Online Jewelry Training Classes for Metalsmiths

Jewelry Tutorials Logo

Make Your Own Wire

Wire - Make Your Own Wire Stock

Keep up to date with the latest metalsmithing news and release of new jewelry making tutorials
Make your own wire stock

In these modern times, many workshops will buy in rolls of pre made wire for use in the workshop.
However, should the need arise for a piece of wire that is of an unusual diameter or shape, or if the workshop simply runs out of an existing size, which normally happens on a Saturday afternoon, it is essential to be able to make some replacement wire quickly.

Wire - make your own stock cast metal

First thing is to melt and cast cut-off and scrap metal into a bar.
This is done in an ingot mould.

I have another free tutorial under the Tools and Tips Section on "How to
make an Ingot Mold" 

Wire - make your own stock with roller

The metal is then rolled to the
appropriate thickness in the square
sectioning of the roller.

Wire make your own stock by annealing

I have rolled this wire carefully down to 2.5mm square out of my roller.

I want to make myself a few lenghts of
different diameter wire for stock.

Here I am annealing gold wire after
rolling. I'm using the torch in a circular motion, so that I heat the coil of wire evenly.

Wire make your own rolled to point

What I do is I roll the first 30mm of the
wire down to a point, especially when it is still a bit thicker.

It is of course also possible to file it
down if there is no roller and the stock
has been purchased from a supplier.

Make your own wire with draw tongs

Here I am using drawing tongs after
lubricating the wire with a light machine oil or beeswax.
I start by pushing the tapered point
through the draw plate hole.
The wire is then pulled through the
consecutivly smaller holes.
These holes will change in diameter in
increments of about 1/10th of a mm.
As the wire is drawn through, and
because the metal is being deformed in
it's cold state, it will become harder and harder and will have to be nnealed
from time to time.
On average about four to six holes and
then anneal.
If the wire is not annealed, it will snap
or crack.

Wire make your own with drawplate

For instance, 18kt gold as shown here
does not need as much annealing as
say, 14kt, or 10kt gold.
The rule of the thumb is that the less
pure the metal ( meaning more lloyed)
the more annealing will be needed.
Therefore sterling silver, for instance,
will go quite a way before annealing is
10kt gold, however will work harden
much quicker.

Make your own wire stock

Here is the finished result of a set of
18kt gold wire for the workshop.
The bottom is 2mm wire, then 1.5mm
wire. The left coil is 1mm wire and the
right hand coil is .7mm wire.
These are the most common
thicknesses that are needed in an
average workshop.

Make wire with round drawplates

Draw Plates - 

There are many different types of draw

make wire with tungsten drawplates

A different round type of draw plate is
one that has tungsten carbide inserts in

wire- make your own tungsten drawplate

Tungsten carbide is a compound made
out of carbon and tungsten.
It is formed into the correct diameter
dies and then inserted into the steel
draw plate.
This draw plate is more expensive than
a steel one but is able to draw aterials
much harder than gold, like titanium or
It gives a superior finish and lasts a
very long time.

Wire make your own from drawplate shapes

Wire, by definition, need not be round.
As the draw plates illustrate,
metal can be drawn to virtually any
shape, including hollow covered in 
my tutorial on how to make tubing.
Common shapes, other than the two
shown, include oval, hexagonal, square,
triangular and star.
The most common used shapes are
round and square though.

Wire make your own troubleshoot rolling

Drawing Wire Troubleshooting -

Making wire does not come without
Most are easily solved, however.
The most common, without a doubt, is
over rolling.
In this picture I have exaggerated the
process, but what has happened is that
the rolling mill has been tightened down
too far.
This results in the metal "spreading"
out of the confines of the square

Wire make your own - troubleshooting flashing

In this picture I have greatly exaggerated the process of over rolling.

Wire make your own stock troubleshooting cracking

If one continues to roll the wire then
the 'flashing' will fold over and back
into the main body of the wire.

Wire make your own stock - troubleshooting fishes

Should the wire then be drawn through
a draw plate the result (somewhat
exaggerated) will look like this picture.
The wire then is unusable and will have
to be discarded.
The right way is to be patient and roll
the wire through the rolling mill with
only small reductions.
That is faster than having to melt it all
down and start again.

Wire Making Troubleshoot Cracking

This wire has been under annealled.

Another problem with drawing wire, although not so common as over rolling, is under annealing.
This will cause the wire to snap or split. 

If this action happens when the wire has been annealed, then the problem can be that the metal is contaminated. However, by the time that all the rolling has been done, contamination of the metal will have become apparent.

Another difficulty, although not a problem as such, is the drawing of very thin wire. When wire goes beyond .5mm annealing becomes most important. It is also then that the quality of the draw plate comes to the fore. The filing of the taper must be done carefully too.
Standard drawing tongs cannot be used. Rather parallel jaw pliers should be used.

You can also download the PDF version of this free tutorial on how to make your own wire  

Other interesting and challenging Projects

or select other projects from Jewelry Making Tutorials List

If you have any questions or wish to be notified of any new tutorials that are posted, email me.