Friday, February 8, 2013

FREE Tutorial: Bone Links

"Bone Links" are easy-to-make wire links that quickly assemble into an elegant necklace chain. I like using heavy-gauge wire for my links—anything from 14-gauge to 10-gauge suits me best—but they can be made with lighter wires such as 16-gauge.
Start with a couple feet of round, dead-soft wire in the gauge of your choice. I used 12-gauge wire in the sample chain shown above. You'll also need a foot or so of 18-gauge round wire to make small jump rings that connect the "bones" together. Jewelry pliers and related tools will also be needed. To begin, measure and flush-cut several 1-inch-long pieces of round wire in your choice of metal (I used solid copper):
Note that in the photo above, I used the Tronex flush cutter, number 5612. It's ideally suited for flush cutting heavy-gauge wire (up to 12-gauge). Next, use a planishing hammer or a chasing hammer to forge (flatten) each wire end. Note that each wire end has been forged at right angles to each other, as illustrated in the following photo:
Texturing the forged wire ends is optional. I like using the Fretz "raw silk" hammer for this (not shown), but my new favorite tool for quickly adding texture is the Fretz cross-hatch texturing hammer (HMR-22):
Next, you'll want to punch small holes in each end of the forged bone link. My favorite tool for this is the Euro Metal Hole Punch size 1.8mm:
Use a pair of pliers (chain nose, bent chain nose as shown below, or flat-nose) to wiggle the punched wire end off the punch. Take care; don't be too aggressive or you could snap the wire:
Once you've removed the wire from the punch, pause to re-tighten the nuts that hold the mechanism together. Removing metal from the punch usually loosens these two nuts, so every time you use the punch be sure to re-tighten them securely:
Punch the opposite wire end, and again, re-tighten the two nuts before using the punch again:
You can use jewelry files or even an emery board to file each bone link until it's smooth to the touch. I pick up packs of a dozen emery boards at the dollar store and they come in very handy for small jobs like this. Be sure to file smooth each wire end as well as both sides of the wire where you punched holes:
I like using my Baby Wubbers round-nose pliers to make small jump rings out of 18-gauge wire. You can see the placement of the wire in the tool is about three-quarters of the way back from the tip of the tool. If you're new to making jump rings, check out my free tutorial here.
Be sure to "condition" each jump ring by wiggling the ends back and forth until they grind together. The two wire ends on each jump ring must meet perfectly. Once you've done that, assembling your bone links into a necklace chain will go very quickly:
Possible variations on this link include:
Using different gauges of wire for the links and for the jump rings
Using different metals; i.e. copper for the links, and silver for the jump rings
Making your jump rings larger
Making your bone links longer than 1-inch
I hope you've enjoyed this free tutorial! If you like having your instructions on video, I offer four very popular instructional DVDs in my etsy store. You can read more about them here.
Happy wrapping,

1 comment:

Erin Estes said...

Just commenting because this is an awesome tutorial and really should have at least one comment saying so. Thank you for your work to make the process available with clear directions and pics. Cheers.