Removing opposite sided masterlink
I bought some cheap chains that have a master link with slotted holes on opposite sides of each end, is there an easy way to get these back off without buying the tool?
Do you mean a sram quick link ? A little more info or a pic would be helpful.
Assuming you mean the type where each half has a plate and a pin, I use needle nose pliers on the rollers or regular pliers on opposite corners of the plates.
just pokin' along
With fingers or pliers, slightly squeeze the plates together while using thumb and index finger of opposite hand to push the plates in opposing direction. Newer chains, especially if a bit cruddy, can be more troublesome. Placing a small rag between your fingertips and the link may prevent some skin getting pinched.
Buy the tool for $15, it's worth it. Available online of course, and any LBS that has a Park Tool display.
Yes, you can sometimes get it off by hand. I emphasize "sometimes" because you can sometimes spend many, many frustrated minutes not getting it off. You can use a needlenoose pliers if you have one that is thin enough. You can make/grind a tool that will work perfectly. There's many ways of getting it off without the tool, I've used and tried them all.
But for $15 you can buy a tool that is easy, quick and in the coming months and years will be used dozens of times, and might actually make it so easy to remove a chain that you take if off to clean it more often (if that's your thing).