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Chain making class projects



I am teaching a class to 6 adults with minimal equipment.

They want to make chains. Are there chains that I can teach without
soldered jump rings? Cannot have a torch in this environment. I find
that their connections tend to come apart easily without soldering.

Other problem is that we only have side cutters–no flush cutters.
How can I get them to make a solid connection? Using copper and brass
wire. Cannot afford silver.

Any help would be appreciated.



Have them make rosaries. They don’t have to be actual rosaries, just
beaded chains using rosary-like connections. No soldering.


Hi Jeanne,:

For winding & cutting coils of various sizes you might look at Kevin
Potter’s web site (

He has a winder & set of mandrels listed as well as 2 models of a
cutter that can attach to a a Dremel or a #30 flexshaft handpiece.



Any chance of the following Skill level of the adults,
average ages, the thickness of the copper wire in thous/in, ditto the
brass, also wether its annealed or hard drawn.

What tools have you been provided with, benches, vices.

List it all in detail.

With that info from you its going to be much easier for all the
seriously experienced metal workers here to give you an answer you
can put to your class.

It seems youve been given an almost impossible scenario to work

Who organised this? Some office worker? It couldnt have been an
experienced jeweller or silver smith.

To get back to your question, the simplest link is an “8” shape with
the curved part hammered so that its twice as wide as its thick. That
will be strong enough in 1/16th thick brass. Copper will need to be
3/32 in minimum.

Youll need at least 8oz hammers and a decently supported anvil or
"T" stake held in a leg vice.

All clean and shiney so the work isnt marred by poorly faced tools.

The last thing you want to do is to make the chains for these folk.


Jeanne, this happens to be a topic I’ve been mulling over for a
while. I’m guessing you’ve already considered chainmaille? Not always
soldered and so not always strong, but some of the byzantine styles
have multiple loops that double back into prior jumprings and so
overall tend to be stronger. Will you be working with jump rings, or
just with wire? Or with presoldered links? If presoldered links, Rio
Grande item 627791 is one interesting approach that you could modify
into any length by continuing to join other links onto each end
instead of the terminus they show. There’s also a style called
foxtail that you might be able to adapt to using just wire and
wire-wrap methods. - Lorraine


The Byzantine Chain does not require solder.

Karen Tagg
Art Teacher, BFA, M. Ed.


Double loop coil chain may be the simplest type to fit your needs.

There’s a illustration here.

Elliot Nesterman

The Byzantine Chain does not require solder. 

That’s true, but if you make the links solid hair doesn’t get pulled
:wink: CIA


Depending on the scheduled date of the class I would suggest
ordering jump rings online and teaching a class on ‘chainmail.’ As
far as suppliers I would suggest The Ring Lord (no current
affiliation, I worked there about a decade ago though), they have a
huge selection and prices are pretty reasonable. The wire is hard
enough that the links wouldn’t need soldered–all you’ll need is 2
pair of pliers per person. Given your limitations of very cheap and
no tools or fire…

it’s the only option that seems feasible to me.

There are tons of free pattern/weave tutorials available online for
you to reference.


One very crucial thing to keep in mind is that it’s not just the
diameter of the wire but also the size of the rings you’re making (a
lesson I learned the hard way). The smaller the ring, the thinner the
wire you can get away with. That said, you should probably stick with
18g or larger for beginners. I’ll second the idea of getting pre-cut
rings from RingLord. (I have no affiliation with them myself.) It’ll
make things go much faster & with much less frustration for your
students, whom I’m assuming are beginners, given the lack of
equipment. If you want, you can always demonstrate how to wind the
wire around a dowel & saw the rings. If it were my workshop, I’d have
wire on-hand so the students could try it. The website for the rings
is (the “the” is important, as without it you end up
at a computer guy’s website instead). You can get some good
instructions for free here-

It’s got quite a number of relatively basic patterns.

Your other option is to do a loop-in-loop chain & have the links
already fused. Then the students just have to do the shaping, weaving
& finishing.

metalsmith, artist, chaos magnet


There is also Viking knit-- No soldering, you just need a dowel and
some pliers, and (ideally) a large-hole draw plate. I actually use
plastic circle templates as drawplates when I teach this-- they need
to be the thick, clear plastic kind, not the thin green ones.

Noel Yovovich


Chain making using Byzantine weave can be made without soldering if
the gauge of the wire and ratio to size of ring is in proportion. If
you use half hard sterling round wire, wound on a mandrel of
appropriate size, cut cleanly with a jump ring tool, and make the
weave with accurately butted ends, there is no need for any further
strengthening. No sloppy connections, sanded with silicon carbide
paper for rough edges and burrs, and tumbled well in stainless steel
shot, and you’ll have a strong durable item. If it is done well,
many times the connection is hard to find. Like any other skill,
there are tricks to high quality work and just plain care and
concern. I use a magnifying light and make sure of my connections.
Don’t confuse the stainless steel work of the renaissance maillers
with rough cuts and connections who are interested in a more
historical approach from fine jewelry.