Making jump rings eventually becomes a fact of life for anyone making jewelry. Sure, you can always buy them already made up. But that isn’t always practical when you have a great project you want to wear the next day, and assignment due, or a client waiting for a special order. Or you may have a minor repair that only requires a jump ring or two. And you may not be able to find the right size in a commercially available jump ring, though there are many available in different sizes, gauges, and metal materials. Here is an easy, inexpensive way to make them yourself. As with any technique that is new to you, start with less expensive materials before moving on to silver or gold.
|Annealed* wire in desired size/gauge|
|Wood dowel rod|
|Drill bit slightly larger than wire|
|Jeweler’s saw & blade|
|Shears or flush cutting pliers|
|Jeweler’s apron or towel (to catch rings)|
|Bench pin (optional)|
If you have purchased a softer wire you will probably not need to anneal it, especially if it is in a smaller gauge, such as 20, 19 or 18. (*Annealing is heating metal with a torch or in a kiln to soften, making it easier to work with). If your wire is sterling silver and/or is springy, anneal it before attempting to make jump rings with it – it will save you time and frustration, and possibly the skin on your fingers!
- Cut dowel rod down in size to about 10-12″ long. Mark a spot about 1/4″ down the rod. Using a drill bit slightly smaller than the wire you wish to use, drill a hole all the way through the dowel.
- Gently smooth out the wire. Insert one end of wire into hole and just through to the other side. Wrap wire around dowel, keeping it perfectly perpendicular. Continue winding, making sure the wire remains tight and as close to the wind before it as possible. When you have wound as many rings as needed, plus a few extra, cut off any excess while maintaining your grip on the wire.
- Continuing to grip the wire, put some making tape over the rings you have made, all along one side. Draw a straight line down the wires, parallel with the dowel, to be used as a cutting guide.
- Place towel in your lap, or put on your apron. Position yourself at your work surface with the dowel in your non-dominant hand, resting against the bench pin or the work surface, and jeweler’s saw in your dominant hand, lubricated saw blade ready to go.
- Place the blade at the top of the dowel and cut right down through the wood to the first ring. Using pliers, remove the first ring. Pull back some of the tape, allowing the rings below to slide up towards the top of the dowel, and saw carefully through the rings (on one side of the dowel only!) following the line you drew.
- Using two flat-nosed pliers, one in either hand, bend the jump rings slightly back and forth, until the ends of the rings meet perfectly. Remove any rough edges as needed, so rings meet flush. If soldering, wash rings with a little bit of Dawn dish washing liquid first.
Now you have made a pile of perfect jump rings!
When making copper jump rings that will be soldered closed, cut only what you need that day, plus a few extras just in case. Copper oxidizes quickly and a fresh cut will facilitate soldering.