Buying Jump Rings can get expensive really quickly if you use a lot of them in your work. Making them yourself is fast and easy. It does require some equipment, but the small investment you pay in tools will save you lots of money in the future. Besides, these tools are very versatile and you can use them in lots of different crafts.
- A: 'C' Clamp Vise - I bought mine for under 10 dollars at a swap meet. I love this beast! It is so useful.
- B: Hand drill - I bought mine at Michael's with a 40% off coupon.
- C: Jeweler's Saw - I got mine at Ed's House of Gems on 77th and Sandy. These folks are very nice and a great resource. They will answer all of your questions. I've had my saw for about 15 years and it will last forever.
- D: Wooden Dowel - the outer circumference of your dowel will be the inner circumference of your rings. Pick the size that is right for you.
- E: Wire Cutters
- F: Sterling Silver Wire - I buy mine from Fire Mountain Gems in Grants Pass, OR
- Safety Glasses
1. Mount the 'C' Clamp Vise to a table or work bench. I'm using my dining room table for this tutorial because my work space is much too messy to show here.
2. Secure the hand drill in the vise. Make sure you are able to turn the handle on the drill.
3. Manually wrap wire around wooden dowel a couple of times. You can always use base wire to practice with before delving into the more expensive silver wire.
4. Bend the end of the wire to be parallel with the wooden dowel.
5. Insert the end of the dowel and the end of the wire into the mouth of the drill.
6. Tighten the hand drill, so that the dowel and wire are firmly in the mouth and won't fall out. This takes a little practice because with one hand you have to hold the handle of the hand drill, so it won't turn while also tightening the mouth of the drill. The other hand holds the wooden dowel in place.
7. Once the wire and dowel are secure, slowly turn the handle of the drill so the wooden dowel begins to rotate. I use my pointer finger and thumb to guide the wire to make tight rings.
8. Cut the wire after you have made all the rings you want.
9. Remove wire from drill. Manually wrap the end of the wire around the dowel to get a few more rings. No need to waste this wire!
10. Slide the wire rings down to the end of the dowel. This can take a bit of maneuvering, but it shouldn't be too hard.
11. Put the wooden dowel back into the hand drill.
12. Position the vise so that the dowel is facing down at about 45 degrees. You will be sitting in front of the dowel to cut the rings, so make sure you are comfortable and your body mechanics are good. The beauty of the 'C' Clamp Vise is that you can pretty much position it any way you'd like. Since you will be doing repetitive movements, make sure you aren't working your body too hard. Take lots of breaks too.
13. Line up the jeweler's saw with the end of the wire and slowly start to saw. Starting is a little tricky, but it gets easier.
14. Continue sawing until you have all of your rings. Step back and take a moment to admire your handiwork!
When I saw my rings, I use my thumb and pointer finger to hold onto the wire and secure it while sawing. I make a cup with my palm to catch the rings as they fall. I keep a bowl on my lap so that I can drop the rings from my palm often. It is a very smooth process and works well.
If you don't have a jeweler's saw, you can use wire cutters to create your rings. I do this often when I only need a couple or I'm feeling extra lazy.
Note: Wire cutters will leave a barb at the end of your wire. The ring on the left was cut using the saw and the ring on the right was cut using the wire cutters. I always take the extra step to cut off this barb before using the ring.
Finally, always remember to wear safety glasses! The saw will create a very fine silver powder and you don't want that in your eyes. If you don't have industrial safety glasses, pick up a large pair of lightly tinted glasses at goodwill. I like the pair on top because they also have side shields for extra protection.
This tutorial was first posted on Handmade in Portland.