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How to shape wire in Jewellery Making


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Shaping Wire

To reshape wire you’ll need to pass it through several holes of a drawplate. On average forming wire from square stock, or vice versa, requires pulling it through 10-12 holes and annealing it several times.

If you are making oval wire from round or square wire, first forge or roll the wire slightly flat; you can rough in this shape more quickly with hammer than with a drawplate. Just be sure to anneal the wire after flattening and before you take it to the drawplate.

Another simple way to reshape wire is to use a rolling mill. You can reshape round wire into flattened oval or square wire and then into rectangular wire easily with a few passes through the rollers.

Suppose you need half-round wire but you don’t have a half-round draw plate. Use a round draw plate instead. Just fold your wire in half so that it is doubled, and pull it through the round drawplate. Once you’ve drawn it cut the wire in half at the u-bend; you end up with two pieces of half-round wire. If you’re starting with square or round wire flatten it slightly first so that the doubled piece will fit into the round hole more easily.

This bend and draw technique works for making rectangular stock with a square drawplate and for making quarter-round wire by passing a bundle of four square wires through a round drawplate. It should also work for making triangle wire with a square drawplate.

How to Straighten Wire

To straighten wire, you stretch it. Anneal the wire, and then clamp one end in the vice. Using draw tongues grab the other end and pull the wire so it goes straight. You’ll feel it give or relax just a bit. When you release the tension the wire will be perfectly straight. Be sure to stand in the correct position and pull at the proper elevation.

If you need to straighten your wire after the final drawing, keep in mind the finished diameter will be slightly smaller after you’ve stretched the wire taut.

To straighten short sections of wire roll it between two steel blocks. This work-hardens the wire in addition to straightening it.

Documenting Your Work

When you draw wire, record the starting and ending shapes, dimensions, and lengths of the material being drawn. Note the specific drawplates you used, the number of holes you drew the wire through, and the time you spent to achieve the desired result.

Michael Dennison is the Director of Jewellery Design for Hanfords of London. Since joining the company in early 2010 Michael has worked tirelessly in updating the Handmade Jewellery collection, whilst bringing new ideas and techniques to the manufacturing process. He is currently devoting a lot of time to the Company’s range of Handmade Necklaces which is constantly growing and improving. Hanfords of London as a company that also specialises in Chain Maille Jewellery , Handmade Rings, Handmade Pendants, Handmade Earrings, Handmade Bangles and Handmade Bracelets.


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