The book I have on Chain Mail (Maille?) lists various aspect ratios for various weaves. I can't find perfect wire gauge and I.D. combinations in pre-made jump rings online, or in the store to make the ideal weave as listed. I have several questions and thoughts about making the jump rings:
1. In copper - can you simply buy copper wire at the hardware store and make rings out of them? Or is it too soft? 2. Are the aspect ratios really THAT specific? Or to ask another way, how much can you fudge and still get a great result? 3. Do any of you use a Dremel to saw your rings? If so, what is your procedure? 4. When you use flush cutters, do YOU get smooth edges by reversing the cutters and trimming the next edge? What are the best flush cutters to use?
Enough for now. If you have info, please share it with me and the rest of the forum! Your input might really help someone! DE-LURK! <grin>
Well, Thom, I was at your stage a few years ago and had many of the same questions. Through experience I have found the AR is simply a guide and doesn't have to be followed exactly. I couldn't afford to buy already cut JRs so I had my husband make a system for me. I work in sterling so waste was a concern as to cost. In the old forum I had a free tutorial on how to build this system, however the tutorial was lost to the nether world when that folded.
I have been using the system for four years and it is probably the one thing that has allowed me to afford to make chain maille jewelry.
I have only used copper once, which I bought from a jewelry supplier. You can use the hardware store copper but it won't be as pure as that from a jewelry store. It will certainly be good for practicing with. Any metal hardens as you work it. Making coils hardens it a bit. Bending/aligning the rings harden it some more. Polishing it in a tumbler hardens it even more. So yes, try the copper.
Cutting the rings I originally used a jewelers saw. You can insert a wood dowel into the coil to give support to the rings as you cut them. The flush cutting pliers never gave me a clean, smooth cut.
I don't do chain maile, so don't use the volume of jump rings that maillers do, but have managed to make very nice rings on a small scale when I need rings.
I just wind the wire around stuff I have around the house - nails of different sizes, pens, the handle of my exacto knife, etc. I then cut them with my cutters doing what Thom asked about and then file both ends to make them smooth. The end result are rings that have seams that are very hard to find, but it takes a lot of time and patience to do it this way. I doubt that anyone who needed a lot of rings would want to go this route.
Thom's trying to follow the designs and use the recommended aspect ratio so it cold take forever to find the correct item around the house to use for a mandrel. I made (my husband made) all my mandrels but recently found this listing. www.micromark.com/coil-mandrel-set-package-of-8,9559.html Just remember that when you wind coils on a specific sized mandrel, they will always spring open a bit when you take them off the mandrel. After cutting, the rings will be slightly smaller (the width of the cut) so approximations for the AR are OK.
I buy most of my rings pre-cut, since it saves a load of time - I've just had to do a custom set for a client who wanted a bracelet of a specific width, though, and I remembered about 10 minutes into it why I don't mind paying the extra for pre-cut rings! I can't ever manage to get clean, smooth edges with flush cutters, so I use a small hand saw. It takes a long time (and the wire I was using was thick, so was a pain to wind and then to cut neatly, especially since I'm out of practice!)
As for aspect ratios, you can fudge some of them - depends on the weave. Some weaves (Jens Pind Linkage, for example) are much, much easier if you use the right size rings. Other weaves (like the European weaves, especially Euro 4 in 1) are much more forgiving and you can use a wide range of aspect ratios there - depends on how tight or loose you want the end result to be. The tutorials at cgmaille.com/tutorials.shtml might be a good place to start - in each of those, the tutorial talks about the ARs you can use.