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Jan 04 2016

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A Better Way To Make Small Chain

Closeup of chainI really love my 6 foot Stanley key chain tape. I use a small carabiner┬áto clip it to a belt loop and slip it into my pocket as I described in my ToolGuyd post. Unfortunately the split link chain that they put on the tape just can’t handle the rigors of every day use. After trying to repair the stock chain several times I found a better solution: a snap swivel and several spit rings.

Original chain

You can buy both snap swivels and split rings pretty cheaply at any fishing shop and they are made to take abuse. I’m not exactly sure what the test rating of the snap swivel I used, but I took it out of my lake Superior box, so it’s got to be at least 20lb. As for the split rings, there are several different sizes, but if you ever watch a professional bass fishing show you know they use something like 1000lb test and just rip the lures through the weeds like they’re connected to a truck winch, so you know they are pretty robust.

Split ring packageI did have some real problems threading the loop of the swivel around the pin that held the old chain, there isn’t much room. I had to cut off the tab that helps the loop of the swivel stay in the catch and bend the heck out of it to get it around the pin. you can also see that I bent the other tab back around so that it wouldn’t catch on my pants pocket.closeup of swivel

Even with removing and bending the tabs, I found that after wearing the tape for a while, the swivel still was a sharp in my pocket. To fix that, I covered the catches with some heat shrink tubing. Rather than remove the split rings I used a bent paper clip to thread the chain through the heat shrink to get it into place.

threading the chain through the heat shrink

I’m pretty pleased with the new chain. It didn’t cost me anything since I already had all the parts lying around, I was able to make the chain a little longer, and the chain isn’t going to break again.

Finished chain

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