So, you’re really excited about making chain mail, but perhaps you’re not too keen on using jump rings to do it.
Maybe you have always marched to the beat of a different drum. Perhaps the cost of jump rings just isn’t feasible right now.
Maybe you’re looking for something that won’t be quite as heavy or are looking for something with more strength.
Whatever your reason is, one thing’s for sure. You need an alternative to jump rings.
What can I use besides jump rings to make chain mail? In place of jump rings, split rings are often used to create chain mail items like a full armor suit or jewelry. Soda can tabs can be used to make costumes, decorations, and jewelry. Rubber rings can be used in place of solid rings in many jewelry applications.
Knowing that you have several options when it comes to substituting jump rings may inspire you to think outside the box and test your weaving skills and creativity.
After all, isn’t that what drew you to chain mail in the first place?
- Using Split Rings for Chain Mail
- Using Soda Can Tabs for Chain Mail
- Using Rubber Rings for Chain Mail
Using Split Rings for Chain Mail
Many people new to chain mail assume that jump rings and split rings are the same thing. They are, however, completely different.
Jump rings are small bands, typically metal, used in a wide variety of jewelry and chain mail applications.
They can be purchased in many different diameters and gauges for use with a variety of crafts.
Usually, they’re formed into an open circle with the two ends meeting. Although other shapes, such as ovals, hearts, and diamonds, can be found, circles are by far the most common.
The opening of the jump ring allows you to connect other rings through the gap. Once all connections are complete, the ring can easily be closed using chain nose pliers.
Split rings, on the other hand, are compressed metal spirals. When you thread a new key onto your key ring, you are likely using a split ring.
Because of the thickness of split rings and how tightly they’re wound, they are noted for their strength when used in certain chain mail projects.
The tight coils are ideal for holding keys securely, attaching tags to your dog’s collar, and connecting lures to fishing tackle.
To attach an object or another split ring, one end of the coil must be pried open and the item guided through the double loop all the way until it passes over the other end of the spiral.
At this point, the item is fully secured by the split ring and is very unlikely to work its way free.
For this reason, split rings are often used when constructing certain chain mail pieces, such as a hauberk (a knee-length shirt) or a piece of jewelry that contains heavy gemstones or other adornments.
Best Chain Mail Applications for Split Rings
If you have the time, patience, and interest, you can construct an entire suit of mail armor using only split rings.
The finished piece will be strong and durable, capable of standing up to a fair amount of abuse.
Most weavers today, however, prefer to make jewelry items.
Keep in mind that split rings are bulkier than jump rings and may not work with every chain mail weave, especially the dense patterns.
However, simple, loose weaves, like the European 4-in-1, would definitely work.
Another thing to consider when using split rings for jewelry is weight. Due to their size, split rings are naturally heavier than jump rings.
Some pieces of jewelry, like earrings, might be very uncomfortable to wear when constructed solely of split rings.
Also know that the smaller the rings are, the more strength is compromised and the more rings will be needed to complete the project.
Thus, you’ll be looking at an increased work time while sacrificing the key advantages. However, the weakness of smaller rings could be beneficial in certain instances.
If, for example, a necklace becomes caught on an object, choking and/or injury could result if the necklace doesn’t break under pressure.
You’ll need to decide for yourself what qualities you most desire in your finished jewelry.
That being said, split rings are ideal for making jewelry with basic, loose weaves, provided the rings aren’t too small.
Split rings are also perfect for attaching heavy, decorative elements to jewelry, such as gemstones, pendants, and stone beads.
If you’d like to give split rings a try, I found finished iron split rings by Lanbeide on Amazon.
This pack comes with 900 silver rings, though gold is also available, in sizes ranging from 4 to 10 millimeters in diameter.
- Strength, durability, and security.
- Can be used to make many weaves.
- Great for securing heavy adornments in jewelry.
- Multiple units can be made before joining them together to save time.
- Will rarely need repairs.
- Time involved is greatly increased.
- May detract from the overall design of jewelry.
- Jewelry items made almost exclusively of split rings won’t break away to prevent injury if snagging occurs.
- Exposed ends may irritate skin, snag clothing or hair, and be uncomfortable to wear.
Using Soda Can Tabs for Chain Mail
Believe it or not, those little tabs on the tops of soda cans and other canned beverages you use to pop open the drink can be used to make chain mail.
Once they’ve been properly prepared, you can use them just as you would jump rings.
There are plenty of easy tutorials that will show you exactly how to prepare and use the tabs.
The one by Craftsuprint is well illustrated and very straightforward, but the basics are as follows:
- Collect tabs.
- Bend the tiny tab that was attached to the can backwards until it lies flush.
- Using wire cutters, make one cut on the opposite end, right in the middle.
- Hold the end with the now-flush tab in a pair of pliers or a manual staple remover, and bend the tab slightly.
- Repeat for all tabs.
If you are remotely interested in using these tabs, start collecting them now, because you’ll need quite a few of them, even for small projects.
Enlist the help of your friends and family too.
Best Chain Mail Applications for Soda Can Tabs
A basic 4-in-1 weave is best for soda tab chain mail, so to some extent, your options are rather limited in terms of what you can make.
Some people like to make costumes for cosplay events, Renaissance fairs, or school plays because of the very low expense involved.
Other people use the soda tabs to make unique wall hangings or pretty mobiles. Some jewelry, such as necklaces or bracelets, can be made in this fashion as well.
Just be sure that the tiny tabs are all completely flush before constructing to avoid scratches.
- Costs little to nothing.
- Can be used to make shirts and other garments and some jewelry.
- Many tabs must be collected.
- Each tab must be prepared individually.
- Not very secure – tabs can slip off if the gap isn’t closed fully.
- Tabs often flip over, especially on the ends.
Using Rubber Rings for Chain Mail
You may not have ever considered using a material other than metal for making chain mail, but using rubber rings in certain chain mail creations can be advantageous.
They are super lightweight and provide a “give” that is not found in metal rings.
Rubber rings suitable for chain mail can be rather hard to find, but Fire Mountain Gems does carry them by the name of Oh! Rings.
They are available in many colors and a variety of sizes.
Best Chain Mail Applications for Rubber Rings
While rubber rings won’t be practical for many forms of chain mail, you can incorporate them into many jewelry creations such as necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.
They do, however, only come in a closed version, so take that into account when planning your design.
- Easy to work with.
- Wide variety of colors and sizes.
- Can’t be used in designs that call for strength.
- Only available in solid rings.
- Should only be used for jewelry and other decorative items.