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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

Dale, I have to come clean. I am not a wire artist, always been afraid to try it, because precious metal is so high these days. I’ve been doing intricate bead work for several years, and it sells.

But I just got brave and bought 15 yards of 20-gauge round copper wire, cause it was really cheap, and some bags of pretty colored garden stones to practice with as pendants. My problem is, I don’t know what hardness this copper wire is, it doesn’t say. Is there a way to tell?

-Lorraine in Granite City, Illinois

Answer:

First Lorraine, you are not alone! Many folks purchase wire because of the price and have no idea what the temper is. So let’s talk a bit about copper wire tempers.

Although copper wire can be purchased in a full hard temper, it is unusual to find among jewelry wire suppliers; most of what is available is either half hard or dead soft (same as soft).

The copper wire found in hardware stores is most often soft. Depending on the gauge a wire artist wishes to work with, soft is the most popular, because it is fun and easy to forge or texture, and will not work harden quickly.

The easiest way to determine the temper of your 20-gauge copper wire: in one hand, hold it about 3″ down from one end and use your finger to push the end. If it bends quite easily, it is soft; if it has some resistance, it is half hard. If you can hardly get it to bend, it is full hard.

Remember the most foolish question is the one you don’t ask!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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