Wire Basics

Wire is a wonderful material for making jewelry. It can be used by itself to form earrings, necklaces, rings, and
bracelets. Wire can also be used with beads and stones to create beautiful jewelry designs. Metalsmiths use wire to create components such as jump rings and clasps, and pieces of wire are also soldered together to build cuff bracelets and pendants. However, you can make a large variety of jewelry by simply bending wire into various shapes and connecting these shapes together.

Sizes of Wire Wire Sizes
Wire comes in different size gauges. The larger the gauge number, the smaller diameter the wire. So, a 26 gauge piece of wire is thinner than a 16 gauge piece.
Gauge Recommendations:
  • 14 to 26 gauge for simple wire bending projects.
  • 18 gauge and 20 gauge are the most popular sizes for simple wire shapes.
  • 24 to 26 gauge work best when adding beads to your work.
    Shapes of Wire Wire Shapes
    As well as gauge sizes, wire also is available in different shapes: half round, round, square.
    Shape Recommendations:
  • Round is used most often, but other shapes of wire have their purposes and can create dramatic effects to your designs.
  • Half round is often used to wrap around other pieces of wire to connect them together.
  • Square wire is commonly used to wrap a cabochon or make a bangle bracelet.
    Wire Strength
    When selecting wire supplies, you will notice they are normally offered in dead soft, half hard, and full hard. As the names indicate, the wires have different degrees of strength or hardness.
    Strength Recommendations:
  • Dead soft wire is the easiest to manipulate and is often used for sculpted pieces. This wire has been heated, making the wire easier to bend. Fewer tools are needed as these softer wires are can be bent with your hands fairly easily.
  • Soft wire works well for many wire projects such when bending into shapes or using with beads. It is not recommended for use with projects that hold large stones or projects that will have a lot of wear, such as bangles.
  • Half hard and hard wire works well for holding large stones or projects that will endure a lot of wear. Normally, you will need more tools in order to manipulate hard wire because the wire is too hard to manipulate by hands alone.
    Basic Wire Wrapping Tools and Their Uses
    #630520 Chain Nose Pliers Gripping wire and small tight bends
    #630527 Round Nose Pliers Making loops and circular bends
    #630525 Flat Nose Pliers Gripping wire and larger bends on heavier gauge wire
    #630448 Mini Nippers Cutting wire
    #68907 Nylon Jaw Pliers Straighten out smaller gauge wires prior to shaping
    #63230 Double End Pin Vise Make twisted wire


    For More Wire Wrapping Instruction and Projects See:
    Making Wire Jewelry #9003
    You can start creating jewelry immediately with this easy-to-follow book. Designed to keep you from being frustrated, this book has 60 easy projects in silver, copper and brass with more than 300 illustrations to lead you through every step.
    Making Wire Jewelry Book


    Making Bead and Wire Jewelry #9048
    Use beads and wire to make jewelry: Earrings, necklaces, eyeglass chains, bracelets, and pendants. Shown in full color, includes instructions, tips, info on supplies, and more than 30 patterns to use with the jig to create lovely wire links
    Making Bead & Wire Jewelry Book


    Working With Wire Video Working With Wire Video #68910
    Working with Wire! featuring the Wire Worker #68908 and the Wire Writer and Jewelry Jig Kit #68909. Using techniques taught in this video, you can create stunning jewelry, home decor projects or add a unique look to your existing crafts. Learn from the experts, Julianna Hudgins, host of the popular "Creative Corner" is joined by Gary Helwig, inventor of the WigJig, and Donna Nova, creator of the Twist'n'Curl. Whether your experienced or just getting started you'll get a new twist on the wonderful world of wire working!