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Closing Rings Seamlessly

Closing Rings Seamlessly
By Aislyn Bryan May 14, 2011 8486 Views No comments

The Apprentice Guide includes an expanded version of this tutorial on opening and closing rings seamlessly because it's a chainmaker's most essential skill.

To make chain, you'll need two pairs of pliers. Some people use two pairs of flatnose pliers, some use two pair of chainnose and still others prefer one pair of flatnose and one pair of chainnose pliers. Whatever your preference, make sure you use smooth jawed jewelers' pliers with precious metals to avoid mangling your rings. For more information on choosing pliers and preparing new pliers for use, download our Apprentice Guide.

The beauty and functionality of every handmade chain, from the simplest to the most ornate, depends absolutely on the chainmaker's ability to close the rings perfectly, with joins so neatly butted they disappear, so smoothly aligned that a fingertip can feel no edge.

To keep the rings round, twist them open; never pull them apart. Once pulled out of true, the ring will never lay perfectly round and flat again.

When closing a ring, your goal is to create tension in the metal to push the two ends of the ring against each other, ensuring the tightest possible join.

To do this, press slightly inward with your pliers as you twist the ring closed, passing the point at which the ends would meet, then pull them very gently apart, only as far as needed to bring the ends back together. You'll hear and feel the ends rub against each other as they slide into place.

The tension you create in the metal by pushing the ends past one another will keep them pressed tightly together when you've lined them up to meet evenly. If the ends do not line up perfectly the first time, simply repeat the procedure in smaller increments until they do.

You'll notice that the metal becomes stiffer as you work with it. This is called work hardening and is the result of rearranging the molecules in the metal by bending it.

Hardening the rings as you work them makes the finished jewelry stronger, so it's good to a point. If you work it too long, the metal will become brittle and the ring will eventually break in half. If this happens, the metal was severely overworked. Gently hardening the metal without destroying its resilience is the goal.

04
Opening Rings

With the cut ends of the ring in the 12 o'clock position, grasp the ring firmly on either side, at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. Pull one end of the ring toward you and push the other end away. Rings must always be twisted open like this. If they're pulled apart, they can't be made round again.
05
Closing Rings

Press slightly inward with your pliers as you twist the ring closed, passing the point at which the ends would meet, then pull them very gently apart, only as far as needed to bring the ends back together. You'll hear and feel the ends rub against each other as they slide into place.

 
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