How to Shorten a Chain

Does your favorite bracelet keep slipping off of your wrist? Here’s how to shorten a chain, so you never lose it again. You can do this, I promise!

Does your favorite bracelet keep slipping off of your wrist? Here's how to shorten a chain, so you never lose it again!

It’s pretty common to need to shorten a chain, and especially common to need to shorten a chain on a lovely piece of delicate jewelry, when you’re the most afraid of messing up.

Fortunately, it’s totally do-able and dead simple. Here, let me walk you through how to shorten a chain!

1. First, gather your supplies. You do want to have the right supplies for this, but they’re not hard to obtain. To shorten a chain, you definitely need to have two pairs of long nose pliers, ideally the bent kind. Jewelry crafters use these, but they’re also common in a handyperson’s toolbox, so ask around if you don’t have any.

2. Measure the links that you want to remove. It’s better to underestimate this, because putting links back on is a smidge more difficult than taking them off.

Does your favorite bracelet keep slipping off of your wrist? Here's how to shorten a chain, so you never lose it again!

3. Open the links. If you’re removing a section of chain, you’ll be opening the links at both ends of this section. To do this, find the seam on a link, then grasp the link on one side of that seam with a pair of long nose pliers in your non-dominant hand.

Grasp the link on the other side of the seam with a pair of long nose pliers, ideally the bent kind, in your dominant hand.

Gently twist open the link. The goal is to open it by moving the ends sideways, as if the link is misaligned. We never open links by pulling them open, like Pac-Man’s mouth goes “Om nom nom”–that weakens the link, and you might want to use it again later.

Does your favorite bracelet keep slipping off of your wrist? Here's how to shorten a chain, so you never lose it again!

Repeat for the link at the other end of the chain section.

4. Reattach the chain. Now that you’ve removed the extra chain, you’ll probably want to make your new and improved chain into a circle again. If you’re shortening your chain for a better fit, hold it up to yourself and eyeball if first to make sure that it’s the right length–opening up a link weakens it, so you want to avoid doing it over and over again.

To reattach the chain, simply open the link at one side of the new chain, just the way that you did in Step 3. Hook that link through the link at the other side of the chain, then gently reverse the motions to close the link. Don’t use a lot of strength or you’ll warp the link, but do make sure that the ends of the link meet up firmly.

Does your favorite bracelet keep slipping off of your wrist? Here's how to shorten a chain, so you never lose it again. You can do this, I promise!

If I were you, I’d save the bit of chain that you removed. If you ever need to repair the chain, you’ll have some matching spare parts right in your junk drawer, and if you’ve shortened the chain so that a piece of precious jewelry can fit a kid, then you’ll definitely need to add that length back on at some point!

P.S. Looking for more ways to remake jewelry? Check out what you can do with nail polish!

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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