Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tutorial: Make Your Own Jewelry Chain in Five Easy Steps

I was bored last night and had some gunmetal toned wire laying around, so I decided to make myself some chain. After all, when you make jewelry, you can never have too much chain. I frequently run out, so it's useful for me to know at least one or two different methods of making my own.

Now, I don't have the tools or the know-how to make as fine a chain as comes from the store, but I still like my home made stuff. Since I used gunmetal toned wire, I will probably use this piece for a more rustic necklace. If you want a more refined look, you could use a different kind of wire, perhaps silver. I think copper would also look really nice with this design.

Here's what you need:

Needle nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Flush cutters
A ruler
Your color choice of wire  (20 gauge)

1) Use the ruler and flush cutters to cut many equal lengths of wire. How long you cut it will determine how big the links in your chain will be. I usually cut them about an inch long. It is especially important with this that you make sure the edges of your wire are not sharp, and that they are tucked in so they can't snag on anything. I accidentally cut my finger with a sharp wire during this project and made myself bleed! After that happened I double checked all my ends to make sure there was nothing sharp. So tuck the ends in nicely, and file the ends if necessary.

 You will need a lot of these links, especially if you want a longer chain. Pictured here is a finished link, and the length of wire you will need for one link.
I call these pieces figure eight links, and I also mentioned them in this blog post.  In that project I used them to link something else together, but this time they will form the entire chain.

2) Take the one inch of wire that you cut, and make a loop with the round nose pliers like this:

3) You should have a little tail left at the end of the loop. Use that tail to wrap another loop in the opposite direction. If you want your links to be smaller than mine, simply cut shorter links and use the tip of the round nose pliers to make the loops, instead of using the base as I did.
 4) After you have made many of these, connect them all together and clamp them shut with the pliers so there are no gaps.  Here is the finished chain:

5) When you are ready to turn your chain into a necklace, just attach a pendant at the middle, and add a clasp on the end. 

This is a very simple project, but very time consuming. There are many other ways to make chain out there, but I wanted to give you one that was simple enough that almost anyone could make it.

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