by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com
Wire Jewelry Tip for October 24, 2014
What type of Wire Should I Use?
We’ve been revisiting a few of our older posts, and here’s a great one that might help answer a few questions.
What type of Wire Should I use?
When first starting out in the wire-wrapping business, it may be a bit confusing about what types of wires to use for various projects. Here are some recommendations in choosing the temper of your wire.
How to pick the hardness of your desired wire
Hardness is the measurement of the malleability or temper of a substance. When purchasing raw materials for wire-work, you will find that wire comes in several different levels of hardness, only a few of which are commonly used by jewelers. The most typical jewelry wire can be categorized into three groups: Hard, half-hard, or dead soft.
Keep in mind that the gauge (thickness) of the wire will also have an effect on its hardness. For example, a piece of 12 gauge wire is relatively thick, and even at dead soft hardness will not bend as easily as 18 gauge wire of the same hardness. Large wire is not recommended for the beginner.
Hard Wire is difficult to bend and can be stiff if trying to manipulate with bare hands. Tools are highly recommended when using hard wire for this reason. Hard wire is excellent for holding its shape and for making clasps and other findings that will likely be stressed.
Example of Full Hard Wire:
Half-Hard Wire is malleable, but most people will need to use tools or jigs to bend it into shape. Half hard will; however, maintain a fairly intricate shape under moderate stress after it has been work hardened. It is very useful for light weight-bearing parts of wire-wrapped jewelry and is terrific for creating angular bends, wire loops, and for wrapping wire around itself.
Dead Soft Wire is extremely malleable and can be bent easily into a myriad of shapes by using the hands. It does not hold its shape in stress situations, such as clasps, until it is hardened. Dead soft wire is great for making loops, swirls, and spirals.
I hope that helps anwer some basic questions about the different types of hardness.
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