How to choose wire strength and size

How to choose wire strength and size

How do you pick what strength and size of wire to use when you wire wrap?

If you’re starting on your wire wrapping journey, I recommend using copper wire since it is the most cost-effective and malleable wire. The typical strengths used for wire wrapping are Dead-soft, half-hard, and hard wire. 

☾ Hard wire is better suited for designs that need to bear weight, like a frame to create the setting for your gem(s) and stones(s) 

☾ Half-hard has enough durability to keep its shape while still being easy to work with, think coils, channel settings, and filagree.

☾ Dead-Soft is for weaving and tiny details. 

The gauge of wire measures its width (diameter); gauges are often abbreviated as "ga,” thus, 20 gauge = 20ga. Gauge numbers work the opposite of how you’d expect. The larger the gauge, the smaller the wire's diameter. 

Crafters and artisans use two central gauge systems to determine wire size. American Wire Gauge is typically how jewelry wire is measured in the United States and Canada. Standard Wire Gauge (SWG) is usually the measurement system used in Great Britain. Most other European countries measure wire size in millimeters. 

Here, I will highlight the gauges I use most and what they are for.

  • Dead-soft 28-32 gauge wire for jewelry making is fragile. I use this for intricate weaving, Viking knit, and delicate coils 
  • Half-hard 20 gauge wire is an excellent all-purpose, versatile wire size. I use a half-hard wire (or work-hardened dead-soft wire); the 20-gauge wire is also sturdy enough to hold its shape for making small frames.
  • Hard or Half-Hard 18 gauge I use this wire to create bigger frames; I also use it for accent curves and filigree.

with that being said this is what works for me: have fun, and do what comes naturally to you!

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