Look at this pile! Do I really need this many tools for making jewelry? Um...yeah. And I have even more...much more (don't tell WW). These are just my faves. But, all have been eclipsed today by the glorious Mazbot bailing plier. Swoon! I tell you, this tool is so great, I actually kissed it! Yes, I know it's weird but, if you've ever made jump rings by hand, you'll know what I'm talking about. This plier is used in place of a mandrel and turning jump rings with this baby is a piece of cake. I know there are lots of other fancy jump ring making tools on the market but, if you're going to make them the good old-fashioned way, bailing pliers are the way to go. I couldn't find a link for the Mazbot brand but I did find another link for you if you're interested in swooning or slobbering over your own pair.
Just in case you've never twisted your own jump rings, I thought I'd post a little jump ring tutorial for your viewing pleasure, using my new, spectacular tool. I did my best with the pics but it's not easy trying to work with my right hand and take a photo with my left.
I'm using pretty heavy, 18 gauge steel wire for these jump rings. I've started using these cheap flush cutters and they work great. I get a nice, flat cut, even on the heavy gauges. When they wear out, I'll run to the craft store and get myself a brand new pair! Before you start bending, trim both ends of your wire flat.
This is where the amazing Mazbot (or other brand) pliers come in handy. Place your wire inside the pliers with the wire end flush with the plier barrels.
See? Nice and flush.
Now, hold the wire in your left hand and start to turn the pliers, keeping the wire tight up against the barrel with your thumb. I left my thumb out of the pics so you can see better. These pliers have two different size barrels, one 9mm and one 7mm, so you can make two different size jump rings. I'm using the 7mm. There is also a 4mm/5mm size plier.
Continue to turn the pliers while holding the wire firmly with your thumb. You'll have to open and close the jaws of the pliers as you turn them around.
Almost done turning... Now, you can slide the wire off the pliers and you'll have a nice, neat coil.
Time to pull your nice coil apart. Using chain nose pliers on both ends, gently pull the coil apart slightly.
Using the cheapie flush cutters, cut off the tail of the coil. Make sure your cutters have the flat side (the back side) facing the coil and not the tail.
Ok, this picture isn't the greatest but...now you'll cut your first ring. Come in with the cutters from the side, keeping the flat (back) edge of the cutters away from the cut you just made. The back edge of the cutters is where you get the flush cut so, on your jump ring, you want two flat edges to match up. See? Line up the back edge of the cutters with the edge of the coil above and snip. You'll get more power from your cutters if you cut toward the back of the blade so try to scoot your pliers right in between the coils.
Congratulations! You have your first jump ring! Continue cutting the rest of your rings, making sure you flip your pliers so you're getting a flat edge on both sides of your rings. You'll have to trim a tiny bit off the coil after each ring is released in order to keep that flat edge.
Now, place your two pair of chain nose pliers on either side of the ring. Wiggle the ring back and forth, grinding the cut surfaces against each other and closing the ring. If you did a good job cutting, the edges should be nice and flush against each other and your ring should be nice and round.
Next step is to give it a whack with the hammer. This is really fun as long as no fingers are touching the anvil. You can flatten your rings a lot or a little...it's up to you which look you want. Hammering hardens the metal and gives you a nice stiff ring that won't open easily.
If you don't want your rings flattened at all, use a rubber mallet, rawhide mallet or nylon hammer. I use this nifty, small, deadblow hammer. It hardens the metal without marring it.
I sand my pieces with a foam sanding block, fine grade, then go over them with a buffing stick. The buffing sticks are for manicures but they work great on steel wire jewelry.
So, you're done! You've made one jump ring. Wasn't that fun?