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 fastener is simply a ring of wire hardened wound around twice. You would also describe it as two loops of a helix pressed flat together. Split rings are made of annealed wire just like jump rings to avoid deformation when opening them. The major difference, however, 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 of the ring. On the other hand, to attach an object to a jump ring, grab both sides of the split and twist to the opposite directions to open it, then loop the ring through the object and close the open ends.

Shapes and sizes of split rings

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.

The size of a split ring, on the other hand, is determined by measuring the diameter. It can be either the internal diameter or external diameter. Split rings 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 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 a 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 it can hurt especially for large rings that have heavy-duty wire. Also, some very tiny rings are hard to grasp with your fingers. That’s where a split ring 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. Some split ring pliers have a slim profile and long jaws like long nose pliers while others have shorter tapered jaws just like chain nose pliers.

What makes split ring pliers unique is that one jaw is flat while the other one is notched or bent at the tip. Typically, the notched jaw is slightly shorter than the flat jaw.

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?

As said earlier, a split ring has two coils while a jump ring has one. So, the double loops make split rings better for holding things more securely than jump rings. You cannot pull them apart as easily as you would. Also, split rings retain their flatness very well over a long time if you use them properly.

Unfortunately, the ends of split rings do not meet flush. So they can be harsh on your skin when you use them to make jewelry chains. Furthermore, they are not as easy to install as jump rings which is why the latter is preferred for jewelry chains.