Introduction: Old-Fashioned Chain - Wire Work Tutorial

Picture of Old-Fashioned Chain - Wire Work Tutorial
This tutorial teaches step by step how to create "old-fashioned chain". This is one of the very first things I ever learned to make, many, many years ago, and remains one of my favorites. It is an excellent technique to utilize all those pesky little scraps staring at you from your workbench.

Materials suggested:
Wire 1/2 hard - square or round - 1 1/16 inch straight wire per link - 3 links per inch finished chain. Almost any gauge wire can be used, just keep in mind the larger the gauge, the harder the links are to form, and the higher chance of your fingers falling off
1 clasp of your choice

Tools needed:
  • Ruler
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Round nose pliers
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Flush wire cutters
  • Permanent marker (Sharpie)

Step 1: Step 1

Picture of Step 1

I keep several cigar boxes on my workbench to hold usable scrap wire. I try to sort it by gauge 18 - 20 - 21 (the bulk of what I use for chain). When there is enough scrap, I sit and cut it to length and start making chain. If you don’t have that much scrap handy or simply want a chain NOW, cut your wire pieces 1 1/16" long.

Step 2: Step 2

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Using a permanent marker, place a mark on your round nose roughly 5 - 7mm from the tip. I prefer smaller loops, but not too small.

Step 3: Step 3

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The key to this technique is in how you hold your pliers. At first this will seem a little awkward, but will get easier with time. You start each turn with your palm facing UP! If you start with your palm down, as you would normally work, by the time you finish the turn, you will look and feel like you are trying to get into an impossible yoga position.

Hold your pliers in your dominant hand, and the link you are working on, on the index finger of your non-dominant hand.

Step 4: Step 4

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Grab the wire with your pliers roughly 5/16” from the end of the wire, and hold it against your index finger. Don't forget - palm up.

Step 5: Step 5

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Turn your hand over - folding the wire – until the tip of the wire touches your finger, on the top-side of the wire.

Step 6: Step 6

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Turn the link around, so that the loop you just formed is at the top, and grab the free end of the wire again with your pliers, again 5/16" from the end of the wire. Don't forget: palm UP.

Step 7: Step 7

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Turn your hand over again - the same move as in step 5, this time stop when the tip of the wire touches your finger inside the first loop you formed.

Congratulations, you just completed your first link. Now you need to repeat steps 4 through 7 to form a fair amount of links (or your fingers fall off). Remember roughly 3 links form 1 inch of chain.

Step 8: Step 8

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The second essential technique to a good-looking chain, is that all the links need to face in the same direction. Open one link with the first loop facing UP (the same position in which you made it).

Step 9: Step 9

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Slip a closed link on the opened loop.

Step 10: Step 10

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Close the first link.

Step 11: Step 11

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Open the link you just added.

Step 12: Step 12

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Continue to repeat steps 8 through 11 until you've reached the desired length of chain.

Step 13: Step 13

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Add a clasp of your choice - either a standard one, or even a handmade one, and you're all set to show off that gorgeous handmade pendant you made, on a equally gorgeous handmade chain.

Step 14: TaDa :

Picture of TaDa :

This style of chain looks equally good in either round or square wire...

You can even add twisted wire links to your straight links to create your own version of a Figaro chain.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial.
You may use this design to make jewelry for sale ~ If you do, please link back to or My Wired
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at

© 2008 Bobbi Maw ~

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tiptoe made it! (author)2017-04-09

I need to work on forming my links, but it took me 20 minutes at max to cut my wire and complete the bracelet. Thank you for this tutorial.

BobbiWired (author)tiptoe2017-04-10

It takes just a bit of practice to get consistency in the links, but your first one looks great!

veronica2 (author)2013-05-16

what store do u usually buy ur wire? all the wire i have is to weak to be into a chain i want to find some place i can buy stronger wire

BobbiWired (author)veronica22013-06-04

Hi Veronica,
All my wire comes from - I have made this chain in just about every metal except aluminum and Artistic - those I would think would be too soft and flimsy for chain.

kttecatt (author)2012-02-24

How truly beautiful. I can't wait to give this a try. Thank you for the tutorial!!

Scarlettred41816 (author)2011-08-31

When will your tut blog open?? I am so dying here!

:)) My website and blog still need a lot of work, but my tutorials are available at :))

About This Instructable




Bio: What inspires me??? Hmmm…. Everything!!..... I'm not being cheeky, everything seems to inspire me - most days’ designs and ideas pop into my head, and ... More »
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