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I enjoy chainmailling in my free time, although I am still no expert.

I wanted to know if there are special pliers that exist that one can use to open and close rings without scratching the rings or removing anodized coloration.

The ones I currently have are small flat nose pliers (without the grooved texture for grabbing) but sometimes if I slip even the corners or flat surface it can scratch the rings.

I've tried putting paper between the rings and the opening of the plies to act as a cushion but it's not a very viable way to work and the paper rips often.

Are there any pliers with rubber lining that exist for this purpose or can I use a glue gun on my current pliers to try to avoid scratching? Please advise.

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In addition to your own answer:

Jewelers (and most chain mail workers that I know, including myself) use a type of pliers called "chain nose pliers." I don't really know why they have that name, but they have nice pointy tips for getting into the rings and smooth surfaces on the inside. Here's an article about chain nose vs. round nose pliers: http://blog.consumercrafts.com/jewelry-main/tool-comparison-round-nose-vs-chain-nose-pliers/

Also, using a glue gun probably won't work well, but you have the right idea there. Instead you want to look for a product that is designed to coat the metal on tools. Here is a short article about this concept. The product used in the article, and that I have also used in the past is called "Tool Magic," but doing a search for "rubber coating for tools" turned up a bunch of different products that could work equally well. I would test whatever you try to make sure you can remove it easily like she mentions in her article, but otherwise use whatever of this type of product that you can find.

The article also mentions using tools like the one that you linked to in your answer, but I, like the author of the article, have been disappointed whenever I have tried those tools--mostly because the additional surfaces made it difficult to work within the fairly restricted confines of the rings used for chain mail.

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  • Interesting; when I made a mail shirt last year I settled on using wide (~12mm) flat nosed pliers as they enabled me to open and close rings by twisting the pliers with my wrist rather than rotating my whole arm, which made a big difference when twisting 14k rings. – walrus Sep 14 '17 at 17:18
  • I think it completely depends on the material and diameter of the rings. I also use my wrist to open and close rings...but I tend to work in silver or nickel (?--some silvery metal of some sort) and small sizes for bracelets, not actual chain mail. I will say that I have tried using my tools on larger gauge/larger diameter stainless steel rings and been completely flummoxed. I hate to imagine what the cost was for an entire mail shirt in 14k rings--but I bet it was magnificent! – magerber Sep 14 '17 at 17:27
  • Ah yes, that would make all the difference. To clarify 14k referred to the number of rings, not 14 carat gold (I wish). The rings were 16 gauge carbon steel with a 9mm ID. – walrus Sep 14 '17 at 17:45
  • Yeah...I really couldn't figure out why 14k gold rings would be harder than nickel, but I was willing to take you at your word! :-) – magerber Sep 14 '17 at 22:23
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While googling for pictures of the pliers I had, I actually found my answer:

I was looking for "soft jaw", "non-scratch", "nylon-jaw", or "non marring" pliers.

Hopefully this helps someone else with the same question.


Edit/Update:

I actually bought some soft jaw round nose pliers from my local craft store and they DID NOT WORK AT ALL. They were not strong enough to grip or twist open the rings I had. I promptly returned them and have continued using the ones I have in my original question. If I get soft jaw/nylon plies that are flat and use them, I will update this answer.

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I prefer using two pairs of "extra slim" bent chain nose pliers like the ones in this pic. The ones in the pic aren't mine, mine look much the worse for wear. If I'm working with softer metals, or with galvanised wire where the surface coating can be scratched or damaged, I paint the flat surface with a few layers of nail varnish to cushion things a bit, making it less likely to damage the wire or surface coating. Afterwards I just clean it off with acetone. If I'm in a hurry to get to work, I sometimes tape electrical insulation tape around the tips instead of waiting for the nail varnish to dry, but it doesn't last as long.

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