2 Ways to Make Wire Jump Rings for Jewelry Making

Jump rings are a necessity for jewelry making. Jump rings are used to hang pendants, join components and attach findings such as clasps and earring wires. Having a variety of jump rings on hand can mean the difference between finishing a jewelry project or waiting for supplies to be delivered.

Jewelry making tools used to make jump rings

No matter how many types, styles and sizes of jump rings I have on hand, there are always times I can't find the jump rings that I need.

So, the question is, do you buy more jump rings or should you learn how to make your own jump rings?

The kinds of jump rings you need varies for each jewelry maker and whether they make beadwork or wire jewelry. In general, you probably need jump rings made with different gauges of wire, different diameter rings and, of course, different metals (or colors). Jump rings also come in different shapes, although circular and oval are the most common. 

Assortment of packages of jump rings

Before I jump into the details of how to make jump rings, I should let you know that I have always been firmly in favor of buying quality jump rings. Even though jump rings don't typically stand out in your jewelry design, if they are poorly made, you risk losing the jewelry when the jump ring doesn't stay closed. In general, I have thought the pocket change that you spend for each jump ring is worth the investment.

Nothing has particularly changed my mind about the benefits of buying jump rings, but as I mentioned, there are too many times I just can't find the ones that I need. In those instances, if I can make good quality jump rings relatively easily, I think it is time well spent. Especially if it means the difference between completing a project or having to wait. For my skill level, I tried two ways to make jump rings.

The two options on how to make jump rings are:

  • making a wire coil and cutting the jump rings with wire cutters
  • making a wire coil, holding it with BeadSmith coil cutting pliers and cutting jump rings with a jewelry making saw

Starting from the beginning, the steps to making jump rings are:

  • decide on the wire gauge and type of wire to use
  • make a coil of wire on a mandrel with the diameter of the jump ring you want (inner diameter)
  • cut apart the jump rings
  • deburr, work harden and polish the jump rings as needed
You may already have lots of questions about the first two bullet points. What gauge wire should your use? What size coil should you make? I previously wrote a very comprehensive article about How to Choose and Use Jump Rings for The Spruce Crafts. I think it may help answer some questions.

For me, the most useful jump rings for making jewelry are made from 
  • 18 gauge wire = heavy jump rings
  • 20 gauge wire = normal or average weight jump rings
  • 22 gauge wire = light weight jump rings
I typically use jump rings with an inner diameter between 3-5 mm. Higher gauge wire is used for smaller size jump rings, otherwise they aren't strong enough.

I think the typical beginner method to cut jump rings is to use wire cutters, so I'll cover that first. 

tools to make jump rings with wire cutters

The materials and tools you need are:
(The links in the materials/tools section are affiliate links to Amazon. I may get a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase using one of these links)

For this jump ring project, I've almost made it a weird competition. I start with the same size and type wire coils, make jump rings using each method and then compare the results. I guess it helps me measure which one is easier, quicker, better, more effective, etc.

making a wire coil on 6 step mandrel pliers

The first step, make a coil of wire in the size and type of wire for your jump rings. I used the six step mandrel pliers and coil towards the handles so I don't run out of room.

4 wire coils for jewelry making

I started with about 6 inches of wire for each coil, one is 18 gauge copper, the other is 20 gauge jeweler's brass. The copper coil is wound on a 5mm mandrel and the brass wire is coiled on a 4mm mandrel.

cutting a wire coil to make jump rings

Cut the first edge of the wire leaving the flush cut on the coil side.

cutting a wire coil to make jump rings

Turn your wire cutters and line them up behind the first cut so you can cut a full jump ring. Try to hold everything so the jump rings or cut ends don't fly.

Repeat until you've cut the entire coil.

I couldn't get the video to embed, but here's a link to video clip: https://youtube.com/shorts/C_bxM099sUI

What you can't see in the video above is really the funny part of me turning the wire cutters like I'm a gun slinger from the west. They're flipping like crazy in between cuts.

brass jump rings made with wire cutter

Here are the 20 gauge brass rings that I cut in the video after I closed them. Most are round and close well. They could use a tumble or going over with steel wool or even a polishing pad or  buffer to clean up some burrs. 

brass jump ring close up view

Here's a close up of the cut edges. They're pretty nice.

Now for the other option to make jump rings by using a jeweler's saw and the BeadSmith jump ring tool - which was a total experiment for me. 

Actually both were an experiment, if I'm honest, but I haven't used my jewelry saw in a looong time, so this was really a stretch for me. 

tools to make jump rings with jump ring tool and saw

Here are the materials for the second round of making jump rings. 
*Same disclaimer that the links above are from Amazon and could result in change in my pocket at no cost to you.

Here's a quick over view of the jump ring tool.

jump ring tool with wire coil in jaws

It is built like pliers, so the jaws open and shut, but the jaws are used to hold the coil of wire for making the jump rings. 

It has a pin attached inside the jaws that keep the coil aligned with slits which is where the saw blade goes through to cut the coil. 

The pin protrudes out the back of the pliers and is used to prop up or rest the pliers while you are sawing. The slits are on both sides of the plier, but you are really only sawing down the rings on one side.

jump ring tool with wire coil in jaws

Here's the copper coil loaded and ready for the lubricated saw blade.  

using saw to cut jump rings from coil held by jump ring tool

Here, the saw blade is in position, but you can probably see if I don't angle the blade, I'm going to get a bunch of half circles instead of circles. So, the front of the saw blade is touching the coil and the back is angled higher to avoid cutting it.

coil with partially cut jump rings

Here's a quick video of me successfully cutting some of the brass jump rings:  https://youtube.com/shorts/lze9R6jin1g

A consistent problem that I had was the coil dragging forward in the jaws during the cutting process.  This messes up the rings and the coil and was frustrating. I think this is part of the learning curve and has improved based on how I angle my saw and the pliers, but I've killed quite a few coils.

If you watch the video above, it shows one of the ways I solved the coil crunching was by angling the jump ring tool away from me, so the sawing motion pulls the coil against the tool instead of out of it.

jump rings and debris from jump ring tool/saw

For example, here's the end results from the copper coil. A few good jump rings and a blob of coil remnant.
jump rings and debris from jump ring tool/saw

I tended to do better with a smaller diameter coil, so the brass gave me a few extra jump rings and less waste.

jump ring close up

The quality of the rings, when they turn out, is really pretty high. They join well and have some burrs, but they are easy to brush off.

jump ring comparison using wire cutter vs saw

I did say this was a quasi competition, so here are the results. The wire cutter rings are on the left, the saw and coil holder are on the right.

Making jump rings with quality wire cutters is so much easier, with less mess and with comparable quality, that I'm not sure I will ever use the BeadSmith jump ring tool again (other than to prove to myself I understand how to use it). I got 50% less copper rings using the saw method (and I know I cheated and cut one of them). 

Aside from getting my hands dirty with some tools I haven't used in ages, I did refresh some old skills and learn that I will make jump rings using my wire cutters in the future. Not always, but if I need something and can't find it in my stash and don't want to wait. 

I may also change my advice to beginner wire jewelry makers that they should try to make their own jump rings, instead of saying it's just not worth it.  But I will add the caveat to make sure the quality of their handmade jump rings is good since their jewelry depends on it.



2 comments:

  1. Very helpful, Lisa! I've often flipflopped back and forth between making my own and just buying some, as the ones I made were always just a bit - wonky. Now I think it may have been the snippers I used, never an even, clean cut with them, so - perhaps it's time for a Tronex...thanks for sharing your "experiment"!

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    1. The tronex are very good cutters. I think I am going to try making jump rings with my other cutters since I may have a less pricey pair that will work as well.

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