If you’ve had a bit of experience working with jump rings when making chain mail creations, then you know that while they’re relatively easy to work with, the opening, even when closed nicely, is a weak point.
When you use hundreds of open jump rings in your project, you are literally left with an item that theoretically has hundreds of weak spots.
Even the overall strength of small projects, like a necklace, is compromised by the rings’ gaps.
This problem leaves many makers of chain mail, especially those new to the hobby, wondering if perhaps there is a more secure option.
Can you make chain mail with only split rings? Certain chain mail items, such as a mail suit of armor or simple jewelry, can be constructed entirely out of split rings. Split rings are suitable for use with basic, loose weaves only, as they are thicker than jump rings and won’t fit in tight weaves well.
If you’re looking for a stronger ring to use for your chain mail, split rings might be the answer. They are versatile and secure but aren’t suitable for every project.
Knowing what they are best used for will help you decide if they’re right for your needs.
Making Chain Mail With Only Split Rings
Many chain mail items can be made using only split rings, provided that the weave used is fairly simple and loose.
Split rings hold together securely, so anything you choose to make with them will be quite durable.
You could construct an entire suit of mail armor or just one or two components of one using only split rings.
A fair amount of time would be required of course, but the finished result would be strong, quite unlikely to come apart, and would very rarely need repairs.
Because split rings are thicker than jump rings, you’ll find that they lend a different appearance to the item.
Also, due to their thickness, they will not work in dense and complex weaves.
Simple weaves like the European 4-in-1 are ideal for using split rings.
This basic, loose weave can be used to make pretty wall hangings, various decorations, and, perhaps most importantly, jewelry.
You can make entire necklaces, bracelets, rings, anklets, and earrings using only split rings woven in a simple weave.
Split rings are also great for attaching elements to jewelry made of standard jump rings (learn more in this article).
A Few Things to Note
Due to the split rings’ tightly compressed nature, more time and effort will be required to join rings together.
Because split rings have two exposed ends, garments constructed of them may be uncomfortable if worn directly against the skin.
This can easily be overcome, however, by simply wearing something under the mail to prevent direct contact.
Be aware that when split rings are used exclusively to make jewelry, the item won’t break apart should it become snagged, and the user may be injured.
Also know that split rings are usually more expensive than jump rings, and they are heavier as well, so factor in those considerations when deciding on whether or not to use split rings exclusively.
Where to Find Split Rings
I usually check with Amazon first when I’m looking for hobby supplies (and a lot of other items too), and sure enough, Amazon carries all kinds of split rings suitable for chain mail.
If you’re looking for an assortment of sizes, Lanbeide is excellent.
The compartmentalized tray is packed with 900 iron split rings in a shiny silver color in sizes ranging from 4 to 10 millimeters. Gold coloration is available if you prefer.
PandaHall Elite has a similar pack available in antique bronze, gunmetal, platinum, red copper, and silver.
Believe it or not, fishing tackle suppliers are also a great place to find split rings in assorted sizes and materials, as these rings are often used in assembling various tackle.
Tips for Using Split Rings
Some packs of split rings come with a circular ring-opening tool to help you pry open one end of the split rings easily. For some weavers, this tool works well.
Others recommend and use pliers designed specifically for this purpose.
Split ring pliers, like the one I use by Beadthoven, have one longer jaw used to brace the split ring and one shorter jaw with a hooked end used to pry the split ring apart.
They are quite easy to use and are easy on the hands.
However, many seasoned weavers prefer to use a regular butter knife, a small screwdriver, or a similar blunt edged tool with a tapered end for slipping in between the spiral coils to create the needed gap.
Another trick that you may find helpful is to make several sections at a time. Then, all you will need to do is to join them together.
I explain how to do this with the European 4-in-1 in this article.
Because chain mail weaves are all about repetition, preparing the repeated sections in advance can make a long strand or large sheet of mail come together rather quickly.
How Are Split Rings Different From Other Rings?
Jump rings, open rings, closed rings, shaped rings, locking rings, split rings – some of the chain mail terminology referencing ring types can be so confusing.
What’s worse is that the terms are often misused, causing even more confusion for beginners.
Let’s quickly sort out these terms to avoid any confusion.
Jump rings are considered the norm when talking about chain mail. They consist of a single loop of wire formed into a circle (usually).
Jump rings are available in many colors and types of metal, such as aluminum, copper, jewelry brass, sterling silver, and stainless steel, to name a few.
They are categorized according to the size of their inner diameter (ID) and the gauge, or thickness, of the wire used.
You can find them in tiny sizes and much larger sizes, such as 13 millimeter diameter with a 14 gauge wire.
I find myself referencing this chart frequently because sizing can be admittedly confusing, especially at first.
The majority of jump rings that you will run across will be in open form. This means that the ring has been cut once, leaving a small gap for attaching it to other rings.
Jump rings are also available in a closed form, meaning that they haven’t been cut and are solid all the way around.
You may be surprised to learn that not all jump rings are round.
You can find them in assorted shapes, such as hearts, stars, ovals, triangles, and squares. Both open and closed versions are available.
There are a few different types of locking rings, but as you might guess by their name, they are all designed to lock into place for a secure hold with no unsightly gap.
Some locking rings, like SNAPEEZ, simply snap close, while others have a small stud on one end that fits into a small hole on the other end to keep the ring closed.
Note that locking rings are expensive compared to other types and are best used to attach heavy components to jewelry, not to make an entire project.
Split rings are typically used as key rings and consist of a double loop of metal wire compressed tightly.
They have two ends, one on the top, and one on the bottom. Either end can be pried open in order to thread items onto them.
Split rings are usually made of stainless steel, but you’ll occasionally find them in other metals such as iron.
Tempered or spring steel split rings plated in nickel or brass are fairly common too.
You can choose from lightweight, regular duty, or heavy duty, according to your project.
Split rings sizes are a bit different than jump rings. You’ll have your choice of sizes 0 – 7, each with a different associated diameter.
Know that the diameter given for split rings usually refers to the outer measurement, not the inner diameter as with jump rings.
Split Ring Sizes and Diameters
- #0 – 4.2 millimeters
- #1 – 4.8 millimeters
- #2 – 5.6 millimeters
- #3 – 6.5 millimeters
- #4 – 7.4 millimeters
- #5 – 8.5 millimeters
- #6 – 9.7 millimeters
- #7 – 10.9 millimeters
Last update on 2021-05-18 at 03:01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API