Ring Measurements-Why 1/4″ isn’t always 1/4″

When any chainmaille supply company gives measurements for rings, there are generally 2 numbers you will get.  Gauge, and inside diameter (ID).  We are going to talk about the ID here.

When most companies give this number, all they mean is this is the size mandrel used to wrap the wire on.  So for a 1/4″ ring, it simply means it was wrapped on a 1/4″ mandrel.  This creates a problem as not all wire is created equal.  Take copper for example.  Its very soft, and its springback (the amount the wire will resist being coiled and try to “springback” into a staight wire) is very small.  Then take something like stainless steel, and its springback is much larger.  The end result is 2 rings that are very different in size.  This creates several problems:

  • When mixing metals, sizes of rings can be very different making it difficult to near impossible to do the pattern.
  • Any given pattern may require a different size ring depending on the metal used.   (in fact we know of suppliers that specifically state that certain patterns can’t be done with the same size ring in different metals)

From the day we started making rings, we didn’t think this was the best way to do things, so we do it a bit differently.

When we say a ring is 1/4″, we mean it’s 1/4″.  It doesn’t matter what metal it’s made of, we actually do the math and tests to make each ring, regardless of metal, as close to that size as we can without going under.  This means mixing metals no longer causes a problem, and if we tell you a ring size that will work for a pattern, it will work in all metals, not just some.

Now, we will admit doing it this way can cause another problem.  Sometimes our rings won’t work in the size somebody else suggests for a pattern.  Take for example Helm Chain.  Most places will tell you 18g (SWG) 9/32 and 18g (SWG) 3/16″ works great.  Because our rings are slightly smaller than others for the most part, this combination does not work, and we suggest using 18g (SWG) 19/64 for the large ring.  We are currently addressing this by adding more ring and weave information into our weave guide.



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