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OriCat

Making rings vs buying rings

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So I've recently been considering (trying to cut costs) getting a winder/mandrel and making my own rings rather than buying them all pre-wound and -cut from TRL. I know some of you guys out there wind and cut your own, and is it really the better option? I'm not concerned terribly with time taken, but it does seem cheaper...

Also, would buying TRL coils and cutting them be a good in-between strategy or is it not really worth it?

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The catch is, depending on your set up, there can be a good bit of 'waste' when you do it yourself. Think of that last, little bit of wire you can't get around your mandrel, or the half ring that is left when cutting your coils. They do add up. Personally, I have not found it cost effective enough to make it worth my while. Then again, I never had a set up fancier than a cordless drill, the mandrel, and a wooden box to hold the coil and guide the wire.

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I do my own 18g. stainless & bright aluminum, as well as 16g & 14g galvanized steel and like you time isn't a big issue for me.  The trick for it to be really cost effective is th cost of your wire.  I buy my wires bulk bulk quantities which keep the  cost really low on a per ring basis, and I've built my own set up for wrapping so that I get a coil just under 3' long in about 2 min. each. Next comes the fun part....cutting. 

For most basic wires I use aviation snips.  As long as you keep them sharp they cut nice a clean and look as good as a RL machine cut ring. It helps if you can have your cutting hand to be braced on something that will keep it steady and lets you get the weight of your body behind the cut.  Also make sure to hold the coil FIRMLY in your off hand to keep it from twisting as you cut. It can take some practice to get really good at it, so be patient. I also recommend wearing work gloves, and if you have a rotatory tool like a Dremel for sharpening them when they get dull. Depending in the wire gauge & ring diameter I can cut a coil in 8 - 30 min (small stainless takes the longest).

When doing my own basic stainless, aluminum and such, I get rings at about 1/2 - 3/4 of the RL price depending on wire.

Now having said all that, when i need colored rings, gauges I don't keep in stock, square wires etc. I go straight to the Ring Lord as the best option.

 

I hope this helps! :smile:

P.S. I've attached a quick pic of the wrapping set up I made.IMG_2913.JPG

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On 01/05/2017 at 5:46 AM, Paladin said:

The catch is, depending on your set up, there can be a good bit of 'waste' when you do it yourself. Think of that last, little bit of wire you can't get around your mandrel, or the half ring that is left when cutting your coils. They do add up. Personally, I have not found it cost effective enough to make it worth my while. Then again, I never had a set up fancier than a cordless drill, the mandrel, and a wooden box to hold the coil and guide the wire.

There's no catch with the tag-ends; you just use a pair of pliers to squeeze down the tag-end onto the mandrel.  The result should be no waste at all; it's all bent round the mandrel by then.  Same with up at the chuck end/anchor end of the coil.  With a little work, you can lay that end into the coil too.

In re armor-mail projects:  emphatically, buy plain wire, coil and cut your own.  Mailshirt projects tend to be multi-10K-link affairs, so you look at what makes economies over such quantities.  Applying your own labor means you don't have to pay for somebody else's processing effort.

Edited by Konstantin the Red

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Thanks guys! Kittensoft, I'm really grateful for that pic of the setup, I was wondering exactly how one made a winder. How do you control the drill speed (or is it just "know your drill well")?

I am planning some big projects, so maybe it'll be a good idea. I might build a shorter one, though, since my table's pretty short.

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5 hours ago, OriCat said:

Thanks guys! Kittensoft, I'm really grateful for that pic of the setup, I was wondering exactly how one made a winder. How do you control the drill speed (or is it just "know your drill well")?

I am planning some big projects, so maybe it'll be a good idea. I might build a shorter one, though, since my table's pretty short.

Know your drill, or get a variable speed controller. Just don't lock the drill on.,,. it's dangerous with wire moving under power.

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1 hour ago, Kittensoft_Chainmail said:

Know your drill, or get a variable speed controller. Just don't lock the drill on.,,. it's dangerous with wire moving under power.

In my rig I used a good quality light dimmer switch. This way I can slowly ramp up to full speed while also being able to use it as a smack-down panic stop switch.

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On 01/05/2017 at 9:45 PM, OriCat said:

Thanks guys! Kittensoft, I'm really grateful for that pic of the setup, I was wondering exactly how one made a winder. How do you control the drill speed (or is it just "know your drill well")?

I am planning some big projects, so maybe it'll be a good idea. I might build a shorter one, though, since my table's pretty short.

You don't even have to build that much:  coiling equipment can be pared down to about three components/parts, counting the mandrel:  your drill, the mandrel rod (always of metal), and a hands-free wire coiling feeder consisting of an eyescrew through which the wire goes, a nail to stop the mandrel skittering off to the side opposite the eyescrew from the mandrel's turning, viz., eyescrew on left side of mandrel, nail sticking up on mandrel's right side.  The screw and nail can be put into a bench top or anything else suitable  like a short hunk of 2x4 or other lumber you could C-clamp to something immovable.  I use my patio rail.  All you need for whatever length of mandrel is enough clearance for it on the other side of the feed block

You feed the wire through the eyescrew, anchor the wire's end to the mandrel, slant the mandrel a few degrees to your right to get the wire to neatly coil on the mandrel instead of coiling over and balling up in a big mess, and hit the trigger.  Three and four feet of coil done in a minute or less.  I like a four foot rod because more of your coiling time is spent making the links and not clearing the rod so much.  About six feet of mandrel seems to be the practical maximum for this method.  As your mandrel  turns, coiling wire, you slowly step back from your wire feed-block until you reach the end of the mandrel, which has been hanging over the other side of things all this time.

Like Rob said, don't lock the drill on, just press the trigger.  Your hands will be holding the drill and well away from the high-potential-energy part of things -- you won't get wire-whipped.  I do use goggles.  No need for gloves, nohow.

There are totally hand-powered equivalents for all this that don't even use a drill.  They take up next to no space to stow, but are much slower and put some wear on your hands too.  My "spartan rig" would be a rod with some way to anchor the wire end, a small Vise-Grip to turn the rod with, using it as a lever, and a wooden piece of doweling or scrap wood with a hole drilled across its diameter to feed the wire through and spare my feeding hand while I twirl the mandrel with the other, sitting, holding it vertically with the bottom end of the rod corralled between my feet.  I hold the wooden feed-block like the toggle handle for pull-starting a gas lawnmower, passing my wire between middle and ring finger onto the mandrel.

Edited by Konstantin the Red

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Here's one of the most simple coiling rigs you can make; an old-school windlass. I bought several 4 foot rods of different diameters from Home Depot, bend the ends into handles in a vice, drilled several holes in the base to match the size of the rods, and drilled a hole through the rod to retain the wire when coiling.

 

 

QC089900.JPG

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On 1/7/2017 at 0:13 PM, Rob MacLennan said:

Here's one of the most simple coiling rigs you can make; an old-school windlass. I bought several 4 foot rods of different diameters from Home Depot, bend the ends into handles in a vice, drilled several holes in the base to match the size of the rods, and drilled a hole through the rod to retain the wire when coiling.

 

 

QC089900.JPG

Nice setup. Have you also set something up to do saw cut rings? I am considering buying a machine that coils the wire and also saw cuts them but it only makes about 3" long coils.

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3 hours ago, Kayle said:

Nice setup. Have you also set something up to do saw cut rings? I am considering buying a machine that coils the wire and also saw cuts them but it only makes about 3" long coils.

Yes, I also made a cutting rig. It's pretty rough, but works well enough for softer metals. For the harder metals I buy pre-cut rings for now. It's in the second half of this video.

 

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WOW, I really like that setup. It looks like you can really crank out some rings with it quick. I doubt it but did you do a video of the assembly of the cutter?

 

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No, I didn't do a video of the assembly. The concept is pretty simple though. You need a jeweller's slotting saw and an arbour which will hold it, both of which are available from The Ring Lord. You need a motor to turn it at an appropriate speed. You could use a router, if you can step the speed down sufficiently, or use a variable speed drill. A drill is the most common and easiest to use. You need two blocks to trap the coil between. Either one could have a slot cut into it, through which the slotting saw blade protrudes just enough to cut one side of the coil. A groove in one or both of the blocks keeps the coil aligned with the blade.

 

If you only want to cut one size of ring then you could do what I first did. Get a piece of 2x4 and drill a hole through it the same size as the OUTSIDE diameter of the coil you want to cut and make the hole close enough to the edge of the block that the slotting saw blade could reach it from the outside. Drill with the grain to reduce friction. Cut a slot in the block so that the slotting saw blade can reach far enough into the hole that it would cut all the way through one side of the coil, but not the other. Once you have that, you just need to find a way to hold the drill and block in place so that you can push the coil through the hole and get cut rings out the other side.

 

Using this method I made enough rings, in 3/8" 12 gauge aluminum, to make a whole shirt.

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where did you find the thick white plastic and the guard you put over the blade. I'm really tempted to try to copy what you've made.

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I made the blade guard with a little glue and some 0.080" acrylic sheet. Where the thick white plastic is concerned I'm lucky that I have a company called Plastic World not too far away. It's HDPE (high density polyethylene) and can be worked with woodworking tools. Just keep the speeds down so you don't burn it, or your tools. I'm sure that there are similar places in the US, but the only one I know of is Tap Plastics:

http://www.tapplastics.com

 

*EDIT* I forgot to mention that you'll want a router speed control, to make it possible to control the cutting speed. They can be had for roughly US$30.00.

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On 2/13/2017 at 4:04 PM, Kayle said:

where did you find the thick white plastic and the guard you put over the blade. I'm really tempted to try to copy what you've made.

That seems to be a DIY version of my Ringinators. Seems nicely made.

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4 hours ago, Martin said:

That seems to be a DIY version of my Ringinators. Seems nicely made.

Based on videos of several different cutters I had seen, including your early Ringinator. I didn't see your more recent version until I had mine up and running.

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