Paperclip Chain Links – The Easy Way!

silver paperclip link chain with citrine

Chain making is a wonderful way to nail those soldering skills!

In this quick blog post, I want to share with you how I use these handy reverse action ring opening pliers to quickly create paperclip or elongated oval shaped links. It’s crazy easy, I promise

Start with a round jump ring

Here I have a round jump ring made from 16 gauge round wire. The inside diameter of this is 8mm and the jump ring is soldered closed.

The great thing about making your links this way, is you could absolutely shape the links once the entire chain is soldered together. If you wanted to – but we’ll get to that later.

Round silver jump ring

Grab yourself some reverse action ring opening pliers

reverse action ring opening pliers held on a bench pin

I bought mine from Gesswein, just click the button below for a direct link.

Rather than the jaws opening when you open the handle, these pliers open up when you squeeze the handles together. 

As always though, we need to do a little modification to our pliers to make sure they don’t leave any marks on our work.

Modify those pliers so they don't leave gouges

Modifying ring opening pliers with a rubber wheel for making paperclip link chain

Modifying ring opening pliers with a rubber wheel for making paperclip link chain

Close up image of pliers after modification with a rubber wheel

If you look at the edges on your brand-new pliers, you’ll notice that they’re super sharp. If we use these as they are right now – guess what? You’re gonna get some gouges! So, before getting started, we’re just going to make a little modification using a medium / fine rubber wheel to take those sharp edges off the recesses in our pliers.

Place the jump ring on the pliers

I like to have my jump ring resting in the first set of notches on the pliers so I can make my chain links as narrow as possible at the ends. But you can experiment here depending on the look you’re going for.

Using ring opening pliers to create a paperclip chain link

Squeeze the plier handles

Using ring opening pliers to create a paperclip chain link

Squeeze down on the handle to elongate the jump ring.  

As with all pliers that aren’t parallel action, the force applied will not be even on both sides of the jump ring.  So, simply rotate the jump ring and repeat the process.

Told you it was easy!

As always, there’s more than one way to do everything. But for me, I find this is the simplest way possible. And I like the fact that this can be done even after all your links are soldered together.

If you have any favorite ways of your own for forming links, leave me a comment below!

Silver paperclip chain link

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11 thoughts on “Paperclip Chain Links – The Easy Way!”

  1. What is the best way to polish the chain after it is soldered? I tried with my flexshaft and the chain ended up tangled in it 🙁

    1. Hey Gabriela! It is extremely dangerous to polish the way you mentioned. Finer chains can cut right through your fingers if you try and polish them with a flex shaft or a buffing machine while holding the chain. If you want to polish this way wrap the chain around a credit card or a pre-made flat piece of wood or plastic that is rectangular. Make sure it is secured with tape or hold tightly. The best way is to invest in a tumbler. Same concept, wrap the chain around a plastic credit card so if doesn’t tangle and just let it tumble! You can use different types of shot for a high polish or a matte finish. I am sure there are other ways people can mention also. Safety is just the most important thing! I learned the hard way when I was young doing just what you did with a chain. Ugh! I was in a hurry and cut four fingers really bad. Best of luck to you!

    2. Use a tongue depressor or a wood ruler and hold your chain against it nice and tight. Then you can use polishing wheels a bit more safely. Good luck!

    3. Hi Gabriela
      I have a vibration upright tumbler and I put my chain around/over the centre (wth the chain closed) this stops it from tangling

  2. I wish I had known about these pliers before I hammered all my links to the correct shape. Much easier your way- off to buy some new pliers now.

  3. Looks great but can you take a pair of old pliers and grind the grooves on the pliers , if you don’t want to spend any money, I have pliers like these already with out grooves

    1. I used the round jump rings to connect already soldered jump rings 🙂 But you could also do this once the entire chain is soldered together too.

  4. Hi, what is the quickest and most reliable method of soldering multiple links in a chain? I use a third hand and thermal gel either side. Just takes too long but I don’t want to melt the other links. Thanks

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