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   Custom Made Jewelry

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Making Your Own Jump Rings

First let's show you what jump rings are. The following picture shows a necklace in which the entire rope chain was done using home-made 6mm jump rings.

Jump Ring Necklace
Click to Enlarge
As you can see, these rings offer a lot of detail to the piece.

They're not hard to make, so let's go through the process.

Getting Started

First you need to find a wooden dowel (sometimes chopsticks work, if they're uniformly round). Get one the same thickness as the inner diameter of the rings you want. 5mm, 6mm or 7mm diameter rings work well, especially to start with. Anything smaller than 5mm in diameter would be very difficult to work with.

About the Wire

Of course, you need the wire you'll be working with. I recommend at least 18 or 20 gauge wire for a sturdy jump ring. Copper or steel wire is good to begin experimenting with and is much less expensive than using gold or silver.

Carefully and tightly wrap the wire around and around the stick until you have enough loops to make as many rings as you'll need. Take your best guesstimate at this. If you come up short, you can always make more. If you have extra, keep 'em - you'll eventually use them up.

Coiling the Wire

I should mention here that there are several good wire coiling jigs on the market. One of them is mentioned in the Links page. I personally have been using a common electric drill to accomplish the same thing. Place one end of the wire and the dowel into the chuck and tighten them in place. Make sure it's a variable-speed-reversible (VSR) drill so that you can slow it down to a comfortable pace, and reverse it to undo mistakes. This type of drill can be purchased for under $30 at any home store or tool shack. Bend the free end of the wire at a 90° angle to the dowel where it meets the chuck before you start the drill.

Placement in Drill Chuck

Work slowly to make sure the loops are tight to each other and tight around the dowel.

Wrapping Wire Around Dowel

Cutting the Rings

Take a Dremel-type tool with a metal cutting disc attachment and cut through all the rings. It's important that you keep a straight line and keep the cutting disc perpendicular and parallel to the stick. This way, all your rings will come out uniform and even. See the animation below:


If the rings try to slide down the stick as you're cutting, you may have to put a clamp at the end as a stopper.

When you're done cutting, the rings should slide off the stick easily - too easily! Make sure you have a bowl or plate ready to catch them in. It's a real pain when they wind up all over the floor. If they don't come off by themselves, slide the rings off one-by-one, and watch out for avalanches.

Opening the Rings

Now you have a bunch of small, closed rings. You'll have to bend each one slightly open in order to use them. This is accomplished with a jump ring opener (pictured below), or some flat nose pliers and a little patience.

Jump Ring Opener

The jump ring opener pictured above is nothing more than a flat ring with a small slit in the side. You put the opener on your finger like a regular ring and slide the jump rings into the slit so that you can bend the other end more easily. It's a quick way to hold them with your finger, but you can do the same thing with an extra pair of flat nose pliers.

How to Open Jump Rings

Take care opening the rings. If you do it wrong, you'll break them. Perhaps the following diagram will clarify it for you. It illustrates a jump ring, standing on its edge, with the opening facing you.

Opening Jump Rings

Pull gently; just enough to open the ring slightly. You only need room to work with .

Soon you should have a bunch of jump rings, slightly opened and ready to go.

If you don't know what to do with all these rings, look for our tutorial on making jump ring bracelets (the same idea can be applied toward necklaces, chokers, or anklets).

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