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Sawing jump rings freehand

Was: Decent jump ring cutter?

Hi Lainie,

Would you mind sharing your method of sawing jump rings freehand? I
would love to do this but envision sawing right through my hand in
the process.


I made a holder for cutting jump rings and it works well.

I took two lengths of scrap wood-- I think it was rectangular
molding from Home Depot, ~1/2" x 3/4", clamped them together, drilled
some holes through them for bolts, and inserted two carriage bolts
and nuts.

To use this holder I spread the two pieces apart, insert the coil
between the wood strips (bolts on both ends of the coil), and gently
tighten the bolts. Put a piece of tape (I use blue painter’s tape)
underneath so that the tape sticks to the bottom of the coil and the
wood; this keeps the rings from displacing and jamming the blade as
they are cut.

I use a very thin diamond-coated cut-off wheel (because that’s what
I happened to have on hand) on a Dremel or Foredom for the cutting.
You can get fancier and lay your handpiece on another strip of wood
(perpendicular) so that the cutting wheel is at the right depth and
distance; slide the wood/handpiece along the jump ring holder. This
way the cut stays straight. Freehanding the cut works too.

You can modify this set-up in various ways, from padding under the
coil for better support to adding stuff at the starting end of the
coil to keep it compressed.



The way I have taught my students to make and cut jump rings is,
well, “freehand”. Mechanically cutting jumprings with a spinning
( in the medical business, called a “bone saw”) will usually make a
wider kerf than a smaller jeweler’s sawblade, say a 3/0.
Manufacturers of these “Jumpringers”, or other jump ring maker/cutter
systems take great care to make sure the user doesn’t cut fingers off
with this set-up.

When making a series of same-sized jump rings, I mount one end of
the round mandril in, say, a vice, along with one end of an annealed
wire of appropriate thickness. After carefully wrapping all the wire
onto the mandril, taking care to keep rings tight together, without
gaps between rings, the whole column of rings and mandril are
released from the vise jaws. Slip the jump rings ( no gaps between
the rings!) off the mandril. I pinch the first ring to be cut between
my thumb and index finger, the remainer of the column of rings facing
away from me on the bench pin. I gently saw the first ring off, and
then begin cutting the second ring, etc. As long as you are holding
the ring you are sawing, the blade is tight, and not pushing the
blade hard, it should be easy going. Use a 3/0 blade, as a
suggestion. Cut that jump ring pinched right between your fingers,
cutting a straight line through the whole group, one at a time. Once
you get the knack, you can cut rings off straight and fast, with
little loss of material. Oh, and a complete set of round jump ring
mandrils (transfer punches) are cheap from Harbor Freight.

Jay Whaley

Hi Cyndy,

Here’s one way to cut coils of wire into rings that I teach my
students. before showing them how to use the Koil Kutter.

  1. Get a piece of wood about 1 1/2" x 3/4" x 3 or 4" long.

  2. Cut a groove 1/8 -1/4" wide down the center of the long

  3. Lay the coil to be cut in the groove with 1 end flush with the
    end of the wood.

  4. Wrap the 1st 1 -2 " of the coil & the wood with masking tape.

  5. Hold the block of wood at the edge of the work bench so the back
    end is up in the air at a bout a 30 deg. angle.

  6. Using a jewelers saw, cut the top edge of the coil.

  7. When it becomes difficult to keep from cutting into the bottom of
    the coil stop. Remove the masking tape. Reposition the coil flush
    with the end of the wood; retape & begin cutting again.


When I cut rings ‘freehand’, I use this method, too. I modify it
because my hands are a bit weak and I overcompensate, thus squashing
my rings or getting an angled cut.

I leave about 1" to 1-1/2" of a tail on the end of the coil. This
end I clamp into a small vise, so the coil is angled toward the
floor. My vise is located so that the coil winds up in my left hand,
at a comfortable height - no bending over to get at it. Now, the vise
is keeping the coil in place, even to the last ring. My fingers &
thumb are lightly cradling the coil, out of the way of the blade. All
I have to do is guide the coil with my hand so the saw blade can
address it properly - saves my thumb from damaging pressure.

Granted, it calls for some ‘waste’, but can always be used for
something else down the line. Having that “third hand” from the vise
makes a lot of difference for me.

best regards,

Hey Cyndy,

I use the exact method described by Jay Whaley to cut my rings, but
a little trick I use is to wrap the wound coil with blue painters
tape (the kind that removes easily without leaving any residue).
Then I position my sawblade on the end-point of the last coil and
start cutting. This way I can cut the entire length of the coil with
very little waste, and of course your’re cutting through the tape,
which holds the whole together and makes for very easy cutting. When
you’re done, slip the still-bound coil off of the blade, and viola,
you have jumprings! I can cut tons of jumprings this way, usually
getting about 15 or so per coil. Just remember to lubricate your
sawblade (I do this on the backside of the blade and I usually use a
2/0) and you’re good to go!

Have fun!

I don’t use many jump rings, max 30 or so at a time. To cut them
after I made my coil on a 12volt drill held in a vise, I turn my saw
blade around with the teeth facing forward, and then put the coil
against my peg, and saw into the peg.I saw through three or so and
then shake them off and then cut three more. Works quick for me.

Cheers, Hans

Hello all

I replied to Cyndy personally because I used photos. They are, after
all, worth a thousand words. If anyone else is interested in my
method I’d be happy to pass along the pics.


This is how I was taught in college- and still do when I need
multiples. Make coil around a dowel. Wrap with masking tape to cover
outside of rings. Take off dowel, and insert saw blade inside. Rest
coil against bench pin and start sawing from bottom to top. the
rings will stay in the tape, so it is easy to thing them after they
are cut. Here is another way. When I was in high school, we had to
make chains. We wrapped our coils around the dowel. Using a cutting
wheel on the flex shaft, we cut through the coil while on the dowel.
It worked at the time, but I have not done it since.



I would personally love to see the pics. I haven’t tried cutting jump
rings by hand yet (sucessfully). I have copper wire up to the hilt,
but would love to make some decent jump rings with them. I’m fairly
new to wire, so I’m starting with copper.


Lanie - I would be interested in your method. I have a jump ringer
but haven’t figured out how to use it effectively, so I loose quite a
few rings each time. I have resorted to hand sawing again, but I
don’t think I’m doing it very well. Any help is greatly appreciated!


I’ve happily made hundreds of jump rings using the following method:
I drill a hole a bit bigger than the wire in one end of a wooden
dowel and clamp the other end in a vise, so that the dowel is held
vertically, and then thread the end of my wire into the hole and
start wrapping to make the coil. (I’m sure you could do this with the
dowel chucked into a drill or flex-shaft, too, for automated
coil-making.) When the coil is done, I remove it from the vise, wrap
the whole thing with masking tape, and draw a line in marker along
its length as a guide for cutting. I use a little circular saw bit (I
got mine from Rio Grande; it’s about 16 mm in diameter, and creates a
0.3 - 0.4 mm kerf) to slice the coil while it’s still on the dowel,
cutting into the wood a bit as I go. The tape can then be peeled off,
and the cut rings slide off the dowel. The only waste is the little
half-ring that anchors the coil in the dowel, which I think is a
small price for cutting 100 or so jump rings in one easy operation.

Obviously, this is limited to larger jump rings, as tiny wooden
dowels are too fragile to stand up to the wrapping, and you must also
be careful to make sure your dowel is really round - some are not as
well-made and will give you wonky rings.

Jessee Smith
Cincinnati, Ohio

Larger jump rings can be spun on a wood dowel mounted in a drill. If
the dowel is larger in diameter than the drill chuck can handle the
end of the dowel can be shaved.

Shaving the ends of much larger dowels will not work. The wood will
break before any coil can be wrapped.

To solve this problem I tightened 4 nuts on a number 8 screw so that
all the flat edges of the nuts matched. Coated the nuts with crazy
glue. Drill a hole slightly smaller in diameter than the screw in one
end of the larger dowel. Make sure the hold is centered on the center
of the dowel. Place some epoxy or gorilla glue in the hole. Place a
flat washer on the screw and screw it into the hole until the washer
bottoms on the dowel. Let cure.

Cut a slot in the end of the dowel that is the width of the wire
diameter that will be used for the jump rings. Cut it about twice
the wire diameters into the end of the dowel.

Bend a 90 degree tab in the wire that will be used for the jump
rings. The tab should be shorter than the diameter of the dowel.

Place the nuts on the screw into the chuck of a variable speed
drill. Slip the wire tab into the slot in the dowel. Put a glove on
the hand that will be used to control the wire on the dowel. Place
your gloved hand on the wire and hold the wire tight against the
dowel. Turn the drill on a very slow speed. The gloved hand will
guide the wire onto the dowel.

Caution: do not wrap the wire to the very end of the wire. The last
part of the wire will not bend down onto the dowel and will remain a
sharp vertical tab that can cut the gloved hand.

I use a jewelers saw to cut the jump rings while they are on the
dowel. The jump rings are cut by the saw which is held at an angle to
the dowel so that the top of one ring is cut at a time. The remaining
portion of the coil can be slid into the saw as rings are cut off.

I will put photos depicting the above on my blog as soon as I have

Lee Epperson

I use a little circular saw bit (I got mine from Rio Grande; it's
about 16 mm in diameter, and creates a 0.3 - 0.4 mm kerf) to slice
the coil while it's still on the dowel 

If you’re talking about a saw that looks just like a standard
circular saw blade but tiny, this is the only tool I own that scares
me. The potential for damage to fingers from this wickedly sharp
little disk in a flexshaft is just too great. I have one or two, for
emergency situations where nothing else will do (hardly ever comes
up) but I would not use one to cut jump rings without the kind of
protection a Jump Ringer set-up offers.

Almost nothing scares me. Really high winds, really high heights–
and that saw.


This thread has brought up a few different points of view. I would
like to add mine.

  1. Winding your coil on a wood dowel is okay as long as you do not
    need very small or precisely sized rings as in chain and chainmail
    making. Wood dowels are not uniform in size, are compressible and are
    subject to wear. They also are not available in all the incremental
    diameters that precision ground steel is.

  2. As long as your need for jump rings is relatively small, freehand
    cutting with a jewelers saw is the way to go. Several of the
    previously suggested cutting jigs can help increase production
    somewhat. In no case, however, should a circular saw be mounted in a
    flexshaft or drill press and used to cut coils freehand. The risk of
    serious injury is too great! Sooner or later an accident will happen
    that will convince you that the gamble was not worth taking.

Ray Grossman
Ray Grossman Inc
Inventors & manufacturers of
Jump Ringer Systems

Any Tool in a rotary hand piece can be dangerous if it can catch in
the project while using it. Some are more dangerous that others.

A thin silicon cut off disc can shatter and send chips into your

Burrs are notorious for catching on the metal and then taking a hunk
out of your fingers. I do not use a burr without holding the work
project in a glove or mechanical holding device.

Any thin saw mounted in a hand piece is the most dangerous tool you
can use. It has the potential of taking a finger almost off when it
rides out of the saw cut. I used one once when very early in my
jewelery career. I was extremely lucky it did not take a finger when
it rode out of the saw cut. I whole heartedly agree with Ray and
Noel. There is not a tool at my bench that I fear as much as a
circular saw mounted in a hand piece.

Lee Epperson

In no case, however, should a circular saw be mounted in a
flexshaft or drill press and used to cut coils freehand. The risk
of serious injury is too great! Sooner or later an accident will
happen that will convince you that the gamble was not worth taking. 

Been there, did it.

when I was a very new to working with metal, ( but old enough to
have known better) I wound some jump rings on a steel mandrel and
proceeded to cut them with a circular saw mounted in a cordless hobby
drill. - whilst holding the mandrel in my left hand.

The result was predictable. The saw skidded off the steel and I cut
the pad of my forefinger down to the bone. My children were crying,
there was blood spray up the wall and across my bench. I have a 1
inch diagonal scar which has been reminding me for 15 years not to be
so ******* stupid ever again.

Since then I have not been able to look at the circular saw without
a feeling of nausea.


While the jump ring cutting systems are nice, they are a bit pricey
for those on a budget. A serviceable option until you can purchase
one is to use a thin abrasive disk to cut a shallow slot along the
lenth of a dowel rod while its held between the jaws of a vice.
Drill a hole near the end and place the dowel in a variable drill.
Insert end of the wire into the hole and slowly wind the annealed
wire onto the do wel. Make sure you can see the slot at each end of
the dowel when your done winding. Use masking tape to hold the wire
on the dowel and place back in the vice, slot up. Run the abrasive
disk along the slot. The vice will keep a light tension on the coil
providing a reasonably clean cut while keeping your hands out of the

Jim Doherty

Any Tool in a rotary hand piece can be dangerous if it can catch in
the project while using it. Some are more dangerous that others. 

This has been my experience as well. Of course my experience with
saws in rotary tools is extremely limited because the first time I
used one it kicked back and nearly ended up in my face.

I took the hint.


Here’s my two cents worth… I do most everything by the “seat of my
pants.” Low budget and I try to accommodate my needs with available
resources. The problem that I’ve found with dowels is that the wood
fibers tend to compress and the jump ring may not be round upon
finishing your cut. I’ve used steel rods of various diameters, but
the method I’ve found useful for smaller rings is to wrap my wire
around what I think is called a “roll pin.” They have a slot cut down
the middle to allow me to guide an abrasive disc down the line giving
me a pretty “decent” cut. The technique involves a little
practice,but anyone using a flex shaft regularly should have no
trouble. It is “relatively” safe in that the groove or channel of
the roll pin acts as a guide as I cut. One must still exercise
caution as the abrasive disc can still be rather “unfriendly” to
flesh as I’ve discovered a time or two. Any well equipped hardware
store, farm supply store, or locally, a chain called "Fasten All"
should be able to set you up with various diameters. Good luck, and
again, exercise caution as you go. If you feel uncomfortable with the
procedure, don’t try it. Peace.