Wire for Wire Wrapping
Wire wrapping is one of the easiest and most popular techniques to use for jewelry-making. Below, we tell you everything you need to know about wire for wire wrapping: from which wire to use to what tools you’ll need!
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Types of Wire for Wire Wrapping
There are numerous types of wire that are used to make different pieces of jewelry, depending on their gauge and hardness.
- Memory Wire - used to make rings, bracelets and necklaces. Rigid wire that is pre-coiled.
- Beading Wire - used to make beaded jewelry, especially those with abrasive beads. Wire is made of stainless steel with a nylon coating and is twisted.
- Super-thin Beading Wire - a 34-gauge wire used to make jewelry with lightweight beads.
- Color-Coated Copper Wire (aka enameled copper wire/magnet wire) - soft wire that is used to to make crafts, including jewelry.
- Precious Metal Wire - sterling silver, fine silver, or gold jewelry. Used for making chain jewelry.
The type of wire for wire wrapping supplied by TEMCo will be color-coated copper wire.
Wire Wrapping Process
Wire wrapping is a technique for making jewelry which does not require the wire to be soldered, the process in which a wire is fused to another wire or a finding, such as a head pin or a clasp. A metal with a lower melting point than the wire, either tin or lead, will be melted down and then filled in to join the two components together.
Wire wrapped jewelry, rather than soldering, is connected to findings by a wire made into a decorative shape, such as a loop which wraps around itself.
The most common types of loops are P loops and eye loops. A P loop is made by bending the end of a wire back to the rest of the wire, forming a P-shape. An eye loop is a full circle at the top of the wire using round nose pliers.
Pictured above: P-loop (left), Eye loop (right)
Both of these types of loops are open, which means that the loop can open so it can be attached to another wire or finding. A closed loop, by contrast, cannot be opened, as the end of the wire is wrapped around the stem of the loop, making it permanent.
To make wire wrapped earrings, a bead will be threaded onto the founding, most likely a head pin. The part of the pin coming out of the other end of the bead will be made into a loop. This is called a bead dangle, which is then connected to an ear wire finding to make an earring.
Bracelets and necklaces will more often used closed loops that are connected to a chain.
To perform wire wrapping, there are three tools that are essential in the construction of wire wrapped jewelry:
- Flush cutter - a cutter that leaves one end of the wire flat, while the opposite end of the wire is sharp.
- Round nose pliers - are pliers with conical jaws and are used for making loops in wire.
- Chain nose/bent chain nose pliers - used for gripping and holding wire and for bending wire.
Other tools that might be used are nylon jaw pliers, a ruler, step jaw pliers, a chasing hammer, an anvil or bench block, a cup bur, loop closing or bent closing pliers and a jewelry making jig.
Wire for wire wrapping can be square, round, or half round.
Round is the most common shape for jewelry wire, while half round is typically wrapped around other wires so it can be connected.
Square wire is only used for aesthetic purpose, as it can be twisted for visual appeal.
Pictured above: Rectangular wire (left), round wire (right)
Wire for wire wrapping can be made of copper and brass, which are non-precious metals or sterling silver or gold, known as precious metals.
Copper and brass wire are bendable and shaped easily, with brass wire being a little stiffer than copper wire. Sterling silver is also soft, but holds its shape better than copper and brass.
Gold filled wire is made by fusing 12-karat gold to another material, creating a permanent bond. This is done so that customer can buy gold jewelry without paying high prices.
The wire for wire wrapping offered by TEMCo will be copper.
Wire Size (Gauge)
Wire diameter is indicated by American Wire Gauge (AWG), which is used to represent specific standard of round wire, such as diameter, resistance and current in the U.S. and Canada. In total, there are 44 standard wire gauges, starting at 0000 and going up to 40. the thicker the wire, the lower the gauge will be, so for wires with gauges above the standard sizes the diameters are so small they become theoretical.
Jewelry will mostly be made out of 12-28 gauge wire, with different types made with varying different wire gauges.
While bangles and chokers typically use a wire with a gauge of 12 or 14 gauge, jump rings, as well as links used for necklaces and bracelets, use 16 or 18 gauge wire. Wires used to make earring are commonly 18 or 20 gauge.
Wire hardness, which determine its flexibility, at one point was graded on a scale of 0 through 4. It was based on how many times the wire was pulled through a draw plate, with the wire hardness increasing each time it was drawn. This system is outdated since the hardness of the wire can now be adjusted through heat treating, a process called annealing.
Currently, there are three designated hardnesses of wire for wire wrapping:
- Dead soft wire: the most flexible and easily bent. Good for making spirals and other rounded shapes. Doesn’t hold its shape well at wire stress points, for example clasps. Equivalent to a hardness of 0.
- Half-hard wire: medium flexibility. Better at holding its shape under weight bearing parts of jewelry than dead soft wire. Used for making wrapping wire loops. Equivalent to a hardness of 2.
- Full hard wire: the least flexible wire, but is best at holding its shape and tends to spring back if it is bent. It is also very useful for clasps and other stress points. Very high durability, but is the most difficult to shape. Equivalent to a hardness of 4.
Buy Wire for Wire Wrapping
TEMCo offers a variety of wire for wire wrapping in amber, red, and green coloring. Click on our product lines below to view our full selection. All wire made in the USA!
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