Marring Jump Rings

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.