About The Work Room

The Work Room is the Creative Journal of Wendy Sue where she shares her creative journey in all things handmade. The Work Room also offers an alternative to your typical jewelry making workshops. Scroll down to the end of the page to see how you can learn to make your unique piece of artisan jewelry online.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Making jump rings


Work Room chat:
I guest wrote an article for Beads Talk where I actually talk more about myself rather than jewellery making as I always do here. If you want to know about my story, check them out here. Thanks, Steve for the opportunity!

Also, I recently joined the Handmade Jewelry Club. Founded by Jane Chew, it’s an online community for handmade jewellery lovers. If you make jewellery, you can sell your creations there or even share tips and knowledge. If you love wearing jewellery, you can buy artisan jewellery there as well. Cool or what?

There’s also a short introductory article about me too if you’re interested. :P Thanks, Jane for the write up!


Making jump rings is actually a simple two step process which involves 1)coiling of wires and 2) cutting the coiled of wires into individual jump rings.

Now, let us look at the first step.

Here, you need to get a long rod with the same diameter size throughout. This means the rod has to be of equal thickness to create a same size jump rings from that coil of wires.

Another thing to note is the tension while coiling the wires. You need to try as far as possible to maintain an equal tension while coiling the wires. Otherwise, you’ll end up with uneven size jump rings! Uneven not in the sense that they are out of shape or something but you’ll find some discrepancies in the sizes of the jump rings even though they came from the same coil of wires.

I’ve talked about tension before in beadstitching / beadweaving context. In wirework, it is also about the same thing; the strength you use while pulling the wires to do the coiling. Pulling it harder will create a tighter coil and smaller size jump rings. Pulling it loosely will create a looser coil and larger size jump rings.

Of course when you are talking about jump rings coiled from the same rod, technically, they should be of the same size, right?

Well, you’re right. Technically, that is.

Well, say at the beginning of the rod, when you hand is still ‘fresh’, you might have the strength to pull harder to make a tighter coil but as you are coiling along, your hand might have gotten tired and you are subconsciously pulling with lesser strength. But in your eyes, you are still coiling them around the same rod and would therefore expect it to be of the same size.

It will not be obvious from the coil, when the jump rings are still coiled together. But as you cut the jump ring out you’ll notice the discrepancy. The difference will not be so shocking great but enough for you to realize that they are not of the exact size.

So, how?

How to create even coils of wires with equal strength?

Well, that’s how(I’m guessing) LeRoy Goertz came up with the Coiling Gizmo.


That is the economic version which they call it the Eco Winder, selling for $15 from their website. Although it is stated there that that price includes shipping, but I believe it is limited to the States only lah. International buyers can’t possibly be paying only that price to get it shipped to your house.

They’ve also got a Professional Deluxe winder.

Just the name itself is so‘professional’ and ‘deluxe’ already, no doubt the price will be just the same. Selling at $199.95!! @_@

Gosh! The price gap between the two models. But then the setup of the two also very far apart la.

Well, basically, the name of the product is descriptive enough of what it does. A gizmo that helps you to coil wires in a more efficient manner. And then you could either coil the coil of wires to make coiled beads or cut each individual coil out to make jump rings.

We’re going to look at how the Eco Winder works since this is the model commonly used by crafters.

The Eco Winder is a very simple gizmo. It consists of two different sizes of mandrel for making the coils and a bracket frame for you to ‘wind’ the coil.

The Eco Winder works in a similar fashion to the bobbin winder of a sewing machine. If you have used a sewing machine before, you know how we spin the thread for the bobbin case? That’s the small spool of thread underneath the sewing machine bed, for those who do not know what I’m talking about.

Well, the Eco Winder just like that. You wrap the wire around the mandrel for the first few rounds and the wind it on the bracket frame to form the coiling on the mandrel. Doesn’t that sounds like how we spin the bobbin case too?

Ok, I’ve never used or even seen the Eco Winder before. I just thought that was what it reminds me of when I read about how it works.

For details on how the Eco Winder works, visit Craft Critique who did a post on the Eco Winder here. (That is a very interesting site to visit by the way if you love doing crafts)

But I do not have a Eco Winder. This is how I do it.

This is a three step pliers from Bead Smith which I asked Sa Kor to get for me on my first year of making jewellery. According to the description, it is used for making consistent loop or jump rings and as a beginner at that time, that sounds enticing enough. :)

As you can see, there are three ‘step’ on the jaw, each step for making one size of jump rings. There are three steps, which means you can make three different sizes of jump rings. The smallest one being a 4mm, the next 5mm and the last 6mm.

So, what I do is to make the coiling on the ‘step’ depending on what size of jump rings I want.

The ‘step’ I use most often is the 4mm one. However, one thing I notice is that although it does let you make consistent loop (on the assumption that the tension used throughout was equal), I can’t say the same for the size. Somehow, the sizes aren’t exactly very accurate.

The size of the jump rings made from each step does appear to be slightly bigger when I compared it to those commercial jump rings that I used to buy. But since it doesn’t affect my design in any way, it’s not a major complain la. Don’t know if it’s due to the tool or me though….. o_O

But then and again, the three step plier is not indispensable to begin with. You can also make jump rings using a round nose plier!

Ok, you can’t be too sure of its size but if size is not a fundamental issue, this will work just fine.

This is what you do.

Make a mark on the jaw of your round nose plier. This mark will serve as a guide not only for the size that you to make but also consistent loop throughout.

You can actually use a marker pen to draw a line around the jaw. I’m using a strip of masking tape stick to the jaw as the guide because I don’t like to scribble on my tools. Just remember to immediately take them off after you’re done with them. Otherwise, you might risk dirtying the jaw with the sticky residue from the tape.

Cut off the excess. Well, just to get it out of the way la.

Position the end of the wire just below the mark. This will determine the size of the jump ring you will be making.

Make your first loop just below the mark. Below in the sense of towards the handle grip of the plier and not the other direction.

Since you will be coiling towards the handle grip, make sure the wire end for the first loop end below i.e. on the same side as the handle grip.

Move the first loop over the mark you just made and towards the tip of the jaw so that you make the space available for the second loop because you want them to be the same size.

Now, make the second loop and same thing again, wire ends below the loop.

p/s: Just in case you are wondering. Yes, I'm working directly off the spool of wire without cutting out any wires. Yeah, some might find that it gets in the way. If you prefer not to have any obstruction while working on it, feel free to cut off pieces of wire off the spool before coiling. You know why I'm working off the spool. ;)

Repeat for as many times as you like to make as many jump rings as you want. Just remember that one loop, one jump ring.

Frankly speaking, I think this method is only feasible for that odd one or two jump rings. I don’t think this is a practical method

The best is still to coil the wires around a one size rod or mandrel. We don’t know if we
ll ever get our hands on the coiling gizmo but even if we do, I doubt it will be price friendly and to be honest, I don’t think the coiling gizmo is an indispensable tool for coiling. It merely makes it more convenient to do the job and not exactly fundamental for the job itself.

I’m sure we just need some wires and a one size rod or mandrel and we’re good to go already.

The million one dollar question is, where to find a one size mandrel long enough for us to make a long coil? I say, look around you of course!

Pencil or maybe even pen?

Not practical.

Why? Sizes are not consistent and even the body is not necessarily a perfect round.

Erm, how about usb cable?

Well, the cable has a perfect round body.

But, nope either. How are you going to slide the coiling out?

I thought of crochet hooks but then neither are their body a perfect round.

And then…… I thought of something.



Guess what these are?

Knitting needles. :)

I’ll tell you why knitting needles are the perfect candidate for the job.

  • A perfect round mandrel.

  • Long enough.

  • And the best part?

  • They come in sizes!

    So you can be sure of the size of the jump rings you will be making! Cool or not?

I’m not very sure how much exactly does knitting needle costs. I know that the very good ones can run into hundreds for a set. But since we are not using them for knitting, there is no need to buy the good ones and neither is there a need to buy them in set.

You can get them in loose pairs and I reckon the cheap ones made from plastic is probably not going to cost you an arm and a leg? Those really good needles are made from premium material like bamboo and such. I’m sure knitting needles made from plastic can’t compare to that, right?

Anyone with any idea of how much do they cost?

The two I photographed above I borrowed from my Aunt Kwan and neither does she knows since they were bought tens of years ago. Yes, it is THAT long. Told you the family does not have the habit of throwing things away.

Oo-kay. Now that we’ve gotten around the coiling part. Next is the cutting part. Cutting out the individual jump rings.


The fastest way of cutting the long coil of rings to make individual jump rings is to use a jeweller saw.

I have never seen one nor know exactly how it is used but have only read about it. My guess is you are going to saw through the coils like how you saw through a piece of wood with an ordinary saw? *shrugs*

From what I’ve read, they have very fine and delicate blades. See that very fine, thread-like looking thingy at the bottom? Yeah, that’s the blade.

Anyway, the way I do it is to cut individual jump rings out from the coil one by one. It’s a bit tedious but it gets the job done.

Before I go into details on the cutting part, I cannot not mention about the flush cutter.

Remember my complain about it in a previous post?

Remember what I wrote about the way flush cutters cut? Where the flat side of the flush cutter cuts evenly while the ‘hollow’(which I later learned was called the bevel) side cuts off diagonally? And also because of this, how the jump rings closed with some kind of gap?

Go to the previous post to read about it if you have not. Scroll down to the end which is where I mentioned about it.

Well, guess what? That is EXACTLY how a flush cutter cuts!

Tsk, you know, when you are a self-taught artist, these are the little, little things that you hoped someone told you about which you would otherwise not know about.

That is part of the reason for The Work Room. It is only when I observe and write that I would gain insights into what I would otherwise have overlooked.

Err, heheh….digressed a little there already. Just a note on my learning journey la. :P

Okay, back to cutting. It is because of the way that flush cutter cuts that makes the cutting part a little tricky.

After you are done with the coiling. Cut with the flat side of the cutter facing the end of the coil and the bevel part facing the wire loose end.

The rationale here is this. The last coil end will be one end of a jump ring which you are about to cut off and you would want the get the ends cut off evenly so that you can make a nice closure of the jump ring, without gap.

If one end of the jump ring was cut off with the bevel side, that end would end up with a diagonal cut off end and you will no doubt be left with a gap after closing the jump ring due to one of the diagonal cut end. Erm, get what I mean?

Alright, now your coil of wire is ready to be ‘processed’ into jump rings.

We are going to start cutting from the last coil we make.

Now, turn your flush cutter the other way, with the flat side now facing what would be the other end of your first jump ring so that you get an evenly cut end.


Now, here’s your first jump ring. Both sides are of even cut which makes for a nice closure.

And this is how it looks like when closed.

Let’s continue with the second jump ring. Take a close look at the ends now. Notice how this last end is a diagonal cut end?

Well, logic what. Because you used the flat side to cut one of the ends of your first jump ring already. So, this last end will no doubt be the diagonal cut end.

We are going to get rid of this end because we want an even cut end.

With your cutter, flat side now facing the ‘new’ end for your second jump ring and the bevel side facing the unwanted bit.


You don’t need to cut a lot off. Just enough to get rid of the diagonal cut end will do.

Just like how you cut off your first jump ring, turn your cutter around and cut. You get your second jump ring.

You will be faced with one diagonal cut end again.

Repeat all the above until you have finish cutting off all the jump rings from the coil of wires.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the finer details on making your own jump rings, Work Room style. ;)

To learn more about the wires that I use – here and here.

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