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Better binding wire

Stainless steel wiRe: if you haven’t tried it it’s worth a look. I
was getting unusually persistent yellow stains on my sterling silver
work --they seemed to penetrate the surface quite deeply-- from using
traditional soft iron binding wire. Admittedly this staining may be
caused by the somewhat exotic flux I’m using but I like
my flux so I was looking for binding wire alternatives.

I’d seen stainless steel wire in the Rio Grande catalogue but it
looked kind of pricey and I had no idea whether it would do the
trick or not. If you can find stainless wire in the hardware store it
is often pricey too and it’s at least half-hard to boot. While
browsing through the same hardware store one afternoon I noticed
stainless steel cable was a little over a buck a meter. On a return
trip I brought my micrometer, measured the individual strands and
found they were about .010", exactly the same as the standard binding
wire I was using.

I bought a meter of the cable, pulled it apart a little and found
there were six bundles of 12 strands each. So for little more than
$1 I had 72 meters of the stuff to try out. The trick was to get it
softer than it came, otherwise it would be a bear to work with.

You might think that heating and slow cooling would be the recipe
for annealing, as with carbon steels, but it ain’t so. That leaves
the stainless half-hard at best. A little research and I learned that
hot quenching was the suggested procedure and that worked great. I
heat one of the bundles to a nice cherry red, let it darken until the
red is almost gone and quench in cold water. The result is near
dead-soft stainless wire with a small amount of heat discoloration.

I use the stainless wire as I would use regular binding wiRe: double
it over and run a twist in it for strength. Of course this work
hardens it a bit but it doesn’t seem too bad.

Used in the soldering process the stainless wire is a dream. No
stains on the work piece; it doesn’t take the solder the way regular
binding wire sometimes does; and there is very little degradation in
the wire through the soldering process so you can use it over again
if you like. I find that useful if I’m doing a number of pieces where
I’ll repeat the same soldering setup. Apparently you can also toss
stainless straight into the pickle without worrying about pickle
contamination. This might be useful if you use pickle as your
post-solder quench (I don’t).

The only downside to using cable as the source is that it takes a
couple hours to undo all the strands. I’d separate the bundles,
anneal them, then undo each bundle into the strands. Rather time

Another limitation in using cable as your source for wire is the
limited selection of strand sizes. I’ve found .008", .010", and
.012". Although this has been fine for my uses it is something to
keep in mind since standard binding wire is usually available in a
much wider range.

While my cable tests have been quite satisfactory I do expect that
my next order with Rio will include some of their stainless binding
wire (p. 334). Their’s is about twice the price per meter of the
stainless cable strands but it comes dead soft and you don’t have to
spend hours prepping it for use.

One final note: some stainless steel cable comes coated. I have no
idea what the coating is but I don’t think I want to be burning it
off in my studio. It’s easy enough to avoid though as non-coated
cable is widely available.

Trevor F.

This is safety tie wire used to secure machinery parts from
vibration see:
Stainless Steel Lock Wire (1 Lb. spool) :

33365-2VGA     0,032"  dia.     @ $8.99     / spool
33366-1VGA       0.025" dia        @ $8.99     / spool
33367-1VGA     0.041"  dia       @ 6.99      / spool

You can buy the same thing from many industrial supply houses.


I have had a number of people over the years purchase tianium wire
for binding. It is annealed, won’t discolor and is unaffected by
studio acids. Bill

Another very accessible source of stainless wire is a welding supply
house. Look at both the cut wire but more likely the MIG spool
wire. heaver than the cable wire but lots easier to deal with. The
MIG wire will be work hardened so that it can be pushed through the
MIG cables but it will soften if just heated red and let air cool.
I use it al the time in the foundry.

The cable idea is good too, but as stated, a pain to untwist and
only smaller wire sizes are easily available. Also nichrome wire
from ceramics houses is a type of/sort of stainless steel. It is
made to take a great deal of heat but it is more pricey than the
welding wire.

John Dach

The company that provides aircraft safety wire is:

They make the stuff Harbor Freight sells down to 0,025 " dia which
is what I have. They also make finer wire 0.20" and 0.015" dia in
stainless steel. They also have other materials available.


    I have had a number of people over the years purchase tianium
wire for binding. It is annealed, won't discolor and is unaffected
by studio acids. Bill 

Yes I use Bill’s titanium wire as binding. It’s good! Esp good for
those special joints where I’m bound to get a little solder over-run
and where I won’t want to be filing the iron away. The only thing I’d
say is it lacks the slight give that iron has, leading to the
occasional breaking when I twist the wire too tightly. I know we’re
not supposed to tension the binding at the twist. rather it’s better
to make cranks along the length at strategic points, but sometimes
the initial twist (in Ti) will break if I’m rough doing it.

B r i a n A d a m
e y e g l a s s e s j e w e l l e r y

For interested list readers; regarding source of supply for titanium
(Nitinol) wire - check online at - I have no

Has anyone tried either Nichrome or Nitinol as a pin finding during
the prolonged sintering of (silver) PMC ?

Reportedly similar to nichrome; nitinol is a nickel-titanium alloy
(discovered by the Naval Ordnance Labs). Generally 55% nickel with
balance being titanium. Reportedly a shape memory alloy which
exhibits elastic properties and (Nitinol) may behave much the same
as stainless. Regards, Mark

In the original post I had mentioned off-hand that I’d seen
stainless steel binding wire in the Rio Grande catalog but had been a
bit turned off it because it seemed pricey. Having followed up on a
number of excellent sourcing recommendations I feel compelled to
revise my original statement.

Rio’s prices on the stainless steel wire are actually quite
reasonable when compared to a number of other sources. True, there
are minor variations here and there where another source might be
slightly cheaper for a particular size of wire. However, overall Rio
is pretty competitive and certainly offers a range of wire diameters
best suited to our type of work.

Trevor F.

I wouldn’t recommend nitinol as a binding wire !! It is a shape
remembering alloy. It can be deformed cold but will return to its
original form when heated. Not very useful as a soldering clamp. I
remember first seeing this stuff at NOL about 25-30 years ago. see: