Karen Karon Blog http://www.karenkaron.com/blog chain maille author, teacher, designer Tue, 19 Sep 2017 03:04:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://i2.wp.com/www.karenkaron.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/cropped-KKTransparentLogoJ-1.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Karen Karon Blog http://www.karenkaron.com/blog 32 32 How I Modify My Plier Jaws http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/how-i-modify-my-plier-jaws/ http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/how-i-modify-my-plier-jaws/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 03:02:51 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=143 Maillers often make modifications to the jaws of their pliers to suit their specific needs. I work in jewelry metals and use jump rings that are medium-sized to micro. I find that thin plier jaws can be very helpful when weaving in tight spaces (this is another reason I don’t like coatings, they just add thickness). Thin is not to be confused with narrow. Most people will reach for a pair of chain nose pliers when they hit a snug spot while weaving. Although the jaws of chain nose pliers are narrower than the jaws of flat nose pliers, they are often just as thick. Therefore, you may still have some trouble trying to fit those pliers between two closely spaced jump rings.

In addition, the narrower jaws of chain nose pliers provide less leverage and control, two things I really need when working in a tight spot. Chain nose pliers also increase the odds of marring the jump ring I’m trying to close (see previous blog post).

I use a flex shaft and a heatless grinding wheel to thin out the jaws of my pliers. When using a flex shaft, make sure to take proper precautions such as wearing safety glasses and a dust mask, tying back long hair and not wearing loose fitting clothing.

I have a limited space in which to work, so I use a grinding box to keep debris under control (please pardon my messy work space!).

I lightly run the wheel along the outside of the jaws. I work in even strokes from the tip of the pliers towards the back until the jaws reach my desired thickness.

Above are samples of what the jaws look like before and after modification.

You may desire to shape the jaws of your pliers differently (angled or rounded), depending on your particular needs.

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Marring Jump Rings http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/marring-jump-rings/ Tue, 05 Sep 2017 03:06:44 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=141

New maillers often have issues with scratching and marring their jump rings. First, make sure you are choosing the proper pliers for your project (see my 4-part blog post “What to Consider When Choosing Pliers”).   My next bit of advice is to practice opening and closing jump rings until you lose the “death grip” that many new maillers have. Aside from developing good technique, there are a few modifications you can make to your pliers that might help.

Modifying your plier handles: To help ease your grip, you need to make sure that the handles of your pliers are comfortable to work with. I’ve seen people use various kinds of tape, cording, and plastic hose or tubing to cover their plier handles. Pictured above are modifications I’ve made to some of my pliers. I added cushioned handle grips to the pliers on the left and I used Aquaplast thermoplastic pellets to thicken and lengthen the handles of the pliers on the right.

Refining the jaws of your pliers: Often, the jaws on a new pair of pliers can have sharp corners and edges. I usually sand them lightly to ease the sharp edges. I do not sand aggressively, as I am not trying to modify the shape of the jaw. I start with 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper and lightly sand the edges and corners of the jaws. I finger-test to make sure they no longer feel sharp. I also feel the face of the jaws and gently sand out any rough spots. To finish, I follow up with 3M polishing papers (above).

Covering or coating the jaws of your pliers: Some people use tape on the jaws of their pliers. Some use a coating such as Tool Magic or Plasti Dip. I am not a fan of coverings or coatings. I don’t like the extra thickness it adds to the jaws. I feel it affects my control – kind of like trying to tie my shoes with gloves on. However, I do have students who use and love Tool Magic. Therefore, if you’ve worked on your technique and refined your pliers and you still find you’re scratching and marring your jump rings, give it try.

What to Consider When Choosing Pliers (Part 4 of 4) http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/what-to-consider-when-choosing-pliers-part-4-of-4/ http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/what-to-consider-when-choosing-pliers-part-4-of-4/#comments Mon, 07 Aug 2017 03:10:16 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=139 In the previous installment of this blog, I discussed different types of spring mechanisms. Handles are also an important consideration. When weaving maille, the pliers are in your hands for long periods of time, so you want to make sure that they are comfortable.


When choosing pliers, I look at plier handle length, width, shape, weight and feel. It is best if you can actually hold them before you buy them. When purchasing on-line, study the photos and read the descriptions carefully.

Although I am a small person with small hands, I prefer long handled pliers. Short handled pliers tend to rest in the center of my palm (above, left), creating a sore spot. Longer handles distribute the pressure more evenly along the length of the handle (above, right).

Again, even though I have small hands, I prefer thicker handles. Thin handles can concentrate the handle pressure causing soreness. Thin handles can be wrapped or covered to increase comfort. I have purchased cushioned handle grips (visible in some photos) and have also augmented thin handles using thermoplastic products (above, right) like Aquaplast or Jett Sett.

Because of my small hands, I prefer handles that have a straight profile, like the Lindstroms pictured above, left. Pliers that have handles that bow out (above, right), are a little large for me to hold on to, and therefore cause my hands to tire more quickly. People with large hands might prefer a fuller shaped handle.

I also find that I can work longer with lighter pliers. I don’t own a pair, but I have tried my students’ Wubbers brand pliers – I have students who absolutely love them. They seem to be well made, but I find them to be a bit heavy compared to the other pliers I own.

Most handles come with some kind of covering or cushioning. Different manufacturers use different materials. The cushioning material on my Swanstroms caused my hands to feel sticky and sweaty so I crocheted covers (“plier cozies”) for them (above). Now I can weave maille in comfort.

Choosing pliers is a combination of finding the right tool for the job which is also comfortable for the user – so it’s technical AND personal. It is the personal aspect that is difficult to pinpoint. It really helps if you can try before you buy. Taking a class is a great way to try before you buy. I always bring several different pliers with me to class and let my students try them out. Often times students in class will share their pliers with their fellow students or with me. It is a nice way to learn and to make new friends.

After taking all of the information presented into account, realize that there will always be that rare situation where the pliers that should logically be your best choice for the job are just not working out for some inexplicable reason. Try to have a few options on hand and remain flexible.

Previous Installments:  Part 1 – Personal Considerations, Part 2 – Jaws, Part 3 – Springs


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What to Consider When Choosing Pliers (Part 3 of 4) http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/what-to-consider-when-choosing-pliers-part-3-of-4/ http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/what-to-consider-when-choosing-pliers-part-3-of-4/#comments Mon, 31 Jul 2017 03:44:35 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=137 In the previous installment of this blog, I discussed the qualities I look for in the jaws of my pliers. The next thing to consider when choosing the appropriate pair of pliers is the spring mechanism.


Some pliers have springs and some don’t. I prefer pliers with springs. Springs push the handles of the pliers open when you release the pressure on the handles, so you don’t have to do it manually. This helps alleviate hand fatigue, allowing you to work longer without discomfort.

My various pliers have 3 different types of springs: the double leaf spring, the bio spring, and the Xuron spring. They all have different amounts of tension, but not so different that it noticeably affects my work. I’ll discuss the differences between the three.

Double-Leaf springs are the most common. They work well, however, when this type of spring breaks, it is not something that most of us can easily fix by ourselves. One clever solution I’ve seen on-line is to glue rare earth magnets to the inside of the handles to repel them apart. Quality plier brands will usually have some sort of repair option. I’ve had the springs replaced on my Swanstrom pliers a couple of times. The repair was less than the cost of the pliers, but more than the cost of a new pair of Xurons. Also, the double leaf spring can occasionally get caught on certain styles of plier racks.

The bio spring is available on Lindstrom’s RX series pliers. It is adjustable, so you can choose the amount of tension that is comfortable for you. If it fails, you can easily purchase and install a replacement spring. The drawback to this spring is that it tethers the handles of the pliers to each other, limiting your ability to open the jaws wide, if needed, without removing the spring. I’ve had my pair for a long time. Lindstrom has since made some updates to the design. Many of my students who have purchased the newer pliers complain that the spring often pops off while they are working. I have not experienced this issue with my older pliers.

The Xuron spring is unique. It is a thin U-shaped piece of metal that is located under the handle cover. I haven’t had to replace any of my Xuron springs yet, but I haven’t had them for as long as I’ve had my Swanstrom, Lindstrom and Tronex pliers. If your spring fails, you can contact Xuron for a replacement spring that you can install by removing the plastic handle cover. I like that this spring is placed under one handle cover and is totally out of the way.

Previous Installments:  Part 1 – Personal Considerations, Part 2 – Jaws

Next Installment: Part 4 – Handles

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What to Consider When Choosing Pliers (Part 2 of 4) http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/what-to-consider-when-choosing-pliers-part-2-of-4/ Mon, 24 Jul 2017 02:36:34 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=134 In the previous installment of this blog, I discussed the personal factors you should consider when trying to decide on an appropriate pair of pliers.  Now I’ll present the first of three attributes to examine when trying to choose which pliers to use – the jaws of the pliers.


I make chain maille jewelry. Most of my work is made with smaller sized jump rings in precious metals or aluminum. I always choose smooth jawed pliers, as pliers with serrated jaws will leave marks and scratches on the metals I work with (more on marring jump rings in a future blog post).

Generally, I prefer flat nose pliers over chain nose pliers for chain maille. As you can see in the photo above, flat nose pliers (left), cover more surface area on the jump ring than chain nose pliers (right). This gives you more control and more leverage. In addition, you are more likely to mar the surface of your jump ring with chain nose pliers. The force applied to the pliers gets concentrated at the tip of chain nose pliers, as opposed to being distributed across the width of flat nose pliers, causing it to dig deeper into the metal.

I choose different size flat nose pliers based on the size of the jump rings I’m working with, the metal I’m using and the weave I’m constructing. When weaving using medium sized jump rings (16g-18g), I use medium size flat nose pliers. I have a pair of ergonomic Lindstrom flat nose pliers, a pair of Swanstrom flat nose pliers, and a pair of Tronex flat nose pliers (above). The width of the plier jaws on these models is about 4mm. These are all quality pliers and all are well suited for the task. These are my 3 most expensive pairs.

I really enjoy working with smaller jump rings (18g and higher). When I work small, I reach for one of my Xuron pliers (flat nose, short flat nose or chisel nose). These pliers are less expensive than those mentioned above, but are very well made. The Xuron company also provides excellent customer service if an issue should arise. The width of the jaws of these pliers ranges from 2mm to 3mm. The shorter flat nose provides more leverage when needed.  The angle of the chisel nose increases surface contact and can be helpful for getting into tight spots. Because the Xuron pliers weren’t as costly as those mentioned above, I felt free to modify the jaws on both flat nose pairs. I thinned the jaws to help them fit into tight spaces (details will be covered in a future blog post).

I also have a few “specialty” pliers that I use from time to time:
• Bent nose pliers: can be used like a flat nose or chain nose plier
• Stepped flat nose pliers (with narrow flat tips): for small jump rings in tight spots (photo above shows pliers before modifications – shown with modifications in a future blog post)
• Snub nose pliers: for medium sized jump rings in tight spots
• Duck bill pliers: for jump rings that have a large inner diameter

People who choose to work with low wire gauges and harder metals, such as stainless steel and titanium, will need a set of heavy-duty pliers such as linesman’s pliers or armorer’s style pliers. These are pliers of sturdy construction, typically with shorter jaws to provide more leverage; some may have teeth.

Previous Installment:  Part 1 – Personal Considerations

Next Installments:  Part 3 – Springs, Part 4 – Handles

What to Consider When Choosing Pliers (Part 1 of 4) http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/what-to-consider-when-choosing-pliers-part-1-of-4/ Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:37:50 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=111  

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “What pliers should I buy?” There is not a one-size-fits-all answer. I have lots of different pliers that I use in different situations. Not all of them are super expensive either. Expensive pliers are made with greater precision and usually have a longer life span, but less expensive pliers can be modified to suit a specific need.

I make jewelry primarily, and I tend to use metals that are easier on my hands like sterling silver or gold-filled, aluminum, or niobium. I’m going to discuss the subject from that perspective. I’m not making recommendations on any specific model or brand. I’ll just give my opinions based on my experiences. I will discuss attributes that I look for when choosing pliers, and why. I’ll show examples from my own ever-expanding plier collection. (There are a couple of new additions to the plier market that I’ve got my eyes on…)

There are a few things to consider when choosing an appropriate pair of pliers:

  1. Personal Considerations
  2. Plier attributes:
    o Jaws
    o Springs
    o Handles

In this blog installment, I’ll present personal considerations. In the blog installments that follow, plier attributes will be covered.


What type of chain maille do you make: armor, jewelry, sculpture? Do you work primarily with large jump rings or small jump rings. Which type of metal do you work with: sterling silver, aluminum, steel, titanium? Which weave do you want to construct? The answers to these questions will help to determine the appropriate pliers.

There are personal variables that come into play such as hand strength and size, technique, and experience level. Once you’ve determined what your personal requirements are, you can look at different pliers and their attributes to narrow down your choices.

Plier jaws will be covered in part 2 of this blog.

Stabilizing the Edges of Scale Maille http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/stabilizing-the-edges-of-scale-maille/ http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/stabilizing-the-edges-of-scale-maille/#comments Sat, 22 Apr 2017 14:25:44 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=88 When making scale maille pieces, the scales along the edges are often loose and wiggly and need some sort of treatment to keep them neat and even.  In scale maille and chain maille, there are usually several ways to accomplish any desired result.  Here are the techniques I use to keep my edges under control.

Scale Stabilization Techniques for Pieces with Diagonal Edges:

Diagonal pieces do not have side edges like straight pieces.  There is a bottom edge shaped like a V and a top edge shaped like an inverted V.  The bottom edge and the top edge each have a left and right side.  The center scales on the top and bottom are shared by both the left and right sides.

Left/Right Bottom Edges

1.      Add jump rings (pink) to each scale along the bottom edge as shown.  Notice that 2 jump rings are added to the center bottom scale.

2.      Add stabilizing jump rings (yellow) along the left and right sides of the bottom edge.  Each stabilizing jump ring (yellow) passes through 3 jump rings (see blue dots).  Follow the weaving paths shown. 

3.      To finish the bottom edge, weave one jump ring (green) through the 2 jump rings (pink) added to the bottom center scale in step 1. 

Left/Right Top Edges

Work on the front side of your piece, and weave jump rings (red) through each pair of jump rings along the top edge of your piece as shown.  This row adds a decorative touch and provides additional stabilization.

Scale Stabilization Techniques for Pieces with Straight Edges:


Connect the first and last scale of each long row (4 scales across in this example) to the first and last scale of each short row (3 scales across in this example) as shown:

1.      Jump rings (pink) are added to the first and last scales of each long row.  In this example, there is a short row at the bottom of the piece.  Therefore, we will also add jump rings (green) to the first and last scales of that bottom short row. 

2.      Add stabilizing jump rings (yellow) to the left and right sides of your piece.  Each stabilizing jump ring (yellow) passes through 2 others, the jump rings added in step 1 and the lower outer jump rings in the end scales of each short row below (see blue dots).  Follow the weaving paths shown. 

Extra Side Stabilization

Sometimes the technique above is not enough.  If the edges are still too loose, you can add extra stabilizing jump rings as follows.

Add an extra stabilizing jump ring (blue) connecting the first and last scale of each long row to the previous stabilizing jump ring (yellow) directly behind it.  Follow the weaving paths shown.  This added step will make your piece a little shorter.

Bottom Edge

1.      Add jump rings (orange) to the scales on the bottom row, so that each bottom row scale has 4 jump rings passing through it.

2.      Add additional jump rings (purple) to connect the lower 2 jump rings passing through each bottom row scale (green/orange). 

 From here, you can continue weaving European 4-in-1 maille at the bottom edge of your piece.

Top Edge

If you want to stabilize the top edge, work on the front side of your piece and weave jump rings (red) through each pair of jump rings along the top edge of your piece.  This row adds a decorative touch and provides additional stabilization.  You can continue weaving European 4-in-1 maille from this row as well.

Of course, there are other ways you could connect jump rings and scales to stabilize your weave.  These are the techniques that I use, and so far, they have worked well for me.  I hope you found this blog post helpful.

EDIT:  If you would like to download this blog post for reference, you can find a downloadable PDF on the FAQs page of my website in the Freebies section.

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Tiny Scale Comparisons (Part 3) http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/tiny-scale-comparisons-part-3/ Sun, 02 Apr 2017 21:23:34 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=71 Click here to read Tiny Scale Comparisons Part 1.

Click here to read Tiny Scale Comparisons Part 2.

I was excited to see these pretty new tiny scale colors released just in time for spring.  These new tiny scales are thicker and are made by the same Canadian company that makes the original thinner tiny scales.  Therefore, they have the same dimensions and the same size hole.  As stated in Part 1 of this blog, the difference between these and the original tiny scales is that they are punched out of a thicker metal sheet.  In addition, the holes in the yellow scales are aligned a bit differently from the holes in the pink scales. These little differences wouldn’t matter much if using larger scales and jump rings, but when working with very small materials, minute differences can have a big impact on your results.

NOTE:  I completed each sample piece using the same black ice jump rings to cut down on the number of variables.  Be aware that there can be slight differences in the various colors of anodized aluminum jump rings (of the same size), that can further contribute to unexpected results, no matter which tiny scales you use.

First, I wanted to know if I could weave a basic linear scale chain and a basic staggered sheet with these tiny scales and the usual 20g 7/64”id jump rings, something that I was unable to do with the Fire Mountain Gems tiny scales.  The answer is yes and yes!  However, the devil is in the details.  Here are my observations:

When working with these simple forms, I noticed slight differences in the drape and flexibility of the pieces.  In the photo above, the center piece is made with the original tiny scales.  The two pieces on the left were constructed with the usual size jump rings. You can see that the tiny scales in these pieces are slightly raised.  In addition, the pieces are a bit shorter in length than the original.  The pieces were adequately flexible, but not quite as flexible as the original.  I made two other pieces (right) using jump rings with a slightly larger inner diameter (1/8”).  These pieces are closer in length to the original.  The weave is a little looser than the original.  To keep the edges neat, I had to take extra steps (above the usual) to stabilize the sides of these two pieces (this will be the subject of a future blog post).

Next, I decided to try to make a few pieces based on some of my tutorials, which were designed for the original tiny scales.  I wanted to see how the new tiny scales would behave when constructing more complex forms.  This is when things got interesting. 

I started with my Spiral Earrings, which are based on the simple linear scale chain.  To take the form from a straight linear scale chain to a spiral, I discovered that I could not use a linear scale chain woven with the new tiny scales and usual size (7/64”id) jump rings.  The chain was too tight to weave in the additional jump rings to form the spiral.  The new earrings needed to be built using 1/8”id jump rings.  I feel that I was able to successfully capture the spirit of the original earrings using the new tiny scales, although they are not exactly the same.  You can see that the new earrings are longer than the original, and the spirals are not as tight as the original.  If you compare the pink to the yellow, you will notice slight differences between those two pieces as well (due to the slightly different alignment of the holes).  The pink spiral is longer and not as tight as the yellow.


I encountered the same issues when trying to duplicate my S-Shaped Earrings.  Not only did I need to construct the new earrings with 1/8”id jump rings, I also needed to change the gauge of the large jump rings from 16g to a thinner gauge (18g).  The pink and yellow earrings are a bit longer than the original.  Although I prefer the original, I do feel that the new tiny scales produce an acceptable result here.

Next, I experimented with my Tiny Scale Pendant.  The two pendants on the left were made using the usual size jump rings to connect the new tiny scales, but I had to use a thinner gauge for the large jump ring at the top.  If you compare those two pendants to the original (frost color), you will see that the weave is tighter (it is also more rigid).  The two pendants do not have the same graceful drape as the original. If you look at these two pendants closely, you will notice that the yellow is a tiny bit tighter than the pink, due to the slight variation in the hole alignment.  I tried a third pendant (yellow, right) using 1/8”id jump rings to connect the tiny scales and the usual size large jump ring at the top.   You can see that this pendant does not hold its shape as well.  If you look closely, you can see that the weave is loose and some of the holes in the tiny scales are in view.  The “Goldilocks” pendant is the pendant using the original frost tiny scales (not too tight, not too loose, but just right).

The next pattern I attempted was my Flower Pendant.  The original is on the left.  All three pendants were made with the usual size jump rings.  When constructing the pink and the yellow flowers, I was unable to weave past step 8 in the tutorial, as the weave became too tight when using these thicker tiny scales.  For the pink flower, even though the weave was tight, the structure was not quite as firm as I would have liked.  I had to improvise to squeeze a few more jump rings in at the back in an attempt to alleviate that issue (the yellow was too tight for me to do the same).  You can see that the petals in the pink pendant do not lay as flatly as in the original, due to the tightness of the weave.  The yellow flower is tighter than the pink (due to differences in hole alignment).  All of the petals in the yellow flower are pulled upward. 

I tried to make another yellow flower using 1/8”id jump rings, but the pendant was too loose.  I added some extra jump rings around the center, and I added a couple of extra rows on the back, but I could not get the result I wanted.

Above is a picture of the flower pendants hanging as you would wear them.  The original on the left holds its shape and hangs nicely.  The pink flower in the center holds its shape fairly well, but you can see that there is a tight spot at the top where I added the ring to connect the bail.  The yellow flower on the right is the one made with the 1/8”id jump rings.  You can see that it is loose and does not hold its shape well.  For this pattern, the original scales produced the best result.

The take away from all of this, is that when working in a small scale, minor variations in materials can have a big impact on the outcome of your project. Whether you’ve been using my patterns or making your own designs using the original tiny scales, be prepared to make some changes when working with these new tiny scales.  You may need to use different jump ring sizes to produce the result you desire.  You may need extra or fewer jump rings.  You may need to vary your weaving method.  Since the new tiny scales are not exactly the same as the originals, you will not achieve the exact same result with these new tiny scales.  You can attain comparable results in many instances.  It all depends on the project.  Have fun experimenting!

Click here to read Tiny Scale Comparisons Part 1.

Click here to read Tiny Scale Comparisons Part 2.

Tiny Scale Comparisons (Part 2) http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/tiny-scale-comparisons-part-2/ http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/tiny-scale-comparisons-part-2/#comments Mon, 27 Mar 2017 13:56:27 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=53 Click here to read Part 1 of my Tiny Scale Comparisons blog.

First, I decided to take the Fire Mountain Gems (FMG) tiny scales out for a spin.  The tiny scales sold by FMG are made in Korea.  Since they are so different from the others, I was curious to see what I could do with them. 

I like the range of colors available and the soft satin finish of the FMG scales.  I also like the smaller size – so adorable.  These tiny scales, however, are very thick with very small holes.

The first thing I tried to do was to make basic staggered and linear scale maille weave samples. I was unable to use the usual size jump rings for weaving with these tiny scales.  Due to the smaller hole size, I needed to use jump rings in a thinner gauge with a larger inner diameter, sacrificing jump ring strength.  I used 22g 1/8″ id jump rings.

I could not weave more than a handful of scales in a staggered fashion without the weave locking up on me (above left).  When weaving a basic linear scale chain, I was unable to get past the first 2 scales (above right). 


I was able to successfully construct the Shaggy Scales weave with the FMG tiny scales (above), and I was able to accomplish this with the usual 20g 7/64”id jump rings!

In my opinion, these scales are best suited for use as decorative embellishments, much like you would use a bead or a charm. 

I have successfully knitted and crocheted with the tiny original scales.  I was curious so see if I could knit and crochet with the FMG tiny scales, as the holes are only half the size of the originals. 

I was able to crochet using a very thin steel crochet hook (size 8) and cotton thread (above top).  I even managed to knit a small swatch using cotton thread and 1.5mm sock needles (above bottom). The knitting was very difficult.  The small knit swatch pictured took a couple of hours to make!

Next, I’m going to experiment with the new pink and yellow tiny scales.  I’ll present my findings in my next blog post.


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Tiny Scale Comparisons (Part 1) http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/tiny-scale-comparisons-part-1/ Mon, 20 Mar 2017 18:01:14 +0000 http://www.karenkaron.com/blog/?p=41 Recently, there have been a couple of new additions to the anodized aluminum Tiny Scale market.  All of these tiny scales, original and new, are punched from an anodized sheet of aluminum and therefore have exposed metal edges.  There are also some important differences between the original and new tiny scales. Let’s compare:


These are the original tiny scales.  They come in 8 different colors, 7 shiny, mirror-finish colors (silver not shown) and Frost (shown), which is a silver color with a satin finish.  They measure 12mm x 7.6mm in size with a 3mm hole.  The manufacturer recommends using 20g (AWG), 7/64” id jump rings when working with these scales.




These are the two new color options that are now available, neon yellow and pink, both with a shiny mirror finish.  These tiny scales also measure 12mm x 7.6mm in size with a 3mm hole.




These tiny scales are available from Fire Mountain Gems (FMG).  The FMG tiny scales are smaller than the others, 11mm x 7 mm with a 1.5 mm hole.  They come in a wider range of colors (11), all with a soft satin finish (which I prefer).  I purchased only the copper color (shown).




All 3 types are different in thickness.  I used my calipers to measure them.  The scale on the left is from the original group and is 0.39mm thick.  The middle scale represents the new pink/yellow scales and is 0.62mm thick.  The right scale is one of the FMG scales and is 0.89mm thick.





Another difference to note is the placement of the hole on the scales.  The left scale is one of the original scales.  You can see that the hole is placed very high on the scale, leaving a thin border of metal around the hole.  The center scale is one of the two new colors.  You can see that the hole sits lower on the scale leaving a thicker metal border around the hole.  The right scale is the FMG scale.  The hole is only half the size of the holes in the other 2 scales resulting in a very thick metal border around the hole.


In addition, if you compare both colors of the new tiny scales, you’ll notice that the holes in the yellow scales I received are placed lower than the holes in the pink scales, resulting in a thicker metal border around the hole of the yellow scales. 




A tiny variation in your materials can be huge when working at the micro level.  Therefore, even minor differences in the thickness of the metal and the placement and size of the holes in these scales will have a major impact on the outcome of your project. 

I am going to “test drive” these new tiny scales to see how they perform.  I’ll share my findings in my next blog post.