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Jon Daniels

Making vs Buying rings

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Benefits of making your own rings

  • you can make the exact size you need when you need it (assuming you have the mandrels you need)
  • you get the warm fuzzy feeling of making your chainmail from scratch.
  • you control your own ring quality

Benefits of buying your ring from TheRingLord.com

  • far greater selection of rings than most people can make.
  • rings are made on specialized machinery by trained ring makers. In other words our rings are typically higher quality than handmade rings.
  • Because we make rings in huge quantities its typically cheaper to buy rings than make them yourself.

If you are making chainmail for sale its almost always more cost effective to buy TRL rings. If you compare the price of wire to the price of pre-made rings the wire is usually cheaper, but your time is worth money. If you're selling chainmail you have typically priced your chainmail using some sort of material plus time formula. At any reasonable wage it's very unlikely that you can turn wire you bought from TRL into rings for less than the cost of rings from TRL. This means if you start with TRL rings you can spend more time making chianmail, at a higher wage, and less time making rings at a low wage. Bottom line is you can make more money.

However, if you really want to try making rings here's what you need to know.

You will have to invest in some tools - it is an investment so its best to be sure you want to do this first.

All tools can be purchased at this link


You will need:

  • Mandrels: sets are best as you will likely want to make a range of sizes. The mandrel size is not the inside diameter of the ring because each material springs back as it is coiled. We use custom mandrel sizes to ensure our rings are all the same size regardless of material. Mandrels wear out after time. The material the mandrel is made of matters.
  • Winding Rig: you will need a drill or some sort of hand made jig to wrap the wire around the mandrel. Using a drill takes serious dexterity and can cause injury.
  • Wire: when buying wire make sure you understand temper and alloy. We buy all of our wire with making chainmail rings in mind. The temper and alloy is specifically selected for high quality jump rings. With very few exceptions the tempers are not dead soft as you find at a hardware store.
    You can see more info on materials here
  • Cutting Rings: you can either hand cut or saw cut.
    • Hand cutting: have a look at the chart on this page to tell you what cutter to get and what the cut will look like. Also refer to the pic of machine cut to compare with hand cut. Generally speaking machine cut is a way better cut than hand cut (aka pinch cut). Pinch cut rings are known for snagging hair. Hand cutting is hard on the hand and can cause repetitive stress injury.
    • Saw cutting: you can cut using a hand saw like a jewelers saw in our "Saw Cutting Tools" page. This is tedious, time consuming and goes thru blades like mad on harder materials. Its a great way to prove that you prefer buying pre-made saw cut rings :)
      You can also buy a set up like the Jumpringer or one of its knock-offs. For this you need the jumpringer, a dremel (or Fordum) and a flex shaft. A dremel can wear out quickly - a Fordum is great but pricey. The flexshafts can also be prone to wear out if cheap. These setups can be several hundred dollars and they are only good to cut soft metals like aluminum, copper, silver and gold. This set up runs at too high of an RPM for hard metals like stainless and titanium.
      Saw cutting harder metals: you will need to make a custom set up. Search this forum for what others have used. You will find an adapted drill press for example with guide plates. You need to get the blade to run true, without wobble and at as low as about 200 rpm. You will also need lube. We sell arbors, lube and blades for these setups on our "Saw Cutting Tools" page.
      Do NOT saw cut galvy! burning zinc is deadly!
      There are other commercially available saw cutting rigs for hobbiest on the market for hard materials - Do Your Research. The bottom line is cutting hard materials takes an expensive set up. A low cost hard metal cutting rig will likely cause you a whole lot of work for poorer quality rings and a lot of broken blades.

    [*]Safety: you will of course have to determine what you need for safety - goggles, masks, gloves etc. Do your research on the metals, chemicals etc you are using.

    [*]Coloring: you can color your own titanium and niobium using an anodizer. We sell them in our "Other Tools" area of our site. This process involves a chemical bath and electricity so you will need to ensure you can do it safely.

    The benefit of anodizing your own niobium or titanium is you can have control over the colors you get.

    Coloring anodized aluminum or stainless or plating is trickier - have a look in our Customer Service Area for our link about "Plating Supplies"

    [*]Tumbling: We sell tumblers here. They are used for polishing rings. You will also have to buy tumbling media and research how to get the shine level you prefer on the material you like. Our Forum has a lot of info on this.

    [*]Deburring: the best method of deburring is shaking the rings in a glass jar. You can also invest in a paint can shaker if you have large batches.

    [*]Cleaning: you can wash some materials in hot soapy water and then dry them. Others may react to the exact soap you use ( like caustic soap and aluminum). You can also invest in an ultrasonic cleaner. Make sure the chemical used in your ultrasonic cleaner is appropriate for your metal.

Edited by Bernice Daniels
Whew lots of info to include!

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