Daily Wire Tip Feb. 13: Tumbling Chain Maille Jump Rings

By on February 12, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
February 13, 2011


I have started making chain maille jewelry. But I find that most rings are too soft for my liking. I hear that tumbling the rings will temper them giving them more strength. I would like to know what kind of media to use and how long to tumble them.

-Tom in Marshall, Missouri


We have a great article that tells you about everything you need to know about tumbling your chain maille pieces, called Tumbling Your Jewelry (It can also be found in our Resource Center, under the heading Caring for your Jewelry.) I am sure that a lot of folks will add additional experiences and advice, so be sure to check back on this post!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    February 13, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Tom, the issue may not be the softness of the wire but the size (gauge)of wire. If you are buying bulk “general purpose” rings, they are often made of a very narrow gauge wire making them much too flimsy for chain maille. If you either make your own out of a sturdier wire – perhaps 18 ga – or buy rings of a specific gauge, you will have much more control over your final product. Also, using the correct gauge and hardness of the rings means that you don’t have to worry quite so much about tumbling. For me, half-hard is great for chain maille rings. The finished chain requires minimal tumbling and is more for final polish and to remove any little burrs left from manufacture of the rings.

    • avatar


      February 13, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Many thanks to all of you, who have added such great info to this topic!

  2. avatar


    February 13, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I tumble mine with Steel Shot (preferably stainless steel if you can afford it) I have tumbled my rings for as little as an hour to as long as overnight. I used to buy official “tumbling soap” but now I just use dawn dish detergent.

    As a last stage, I like to use a silver burnishing soap in the tumbler after the piece is finished to really bring up the shine.

  3. avatar


    February 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Might I suggest that if you use Dawn, to use the Blue Dawn specifically and only a couple of drops as using the type with citrus (more acidic) could cause your barrel to become contaminated and discolor your metals.

  4. avatar


    February 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Tom, Unfortunately no amount of tumbling will harden the wire enough, i recommend only using half hard or even full hard wire. Of course you have to allow for the slight amount of spring back when you make your jump rings but it it so much easier to work with half to full hard wire in opening and closing your jump rings and they don’t become as distorted as the can with soft wire. As was mentioned by Dale last week, I wouldn’t recommend using soft wire for anything but sculpting.