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Basic steps for making wire


I really hate to admit this, being an engineer, but what are the
grooves for in the rolling mill. The mill didnt come with
instructions, probably because its a no-brainer, but I have put all
sorts of metal through the groves without getting anything that I can
use… I have the two main rollers for making sheet, and two
outside rollers, one flat and one with grooves that look like half

My objective is to make silver and gold wire, but I’m at a loss as to
where to start. I’ve seen several listings on how to make ignots and
how to make wire ignots, but being a beginner, now what once I have an
ignot. How do you go from a ignot to a 20 gauge wire, and how do you
go from a wire ignot to 20 gauge wire.

Any help would be appreciated, I’ve gone through the Orchis archives
and either didnt query on the right subject or couldnt find the answer
because it isnt there.

Love and God Bless

    I really hate to admit this, being an engineer, but what are
the grooves for in the rolling mill. 

Randy, the grooves are for making 1/2 round wire. You have to have
two rollers with the grooves to make round wire. There are probably
plenty of Orchidians out there who will give you step-by-step
instructions for making 1/2 round wire. I know the subject has been
covered, but I don’t remember the string. Personally, I’ve only been
that desperate once, and I started with round wire :slight_smile: K.P. in WY


Hi Randy computers are different than rollers after rolling to
the size closest to the size wire you want to make, you need a draw
plate to make the actual wire that can be any shape thatis on your
plate. Just to play around I bought cheap drawplates from t s i
somewhere out in the west We are in florida right now and i dnt
have thier catalog but many folks on orchid would have it you
will need a heavy bench. a good sized vise to hold the drawplate and
a pair of large visegrips r drawtongs to pull the piecemthrough the
plat hole keep reducing the size of the hole till its the diam you
or guage anneal the wire aech 2 sizes reduced to keep from br3aking
wire and making it eqasier to pull through yell if you need more
a heavy drawbench would help and drawingas of one can be found in tim
mccreights complet metalsmith bookkk lol leon st louis


Sorry Randy, I left one important thing out. At some point the
rolled square wire gets drawn through a draw plate which is a steel
plate about 1/4" thick with a series of tapered holes. When you pull
the square stock through the plate it rounds it and compresses it
further until you reach the size you need. Best of luck. MP


Randy, You NEED a DRAWPLATE! It is a device that has a series of
holes that are set in a line and gradually get smaller. You first
mill the metal to small square wire and then file one end to a
gradual(3/4inch)(sometimes less in length) point. The point is then
inserted into one larger hole in the drawplate. Draw tongs are then
used to PULL the wire through this hole. Use a lubricant to preserve
the integrity of the drawplate and relieve resistance. The objective is
to then insert the “draw dog” (the end you sharpened) into the next
smaller hole…and so on…remembering to anneal everyso often
depending on the metal you have(more often with white gold, and very
rarely with platinum). 10kt gold is a pain, 18kt yellow pulls easy.
I have several antique drawplates and a few new ones. Most 'modern’
ones have carbide inserts and they produce beautiful shiny wire. I
hope this helps.


Hi Randy, Many rolling mills have a section with triangular notches in
both the top and bottom roller. After pouring a cylindrical ingot,
you feed the ingot through these notches to make a squarish rod. As
you repeatedly feed the rod through successively smaller notches you
wind up with square wire. It is important to anneal the wire after
the first pass or two and again at intervals to keep the wire from
getting too hard and cracking. You should also take care to keep
having the same end of the wire enter the mill first.

The outside rollers would be useful for making half round wire as for
ring shanks. Hope this helps.


Hi Randy, there are other variants of rolling mills having wire
grooves. The wire grooves are more or less square shaped and you start
with a wire ingot of suitable size (basically any thickness larger
that your target wire will do). Anneal so that the metal is soft (I
only work in silver but I’ve read here at Orchid about gold -
something like that after making an ingot you have to forge the ingot
before rolling otherwise it might/will crack - search the archives
for that part). Adjust your mill so that you can roll your ingot
through the square shaped openings in the wire part of the mill turn
the ingot 1/4 and roll it again. Narrow your mill and roll again. Once
you’ve got your wire down a bit you can go for the smaller wire
openings in your mill. And by the way - you have to anneal now and
then otherwise your wire will crack - you can feel cracks if you pull
the wire through the palm of your hand - file any cracks away and
anneal… Once you’ve got your wire (now square shaped) down to a
reasonable thickness (measure the width - has to be greater than your
target diameter - you go for the draw plate and pull the wire down to
the diameter you’re looking for. The only part that I find tricky is
to know when to anneal for the final time depending on how hard I want
the target wire - dead soft is simple - just anneal when ready but
half hard (or what you call it in English) is more difficult - Tips
anyone? This was a lot of words but it is really very simple - use
the rolling mill as long as possible - it is much easier to roll than
to pull, especially down to - say 2.5 mm and remember: anneal often.
Now, about your rolling mill, sounds like that it is a sheet rolling
mill- the half round part (usually on the outside of the mill) is used
to roll domed wire (“half-round”). You might be able to use that part

  • or indeed the sheet part - might be tricky though. I looked in the
    Rio catalogue and the display a number combination rolling mills and
    I just looked up my Durston on (not
    personally connected of course - just happy customer etc…) and there
    you also can se the wire part of the combination mills. Maybe you can
    change rollers on yours - check with the mfg. Have I confused you by
    now - you’ll probably get a much clearer description from someone of
    the real proos here - I’m just a happy part time silver smith, but
    being so I watch my costs more than I probably would do if I only did
    silver smithing - in that case I would probably just buy the wire in
    the right thickness and leave this stuff to the people with the

Good Luck!

Lars Dahlberg/Gotland/Sweden


as far as a heavy bench to hold your drawplate when pulling wire. i
found the easiest way is to put the draw plate on the soles of my
feet and use my legs to push as my arms pull. cheap and it’s always
right there!


The grooves on your mill are there to make square wire. If you start
with a thick rod it will roll down into square. Roll it until you get
near the gauge of round wire you want then switch to a draw plate.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140


Sorry to hear you are confused… but this fairly simple process
will take quite a while. Of course first you make you ingot try to
make it a thin one so it will fit in the groves on the rolling mill,
roll the ingot through, going smaller and smaller, make sure you
aneal you metal! For the best bet after you have it down to a
smaller gauge is to use a draw plate, they come in many shapes, half
round, square, round etc… It’s going to take a long time to get
it from an ingot to 20 gauge wire. I’ve been working on making a
silver ingot into wire, it’s now apox 1/4 in diameter after a whole
lot of rolling it in the groved of the rolling mill and pulling it
through the draw plate. Good luck… Amanda



I think what you have is capable of making half round wire. Usually
you get 2 flat (for sheet) or 2 round (for round wire)or 2 die wheels
with shaper grooves for rolling square wire. This will still leave
you far heavier than 20 gage. What you need for the next step is draw
plates and tongs. The draw plates have tapered holes. The end of the
wire is filed or sanded to taper enough to fit the holes. The piece
is pulled through the die with the use of the tongs. They use a
lubricant to help the metal pass through. I still use bees wax.
After the wire gets hardened (which you can tell by how hard it is to
pull or the wire curling) you anneal the wire. Repeat until you get
to the right gage. Draw plates are in every major catalog. They come
in round, square. half round, and combination sizes.

Here is a hint. Give yourself lots of room while pulling wire. If
the wire snaps you may end up falling. This is one sport where being
heavier is an advantage!

Steve Ramsdell


Hey theRe: I use a steel rack attached to some old workboots…I can
change the plates easily. This has been an effiecent method and has
saved many hours of frustration and strained back…
Cya…John Henry


Comming from a pro , all the previous is correct
however,you Must oil your draw plat , you must pickle the metal :
gold, silver etc. Very important: when you are ready to heat the
wire before pulling via the Draw plate,do not heat the first inch
.the first inch must remain hard at all Times .the reason being, the
first inch of wire will help you pull the Entire soft length. Try
and use clean metal and also the first inch of the Wire must be
filed into a niddle type end. Have a nice day .