Why are my closures so bad?
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Joined: November 28, 2018
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Why are my closures so bad?
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Posted on Mon Dec 24, 2018 6:08 pm
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Hey guys. Some of you probably remember my thread about starting to make my own rings for "a shirt type thing" or whatever I called it a couple weeks ago... anyways, ive started making my own rings!! Yay! But! Now I've run into a new problem... my rings keep wanting to close like this
like, with the ends not lining up and not touching.
I COULD just ignore this and let the rings have bad rough closures like that, but the thing is that I'm trying to sell little patches of chainmail to make my startup costs back at least, and I'm marketing them as stim toys, so leaving them rough (and thus unpleasant to touch) is not really an option! I can fix each ring somewhat easily by putting the ring sideways between the pliers and just squeezing it into shape, but, like almost half my rings are doing this bad closure, so having to fix them is almost doubling the time it takes me to weave a piece vs how long that same piece takes me with the saw cut rings ive ordered from vendors.

Okay so basically, I wanna try to prevent the rings from doing this in the first place. I've had a little success just being more contientious about how I close the rings but... only a little. I'd mostly like to know why they're doing this! Is it something to do with how I'm cutting them that's bending them out of shape, or thats taking off a wrong amount of wire (ie having the ring overlap itself or not reach all the way around) or something?? (also ftr I'm just using some aviation snips from Home Depot. i can tell describe what the packaging says if it happens to be relevant) Is it something about how wide open the rings are to start with before I start opening/closing them with the pliers??? Does anyone have any ideas?

Joined: December 24, 2018
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Posted on Mon Dec 24, 2018 8:01 pm
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There could be a couple of options here. First, the snips themselves and your cutting technique might be deforming the rings. It looks like the left side of the ring you have in the photo is much straighter than it should be compared to the right side. What type of wire are you using? It's possible it's giving you some springback. How long are your coils? Are these rings endpieces or from the middle of your coils? When you cut a ring, do you leave more material than you need to (i.e. is the wire longer than it'd need to be to get a perfect circle)?

Secondly, your closure technique might be causing this. You mentioned you've worked with some saw-cut and haven't had this problem. When you close your rings here, do the ends 'snap' past each other? What do your best closures look like, saw-cut and machine-cut (or snipped, in this case)?

Don't settle for bad closures! Coif Smiley


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Posted on Mon Dec 24, 2018 8:08 pm
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That warping is due to the cutting of the rings from the coil. There have been a variety of solutions presented before for reducing the quantity of warping.

No one solution particularly fixes it completely, but there are a handful of reasonable solutions.
The method I go with is a "score and break" approach. Zili has a good old image and description Here.


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Posted on Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:42 am
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Is this one of your stainless steel links? Stiff and feisty material if so. Quarter inch and 14 gauge (SWG)/.080"? Even tougher, from a leverage standpoint.

Snipping links with snips does inherently have that distortion problem; you're shoving metal around to shear it. Ideally, your cut, raw links with nothing else done to them yet should form a perfect circle, so one cut end doesn't stick out from that circle -- the ends should be sitting neatly "next door" to each other before anything else happens. Giving the bad end a squeeze-down in the pliers before simply anything else happens should fix; try putting the link you're squeezing onto the very end of the link's mandrel so you'll have both a form and a stop so the bad end doesn't go too far in by accident. (Needlenose pliers, particularly middling large ones for their greater power, are suited for such squeezes, using the needle nose pointed straight down the length of the mandrel; that's why the link is at the very end of the mandrel rod. You can see what you're doing and put the squeeze exactly where you like it. Slipjoints will do, too.)

This closure is one I would try to fix levering at the offending end with the pliers on that side; you're using slipjoints with their broad jaw, right? You can fix these either before, or simultaneously during, closure by giving the plier on the bad side a crank upwards with the handle end, shoving the bad end down and in. Use some strength, rawr! Any pushing, levering, shoving that gets the job done will do ya.

[edit to add: this situation wouldn' t be any problem with riveted links. For that kind of armor-mail, Step One is to bang the ends fairly flat with a heavy hammer; Step Two is to give 'em a squeeze-down sort of like the one I described above, also around a mandrel but this time a mandrel 1/16" smaller diameter, to get those hammer-flattened ends to overlap for further flattening to tidy up, then pierce for riveting. A small comfort!]

So there's two fixes; may they be a gift to you this day! Merry Christmas.


'The Minstrel Boy to the War is gone...'

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Posted on Wed Dec 26, 2018 7:30 am
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I understand machine cut links use a cutter shaped rather like the end of a chisel, sort of |/ like. This cutter is fast, so it's efficient with an industrial ring-making process, and machine-cut links end up with a |/ shaped cut too.

This is machine-shop sort of equipment, and is an accessory to the coiling machine, which feeds wire in one side, uses rollers to bend that wire around a stub mandrel only an inch or so long and whatever diameter thick, and the wire coil feeds out perpendicular to the wire feed-in, if you're just making coils -- hollow, no mandrel filling them. The cutting tool makes its pass whenever the machine operator wants it, after one turn of the wire around the mandrel, or two turns, or many. That's how they mass produce springs; all the more so with a machine set to give the spring an auto cutoff.

And this is how the suppliers supply you with bags of links.

Occasional poster Knuut has a story about leaving his coiling machine (might have been better if the cutter was engaged too) running unsupervised over a phone call that took too long. He came back in to find his shop looked like a riot of pythons, with coils all over. Titanium ones. He eventually got that stuff sold off, and it took years, but he reckoned the situation just a *tad* overdone.


'The Minstrel Boy to the War is gone...'

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Posted on Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:01 pm
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Oh gosh, sorry it took me so long to reply to my own thread, I got all caught up in the holidays ^-^'
Anyways, I'm using 16 gauge galvanized steel! When I close the rings, I try to get the ends to snap past each other, then just tweak a lil so the ends line up perfectly. Just to make sure they're touching.
Also, I HAVE been fixing these rings using pliers to get them into place, but its just that, having to do that for almost every ring is making the weaving process so much longer and more tedious.
Not all of my homemade rings are doing this, sometimes I just get perfect closures on the first try. My cutting technique varies a tony bit between each ring, like different in how the cutters are titlted, precisely how close to the end of the previous ring i cut, and sometimes I snip with the very tips of the cutters, and sometimes they end up a little bit farther in. So obviously some of these details produce better rings than others, and I probably should've been more careful trying to see which cuts made which rings. But. Instead, I just dropped all 500 or so rings from my last coil into the same small container and then shook it to get them all to settle. So. I have no idea haha.

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Posted on Thu Dec 27, 2018 12:46 am
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You'll be an old pro after say 10,000 closures. Practice, practice, practice... Coif LoL



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Posted on Thu Dec 27, 2018 4:44 pm
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Obviously I need to practice, but since I'm not sure what I'm doing that's causing the Bad Thing, I don't know what/how I need to practice =( I don't wanna form bad cutting habits!!

And also, I just thought to mention a few more reasons, other than "it's hard and tedious =(" why I'm not really content to just deal with these bad closures by squashing them into the right shape with pliers:
1) sometimes squashing them like that also warps the ring further, so that its either not a circle, or so that it starts, like, folding into the 3rd dimention (like it doesnt lay flat on flat surfaces any more)
2) Once I close an open ring onto the weave, I can't get it into a position where I can squish it with the pliers. So those ones just stay bad, and they're particularly frustrating, cuz I always close them FIRST, to MAKE SURE they'll actually close well, and then somehow when I close them again to get them on the weave they're just Bad Again, and, as I said, there's not much I can do to fix them!

...So anyways in terms of "what should I be looking out for while cutting," is it safe to assume that the ones that I cut through easily will be better/have less distortion than ones I have to, like, put my entire weight on the cutters in order to cut through?

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Posted on Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:20 pm
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Sounds like you have a handful of different things happening.

1. The image in the first post shows a warp caused by cutting. Since you're using aviation snips, rings cut at the tip should have less distortion (but harder to cut) while rings cut closer to the center should have more distortion (but easier to cut, due to torque). Essentially, the width of the snip jaws are pushing the ring away while it's still attached to the coil. Snips get thinner towards the tip.

2. Closing technique -- opening and closing rings should be fairly repeatable. As others have said, practice makes perfect. Getting the right pliers also works wonders. My favorite pliers for using on 0.064" (16 swg) or thicker are essentially chain nose pliers (linesman without the "cutter" in the middle) with 80% of the "nose" cut off. Good grip, wide contact area.


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Posted on Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:16 am
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That you are sometimes having the closure cooperate the first try is a positive sign. There is progress hidden in there! (How to describe how to make that happen every time -- that's the hard part.)

All this is markedly less bother with bolties-type pinch cuts, the > < kind that really best suits mail shirts and other fighting stuff, not jewelry pieces. In those things, *none* of the links actually *have* to be perfectly, meticulously round; close is good enough.

Boltcutter cuts don't distort the links because the wire is popped apart by stretching the metal locally along the wire, which doesn't push any part of that link to the outside or anything. The bolties' jaws wedge the metal apart, stretching it. It's unlike the sideways, across-that-wire motion of shearing it with snips.

Are you having lots of trouble seeing what you're doing as you close the link when you've hooked it into the mailpatch? Trouble getting your plier jaws to bear on the consarn thing -- like you can only get the jaw corners on the link? This is one circumstance when pliers with skinnier jaws become useful -- sized to deal with a small link, that is. For that work, bent-nosed slipjoint pliers can be useful. These still have enough breadth to give leverage as you twist the link ends into alignment, but are only about half as wide across as 9" slipjoints. These guys have handles about 5"-6" long. Some also like the comfy angle you can keep your wrists at while you close links, owing to the bent nose.

Links that don't lie flat, having assumed a shallow saddle shape: also known as Pringle-rings. They're frustrating, though this imperfection is no biggie in a shirt of mail. Trying to pliers-bend them flat again can mess up an otherwise good closure. The force that makes a ring all pringly comes from moving your pliers in a motion like breaking a stick in your two hands. Don't make that motion; make a twisting motion like revving a motorbike a little bit, only -- I pretty much hold my lefthand pliers completely still, and do the little twist with my righthand pliers. You remember how the ring sits when it was just a single full turn in a coil? -- the bending and unbending of that ring should go along the length of the coil, and that's the only motion it should make. Somewhere on this site are a video or two showing this motorcycle-revving twist motion.

As for the distorted links you got mixed in with others less distorted -- well, if you want to use the things, you'll need to fix them with the "squeeze 'em on the mandrel" method I described. You have only a couple hundred or so of these at worst, so by mailling standards, it's not a whole lot of time to fix the rings. Once they're reshaped, you can just slide 'em out of the way down the mandrel, you don't have to pull each one off the mandrel end individually, but can wait until you've done a good batch and strip all of them off at once into your container. Beginning to end, it goes "place, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, eyeball, slide down mandrel," about as fast as it takes to say that aloud.

Once you've salvaged about a dozen of these and put them back in proper shape, you'll be doing it more effeciently and faster. And will have devised a technique so you don't have to keep doing this, yay! This is an inconvenience, but it is no worse than that.


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Posted on Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:00 pm
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I get this a lot with certain links, usually the sprung stuff. They tend to naturally overlap or "pop" like this one has. As others have said, you can do a lot to remedy this situation with one set of plyers manipulating the link. With overlap one set of needle nose one jaw inside and one jaw outside and a squeeze (in the right place) will gently open the link up. With popping, you'll want to get a nice big broadheaded plyer straddling the link on the outside with one jaw in line with that popped edge and applying increasingly more force gently, encourage it to come true.

This skill takes time to master and you WILL screw some links as you go (or fire them off to god only knows where). Also watch your fingers! I've caused myself some horrendous blood-blisters with this technique. I hope this helps, I can send some pictures if that would help (not of the blood blisters) Very Happy

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