Wire can be used in many crafts from floral arrangements to jewelry making. It’s, therefore, important that you know the right wire type that you will use for your crafts. In terms of choosing the right type of wire, you should make sure you know the important features, including hardness and size of the wire.
The three important things that you must know about are:
- Wire hardness
- Wire gauge
- Wire shape
Wire hardness is identified in three forms:
- Dead soft
- Half hard
- Full hard
The dead soft wire is highly pliable and extremely soft. This is the kind of wire that you can bend with your bare hands. It’s ideal for jewelry that’s wire sculpted but you should never use it for heavy or large stone jewelry.
Half hard wires are relatively harder than dead soft wire. This wire has been pulled through a draw plate, a tool that has holes which give the wire the shape and size that it has.
Full hard wire is a wire that has been pulled through a draw plate several times than a half-hard wire. Therefore, a full hard wire should be stronger and stiffer than a half hard wire. Remember that the harder a wire is, the more tools you might need just to handle it.
Wires are available in different shapes. You can find them either flat, half-round or round. Round wire is one of the most versatile wires available. However, half-round and flat wires are also popular, for different reasons.
Half-round wire can be wrapped around different wire pieces to keep them connected. Flat wire, on the other hand, is ideal for wire-wrapping different objects.
Wires are available in different sizes. The smaller the gauge number, the bigger the wire is in terms of its diameter. Gauge is measured in different metrics. In the US, for example, it’s measured in gauge, while in most countries in Europe, it’s measured in millimeters.
The following are some of the common gauge measurements, and the uses to which the wires are put:
- 16 gauge – This wire is very thick and heavy. You will need heavy duty tools to work with it. It’s often ideal for bracelet bases, wire sculpture, neck wires and any unsupported shape.
- 18 gauge – This is medium thick wire. It’s convenient with normal jewelry tools. You can use it to make decorations, wrapping gifts, making clasps or wine charms. It can also help in making chains.
- 20 gauge – This is medium thick wire. It can be used with normal jewelry tools and is considered a general-purpose wire. It’s commonly used in making small wire clasps, headpins and car wires.
- 22 gauge – This is medium thin wire. You can use it with normal jewelry tools. It’s perfect for making paper crafts and for semi-precious beads.
- 24 gauge – This is a thin wire. It can also be used with regular jewelry tools. It’s ideal for wrapping small crystals, affixing freshwater pearls to a chain or for delicate embellishments.
- 26 gauge – This is a very thin type of wire. Tools that can be used with this wire must have very fine tips. You can use it for seed bead projects, embroidery, and wire stitching.
- 34 gauge – This is very fine, thin wire. You should only use tools that have very fine tips with it. You can use it for weaving or crocheting, especially with tiny beads.