Introduction: Craft a Chain Link Bracelet!
One day, I saw someone wearing a copper chain bracelet and thought I could make something similar, so this is the description of what I did. You will make a nice-looking copper chain bracelet from copper wire formed into chain links and soldered closed. If you were sufficiently endowed with time, you could also use this technique to make a complete copper chainmail suit. I may try to do so, if I think it is feasible (you know that's prime Instructables content!).
This is a fairly easy and safe project. You could use the finished bracelet for yourself, for a gift to somebody else, or just for showing off your handiwork. The bracelet could also be extended into a necklace.
This project will take a few hours at most and require only the most basic of tools, so you could easily make it an afternoon project. With that, let's begin!
Step 1: Straighten Wire
First off, you will need to strip your copper wire if it has insulation on it. A pair of steel rollers might be able to smush the insulation off if you are making a lot of stripped wire, but a pair of normal wire strippers will also work fine.
Once you have the bare copper wire, straighten it. Bent copper wire can be difficult to work with. To straighten the wire, I laid it on the floor and rolled it back and forth under a flat piece of wood. This works quite well. It does not have to be perfect, but it should be fairly straight, or else you will make crooked rings.
Step 2: Wind the Coil
Next, you will make the coil of rings by winding the straight copper wire around a dowel rod. I drilled a hole the same diameter of the wire in the dowel so that I could insert the wire end into the hole and have it stay in place while I wound it. This helps a lot!
Once you have the wire in the hole, begin to wind it. Make sure that your coils are nearly perpendicular to the cross-section of the dowel and that they are nice and tight. You can see what to do from the pictures above.
After the coil has been wound, use some side cutters to snip off the wire that is inside the hole in the dowl. Then, slide the coil off of the dowel. It should look like a coppery spring.
Step 3: Make the Ring Blanks
Using the same side cutters from Step 2, cut the coil all the way down one side. This will produce circular rings ready for crafting into a beautiful bracelet.
Once you have all your rings, divide them into two equal piles. One pile will be soldered closed immediately, while the other will remain open. These open links will connect two closed links and then be soldered shut. In this way you can join three links while only soldering one link shut. The reason for this is that soldering to links attached to the bracelet is annoying, so closing half the links while they are detached minimizes the number of connections that must be made to an attached link.
Step 4: Connect the Links
As said in Step 3, solder half of the links shut. It is best to use lead-free solder, as this bracelet will be constantly touching skin. If you have it, copper solder would make the whole rings look coppery, so that would be ideal.
After half your links are closed, take one open link and put two closed links on it. Then, solder the open link shut. Next, take another closed link and attach it to the chain with an open one. Then, solder the oepn chain link shut and repeat this process until the bracelet length fits around your wrist.
Add a few extra links so that you can slip the bracelet over your hand. If you have a clasp mechanism, you could skip the extra links and just connect the clasp to two closed links.
Once the bracelet is as long as you want it, solder it shut with an open link or use the clasp. If it doesn't fit, simply take some side cutters and snip two consecutive rings open. Remove one and re-solder the other one to the rest of the bracelet.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
If you want your bracelet to shine, roll the bracelet around on a sanding sponge. I also found that the Orange Goop hand cleaner helped to remove all the rosin from the solder and also cleaned the bracelet up a little bit.
After you have shined your bracelet, do one of four things:
* Wear it
* Give it to somebody as a gift
* Dazzle your friends with your mad metalworking skills
* Make something crazy out of copper links, like a chain mail suit!
The finished product is a nice and shiny copper bracelet that will make an attractive addition to any outfit. I hope you have enjoyed your afternoon project!
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