How to Choose Right Craft Wire?
Craft wire is widely used in jewelry making, floral arrangement and other crafts. So it is important to choose the proper craft wire for your applications. When choosing craft wires, what you must keep in mind are wire gauge, wire shape and wire hardness.
There are many different wire sizes. The higher the gauge number, the smaller the wire is in diameter. In the United States, wire is measured in gauge while wire size is measured in millimeters in most European countries. Here is a list of some commonly used gauges and their uses.
- 16 gauge (1.29mm): heavy and thick wire. You must use it with heavy duty tools. It is widely used for wire sculpture, bracelet bases, unsupported shapes and neck wires.
- 18 gauge (1.02mm): medium thick wire. You can use with regular jewelry tools. It can be used for wine charms, clasps, gift wrapping, decorations, wire wrapping beads with large holes and chain making.
- 20 gauge (0.81mm): medium wire. You can use with regular jewelry tools. It is a good general-purpose wire for making ear wires, headpins, and small wire clasps. Good for wire wrapping most glass beads, coiled beads, and eye pins.
- 22 gauge (0.64mm): medium thin wire. You can use with regular jewelry tools. It is ideal for wire wrapping beads like Austrian Crystals or transparent semi-precious beads, scrapbooking and paper crafts.
- 24 gauge (0.51mm: thin wire. You can use with regular jewelry tools. Project It can be used for wire wrapping smaller crystals, semi-precious beads, and freshwater pearls to chain, rubber stamping and delicate embellishments.
- 26 gauge (0.41mm): very thin wire. Tools with very fine tips should be used with this wire. It can be used for wire stitching, embroidery, and seed bead projects.
- 28 - 34 gauge (0.32 - 0.16mm): very, very fine wire. Tools with very fine tips should be used with this wire. This wire is perfect for wire weaving, crocheting and free form wire wrapping using small beads.
There are three different kinds of wire hardness. They are dead soft, half-hard and full-hard.
- Dead soft wire is extremely soft and pliable. It can be bent with our hands. It is great for wire-sculpted jewelry but shouldn’t be used with large or heavy stones.
- Half-hard wire is slightly harder than dead soft wire. This is because it has been pulled through a draw plate. A draw plate is a tool. The draw plate has holes the same size and shape of the wire.
- Full-hard wire is pulled through the draw plate more times than the half-hard wire making it stiffer and sturdier. The harder the wire, the more tools you will need to handle it.
Wire comes in a variety of shapes. They are round, half-round and flat. Although round wire seems to be more versatile, flat and half-round wire is popular, too. Half round wire is often wrapped around other pieces of wire to connect them and the flat wire is great for wire-wrapping projects.
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