I have been on a quest for an inexpensive and easy method for making jump rings. I like to make my own so I can choose whatever metal, gauge, and type of wire I need at any given time. Sometimes I cut jump rings with flush cutters, but I always find myself filing the ends. I like my unsoldered rings to look soldered to the untrained eye and for me, this means I have to saw them.
I made myself a jump ring cutting jig a few years ago. I like that it’s portable but I struggle to find a comfortable way to hold the jump rings in place while I saw. Sometimes my hand cramps and if I’m interrupted or my saw blade catches or breaks, it’s difficult to pick up sawing on the same line, since this method has you sawing from the inside of the coil. (If you have trouble using a jig like this, try turning it backwards so you can hold the coil snug with your thumb as you saw. See picture below. This worked well for me for awhile.)
I needed a better solution. I watched a ton of videos on cutting jump rings: I watched videos where people held their coils in miter vises, like this one. I haven’t had much luck with vises. My coil slips around and I am afraid of crushing the coil if I tighten the jaws of the vise too much.
I watched videos on using jump ring cutting pliers. Not a good solution for me. To cut jump rings with this method, you have to hold the pliers at an angle with one hand, and support them on a little rod that protrudes from the bottom while you saw with the other hand. I would have a hard time sawing like this.
I saw some wonderful YouTube videos including this one on how to make a jump ring cutter. by Pocket 83. I found it particularly inspiring because Mr. Pocket (or is it Mr, 83?) explains why he takes every step and does not assume knowledge. I was considering trying to make a variation of his cutter until I saw this video by Elizabeth Honeysett who demonstrates cutting the jump rings off a wooden dowel. That got my attention. I could do that! But not before I made some modifications.
First, I needed my cutting mechanism to remain stationary. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to use a wonky, wobbly tool. (sharing a bed with a fidgeter runs a close second.)
Elizabeth’s dowel-cutting method addressed my second requirement: I needed to be able to see what I was doing, which means cutting the rings from the outside.
Third, I needed an easy way to push the coils up to the saw in a manner that did not cramp my hands, and allowed me to concentrate on the sawing. I made a few different tools based on the dowel cutting method. I am sharing the best one with you.
The tool is simply a dowel with a large washer that enables you to push the coil up to the saw as you cut the rings. The washer gives you something larger to grip and you can easily compress the coils so the individual rings stay in place as you saw until you move them up the dowel to meet the saw blade at diagonal cutting point. The rings are easy to control and you can see what you are doing.
I secured my dowel in a vise when I first tried this method. Don’t. I found that the act of sawing made the dowel constantly change position. Aggravating! A shorter dowel didn’t help. I simply could not get the vise tight enough to keep the dowel in place for the whole sawing operation.
The solution was simple. I ditched the vise in favor of two household clamps that hold the dowel like a rock. Find a clamp or two that works for you.
The tool is a snap to make. Grab a wood dowel in the diameter you need, drill a hole one one end so you can secure the wire for winding, and cut a diagonal notch on the other end to guide your saw blade.
Wind your coil tightly around the dowel and trim off the end in the hole so you can move the coil on the dowel.
Position the washer behind the coils and begin to saw into the top of the coil on the diagonal using the notch as a guide. Use the washer to gently push the coil and keep it snug as each ring is cut through and falls off the dowel. Lubricating your saw blade really helps.
The modified dowel works pretty well. No more fighting to control my tools and materials.
While there are faster and more efficient ways to make jump rings. (Jump ringer, jump ring making tool) the modified dowel method is an easy, inexpensive option. Dowels and washers come in so many sizes that you won’t be limited. And now that you know an easy way to saw round jump rings, what about oval jump rings? They’re harder to make because oval coils like to twist and change position. But I think I’ve found a solution. Coming up in a later post.