How to Use a Coiling Tool

Sep 13, 2009

jean photo

Scenario #187 in the life of a busy, creative (somewhat forgetful) person: Go to the fabric store to pick up buttons, wander over to the tools section for a look-see, find a tool I know I’ve lost, purchase, bring home, and… place it next to the one that has magically reappeared. Ah, yessiree… I seem to be a one-woman economic stimulus package with all the tool doubles I have around here. Why don’t I return them? Well, like my Irish father used to say you never know when guests will show up. Geez… I could throw a raucous jewelry-making party with the number of oddball wire jigs, hammers, and pliers I have laying around here!

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Spacer 10x10 pixels The most recent tool I doubled up on is this handy little crank shaft mechanism used for coiling wire. It’s a simple tool, but so handy. In the old days I formed wire coils by wrapping a thin-gauge wire around a thick-gauge one, but this is faster and easier. It comes with two rod thicknesses, 2mm and 3mm, allowing for different-sized coils. Here’s how you use it:
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1) Wrap 20-gauge or thinner wire around the crank’s loop. Here I’m using 24-gauge; I keep it attached to the spool as I work to reduce flying wire and to give me the option of forming a longer coil if I like.

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2) Slide the shaft into the bracket through the holes that correspond to the shaft’s thickness. Hold the tool so the thumb of your non-dominant hand pins the loose wire against the bracket. This will add tension to ensure a neat, tight coil.

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  3) Use your dominant hand to rotate the shaft, turning it slowly to get the coil started.
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  4) Keep turning the crank, with your thumb in place to ensure the wire revolutions touch each other, to form as long a coil as you wish. Remove the shaft from the bracket.
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  5) Remove the spiral from the shaft. Now the fun begins! You could cut this coil up into tiny spacer coils... or longer cylinder beads... slide a wire through it to make links... use it to embellish a handmade S clasp... there are many possibilites.
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  6) Here I wrapped the straight wires at the ends of the coil around the wider coiling shaft, then wrapped the coil around the shaft, too, to make a spirally thingamabob.
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7) Then I wrapped the thingamabob around a big resin bead and locked everything in place with a steel wire with simple loops at each end.

Excited about this technique, but wondering how to use it? Get an eyeful in the bead and jewelry section of the Interweave Store. You’ll find dozens of innovative projects like Sara Graham’s Vineyard Coils Bracelet, Marie Carter’s All Wrapped Up ring design, or the Sandy Lanterns Bangle by Kerry Bogert. 

Do you have any coiling tips or ways you use coils that we might all like to know about? (And come on…tell me which tools you have multiples of!) Share your comments below!

Featured Products

Vineyard Coils Bracelet

Availability: In Stock
Price: $4.00


Simple chain maille bracelet


All Wrapped Up

Availability: In Stock
Price: $4.00


Wire and stone ring


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CyndiLavin wrote
on Sep 16, 2009 11:30 AM
LOL!!! I know *exactly* what you mean about those magically reappearing tools...
on Sep 16, 2009 4:38 PM
"Magically reappearing"...? That's a load off of my mind - I was afraid that those tools were multiplying unobserved.... (that would've explained some of the eerie sounds emanating from the studio in the wee, small hours.....) BTW: your illustration #6 ("spirally thingamabob") is a terrific item in itself. For years I have been showing the Boy Scouts how to make a neckerchief slide like that, so that they always have about 20 feet of wire with them - handy stuff to have when you're miles from nowhere. Also: my favorite tool for making wire spirals is a cordless drill clamped onto a benchtop, with a 1/8" steel rod in the chuck. I can go through a 50 foot spool of wire faster than you can say "See you in Portland!"
Michele@95 wrote
on Sep 16, 2009 7:01 PM
I just bought a "coiling gizmo" and found out that if you wrap the wire too tightly, you will have a hard time getting it off the shaft.
AndreaM226 wrote
on Sep 16, 2009 7:20 PM
I always seem to think I need another pair of round nose pliers - Looking for the perfect wrapped loop I've managed to aquire about six pairs of round nose pliers in various shapes and sizes - no matter what I buy I always end up using the same pair of cheapo pliers that I first bought years ago for about $8.00. I use knitting needles to make coils for jumprings and other things - I have needles from size 0000 to size 18 - it's kind of a pain in the patootie to coil the wire around the knitting needles, maybe I'll try using my cordless drill like Ralph . . .
prudyfry wrote
on Sep 16, 2009 8:38 PM
AndreaM: You can purchase a "Koil Winder" for about $27 from Gemstones Etc. - - and use any or all of those knitting needles to make jump rings, coils, etc. You could purchase a high-end coil winder for $100+ or purchase the Koil Winder and use the money you save to buy more wire. I've been in love with mine since the day it arrived in the mail. Making jump rings is a breeze. Friends borrow it and I have to fight to get it back.
beadidani wrote
on Sep 17, 2009 9:25 AM
I love the gizmo, it's like I can't get enough of it. I always find a way of incorporating at least 2 (esp coloured wire) beads into my designs. If you want 'organic' jump rings wrap your wire around a (not too tight) pencil or pen - turns out kind of rough & edgy. Cordless drills are very easy to use for twisting wire when making jump rings, I was frighthened at first but I am so comfortable with it now.
BDT Studio wrote
on Sep 17, 2009 11:12 AM
Interesting tip but the page format does not work in the Googlechrome browser, the text to the side of the photos goes under the edge of the formatting and does not wrap, so it is basically impossible to read.
MelindaB@14 wrote
on Sep 17, 2009 3:55 PM
Barb ~ I've never tried Google Chrome but I do use Firefox without any problems in viewing and downloading. Good Luck
Nan@60 wrote
on Sep 17, 2009 5:51 PM
I don't see the gizmo that you show in your instruction sheet. When I went to the site that is listed, the KoilingTool looks like something else, not an inexpensive gizmo. Where do I find what you show?
on Sep 17, 2009 8:32 PM
Nan--the tool I'm using in the photos is a Coiling Gizmo. Picked it up at Joanne Fabrics for under $10. Not fancy, but it works!
Nan@60 wrote
on Sep 17, 2009 10:17 PM
Thanks! too late now, but I have a coupon...tomorrow! I need more tools !LOL I don't have a gizmo
on Sep 23, 2009 4:14 PM
thanks for that! I have one and couldn't remember HOW to use it. I was just winding it on the rods without using hte holder. This is MUCH easier LOL