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bjorn

New to this looking for pointers

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Alright so I'm new to this as stated above.

I started just with butted rings and making a coif and some bits and bobs of jewelry , nothing fancy just byzentine and 4 in 1 bracelets and stuff.

Recently I've started to get more interested in making more things larger scale but what hampers me is the inability to make rings by myself. Don't get me wrong the rings that are supplied from different sites are awesome but I'm the kind of guy who wants to see through a project from start to finish.

Here is the crux of my problem... What is the best way to cut wire in order to get a good edge to work with softer metals like aluminum and silver and stuff?

Appreciate the helps.

BJ

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Moving to Discussion, as Chat is for non chainmail threads and this post is likely to be missed.

The first thing that you would have to do is create coils for cutting. Something as simple as a hand cranked windlass can do this for you.

It all depends upon your level of McGyvering and the size of rings that you want to make. If you're talking about larger jewellery pieces, rather than getting into something like armour making, then you likely want something like a Koil Cutter. There are several similar brands and they use a Dremel Tool to cut a coil, that is trapped in a box with a slot. A quick Google search for "jump ring cutter" should give you a few of them, but here is the one that I mentioned.

https://www.potterusa.com/koil-kutter-tooling

For larger volumes of rings there's The Ringinator or, if you're particularly handy, you could make a similar tool as I did. It uses a power hand drill to cut a coil which is trapped between two plates.

https://www.ringinator.com/

Though, to be honest, for most people it's just easier to buy the pre-cut rings. When dealing with something like silver, for example, an accident while cutting rings can become rather expensive.

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Appreciate the pointers in the right direction. 

I was using a dremel but with the metal cutting disk and it just was taking way too long. So I moved into the side cutters just pinching and nipping but that isnt conducive to finishing a full shirt or even a few coifs.

Do you recommend other pliers other than a pair of needle nose and a set of ring pliers? (The ones that are slightly curved not sure the proper name for them.)

BJ

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it's (obviously) entirely up to you, but personally i've given up on the idea that if i'm not making my own rings, i'm not a true mailler.  (the fact that i'm usually doing titanium is probably another factor.)  i don't mine or smelt the ore, i don't mix the alloy or draw the wire; so if someone else has the knowledge, tools, and processes to make the rings much more efficiently than me, i'm willing to pay for it.  just my 2 cents.

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Thats true.

I mean as stated before still new annnnd a bit hard headed around the edges. So I'll probably try to make a few rings just with stainless steel and aluminum (the cheap stuff)

But anything like titanium and silver gold that sort of thing will definitely be left up to the professionals.

How does titanium move for you? Easier than steel?

BJ

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I use aviation snips for cutting any ring made with 18 gauge wire, stainless & aluminum, and galvanized steel up to 14 gauge. Just make sure you keep them SHARP, especially for the stainless! Anodized aluminum, titanium, and precious metals I buy pre-cut.

For pliers, I like to use parallel pliers. They grab more of the ring for better control. You can get them in flat nose ( smooth jaw & rigded jaw). & needle nose.

 

Hope this helps. 😎

 

 

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3 hours ago, TitaniumMithril said:

"move" in what way?  when you're wearing armor or jewelry, it feels almost like aluminum.  weaving is like spring steel.

Yeah I was thinking just in terms of actually closing and opening them.

Thanks for the ideas about the different types of snips and pliers too! I'll definitely check those out.

BJ

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I'm a fan of the knipex cobolts mini bolt cutters. They are an investment that pays off after your first shirt or so. 

With pliers it's worth checking what other chainmailers are using. Many of us make small modifications such as wrapping the handles or grinding and filing down the jaws for personal preference or a specific need. 

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Pliers -- just about anything other than needlenoses for most purposes.  That said, I have found a specialist auxiliary use for them in making riveted links:  shrinking-overlapping, and quickie diameter gauge after the overlapping, as the business end of the pliers is a narrow cone. (Hand cutting a coil can be a bit imprecise.  This affects the finished diameter.) But not generally for weaving, as they give the wrong grip and you slip off the link, often as not pinching yourself in the process.

For weaving butted links, use pliers with wide jaws -- flat nose beaders' pliers for soft wire, plain ordinary slipjoint pliers for steel armor pieces, or the fancy parallel jaws mentioned by Kittensoft.  Riveted links, once prepped, don't need pliers; they snap together like key-rings with your fingers -- and then what you need is a tool to scrunch, or upset, the tiny rivet.

For armor mail you can resort to fast, crude cutting methods.  Your material, steel wire, is cheap and strong.  In the Middle Ages before there were bolts and boltcutters, they seem to have used cold-chisels or something like that.  Every size of boltcutter, from 8" mini bolties to quite large ones, gives the identical pinch cut that looks like >< and cuts can be made at rates of like 40 and 50 per minute with the right arrangement to have the cut links fall into a bucket underneath, with the cutter suspended jaws down.  Most boltcutters do not fit inside most coils of wire to cut links -- steel Cheerios -- but they don't have to; angle the coil so the ends of the boltie's jaws bear.

Or sit and watch television and cut links in your lap -- it's slower, but you get there.  This is a good method with small, 12"-14" size bolties.  Lay one boltie handle in the crease of your thigh, work the other handle with one hand, feed the coil, angled, into the jaws with the other.  Sweep the pile of links you get into a coffee can or something.  Because leverage is so much in your favor with this tool, it's very easy on your hands.

Timesaver with butted links:  stretch out half of your coils to a little over twice their original length.  This opens nearly every link in that coil to where you can weave them in easily.  This pre-opening opens up a hundred or more links in about two seconds.  Though you still need to pre-close the other half of your links, with pliers.  Hook preclosed links into preopened links and you are weaving your E4-1  mail on two rows at a time, which at least feels rather faster.

Cut these stretched-out coils with your boltcutter just as you would the plain unstretched coil.  Happily enough, this cutting gets done with a different part of the jaw edge, so you're rather spreading out the wear farther in from the tips of the jaws.

That timesaver doesn't apply to riveted mail -- though buying steel "spacer rings" through a washer manufacturer does cut your riveted mail weaving time in half, so it only takes twice as long as butted weaving rather than four times.  You  use the spacers like preclosed links, hooking them into an opened link which you will rivet closed to finish up.

Edited by Konstantin the Red
Forgot something!

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I've consigned myself to the fact that I am going to have to wait for either my birthday to roll around or the holidays in order to get myself one of those fancy shmancy ringonators.

I have been going the route of using end clippers to score the rings then pinching them in order to get flatter end. Nothing as cool as saw finished rings but good enough for the piece I'm working on at the moment. 

As far as pulling the coils apart that is something I will have to fiddle around with. It's a great idea and I can see how that'll help in the long run as far as cutting off time in opening the rings.

Thank you for all the feedback this has been very illuminating.

BJ

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Give the stretched out coils just enough stretch that you can conveniently weave the links that you cut into your mail.  Too great a stretch-out makes your links saddle-shaped on closure, which isn't wanted.  We also call those "pringled rings."  A little bit more than twice as long seems the ticket.  I usually grab either end of the coil with my pliers, so as to open a few more rings in the coil than I would pulling with my hands.

End nippers (particularly big ones) are often the easy-to-find tool of choice for this wirecutting.  They give practically the same pinch cut as boltcutters.  For 8" and 14" boltcutters with their compound leverage cutting wire is child's play, and that is easy on your hands.  8" mini bolt cutters cost about like a pair of pliers, 14" small bolt cutters rather more.  If yours, like mine, were assembled using nuts, you may need to tighten the nuts some to stop them loosening up on you; clearly boltcutter makers don't anticipate a couple thousand cut strokes in a single day's use, so the nuts might be a bit too loose.  Too tight doesn't work either, since then the things are sticky to work.  I've only had to tighten the nuts down once all the time I had them.

Edited by Konstantin the Red

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Yeah the sweet spot is a tricksy thing to find with bolt cutters. Haven't used them for cutting jump rings but I'll gladly trade for something that doesn't mutilate my hands (any more they're pretty much trashed at this point anyways).

I've been making coils that are decently long, where do you find the length to be good for pulling the coils apart easiest?

Currently working on a cutting rig but until I get all the parts in place I'm gonna head to the depot and grab a set of cutters.

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Any length of coil will stretch equally well; my coil lengths are only regulated by the length of the steel rods I use for mandrels, rods straight from the hardware store, chucked in my power drill.  I use a hands-free feeding device that is an eyescrew in a short piece of wood, sunk well into the wood so the wire has  to bend slightly upwards from the eye to coil tight and steady around the mandrel. Angle the mandrel to encourage the  wire to coil "downhill" neatly and not ball up as it will if the mandrel is perpendicular to the direction of the wire feed -- just swing your power drill about ten inches to your right, and the coil handily builds, or grows, toward you as you back away from the feeding block, which should be affixed to something solid. Hardware steel rods run three feet to four feet long, so that's about how long the coil gets for me.  Four-foot rods save a bit of time over three-footers because you don't have to stop as often to clear the coil off.  (Longest rod I ever heard of was a six-footer -- wow.)

Coiling your wire builds appreciable spring tension and the wire is very tight to the rod.  When the rod is full, flip the drill into Reverse and reverse-turn about half a dozen turns to let this tension off.  You can see the coil relax on the rod when the tension is off -- coil slides right off then.

There are various ways to anchor your wire end on your mandrel besides drilling a hole and weakening the whole thing -- too exciting if that gives way when the drill is turning.  In a power drill you can bend the wire end in a little L and stick the end in the drill chuck's jaws -- for all mandrel diameters except the biggest one your drill can take; by then there isn't room for the wire.

My favorite method I call "notch and washer" and it's independent of the drill chuck.  I cut two or three angled notches into the rod up near one end of it, slanted like so:  / / / all around it, using a hacksaw or a triangular file. The notches aren't deep -- their secret is their middles are cut in deeper than their ends.  I find a washer big enough to go on the end of the rod in a very loose fit.  Put the washer on the  mandrel and put these into your drill's chuck, washer up by the chuck.  Bend your wire end up some, and lay the end in one of the notches -- you only use one at a time, the extra two are there so you don't need to go hunting for a notch.  Jam the loosefitting washer down on the wire end in the notch.  And coil.  With the coil finished and relaxed, push the washer off the wire end and take the coil off.  No fuss, nor even any wasted wire. 

You may be tempted to feed wire onto a turning mandrel with a gloved hand.  I don't like this.  It wears out *one* glove of a pair and you can get snagged, which is bad with rotating power tools.  Hands-free feed is much the best.  Sometimes I call this the Golden Rule Of Painless Powerwinding -- the GROPP.  It is Never touch wire while the drill is turning.

Edited by Konstantin the Red
clarify a phrase

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Already broke your golden rule many times over.

My set up is the generic two blocks of wood perpendicular to the one they're screwed to which can be annoying sometimes when working with softer than 16 g picture hanging wire which i my go to source of ring material. I have also drilled a hole annnnnd I don't wear b mittens. (I'll sensor myself but you get the gist.) 

As with anything it's  a frankenstein of a machine and will definitely grow over time. The next thing I have to add to it is a feed mechanism so it doesnt try to ball up on me cause nothings greater than finding yourself cursing out an inanimate  piece of machinery that is just trying it's level best to do what you want.

BJ

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Yeah I don't think the term "cludge" is allowed to be used for something that pretty...

That looks awesome

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The sled now has a foam arm that trips the light switch, to act as an auto-stop. The light dimmer acts as both a speed control and a panic stop.

The curtain, and a tarp to the left, help to keep the sawdust and other loose crap from making a mess of the rest of my basement ;)

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Every heard something that made you just drool?

Cause I just did....

BJ

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On 06/24/2020 at 3:20 AM, bjorn said:

My set up is the generic two blocks of wood perpendicular to the one they're screwed to

Often called the "windlass" if it's hand cranked.  No particular word if it's powered by a drill.

I've a few hand cranked mandrels, usually used vertically positioned between my knees, with me seated, the end of the mandrel corraled between my feet.  Never used the windlass.  I'd feed the wire to the mandrel through a bit of scrap lumber with a hole drilled in it across its middle, like some kind of toggle, for a feeding tool.  The wire would pass between my fingers.  It's nice to make a little short coil of wire first, and slip that over the crank  handle to make a handle that turns.

That feedblock bit of wood saves a lot of worn fingers, and is a good tool for correcting a sloppily wound coil; you can just shove the wire to where you want it.  But I wouldn't use a feed block of this type with power coiling -- that way I never end up wrapped up in my work no matter how dumb I get. 8)

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That is one thing I need to add the feed mechanism because I'm tired of forgetting where the end of the wire is and it slipping through my fingers and OW....

Tried gloves but like you said I got wrapped up in my work a couple times.

So feed mechanism first. Then the sliding feed mechanism. Then the robot to make me rings with out me.

BJ

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1 hour ago, bjorn said:

That is one thing I need to add the feed mechanism because I'm tired of forgetting where the end of the wire is and it slipping through my fingers and OW....

Tried gloves but like you said I got wrapped up in my work a couple times.

So feed mechanism first. Then the sliding feed mechanism. Then the robot to make me rings with out me.

BJ

I started with a hand-cranked windlass, hand fed, and would never consider using it for anything less malleable than aluminum, copper, brass, or bronze. Therein lies danger.

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Have to get my cutting rig up to snuff before I head into creating coils of softer metals. My dremel melts them and snips just mush the ends terribly. But I've ordered the parts for an arbor and drill set up so either you'll read about  a terrible accident in a basement or I'll soon have the capability for softer metal cutting. 

Never precious metals tho I'd cry too much if I messed the cuts up.

BJ

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