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Tweezers and Tools - The Next Iteration
Article © MAIL User: ZiLi

As shown in my article: Tweezers and Tools - What Works for Me I already made my thoughts about optimizing my most basic mailling tools to be more comfortable when working with them (hose-thickening of grips, etc.).

When working with aluminium, copper or other soft metals and alloys these modified pliers proved to be very well designed for the purpose of mailling - my modifications worked just as expected. But when working with hardened steel rings I soon realized, that I had not enough power to work consistently and precisely with larger amounts of these without getting pain in wrists and elbows. But I like steel rings just because of their toughness. And so I looked around again, and found a couple of larger telephone pliers with around two inches more grip length [see first image; older tweezers left for reference], that usually are unused remains of these "el-cheapo" pliers sets you find at *-marts for little money - and collect over the years down at the bottom of the tool box or lie scattered around in the shop. These promised to be modifiable for my purpose, but to work with them comfortably their jaws simply had to be much shorter - and so came "tool time" again...

Image: zili-plier1.jpg

Armed with an angle grinder, the shortening worked out well - based on previous experiences I decided this time not to grind an ogival jaw form, but to trim the tips at roughly a 45 degree angle with a short counter grind at around the same angle to get a 90 degree angled tip (or maybe a little bit pointier), and after that thinning out the jaws a bit, but not too much, so they remain strong while not being clumsy at all. I used that angle because of the wrist problems mentioned above I got with straight tip flat pliers like combination pliers as well as the too small (for steel work) ogival pliers modified earlier.

And I used the asymmetric cut to get a strong grip on the rings while having the ability to hold them with the pliers' tip in tight places as well. With straight cut pliers you would have to work against the lever rule, or suffer an unnatural wrist angle when attempting to bring up enough power to bend rings especially when the weave gets tight - or alternatively have to acquire or build the angle tipped tools to be able to use them with straight wrists. It was clear, I would choose the healthier alternative when making my own specialized pliers.

The other modifications were straightforward, copies from previous experiences - adding of the extra long grip thickening hose pieces as I was already used to, and adding self-opener leaf springs (unfortunately to be found already fitted from factory on tinier pliers types but mostly not on larger and cheap ones). These were cut from thin spring steel sheet (that as usual lay around somewhere in the shop), sized and formed to have just enough spring power to re-open the pliers, but to give not the slightest amount of unnecessary resistance against closing it. That needed a bit probing around.

Image: zili-plier2.jpg
Image: zili-plier3.jpg
Image: zili-plier4.jpg

I worked through a couple thousands of steel rings during the last ten days or so, and my upcoming wrist problems vanished since using the new pliers (image shows a couple of, but not all of my bracelets made).

Image: zili-chainheap.jpg
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Besides: the slot plate at my table edge, I was prepared to (but originally not intended or expected to) add another slot with a lesser width fitting my steel rings finally got its second slot - exactly 1.40mm wide, because the 1.65mm slot sized for my aluminium rings somehow proved to be inadequate for the thinner steel rings.

Image: zili-slotplate.jpg

Enjoy :-)
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