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How to Properly Close a Jump Ring
By Christine Cox

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Click photos for larger versions

Though jump rings may look closed when you buy them, close examination will show that they are actually open just a little. This is the "kerf" (the gap) caused by the passing of the blade used to saw the ring. This whole process is about closing the ring so that the cut is virtually invisible and the ring is still round and blemish free when you're finished.

Use 2 pairs of Flatnose Pliers, one in each hand. Holding the ring at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions (hold it hard enough to not drop it but not so hard that you dent it with the pliers) and then pull your right hand forward, pulling the right side of the ring open. Don't pull the ring halves straight out and away from each other. This changes the shape of the ring and you'll have a tough time getting it round again. Just pull your right hand forward toward your chest while holding your left hand still and rigid.

While you're pulling the right side of the ring forward also push it a tiny bit toward the left side of the ring (not hard, you don't want to misalign the ring halves) so that they overlap visually just a teeny tiny bit. If you don't do this step, you may still have a slight gap after you close the ring .

Open the ring just enough to clear whatever is going through it; another jump ring, a necklace, etc.). If you open it larger you'll have a high probability of changing the shape of the ring.

Move the right side of the ring back into position.

Here are some additional hints:

  • While moving back to line the 2 cut edges up you'll also want to move the right hand ever so slightly to the right (in fact, if you opened the ring correctly, you'll have to in order to get the edges to pass one another). Since you overlapped them a hair in the previous step, you'll need to pull it out just enough to clear the left side of the cut.
  • As the cut edges pass you might hear a tiny clicking noise. This tells you that you have the spring tension you need for the ring to be closed securely.
  • A perfectly closed ring not only looks closed visually but you also shouldn't be able to feel the cut at all as you rub your fingers over it. This is especially important in chainmaille work. Improperly closed rings will make maille feel sharp and prickly.

More thoughts about jump rings

What size rings to use for a project?
It's all about what they call the "aspect ratio" between the gauge of wire used and the size of the ring. The larger the ring, the heavier gauge wire you'll need to keep the same amount of strength. It's fine to use a light gauge wire when making small rings (I use 21 gauge for my smallest diameter rings), but if you're using a large ring a light gauge of wire would just droop under the weight of a pendant.

In chainmaille the aspect ratio of the rings is crucial. There are charts on the Internet explaining how to figure out what size you need. It's a little bit difficult to understand so I tend to use the recommended sizes given in a pattern or by an instructor.

If you are using a jump ring as a bail on a necklace you want it to be sturdy so that it stays closed, but you might want it small so that it's unobtrusive. In this case you'd use a small diameter ring made from a heavy gauge of wire, say a 4mm or 5mm ring made from 18 gauge wire.

Conversely, if you are making a bracelet from big loopy forms that will be soldered closed, you'd want to use a relatively light gauge wire (heavy enough to hold its shape but light enough to have an airy feel). This might be a 10, 12 or 14 gauge wire that has been work hardened for strength.

They may look closed when you buy them but jump rings have a slight gap

Overlap the cut edges the tiniest little bit in order to give them some spring tension when the ring is closed again.

Enlarge this photo to see a gap that should be closed better

A perfectly closed ring will have a virtually invisible and smooth cut