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Making heavy gauge chain

My problem is getting the links back together true so I can solder

Hi JoAnn, I’ve made quite a few heavy rope chains with toggle clasps,
as bracelets and necklaces, in the last year. They’ve been really
popular with my customers… I use the toggle clasp with (2) 4mm
cabochon settings on the toggle… really classy.

Since you indicate you’re new to the craft, let me make sure of one
thing… and apologize if it is overly simplistic. When you open the
rings to link them, you should always open by twisting the cut ends
laterally… not pulling them apart. Grasp the link with the cut
upwards, with a pair of pliers (preferably parallel jaw) on each side
of the cut, and twist the near end toward you and twist the far end
away. This will keep the ends in nearly perfect alignment for
closing. When closing, I push the two ends ever-so-slightly together,
to compensate for the width of the saw cut, and twist the two ends
back into alignment.

If you try to keep the two ends in line and pull the ring open, end
from end, you will mess up the roundness of the link, and have a much
harder time restoring it to the original shape.

One suggestion to consider is using #12 HALF round wire instead of
round. Saves on material, the difference in the look is negligible
and it should be easier to bend.

Some books on chain making will have you solder each link to the
chain, one by one. A more effective method for making a simple
link-in-link chain is to make all your jump rings. Close about half
of them, and solder them shut. Then take two soldered rings, join
them with a third, and solder it shut. Repeat as often as necessary
to use up all your soldered rings. You will have several sets of
three ring segments. Join these to make five ring segments. Join the
five ring segments to make eleven ring segments, and so on, until
you’re done! This process greatly reduces the number of times you’re
soldering a link closed next to other links.

As a side note, a vibratory tumbler with stainless steel shot is a
God-send for finishing and polishing chain… especially if it is
complex. Just throw the chain in, turn it on, and go on about your
business. Pull it out at the end of the day, rinse, dry, and it’s
ready to go!

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)