There are so many important factors to cover with regard to wire basics that I thought it best to break it up into smaller chunks. Yesterday we delved into different wire gauge measuring systems and how to be wary of gauge size discrepancies when shopping for your jewelry wire.
There are so many important factors to cover with regard to wire basics that I thought it best to break it up into smaller chunks. Yesterday we delved into different wire gauge measuring systems and how to be wary of gauge size discrepancies when shopping for your jewelry wire. I also included tons of great size and conversion charts which are a handy reference to have! This will help you when shopping for jewelry wire and for knowing which wire to use for which projects. Wire Hardnesses Jewelry wire is typically offered in three hardnesses: The first important thing to keep in mind is that these terms are relative to the particular metal or alloy which they are describing.
So, dead soft sterling silver will not feel the same to work with as dead soft 14k white gold, for example. Also, not all wires, like artistic wire craft wire and aluminum wire, will be offered in different hardnesses — they are most often just soft. It is great for forming spirals and other soft bends, as long as they can be work hardened or are not structural. However, it is also very brittle and has less workability before it will break — which means it is not forgiving at all if you make a mistake.
Full hard wire will not be able to form spirals or many other tight shapes.
It is soft enough to bend easily but is hard enough to hold its shape afterwards. It can also be used for wrapping and coiling wire , as well as some structural work, depending on the gauge of the wire.
Half hard wire is great for making ear wires , jump rings, hoop earrings, and other shapes. In some cases, half hard wire may require minimal work hardening but hardening half-hard wire is a breeze compared to dead soft wire! In fact, simply working with the wire and the process of wrapping or coiling it will tend to harden it up a bit as well. As I mentioned before, the softer the wire, the more work hardening it will require to ensure it will retain its shape.
Read What is Work Hardening? Half Hard Wire Wins my Vote While in many cases, the hardness of jewelry wire is very much a personal preference and varies from project to project, I would just like to add that I have personally never used full hard wire.
I have always found work hardening half-hard wire or using a larger gauge to be enough to achieve the strength I need for certain applications instead of buying another material.
For example, I have been unable to find half hard 14 gauge gold filled wire anywhere! But it turns out that that larger size in the dead soft is still not too soft to hold its shape and requires about as much work hardening as the half hard in smaller sizes, in my opinion.
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Now we can move from pen and paper to the workshop and start production!