Ask the Experts Jump Rings Q&A

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I've seen chainmaille sites online and thought, "Wow, that looks cool! I want to make it!" How can I cut the wire to make jump rings, without it flattening the end of the cut part? I know I can buy machine-made jump rings that are perfectly shaped and cut, but I want to make my own, so I can fabricate the entire piece. I've been using regular wire cutters, and am looking for a cutter that won't flatten the jump ring ends. Thanks.

- Katie

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There are a few factors that make for good hand-fabricated jump rings, especially those for use in chainmaille, which requires uniformly measured and precisely cut rings.

The first is to use a single temper of wire so that the coil of rings made for a particular project has similarly formed rings. A dead-soft tempered wire formed on a steel mandrel will give you a consistently wound coil from which to cut your rings.

The second factor is to use a good tool for cutting the rings. A jeweler's saw and saw blade will cut through the rings and leave a flush end on each wire end. 

Alternatively, a pair of good flush-cutters will also work. The better the tool, the less the "pinch" you will have at the wire end of the jump ring. Another feature to consider is a sharp pointy tip on the flush-cutting pliers.

The third factor is to use two good tools to close the jump rings securely when assembling your chainmaille project. Flat-nose, chain-nose and bent-nose pliers all open and close jump rings nicely--choose two of your favorites.

In some cases, you may want to use a jump ring tool to open and close jump rings. View ''Using a Jumpring Tool'' how-to video and illustrated instructions to learn about this alternative to pliers.

- Sandra Lupo, Metalsmith, Jewelry Artist and Instructor