Getting Started with Chainmaille Jewelry: add on...

Well, it's high time I added another post on here!  I was reviewing my last post and realized there are a few things I could have added or made more clear.  So, today I'm going to add on to that post and then we will move forward. First point:  Measuring Rings

I talked about Aspect Ratio and measuring rings but I neglected to talk about HOW to do so.  *grin* Sorry about that...  So, I recommend using calipers to measure rings.  I use a digital caliper but an analog version is equally effective.  Here is a pic of one offered from The Ring Lord.  (click on pic for direct link.)

They may seem expensive but, it is really a very valuable tool.  This is far more precise method than trying to use a ruler or something else.  Precise measurements can show you, in advance, if the rings you are measuring will work for the weave you want to make.  Also, I find it easier to work with Metric rather than Imperial measurements.  For me, it's easier because metric is always in increments of 10 and I don't have to deal with fractions.  *GRIN*

Second point:  Tools.

I didn't mention tools at all...  Tools are obviously very important.  The pliers being the most used and most important.  Everyone will have their own preferences in what is comfortable and what works best.  But, I can suggest a few things that I believe will help narrow down the choices.  I always put quality first and so my recommendations are for pliers with smooth jaws.  It's actually necessary if you want to avoid leaving marks on your rings as you work with them.  I also prefer flat wide nose pliers vs. chain nose pliers.  My favorite pliers are called Wubbers.  I like the foam grip, I like the spring action, and I like how they feel in my hands.  The jaws are smooth and they are very solid feeling pliers.  Meaning, when I grab a ring I don't feel much, if any, flex in the handles or jaws of the pliers.  Some people don't like this.  I do.  I think it gives a better feel and control of what you are doing.  Also, don't forget you need two pair of pliers.  One pair for each hand.  I prefer two identical pair.  I'm not sure if I have clarified anything but, I do have one last thing to mention with pliers.  Sometimes, with smooth jaw pliers, rings slip in the jaws.  This can be annoying, frustrating, and even dangerous.  One solution is to buy a modified pair of pliers such as the ones offered on The Ring Lord website or modify a pair yourself.  I modified three sets of my pliers and I couldn't be happier.  The shortened jaw allows for extra leverage and helps prevent any slipping, even with stainless steel.  Also, I use a metal nail file to gently round all of the edges of the plier jaws.  The smoother the edge the less likely there will be any marks left on your rings.

To sum that up:  I suggest strong, smooth flat nose pliers that have some sort of comfortable grip.  I also recommend gently rounding the edges with a metal nail file.  Avoid pliers with teeth.

As time goes on you will probably find yourself wanting or needing pliers of various sizes.  Here are two websites that have a pretty good range of pliers.  Again, there are many more sites out there.  I know these two are pretty good and I want to keep the list kinda short.  *grin*

The Ring Lord Pliers

Blue Buddha Boutique Pliers

Last point:  Ring quality

Again, many people have different standards.  If you are buying rings, I believe saw cut rings give better closures and have a better finished look than machine cut rings.  Of course, there are exceptions.  What I look for is rings that are cut nicely and have no 'burs' on them.  Meaning every edge where they are cut is smooth.  When the rings are cut that well it should make the final closure very faint.  That is assuming, of course, that you take the time to make sure that you have good closures and the ends of the ring are perfectly flush.  That, however, will be the topic of another post.  Also, when buying anodized rings I prefer rings that are anodized after they are cut vs. anodizing wire then making and cutting rings.  Some people would argue that the cut surface is not seen once the rings are closed but I have experienced otherwise.  This only works if the cuts are perfect and the anodizing is also perfect.  If there are any burs at all they will highlight the cut. Plus, sometimes there will be slight flaking or scratching of the anodizing as the ring is cut.  When the rings are anodized after being cut these minor flaws can be hidden a little.  Again, everyone has their own interpretation of what is 'good enough' or what is good quality.  I have pretty high standards and I don't want to give my customers anything less than my best.  So, I expect this from the suppliers I buy from as well.  *grin* This is, by no means, an end all be all guide.  This is simply my opinion and my perspective of chainmaille.

Here are two more links that are great resources for chainmaillers.

Maillers Worldwide

M.A.I.L. (Maille Artisans International League)

Thanks for reading and see you on the next post!

~McRoberts