July 6, 2018

Best Tools to Make Perfect Wire Rosary Loops

Jewelry making seems like a constant process of one step forwards, two steps back. Just when you think you've perfected a technique, it seems to make sense to step back and re-evaluate what you know - either because you read a new tip, there's a new tool, the wire you are working with is a different thickness, temper, etc.

Or is it just me?

I guess I have to leave that possibility open. I'm sure there are plenty of jewelry makers who learned to make a wire loop with their standard round nose pliers, checked the box and moved on.  That's most definitely NOT me.

My free tutorial this month at The Spruce Crafts is how to make a traditional five decade rosary.

Best Tools to Make Perfect Rosary Loops

One thing about making this type of rosary - if you weren't an expert at loops when you started, you sure as heck probably are when you're finished!  But, in this case, I think a new tool made all the difference.

Before I jump to the new tool - I'll start with the options.

There's the round nose pliers. Most people start with this for making loops and stay with it. It's one of the basic tools every wire jewelry maker needs.

Best Tools to Make Perfect Rosary Loops

Most of us learn to mark the plier with a Sharpie marker so we can make the loops a consistent size and live with it. For me, the Sharpie always wears off, the mark is still wider than the place I need to put my wire, and I hate to say it, but I have some OCD and I want my loops even and they're always a little off.

I have even purchased silicone 'O' rings from Fire Mountain Gems in different sizes to slide on my pliers and mark the spot for my loops. They are like silicone jump rings - and it works pretty well. Here's a picture where I used it to make a wire double heart ring, which I eventually decided was much easier to make with a wire jig.

Best Tools to Make Perfect Rosary Loops

Then, there's this great tool called the one step looper.  I spent some time comparing the one step looper to round nose pliers in a previous post, as well as identifying the best wire to use with the one step looper. I not only wanted to love this tool, I do love this tool - but not for everything.

Best Tools to Make Perfect Rosary Loops

I find the one step looper works great for some projects, but for a sterling silver rosary that needs a fine touch, I just don't trust it. It makes quick work and I would definitely use it with craft wire, but with sterling, I draw the line. Not sure why.

That brings me to what I thought were my favorite pliers.  The 3-step pliers, which I have in two variations, regular and large. The middle barrel of this one is perfect for ear wires. The larger ones are perfect for small hoops, making wire circles or drops for beading - they still are a must have, just not for rosary loops.

Best Tools to Make Perfect Rosary Loops

These are the regular size, and the smallest loop is too large for making rosary loops. I do have a smaller bail making plier, where each side of the jaw has one size mandrel but the thinner diameters are not very strong. I keep thinking it's going to bend - not a good feeling!

And now, we have made it to my latest new favorite looping tool.  Gosh - I should have realized it from the beginning that a six step plier had to be better than three - but I thought I was just pushing my luck.

Best Tools to Make Perfect Rosary Loops

This is this tool I've needed all along. Zoom into that photo.  Look at those nice even satisfying loops!

Best Tools to Make Perfect Rosary Loops

Ok - they're not all 100% perfect, but they are pretty darn close.

Just for fun, I made a video of me making my loops.  This is my first video, so be gentle, but I'd appreciate your feedback on it.  I made it to practice my video setup, so my words get a little jumbled sometimes. I made another better video, but I ran out of space just before I finished my loop and it stopped recording, so I'll share this one instead.  You will get a good idea of how my loops are made!


Actually, it's more than the tool. There's also the size of the wire. For me, it's crucial to figure out what size the wire has to be to give me just the right size loops and cut all of the wires in advance. I'm sure everyone has a different way of doing this - but just in case, I'll tell you how I do it.

Best Tools to Make Perfect Rosary Loops

First, I cut two pieces of wire that are long enough to make a link with open loops with the bead that I'm using.

Then I make a loop, add the bead, and make the second loop (using the new pliers I love so much).  If there's too much neck (the bead is sliding around between the loops), I trim a piece from the loop and re-work the loop until it's the way I want it.  I save the pieces I've trimmed.

Now, I trim that much wire from my second piece. And cut another piece of wire that same size.  I go back to the prior step and make a link. It should be perfect, but if I need to, I trim a bit or decide how much it's too short by.

I make the adjustment to the next piece of wire, and cut another piece to that size.

Again, I make the loops for the link. By now, it is pretty much always perfect, and I have another piece of wire in that size that I use as a template to cut all of the others I need. If I'm being especially detailed (anal), I will even add the picture of the project with the cut piece of wire to my journal, so if I want to use those beads again or something similar, I have a starting point.

And for future reference: for this rosary, the decade bead is 6mm long and the wire I used is 24 mm square 24g sterling, which works perfectly with the smallest size of the 6 step pliers.

Have fun making loops! And let me know what tool you like to use - because if I haven't tried it yet, you know I will!

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4 comments:

  1. Well done on the video! I agree about the one-step looper, too: good for some things but not for all. Mine tends to leave a sharp edge when it cuts the wire. I have thought about making a rosary (I'm not Catholic, so I'd have to do some research). Yours is very pretty.

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    1. That's the issue with the one-step looper. The sharp edge would never allow these loops to close as tightly or neatly as I like. Thank you! And I'm not Catholic either - but I love rosaries.

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  2. I use the six step pliers - a gift from a friend - and am very happy with them. Your idea of adjusting and then cutting equal pieces of wire is very good - I usually try to eyeball the length of the wire for the second loop and it doesn't always work :)

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    1. I should be good at guestimating the length of wire I need for things considering how long I've been making loops, but I'm still not. I also hate wasting wire, so it just works better for me to get it worked out in advance. Glad you like the 6 step pliers too. I wish I would have tried them sooner.

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