Wire gauges and more

wire gauges

This post will focus on the American Wire Gauge( AWG), also called the Brown and Sharpe (B&S) Wire Gauge; The American Wire Gauge is a standard method used to designate the diameter of wire. The rule to remember here is that is that the lower the number, the thicker the wire.
So a 16 ga wire will be thicker than a 24 ga wire. When your are used to handling and working with wire, you can usually tell the gauge by just looking at it. However, if you have multiple length of
wire in various gauges, it would be a really good idea to have some kind of label with the gauge on it. I usually keep my wires in Ziploc plastic bags and write the gauge and temper on the bag.
Speaking of wire temper… Wire for wrapping usually comes in 3 tempers: Hard, half hard and dead soft. Like the names suggest, hard wire will be really rigid and difficult to work with and can become brittle and break off very easily with manipulation. Half hard wire will be less rigid and allow slightly more manipulation, but you have to me careful as not to overwork the wire or it will also break. Dead soft wire will give your more flexibility as far as manipulation goes. The wire will harden as you work, but you will have more time to work with it before it becomes brittle and breaks.
When choosing the type of wire you want to use in your work, consider a few facts:
Does your project require manipulating the wire ( bending and curving) multiple times?
Is this a low manipulation project? maybe you just want to make some simple loops with beads. In that case it would be a good idea to use a half hard wire, unless you will be using a tumbler to polish and further harden your work, then it will be better to use a soft wire. So, as you can see the type of wire you use depends on the project you are planning on. consider all the steps involved before choosing the temper of the wire to use.
    Of course, wire comes in many shapes and sizes. There are round, square, twisted, half round, beaded wire etc  As far as I am concerned, I usually do not use full hard wire ever!!! I use half hard occasionally and mostly soft round wire.  For projects that do not require tumbling, I will use half hard wire. Otherwise, if the whole project is supposed to go into the tumbler after I am done, I will use soft wire.  
        I also, I find that the wire gauge I use the most is dead soft 20 and 26 ga. round wire I think that 20 ga is perfect for many projects such as ear wires, necklaces and bracelets components. I use the 26 ga soft for the majority of my wrapping and sometimes 28 ga.
So, what gauge and wire temper do you use the most?

                             Sample measurements for the American Wire gauge.

Gauge
Inches
Millimeters
16 
0.051 
1.29 
18
 0.040 
1.02 
19 
0.036
 0.912 
20 
0.032
 0.812 
21 
0.028 
0.723 
22 
0.025 
0.644 
23 
0.023
 0.573 
24 
0.020 
0.511 
25 
0.018 
0.455 
26 
0.016 
0.405 
27 
0.014 
0.360 
28 
0.013 
0.321 
29 
0.011 
0.286 
30 
0.010 
0.255 
32 
0.0080 
0.2019 
34 
0.0063 
0.1600 

Basic wire wrapping tools

I am starting a series on the basics of wire wrapping where I will be discussing basic wire wrapping techniques and wire wrapping tools  tools. So, if you have decided to venture into wire wrapping, and would like to be able to start working with minimal investement. The good news is that you don’t need a whole lot of tools to start working with wire. So let’s get started with the few tools you will need at first.

A flush cutter or even regular cutter to help you cut the amount of wire needed. A flush cutter is nice because it will reduce the amount of filing you need to do after cutting your wire. You don’t need to run out and buy the most expensive one. Just buy a reasonably priced one at your local bead store and start working with that. Later on, if you want to invest in a more expensive one you can do so.

A chain nose pliers. This type of pliers has long fine jaws that are ideal for reaching into confined area. One with smooth jaws ( instead of serrated) is better, since it will not mar your wire.

Round nose pliers

As the name suggests, these pliers have round, long and tapered jaws that will help you create loops, curves and swirls with your wire.

A metal file will be really useful. It will be use to file the wire and remove any burs resulting from cutting etc.. You can buy a metal file by visiting your local hardware store.

A ruler or type of measuring device to help you measure the length of wire needed.
With these few very basic tools, you will be all ready to start wire wrapping and enjoy the experience without investing a fortune in tools. Of course, if you’re into buying more tools, there’s always something you “need” 🙂

Second feature in a jewelry Magazine

This is the second time one of my project is featured in a magazine. This time, my Dorje pendant project is feature in the Fall 2012 issue of Wirework magazine. That is so exciting! Turn to page 22 to see my work. I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity. It was such a pleasure working with all the nice folks to bring this project to life. Would love to do it again.