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 

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2 thoughts on “Wire gauges and more

  1. Good post, I use 20 for looping, wrapping and 24 and 26 for coiling and crochet. I could use 20 for ear wires, but then I could not wear them. For some reason 20 gauge will not go through my ear

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