Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Making chain links.... looking for a better way


#1

Hi all,

I need to duplicate some chain links for a client out of silver.
Links are made out of a double width of 2 mm wire, with an OD of
20X10 mm. I made a mandrel to match the ID of the link, wound my 2 mm
silver wire around it an cut off a bunch of oval jump rings.
Assembled, I soldered not only the jump ring joints, but also the two
jump rings together, having the solder flow between them. It took a
while to get both jump rings aligned so, when soldered they were
perfectly next to one another, but it was a lot of tedious work, and
slow going.

I’ve considered cutting 2 short pieces (a link’s worth) of 2 mm wire
and hard soldering them together first, then bending them into an
oval, but don’t think I can get the desired shape. Maybe I should
make a cast link? My concern is that either of these links might not
be flexible enough to withstand the extreme twisting required to add
the next link.

My question: might there be an easier way to do this?

Thanks!

Angelo Giaimo
Parma


#2

Try cutting them off the coil as pairs rather than individually. You
should have something like a split ring. The two rings will be
aligned for the soldering, then cut the soldered pair open and join
the ends. You will need to sacrifice a bit of wire for each pair you
cut off the coil. Don’t try to saw the coil. Clip the pairs off with
a bit of overlap to the ends, then even the ends with a saw before
soldering the pair. BTW, I suspect the original chain is made not of
soldered pairs of links but of a double wire, either drawn or swaged.

Elliot


#3
I've considered cutting 2 short pieces (a link's worth) of 2 mm
wire and hard soldering them together first, then bending them into
an oval, but don't think I can get the desired shape. Maybe I
should make a cast link? My concern is that either of these links
might not be flexible enough to withstand the extreme twisting
required to add the next link. 

Rather than making individual short bits of straight, doubled wire,
make a long piece. Anneal the wire, put an end in a vise and tug,
slightly stretching it. That gives you very straight wire. Now lay
two long lengths next to each other, and tack solder the ends
together. Then solder the whole length. You might not even have to
tack the ends first, if they’re nice and straight, and your soldering
surface is flat. Anyway, you now have a ribbon, or flat wire
(doubled wire) rather than a single wire. You can wind this around
your mandrel just like you would a single wire, to form a coil of the
appropriate shape, which you then saw open to give you your oval (or
whatever) jump rings made of this doubled wire. The only difference
between making your links from this flat shape rather than round wire
is that you need to twist them slightly more to close them, which
should give no problem.

another way to do this is to wind individual links from single roung
wire. You wind twice around the mandrel, so there’s metal for just
one link in your short coil. Solder it, to solder all wires together,
than saw or clip at the “crossover” point to open the link. Twist the
two ends together as one would do with any open link to close it. The
long coil way is likely quicker but you can do it one link at a time
too. the difference between this and the way you were doing it is
that by soldering the wires to each other before you cut the coil
holds them in alignment to each other, rather than struggling with
individual half links while soldering together.

As to cast links, yes, you can do this. You end up with cast metal,
which may not be as nice and strong as fabricated metal, and you’ve
got to go through all the work of making a mold, injecting all the
waxes, casting them clipping them, cleaning off the sprue remnants,
etc, etc. It works fine, and cast silver links are quite strong
enough to take the deformation involved in assembling the chain. But
I doubt it would save you any time and effort in the long run unless
the links are quite complex or slow to make…

Peter


#4

Given such a task I would firstly work out how long the total length
of the double wire would need to be. Then after annealing, double
the long length in two, by putting the two ends in the vice and using
some sort of hook and pull both lengths absolutely straight, while
under tension emery the wires where they touch along the entire
length. Carefully wind binding wire (#8 preferably) around the double
wires and flux well. Lay the double wire on a suitable soldering
board. Heat the length to set the flux and lay large pallions of your
preferred solder, a section at a time, then heat till the solder
melts. When the length is soldered check the reverse side and if
necessary re solder. After the wire has been in the pickle, wash and
dry before winding round your mandril.

Put a #0 blade in your saw frame so that the teeth are facing
forward, hold your coil beneath and against the peg firmly. Cut each
link off, cutting on the push, interlink, solder, and polish.

David Cruickshank (Australia)
jewellerydavidcruickshank.com.au


#5

I think Elliot may well be right that the double wire was drawn down
or rolled on end rollers. I have a post on Ganoksin, 'On Your Metal’
about the use of a swage press and draw bench.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1ww
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1wx

Personally I never clip chain wire but always use the piercing saw
as you would a hacksaw, ie. cutting on the push against the bench pin.
It is a little difficult at first but when you get the technique
right, adjusting the angle of the saw blade and arranging the coil
you can cut half through the first link then continue into the second
while completing the first cut and so on. Just like shelling peas!

David Cruickshank (Australia)
jewellerydavidcruickshank.com.au


#6

Normally I would’nt clip jump rings off a coil either, just saw them
off. But in this case I was suggesting cutting every other turning
to make a double ring, and there’s no convenient way of getting the
blade between the alternate coils. I’d spread the links apart with a
bench knife or similar narrow wedge, clip the double links apart,
even the ends with the saw and then solder the coil. That’s assuming
it’s too much trouble to make the double wire.

Elliot


#7

Hi all,

Thank you all for your responses and my apologies for taking so long
to respond. (Computer issues and lack of 2mm silver wire!)

Anyway, I ended up using Eliot’s approach. Used wire cutters to snip
the double link coils off the mandrel and steel wire to compress the
coils together so they were in contact all the way around and
soldered. (Just had to make sure I removed the steel wire before
putting it into the pickle!) I also held off trimming the overlap
until I re-soldered the link closed after assembly.

Made one first. Once I saw how easy it was, did the rest as an
assembly line. Took no time at all and look alot more consistent than
the 1’st set.

And yes, the original ones were either swaged or drawn.

Thanks Again!!!

Angelo Giaimo
Parma