It’s not necessary to anneal the links after they’re soldered.
The soldering process leaves them in an annealed state.
When forming the round links into oblong links, position the
joint so it will be at the center on one side or the other. This
will hide the joint in the center of the chain & make repairing
links that may break during the drawing process easier.
The act of forming the round links into oblong links, assembling
them into a chain & then sizing the finished chain work hardens
the links to some extent. Final polishing in a shot filled tumbler
for 1/2 - 1 hour will leave the chain in a hard enough condition.
After the chain is assembled, it won’t a uniform diameter from
one end to the other. To make the diameter uniform from end to
end, the chain is usually drawn through a chain draw plate. Chain
draw plates are usually made from a hard, close grained wood or a
hard tough plastic. Chain draw plates can be made by drilling a
series of holes in a suitable block of wood or plastic. The wood
or plastic should be about 1/2" thick. The holes should decrease
in size from the largest to the smallest. Space the holes about
1/4" apart to prevent the plate from breaking when the chain is
pulled through it. The entry side of the hole is tapered a little
to facilitate chain entry.
The chain should be drawn before putting any clasps or other
fittings on; these generally won’t go through the holes in the
draw plate. If there are large variations (over 30%) in the
chain’s diameter, the larger diameters are sometimes reduced by
laying the chain on a sturdy surface and pounding the larger
diameters with a leather or plastic mallet.
Before drawing the chain, attach a pigtail to the end that will
be pulled through the draw plate 1st. The chain should be drawn
with the grain. That is, with the bottom of the link going through
the draw plate 1st. This is usually the end the chain was
assembled from. For additional strength, put the pigtail through
both sets (or all sets if it has more than 2) of links in the
chain. The pigtail will be used to pull the chain through the draw
When drawing a chain, lubricate it prior to drawing. Put a
quantity of ordinary liquid dishwashing detergent in the palm of
the hand & pull the chain through it. The detergent can easily be
washed of after the drawing & flexing operations are complete.
After the chain has been drawn, it will be somewhat stiff. To
make the chain more flexible again, it can be pulled, shoeshine
fashion, over a round dowel (about 3/4" in diameter) or metal
shaft. It’s a good idea to pull the chain over the dowel with at
least 4 different sides of the chain in contact with the dowel.
Each side should be 90 degrees from the other. This restores the
movement in the chain in all directions.
When starting the flexing operation, the chain may be too stiff
to allow it to be flexed sharply over the dowel. If this is the
case, start with a shallow angle & increase the angle as the chain
becomes more flexible.
Then, after the chain has been flexed in this manner, it may be
advantageous to wrap it around the dowel 1 complete turn & flex
it again. This should be done in 4 directions also. For ease in
flexing, keep the chain lubricated during the process.
Examine the chain after drawing & flexing for any links that may
have broken in the process. These can usually be found by pulling
the chain through a closed hand against the grain. When a broken
link is found, mark the spot by placing a short piece of copper
wire through the area & twist the ends together.
It’s a good idea to wash any lubricant from the chain before
beginning the repair activity. If detergent was used, the chain
can be washed with water. The chain should be dried before
starting the repair operation. Using warm or hot water aids the
cleaning & drying process.
After all the broken links have been found, they must be
repaired. Using a lower melting solder (easy) aids this process.
Separate the links of the chain for access to the broken link. A
scriber or any tapered tool works well for this. Depending on
accessibility, the ends of the broken link may be soldered to
each other or to an adjoining link. If they’re soldered to an
adjoining link, be sure both ends are solder to the same link.
After the broken links have been repaired, the chain will need
to be restored to it’s original diameter & shape. Depending on the
amount of deformation, this may be done by hand, by drawing, by
hammering or by a combination of techniques. Be sure to check for
any links that may have broken during the repair process.
When the chain has been repaired & flexed the final time, the
ends and/or clasps are attached.
Pickling the chain after all the repairs & ends have been
attached will provide a better finish from the polishing