted cross stitch kits and charts from Sew and So - Knitting Pins from Pony (http://www.sewandso.co.uk/ran1381-0.html)