Okay so you would think I would know this already,but sometimes I get confused on the gauge of findings...For example I'am looking at purchasing head pins and Eye pins, and when its the higher the number for the gauge does that mean its thin and easy to bend or does it mean the opposite? MMMMM...
good question! Wire guage works similar to seed bead sizing. The larger the number, the smaller the guage or seed bead. Smaller guage wire (like 24 or 28 guage) is more malleable than larger guage (like 12 or 14 guage). For example: 24 guage wire is usually small enough to fit through pearls with their small holes and 18 to 21 guage is the average size of most ear wires.
But you also have to consider the temper of the wire in terms of it being malleable and easy to bend. For exapmle, when shopping for Sterling Silver wire you will notice the terms Dead Soft or Half Hard. This is the temper of the wire and Dead Soft wire is just that...very soft and malleable...very bendable without being brittle!
Usually it is easiest to work with Dead Soft Wire and it will harden as you work with it. You can also use Half Hard wire but since it will work harden on you, you will have less play with it until it gets hard and possibly brittle.
Tumbling and hammering are a few other ways to harden your wire or findings. If you make a bunch of jumprings out of dead soft wire, you can put them in a tumbler and it will polish them while also hardening them.
Usually when you buy pre made findings they will already be work hardened. The smaller guages (higher number) will still always have some malleability though!
You can also use heat to soften hard wire again so that you can work with it easier...using a torch is a good way to do this.
I usually buy dead soft wire for making findings...eye pins, head pins, jumprings, clasps etc. By working the wire it will harden all by itself and then if I feel it needs to be even harder I use a friend's tumbler (I still need to get one of these!) or I will hammer. Not the same thing as hammering wire for texture or to change the shape!
But I also buy half hard wire too...it just depends on how much experimentation I am planning for that wire.
I hope this helped...I know explained way more than you asked...Haha! Sometimes I just talk too much!
On no not at all, that helped so much! thank you so much Tia! that answered lots of my questions!
Tia, how do you hammer it to make it hard without making marks on it? I've always wondered that, because sometimes I get marks just from using the pliers on it and squeezing too hard.
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Very gently! Haha...just kidding!
To hammer your wire or hand made findings to harden them you would want to use a mallet...with either leather or plastic head instead of metal, like a chasing hammer. The leather or plastic mallets are softer than the metal and are also very smooth so they won't leave marks on your wire!
And you really don't have to smash it or hit it hard at all...just working with dead soft or half hard wire will harden it...so you don't want to use a heavy hand here!
You can also pull your soft wire through a draw plate to harden it...but this will also make it a thinner gauge, which can be helpful ometimes! And it can help straighten wire that has gotten bent or twisty on you!
And if your wire gets too hard to work with you can anneal it with your torch...this will soften it up again so you can work with it better!
hey tia by work with it do you mean just keep bending and twisting it? you got to remember i'm a seed beader lol. i don't know much on the wire stuff. but im finding needs for it atm. and the guage wire i got that i had is real soft but dont seem to want to harden up.
26 guage looks like copper or gold plated or something like that
Yes that is what I mean! Bending it, wrapping stones with it, forming it into jumprings or eyepins, or ear wires, etc...all of these things will work harden your wire! And if you re work the same piece too much it can become brittle, or too hard to work with, which is where the annealing can help soften it back up again!
I also am mainly a seed beader but I like to make my own findings when it comes to Sterling Silver because it is really the most cost effective way to have SS findings these days! So I bought a few special issue B&B magazines about wire working so I could learn some of these techniques! I also watched a lot of online videos to learn more about working with metal..
But I am definitely not seriously proficient with wire working! These are all just things I learned by reading about it and practice!
Also, this does not apply to craft wire, the kind that is usually coated with nylon or some other coating...these wires are treated so this does not happen and it's soft enough for major wire wrapping!
Hope this helps!
yup it does help ty so much
This was really valuable information, thanks!