What are split rings and their uses

You have probably come across a type of ring with double strands for holding small objects together. The objects could be a bunch of keys, fish lures, a treble hook, or a piece of jewelry. That’s a split ring. In this article, I will share more about split rings, how to attach and remove them, and their uses in various trades.

What is a split ring?

A split ring is a type of ring made by winding hardened wire twice and pressing the two loops together. You can also describe the ring as two loops of a helix pressed flat together.

Split rings are made from annealed wire because it does not deform easily. This is the same material used to make jump rings. The major difference between them is that a jump ring goes round once whereas a split ring goes round twice.

So, to attach something onto a split ring, you thread it around from one end until it gets to the center or eye of the ring. On the other hand, to attach an object to a jump ring, you grab both sides of the split and twist slightly to the opposite directions to open it. Then loop the jump ring through the object and close the open ends so that the object won’t come off.

Shapes and sizes of split rings

Split ring shapes

Split rings come in various shapes and sizes. The common shape is circular but you will also find oval split rings, rectangular, or any other custom shape. They also have either flat or round sides. Flat split rings have a flat face and are less common than round split rings. However, the former offer greater strength and are more difficult to split open.

Split ring sizes

The size of a split ring is determined by measuring the diameter. You can either measure the internal or external diameter. A split ring can be as tiny as a few millimeters wide or a couple of centimeters. The tiniest split ring I have come across measured 4.5mm and the largest was 8cm (80mm).

Split ring fasteners are also categorized by the maximum amount of weight they can carry without coming apart or deforming. For example, a 4.5mm spring steel fishing split ring is typically rated at about 6.5kgs while a 16mm split ring of the same material needs about 130kg to pull it apart.

Another factor associated with the size of the split ring is the size of the wire. The standard is that as the diameter of a split ring graduates so does the diameter of the wire. So, a small split ring has thinner wire than a large split ring.

How to open a split ring

Opening a split ring without a tool

You can open a split ring with your fingers when you don’t have a tool at hand. But this requires you to have a long thumb nail (at least a millimeter long free edge).

To open, insert the edge of your fingernail between the wire near one end and twist a little to open the ring. Then slip the object you want to attach and wind it along the ring until it gets to the center.

The only downside of using your nail to open a split ring is that you can hurt yourself especially if you are opening a large ring made with heavy-duty wire. Also, some very tiny rings are hard to grasp with your fingers. That’s where split ring tool or prying tool comes in handy.

Opening a split ring with a split ring tool

A split ring tool is a special pliers for opening split rings. Typically, split ring pliers have one flat jaw while the other one is notched or has a bent tip. The flat jaw is usually shorter so that the nipped tip of the longer jaw can overlap.

Some split ring pliers have a slim profile and long jaws like long nose pliers while others are stubby with tapered jaws just like chain nose pliers. Regardless of the shape, they all perform the same job. Just that some are more suitable for certain applications than others. For example, the needle nose split ring pliers are great for reaching rings in tight spots.

how to open a split ring with split ring pliers
opening a split ring with pliers

To open a split ring using split ring pliers, open the jaws of the pliers and slide the ring through the flat jaw. Align the ring with the “tooth” of the other jaw. Rotate the ring so that the tooth sits between the two rounds of wire near one of the ends. Then press the jaws together and the little notch with split open the ring so that you can attach an object.

While one end of the ring is open, slide the object you want to attach and remove the pliers. You can use the flat part of both jaws to grab and turn the ring while you feed the object through with your other hand until it gets to the center of the ring.

Follow the same process to remove a split ring. However, this time the object from which you want to detach the ring is already inside the loop. So you will split open one end of the ring, get the object in between and turn the ring until both the ring and the object are separated.

Uses of split rings

Split rings have a thousand and one uses, from general-purpose to specialized uses.

General-purpose use

Generally, split ring fasteners are used to bunch things together, attach tags, and hang art pieces among other uses. For example, they make great key rings for holding a bunch of keys together or attaching swivel snap hooks. You can also use the rings as connectors to connect two objects. For example, a key holder and a bunch of keys or two permanently closed loops or hoops.

Jewelry making

Split rings are used in jewelry making much in the same way as jump rings. You can use them as connectors on jewelry chains or attach charms, pendants, and other precious jewelry to chains.

split rings for jewelry making
jewelry split rings of different colors

Jewelry split rings offer more security than jump rings and cannot be easily pulled apart. However, the ends do not meet flush and thus can be harsh on your skin or catch your clothing. That is why they are not the best for making jewelry chains but they are perfect for securing precious jewelry. Jewelry split rings also take longer to attach than jumprings.

Split rings for jewelry come in a variety of colors including standard silver and gold.

Fishing split rings

Fishing split rings have many uses. From attaching treble hooks to joining the parts of a fishing tackle including spinners, blades, and swivels, lures, and crankbaits.

split rings for fishing lures
fishing lures with split rings

However, the most common use for split rings in fishing is to attach lures to the line and treble hooks to the lure. The rings are also useful for attaching carabiner clips onto fishing pliers and other small tools. The carabiner or swivel hooks allow you to attach the tools onto your fishing vest to keep them close to you and prevent loss.

Split ring vs Jump ring, which is better?

Compared to a jump ring, a split ring has two coils while a jump ring has one. So, the double rings make split rings stronger than jump rings. That is why they are preferred for hanging objects because they do not come apart as easily as jump rings. Split rings also retain their flatness and roundness longer than jump rings.

Unfortunately, the ends of split rings do not meet flush like those of jump rings. As such, the ends can scratch your skin or catch your clothing when used to make pieces of jewelry such as jewelry chains. This is why jump rings are preferred for jewelry. That being said, split rings are more suitable for hanging jewelry pendants are stronger and hold objects more securely.

In a nutshell, split rings are more suitable for securing valuable objects whereas jump rings are good for making chains.

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