Dear Jill, Mandrels for jump rings can literally be any
steel/aluminum rod (round and others) that you can wrap wire around.
I have not tried the burn-away paper method that has been shared
here on Orchid, but intend to try. I’ve had great luck with just
applying (rubbing) a little wax or even bar soap on the rod before
winding the wire. Make sure the end of the mandrel you plan to slip
the whole thing off of is smooth (not notched, or marred. . .it will
hold up the whole thing). Slip the coil of wire off the mandrel and
then wrap with masking tape, leaving a line of coil exposed. Turn
saw blade teeth pointed UP, hold tape-wrapped coil against your
bench pin, and saw the first two or three rings closest to you off,
saw again, etc. Sawing helps to save time by giving you flush
"ends" on each ring. You get so good at it that you can literally
hold the whole tape-wrapped coil in your hand while sawing with the
other (don’t slip). It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
For oval jump rings, use masking tape to tape two mandrels of the
same size together before wrapping with wire to make the jump ring
coil. When you do oval jump rings you have to “unwind” the coil to
a certain extent after slipping off the mandrel to tape the coil to
saw. It tends to make an interesting spiral as is. Don’t seperate
the rings when you do this. You just want to straighten out the
coil so you can saw on the top of the coil. You’ll see what I mean
when you try it. Be sure to anneal before straigtening oval coils.
The son of a jeweler friend of mine made a great little gizmo to
hold and wind the mandrel. It is basically a half-inch drill bit
(would love to find a 3/4 inch bit, but non-existent in my search. .
.at a reasonable price) attached to a rod which slips through a tube
(small pipe) with a handle to wind on the other end. It’s attached
(welded to the pipe) with upside-down “V” legs so that it stands
about 2 1/2 inches above the piece of 2X4 lumber (which it is
attached with screws) that I can put in my woodworkers vice. I
can’t imagine making jump rings any other way at the price I paid
for my jump ring gizmo. You put the mandrel in the drill bit
set-up, add your wire so it stays put in the drill bit, running
parallel to the mandrel, then give it a 90 degree bend down,
carefully wind the wire onto the mandrel, guiding with the hand not
winding. Don’t make the coil too long. . .a cumulative effect makes
it harder to slip off the mandrel. DO NOT USE AN ELECTRIC DRILL FOR
THIS. Slip (sometimes you need to encourage) the coil off the
mandrel and tape and saw away.
After you understand the basic concept you (I and others have) can
use a Foredom (held by a jewelers vice parallel to horizon) to hold
20 ga. wire and wrap 28 + ga. You can then make lots of neat stuff
with those SMALL coils. Use with the 20 ga. or slip off and use as
is. Fine silver lends an advantage here.
A picture may be worth a thousand words here and will do for those
interested after our trip back east for our son’s graduation. Right
now a bit busy to photograph the gizmo and e-mail. E-mail me in
mid-June. Will try to help ya out.