Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week 9 - Working on the Chain, Gang

This week's finished project is an extension to last week's. A focal needs something to hang from so this week I made a chain for 'Don't Leave Home Without It'. 

The setting for DLHWI is made of iron binding wire, so I thought I'd continue using that for the chain. It was a challenge because I'd never made any chain before. I started by making a single link and then trying to duplicate it. No luck. Could not get the links to match. Then I tried to make a batch of links starting with cutting a set of identical length blanks. That worked, but didn't match the original link that I had made and liked. 

So I measured out a piece of wire that I knew was too long, Starting at one end, I went through the steps to form the link carefully matching the length of the link I wanted. When it was done, I cut off the finished link and checked to make sure it duplicated the original. It did. I measured the remaining wire, subtracted that from the original wire length and that was the length I needed to make the links I wanted. Turns out I needed 2 and 7/8ths inches for a link.

I cut one to that length and formed it to make sure that it matched. Once I was sure that it did I went into production. Here's the steps:
  1. Cut off a length of wire about a yard long, enough for a batch of links.
  2. Secure one end in the vise and use a green scrubby to scour off the black oxide coating of the iron binding wire. This also helps straighten the wire.
  3. Mark off the link length on a piece of wood and use that to mark and cut link blanks; as many as can be gotten from the length of wire. A set of diagonal cutters was used to cut the blanks.
  4. Grab six or so blanks and align them so all the ends on one side are even. Use a disc sander to sand them all flat. Flip the stack over and sand the other side so they are all flat and even. Now all the blanks are the same length and have trimmed ends. Do this until all the blanks in the batch are done. Note, you will want to quench the first end in a dish of water before flipping it around and grabbing the freshly sanded (hot) end. Ask me how I learned this.
  5. Using a pair of bail-making pliers (or a marked pair of round-nosed pliers) turn the eye on one end of each blank. Make sure that you get the cut end of the wire to touch the shaft of the link and that you reverse curve at the base of the eye so it's centered on the shaft.
  6. Use a mallet and bench block to flatten the eyes and make sure that they are on the same plane as the link shaft. Take the opportunity to straighten any kinks or curves in the shaft at well.
  7. Turn the eyes at the other end of the link. If you want them to be like the one's I did, make sure that the second eye is at right angles to the first eye.
  8. Look them all over and make any tweeks needed to get them just right.
That's one batch of links. Lay them out and see if you've got enough. If not, go back to step one and make another batch. I ended up making three batches and have several left over.

Once I had enough links I used Birchwood Casey Cold Gun Bluing solution to patina each link a nice dark black. I dried them and applied Renaissance Wax to coat and seal them. After they were dried and buffed the links were ready to connect to each other and to the loop of the pendant. I wrapped my pliers jaws with tape to protect the links from scratches while I opened and closed the eyes to join them.

And this is the result.
I'm pretty pleased with my first chain.

Here's the whole thing. Remember, it's your brain. Don't Leave Home Without It.