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Beading Q And A: Chain Maille (4/11/2011)

2011 April 11

Donna asks…

What is the best site to buy silver jump rings from for making chain maille jewelry?

BeadGal answers:

The best price will vary depending on the gauge of wire, size of inner diameter, and quantity ordered. Most often Rio Grande will have the best price and they offer price break discounts. However if you don’t want to create a log in with them here are a few other options to check out.


It’s important to make sure the jump rings have a virtually seamless closure, whether you buy or make your own. All of the places listed above sell saw cut jump rings.

Avoid pinch cut rings at all cost especially if you are making chains to sell, they look unprofessional and do not allow for a smooth closer. A jewelers saw is a must if you decide to make your own jump rings, you’ll get a clean cut without the issue of changing the aspect ratio — a common problem with trying to cut off the pinch cut end of the jump ring.

Sharon asks…

What’s better for me, forging or making chain maille?

I’m 16, and I need a new hobby. I have been considering forging (making my own knifes and stuff) or making chain maille. I dont have loads of space, it needs to be cheap and fairly easy. I want something where I can get an end product out of and maybe some cash. So what’s better for me out the two?

BeadGal answers:

Both are good and very rewarding hobbies but there is a huge difference in cost for these two.

  • making chainmaille requires only a good drill
  • a couple different sizes of steel rods that will fit in your drill to wind your wire onto
  • a spool of wire
  • a piece of broom handle with 2 cinder blocks to hold the spool off the ground
  • 2 high quality pair of needle nose pliers
  • a good pair of wire nippers that will not leave burrs
  • you can use a Dremel tool but use great care as the cutting bits have a nasty habit of shattering
  • a book with maille patterns in it and how to knit them
  • an old 5 gallon bucket with sand inside it and a sifter
  • 2 plastic coffee cans to put “open” and “closed” rings into to keep them sorted out
  • plenty of patience and time

Most of this can be had without a large amount of money.

Building a forge can be very expensive and you’ll need to check your local ordinances for fire reg’s before you start buying fire bricks. You will need:

  • an anvil
  • several hammers and tongs for grabbing hot metal
  • a large set of bellows
  • a trough filled with water for quenching
  • a reliable fuel source

This list is nowhere near complete go to your local Rennaisance Faire and ask the smithy there what the costs are for a forge.

Maria asks…

Questions from a new chain maille maker…?

I just started making chain maille jewelry and have just finished my first byzantine bracelet and earrings. Now, I have a couple questions. First, can you make finger rings out of chain maille? Do you know where I can get instructions? Also, on some of the websites for chain maille supplies I see rubber rings, what are they used for. I have a book on chain maille jewelry, but it doesn’t mention the rubber rings. Help!! Thanks!

BeadGal answers:

If you are making two way double loop in loop chains, drop down to 28 gauge wire or even 30 gauge wire. I have made tiny chains with 28 gauge. I could easily make a ring if I so choose.

The ancient Greeks made small rings utilizing tiny gauge wire. The technique will be sufficiently flexible for you at the ring level.

Locate Jean Stark’s book, Classical Loop in Loop Chains.

You can use rubber rings just like regular open rings, you just have to adapt the patterns so you are using some rubber and some metal, as you can’t “open” the rubber rings. You have to substitute them for closed rings only in your patterns.


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