9

You see loads of people make their own chain mail. I can only assume they have some process with which to make the loops to make the process less tedious. There are loads of tutorials out there but some assume you already have the loops for the project.

enter image description here

Image from Amazon.com

Assuming I already have an appropriately gauged wire of a proper material how can I process it to create the thousands of loops/ rings required for a suit of mail? A starter project, that might be easier, would be a chain mail dice bag or diaper cover for my young one! That sounds less frustrating and more realistic to finish.

12

When I took jewelry making classes, we used the saw method mentioned in Kellerra's answer section "the slow way".

You start by wrapping your desired wire around something round like a dowel to make a "spring" of circles and then you cut them apart with a saw.

The best setup I found was to have something... either a dowel or steel bar... with a notch cut in the end as a "guide" for your saw blade with the far end held in a giant clamp attached to a table. Here's an image I found that shows what I'm talking about:

Jump ring cutting rig

Use tension in your off-hand to pull the rings towards the blade notch... note that as you cut through each ring, it will drop, so you want something to catch them unless you want to spend an hour finding where they rolled on the floor.

The saws are pretty easy to use once you get the hang of them... but you will probably break tons of blades when you first start out because you're going to have to figure out the right amount of pressure to use that will cut the metal without snapping the blade.

And, once you get used to the saw, this is actually pretty fast. Granted, it's not as fast as some of the machined methods which, if you're really that interested in speed and you can afford it, are a good option... as is simply buying the rings premade, which isn't as expensive as you might fear if you buy in bulk, though it is more expensive than buying the wire alone.

I think you'll find the cuts to be quite a bit cleaner with this method than with a lot of other methods around, particularly using wire cutters.

10

there are a few ways to make rings/loops on your own. If you're just starting out you might want to consider buying ready-made rings in the appropriate size and gauge in a project kit. You would be surprised at how many rings even a small project like a dice bag will require.

Just to get this out of the way, (and from personal experience) if you're going to cut rings wear eye protection of some sort, and not just your normal glasses.

First create a coil of wire around some kind of cylinder. I actually have "jump ring mandrels" that fit into the chuck of a drill so I can wind massive amounts of wire if I want to.

  • The Slowest Way: I'm currently making rings from some wire spool ends and I'm cutting them by hand using flush cut pliers. I just snip the rings one at a time from the coil then turn the cutters and nip the non-flat part of the cut with the flat edge of the flush-cutters. Depending on how much wire you nip off where the ends join it can change the size/shape of your ring overall so this is only good for scraps and if you need a few rings. An important note is to make sure your cutting pliers can handle the thickness/gauge of the wire you are cutting. I broke cutters and sent the broken blade careening toward my eyeball, hence the eye protection warning. I was wearing glasses and yes, they got chipped.
  • The Slow Way: I was at a glass and jewelry show and met a nice couple that made their own rings but hand-cut them with a jeweler's saw. This is a small saw frame that takes super-thin blades. If I recall I was told to use some of the smallest blades available (8/0 I believe). They suggested holding the coil in one hand while wearing heavy leather gloves. There are much better ways of holding the coil if cutting by hand, one of them involves using a jeweler's bench pin, but you might still want to wear heavy gloves. There is also something called "coil cutting pliers" that are made and sold by BeadSmith. They're meant to be used with a jeweler's saw as well. I have these pliers but haven't tried them yet.
  • The Fast Way: (My expertise is running out here) There are some wonderful systems out there that have an apparatus to wind the wire, hold the wire, and then have an attachment that fits on a rotary tool (like a Dremel) or a regular drill with a cutting blade. I believe the names are "Jump Ringer" and "Koil Kutter". I'm sure there are others by now. They are rather expensive, at least a couple hundred dollars, but can't be beat for large volumes of rings.

It also bears mentioning that with any cutting method used there might be little burrs at the wire ends where they were cut. If you don't want little burr ends catching and snagging on skin, clothing, etc., you probably need to file all those little rough ends or tumble polish the rings to smooth them out.

I'm not a jump ring expert but I've made a lot of jump rings by hand (and I still do) and I've finished a few maille pieces. I might have missed something and hope someone can add to what I've mentioned.

  • I appreciate the edit re: wear eye protection and not just normal glasses. I agree wholeheartedly! My regular glasses did get chipped on the edge of the lens in that incident. A few mm lower an it would have been my eye. – Kellerra May 5 '16 at 2:56
  • One approach is not to remove the wire from the cylinder. Just cut along its surface, and the rings will sit snugly without wiggling around out of the blade's way. You will likely damage the surface of the cylinder in the process but it doesn't seem like a huge loss. – SF. May 6 '16 at 10:49
  • "The Ringinator" is a pretty popular automated coiler/cutter – Chris May 19 '16 at 15:49
  • cut pliers have one additional benefit. After cutting 10k of rings for your mail you'll have developed your sword arm to a formidable sight. – Ghanima Jul 28 '16 at 20:32
2

Get a dowel in the diameter you want, drill a hole in one end and put the wire in it, attach the other end to the chuck of a drill and press go! Make sure its operated slowly.

Don't take the spring you made off the dowel at this point. Take a dremmel and just cut down the side. If you are making tonnes, you might want to make a jig to make this faster.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.