Making Miniature Fake Chains and Springs
by: Rowan Baylis

Fake? Yes, they're non-functional - and chains (in particular) made with the technique below won't really stand close inspection, but they're quick and cheap to make and I find them a useful trick to have up my sleeve. I can't claim to have invented either trick - they're common knowledge, mixed with a bit of trial and error.

Making a fake chain
To give an idea how quick this is, making the fake chain for this demo took 5 miniutes... including taking the photos.

Stage 1: Make a loop of soft wire (in this case, fuse wire), and clamp the ends in a pin-vice. Allow plenty of spare, because it will get shorter...

Stage 2: Loop the wire over a nail or something similar held in a vice and twist 'till it's tight (too much will snap it). You could use a motor tool - but with fine wire you really need to feel what's happening - so I prefer to use a pin-vice and do it manually.

Stage 3: As an intermediate've just made a small-scale cable.

Stage 4: The next bit couldn't be much easier... to make a "chain", bend the wire to the desired shape and tap it GENTLY with a hammer... Voilą! It looks like chain...

Why bend it to shape first? Simple - once you've flattened it, it's harder to bend without distorting it. Obviously, this method isn't suitable for larger chains, because anyone will spot that there are no links, but for really small ones it's really useful.
Making a fake spring
Finding this technique did involve a bit a lateral thinking. It stemmed from a question from Holdfast, asking if I knew of a way to make a working spring for a 1/48 scale aircraft aerial. Well, I failed on that one but, in the course of experimenting one Sunday morning, found this neat trick to create tiny dummy springs.

I started by with the obvious route of wrapping wire or stretched sprue around a drill bit; the results were OK, but still much bigger than I wanted... how to make something even smaller?

Here's what I came up with:

1. Take some fine fuse-wire (5 amp) and clamp it either end (I used a "Helping Hand").

2. Wrap a second piece around it as tightly as possible.

3. Slip the first piece of wire out, and cut the resulting "spring" to length.

Using this technique, the size of the "spring" is only limited by the guage of the wire you use.

This article comes from Armorama