I agree wholeheartedly with Ray’s sentiment that “cheap” tools are a
bad thing. I always buy the best tools I can afford that are suited
to the job at hand. Using a well designed, well made tool is part of
the joy I get from working with my hands. I even enjoy the time it
takes to maintain a well made tool because I can appreciate the tool
for itself during maintenance and see how it connects to the joy of
using it. Anyone who has ever sharpened a chisel on a stone and felt
the vacuum of the perfectly flat back holding the stone and chisel
together and thought “Wow, I can’t wait to make my first cut with
this…it will be a delight” will understand what I’m talking about.
Where I disagree with Ray has to do with the implication in his
message that economical or less expensive equals cheap. I own both
the Koil Kutter and the Jump Ringer and have used them almost daily,
side-by-side for years. Each of them has its pluses and minuses, but
the idea that one shouldn’t buy the KK simply because it costs less
doesn’t make sense to me. To me, cheap means not suited to the job,
just pretending to be long enough to get your money, likely to break
the first time you use it, and likely to do a half baked job of the
task at hand even if it doesn’t break. This description does not
match the KK or the JR!
The KK is a much more economical way to get into jump ring making.
When I started out, if the only option for producing lots of jump
rings had been the much more expensive JR, I probably would never
taken the plunge. I used the KK exclusively for some time. It makes
jump rings very well, and the many 10’s of thousands of jump rings
out there I’ve made are evidence of this fact. The KK’s main
shortcoming is that, up until recently, the only coil holder
available was pretty short, about 3 1/2" coil length. You can now get
a longer one, about 10"-12", I think. One great advantage of the KK
is that it can be driven with a moto tool thus is very portable.
This is important to me because I take to lots of demos and
workshops. The only other downside I’ve seen to the KK is that the
cutting fluid I use attacks the epoxy used on a part of the coil
holder. Annoying and maybe something the manufacturer should have
thought about, but it gave me a chance to practice my blind riveting
skills :-). Oh, and those moto tools are really loud!
The JR’s main advantage is that you can make a really long (14"+)
coil if you get the high production version of the coil holder. On
days when I need to make 40k-50K rings, this is a great productivity
gain. Also, you can get a cool electric drill mount from Ray for
powered coil winding. Just add foot pedal and off you go. Note that
for long mandrels, I had to cobble together a tail stock to hold the
other end of the mandrel to keep it from whipping about. Luckily, I
just happened to have a manual winder from my KK to press into
service :-). The JR is only available to fit a flex shaft, but
that’s not a big deal if you already have one. It is a very big deal
if you are staring another $200 purchase in the face! Ultimately, I
ended up getting a spare handpiece so I could leave the JR attached
all the time. My main issue with the JR is that no matter what I do,
I cannot cut rings heavier than 15ga. The specs claim all the way to
12ga, but try as I might, I’ve never been able to get there. I don’t
think it is operator error, though, since no other JR owner I’ve
talked to has been able to get this to work either. I haven’t yet had
time to get the micrometer out and measure the parts to see what the
deal is, but it’s on my list. The KK cuts to 12ga just fine. Haven’t
had a chance to measure it, either.
My advice to everyone who comes to my workshops is this: if you are
only going to make the odd chain here or there, just get out your saw
frame and get going. Hand sawing jump rings builds character! If you
are going to make a lot of chains, get the KK. If you decide you want
to make handmade chains your specialty (as I have), get the long JR
and the drill stand.
Sorry this turned into such a tome…but jump ring making is a lot
of what I do…when I’m not buying cool tools just because I’m lucky
enough to be able to!
Renaissance Gecko Designs