Tools for a Chain Studio

Basic Tool Set for Making Round Ring Chains
Making Jump Rings
Polishing Chains
Beyond Round Ring Chains

Basic Tool Set for Making Round Ring Chains

Pliers, bent chain nose
I use the back side (the outside of the "C" shape) in my right hand for holding jump rings. I can hold all sizes of jump rings with this tool depending on how big a bite I take of the jump ring.

I use the Value Series in the student tool kits for my classes and workshops. In my studio I use both the Lindstrom Supreme Series and the Lindstrom RX Series because they are more comfortable for longer use.
Bent Chain Nose - Value Series

Pliers, flat nose
I use a flat nose pliers in my left hand for closing larger jump rings (4-5mm and larger). Closing larger rings with a flat nose pliers is less likely to distort the ring than using a chain nose pliers.

I use the Value Series in the student tool kits for my classes and workshops. In my studio I use the Lindstrom Supreme Series because it is more comfortable for longer use. I find the grips on the Lindstrom RX Series are too large for everything else I am holding in my left hand.

Flat Nose - Value Series

Pliers, chain nose
I use a chain nose pliers in my left hand to close small rings. There is not enough space on a small ring to use a flat nose pliers.

I use the Value Series in the student tool kits for my classes and workshops. In my studio I use the Lindstrom Supreme Series because they are more comfortable for longer use. I find the grips on the Lindstrom RX Series are too large for everything else I am holding in my left hand.

Chain Nose - Value Series

Pliers, Bow Opening
I use Ultra Ergo Bow Opening Plier for shaping soldered or fused jump rings. Slip the jump ring over the closed jaws of the pliers and press the handles together to elongate the ring.

Ultra Ergo Bow Opening Plier

Bending Pliers, round/flat nose
I use the round/flat nose pliers for bending loops in wire. The flat side of the round/flat nose pliers is less likely to leave marks on the outside of the loop than round nose pliers.

Bending Plier Flat-Round

Jump ring opener
I use a jump ring opener on the little finger on my left hand and open the jump rings as needed. For those technical people I guess you could call this "just in time opening". (Fire Mountain Gems and Beads #H15-1513TL or Rio Grande #680-700)

Pick
A pick is a very handy tool for opening the correct path for the next jump ring through the chain being assembled. Use this tool when you run into trouble figuring out where to place the next ring.
A simple pick can be made by cutting a 3 inch piece of 3/8ths inch dowel, drilling a 1/16th inch hole in one end just large enough to hold the eye end of a size 22 tapestry needle, and using epoxy to secure the eye of the needle in the hole.

Basic Chain Making Tool Set
I also package a Basic Chain Making Tool Set, containing a bent chain nose pliers, a flat nose pliers, a jump ring opener, and a pick, to get you started with your chain making projects.

Basic Chain Making Tool Set

Optivisor
An Optivisor, or other magnifying device, is almost a necessity to be able to see whether your jump rings are properly closed.

I normally use an Optivisor with 2X magnification, but for very small rings I will use an Optivisor with 2-1/2X magnification.

Optivisor, 2X at 10 inches

Return to Top

Making Jump Rings

Mandrels
Mandrels are used to form the coil of wire to be cut to make the jump rings.
Sources for mandrels include:
Winder
The winder is used to hold and turn the mandrel to make the coil of wire.
Sources for winders include:
Drafting tape
I place a strip of drafting tape on top of the coil to hold the rings together after they are cut.
Burr life
Burr Life is used to lubricate the saw blade and increases its useful life.
Cutter
The cutter attaches to a rotary tool and has a saw blade that just fits a slot on the coil holder to cut the jump rings.
Sources for coil cutters include:
Return to Top

Polishing Chains

I use a small tumbler, loaded with stainless steel shot in an assortment of shapes and a burnishing compound, to burnish the finished projects. I have found that 30 minutes is usually sufficient.

Tumbler
In my studio I use a Lortone 3-1.5B tumbler which has 3 x 1.5 lb barrels so I can be tumbling multiple things at ones. Extra 1.5 lb barrels are available from Kingsley North (item #1-0605) and other lapidary supply sources.
In my class and workshops I use a tumbler from Harbor Freight (item #46376-0VGA), but I use a smaller 1.5 lb barrel instead if the 3 lb barrel that comes with the tumbler. I have had to replace the original belts on both my Harbor Freight tumblers. I have found replacement belts on eBay.
Stainless steel shot
I use 2 lbs of stainless steel shot (Rio Grande #339097) in the Lortone 1.5 lb barrel. You will need more shot if you used the 3 lb barrel that comes with the Harbor Freight tumbler.
Burnishing compound
I use Super Sunsheen Burnishing Compound from Rio Grande, item #339-394. I drain the tumbler, rinse the shot, and add new burnishing compound every time I burnish a load. I always keep the shot covered in burnishing compound.
Return to Top

Beyond Round Ring Chains

These tools to solder, fuse, texture, and shape wire and rings to construct chains beyond round ring chains.

Chasing Hammer and Steel Bench Block
I use a chasing hammer and a steel bench block to texture soldered or fused rings.

Chasing Hammer

Bench Block Helper with Steel and Nylon Blocks

Return to Top