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Most sterling mesh purses are the relatively simple European 4-in-1 pattern. Repairing them is tedious; it is actually easier to weave a section from scratch. The rings are too small to hold like "regular" chainmail which necessitates more tools.

Jump rings are usually made by wrapping wire around a mandrel and cutting the coil down the side with a jeweler's saw. Each wrap becomes a ring. It doesn't work well for micromaille rings (1/16" inner diameter with 0.3mm diameter round wire). The formula for choosing a blade is based on material being cut and thickness. This one needs to be 10 teeth/mm but the finest blade is 8/0 at 3.5T/mm.

A rotary tool with the thinnest kerf cutting disc is too thick. I even tried making the rings slightly larger to compensate but that was unsuccessful. Any sort of regular nipper or cutter was out. Even the best flush-cut pliers leave an angled profile on one edge.

 
Two tools in 24 hours...not quite a record but impressive!
 
The solution is to cut each ring twice. Each end gets cut using the flush side of the jaws to ensure both ends are smooth. Cutting them is a dicey proposition with tolerances this small. Looking through the magnifying glass several times for each individual link repair ate up a lot of time, too. Magnification is necessary during the whole process.

My flush cutters range from average to par excellence. I tried to remove some material from the bulky jaws of one and the grinding wheel chipped a jaw. Another didn't line up properly. I tried to straighten the jaws but they snapped instead. Two tools in 24 hours...not quite a record but impressive!

Anyway, the rings can't be inserted or closed without pliers. They are tiny but strong for their size. It was so much easier when the links were normal size.

As a tool whore, I have long understood the need for quality tools. I have always placed value at a premium and have no qualms paying for it. Alas, sterling silver turned out to be too hard for the expensive cutters. The irony is not lost on me.


Posted by M: September 19, 2015


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