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We like to call this chain -- Commercial Chain, because the first person to view this completed project made one comment when she viewed this. Her comment was simply "Did you make this chain? It looks like you bought it." That was exactly the comment we were striving for when we developed this project. We got the idea for this project while taking an order on the telephone from a customer who wanted to purchase some commercial chain made out of copper. This project is the result of that conversation.
Our step-by-step instructions for making this chain follow. These instructions are rather detailed, because that detail represents how we improved the chain as we developed the techniques for making the chain. This is an advanced beginner's jewelry making project.
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Making the Commercial Jewelry Wire Chain
Step 1: Using your nylon jaw pliers, straighten a segment of 20 gauge wire that is over 2 1/4 inches long. Soft wire will work, but half-hard wire would work better. To make a chain that is 18 inches long you will need 36 segments of wire (about 7 feet of wire total. You will also need and additional 10 inches of the same wire to make you clasp and catch.)
Step 2: Using your flush cutter cut the wire to a length of 2 1/4 inch.
Step 3: Using your Fine Step Jaw Pliers, make a partial loop in the sharp end of the wire. This is one of the few times where you make a loop with a gap in it and you use the sharp end of the wire. See the picture below-left. The reason you use the sharp end of the wire and only make a partial loop is that this loop is what we call a sacrificial loop and will be cut off the finished wire component.
Step 4: Select your jig and position five regular pegs in your jig as shown below-center. We used the WigJig Delphi or Centaur for this project because the smaller pegs and closer spaced holes made links in the chain which were smaller and more delicate. You can use the WigJig Olympus or Olympus Lite, but the resulting chain would end up being larger.
Step 5: Place the loop in the 2 1/4 segment of wire on peg 1 in the pattern, orientated as shown below-right.
Step 6: With the tip of your index finger on your dominant hand, push the wire up and against peg 3 as shown below-left. You can remove peg 3 to help, by pushing the wire beyond peg 3 and then letting it relax back into the position shown.
Step 7: Push the wire around peg 3 as shown below-center.
Step 8: Lift the wire so that it can pass between peg 2 and peg 4 and then push the wire until it rests against peg 5 as shown below-right. You can remove peg 5 as described with peg 3 in step 6.
Step 9: Push the wire around peg 5 as shown below-left.
Step 10: Push the wire between peg 4 and peg 2 as shown below-center.
Step 11: To help make your wire component as consistently as possible, use your chain nose or bent chain nose pliers to squeeze the wire as shown below-right. Squeeze both ends as shown. Your goal is that the wire should be straight and resting tightly against pegs 2 through 5.
Step 12: Now remove peg 1 and lift the initial loop until it is vertical. See the picture below-left. By performing this step before removing the wire from the jig, you are helping to make the link as consistently as possible.
Step 13: Remove the wire from the jig and the wire component should appear as shown below-center.
Step 14: Connect the wire component to the previous link in the chain. If this is the first link in your chain, you can connect the wire component to your clasp or catch. (We recommend that you make your own catch or clasp as described here.)
Step 15: After you have connected one end of your wire component to the prior link in the chain you are ready to wrap that link closed. First, grasp the wire component with your bent chain nose pliers as shown below-left.
Step 16: While holding the link firmly in your pliers, push the wire around 180 degrees as shown below center. At this point you do not need to push the wire down flat, we will cut the end of the wire off before we push the wire down to its final position. See the picture below-center. Please note that having the wire raised slightly will make it easier to cut in a later step.
Step 17: Now we are ready to wrap the second end of the link closed. First, grasp the wire with your chain nose pliers as shown below-right.
Step 18: Since we initially bent this end of the wire component up in Step 12, we only need to push the end of the wire about 90 degrees. Again, don't push the wire all the way flat. You want the wire raised slightly so that it will be easier to cut in Step 19.
Step 19: Using your flush cutter, cut the excess wire from both ends. Please note that if you cut the end of the wire and leave too much wire on your wire component, that the cut end of the wire will stick out and will feel sharp to the wearer. Cut the wire so that after bending the wire flat, the end of the wire does not extend beyond the edge of the overall wire component. This is a case where cutting a little shorter might be better.
Step 20: At this point we are ready to bend the cut ends of the wire down flat on both sides of your wire component. See the picture below-center for how the wire component should appear after the ends have been flattened. In order to push the cut end of the wire flat, first grasp that end of the link with your bent chain nose pliers as shown in Step 15 or 17 above, then with a second pair of chain nose pliers push and squeeze the end of the wire until it is flat. When done properly, the link should feel smooth with nothing sticking out.
Step 21: When you have completed your 36 links of chain and are ready to attach the final catch or clasp, you will need to modify the approach on the final link described in Step 16 above. Instead of wrapping that link closed, you will need to attach your catch or clasp before wrapping that last link closed. With the wire in the position shown for step 16 above connect the clasp or catch as shown below-right, then wrap the last link closed.
Step 21: You can view our completed Commercial Chain made out of 20 gauge copper wire at right. You can use this chain as is. You can add beads to the chain. You can add a gemstone pendant, or you can use 3 or 4 links of this chain, each of different links, to make an earring. If you decide to make an earring out of several links of this chain, connect a bead dangle to the bottom of each link of chain, with a relatively large bead (8mm or larger).
We hope you like this project. We love hearing, "It looks like it was made by a machine." It may seem funny, but we really try to make our jewelry project look like they were made by machines. That way we know we were consistent.
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