Is it possible to make my own chain? If so, then how?
Yes it’s entirely possible to do and the results can be very good
even the first time you try it. From the question you ask, I’m
assuming you’re a beginner, and so I’ll also assume that your tools
inventory is limited and that you haven’t got a jump ring making
system, or else you’d know how to make them.
Basically, you’ve got to use your sterling wire to make a coil as
even as possible, and then cut the coil into rings. When I’m only
making a few rings, I simply use my needle nosed pliers as the
mandrel for making the coils. Draw a line with permanent marker on
one of the jaws, to correspond to the size of ring you want. Grab the
wire with the pliers at that point, and bend round to form the first
coil. Make sure that leading end is towards the ends of the plier
jaws and the majority of the wire at the handle side, so that the
formed coil can travel that way and the newest ring is always at the
place marked by the marker pen. If you get that the wrong way round,
because the jaws taper, there’s nowhere for the coil to go because
the jaw is too fat for the coil beyond the marker pen, and your coil
will end up tapering smaller than you want.
When you’ve got enough turns on the coil, you need to carefully cut
it into rings. Apparently Joyce Chen snips are brilliant for this,
but others use either the jeweller’s saw or double flush cutting
pliers, or even a cut off disc in a flex shaft machine. Be very
careful when cutting with saw or cut off disc. When opening/closing
the rings, make sure you keep the circle intact, by opening/closing
the ends in the plane which is perpendicular to the ring, otherwise
the ring is distorted.
When making the chain, you solder closed half of the rings, then
join them with the open rings, also soldering them closed.
Personally, what I find helpful (and what has stopped me having the
annoying things of the solder running where you don’t want it, and
soldering the links to each other so that the chain doesn’t move
properly), is to hold the two links either side of the one being
joined, with your soldering cross-lock tweezers, in such a way that
the link to be soldered is free to move, just sat upon the tweezers’
jaws. If it’s held too tightly, it can take forever to get enough
heat into it to melt your solder. The tweezers protect the other
links, acting as a heat sink, and the movement of the link being
soldered means that you can heat the link quickly, melting the solder
nice and neatly and without problems with oxidation.
If you have any questions email offline and I’ll be happy to answer.
Sometimes I make my own chain, and sometimes I buy chain which is
finer than I could make myself, but like someone else said, make
sure you’ve had a good enough deposit to enable you to buy ALL
materials you’ll need. You shouldn’t be out of pocket. I ask for half
as deposit to buy materials, then half before despatch of the