Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Buying draw plate tips


#1

I am looking at drawing plates and have been cautioned about getting
a good one. Even though I read constantly that a poor one is a waste
of money, no one ever goes into detail about what a cheap one does or
does not do. They range hugely in cost from about $8 to $180 and some
do not do down farther than about 16 ga. I will not use it on a daily
basis. I can assume that the highest price are probably the best, but
what also an “exceptable” substitute? Is hardened steel good enough
or will only the tungsten carbide keep me from going crazy when I
draw wire down.

Best supplier in the US??? Rio has a tungsten carbide that goes down
to about 28 ga for $69

also, while I’m on the subject, what do you think about these as
drawing tongs? I like the fact that you can tighten it down and not
have to apply contact pressure using your hands. But are they heavy
duty enough??

{eBay link removed - sorry no eBay links on Orchid}


#2

I always try to buy the best tools possible. Sometimes my wallet and
my wife disagree with that philosophy.

Cheap draw plates will never be properly hardened and the edges of
the inside of the holes are ragged and leave your wire imperfect. The
regular draw tongs from India, otoh, are adequate in my opinion. The
kind that you have to crank down onto wire are difficult to use. Just
wrap a shop towel around the handle to make it thicker and therefore
easier to hold closed.


#3

Hi Diane

A good quality hardened steel DP should last a life time, I have
several which I bought when I was starting up 40 years ago. Mine are
mostly French in mm measurements. I also have tungsten carbide ones
for finer wires, from 2 to 1mm and 1 downwards. The steel ones will
last if you make sure your silver etc. is dry and acid free. And you
use lots of lubricant.

I use ‘drylube’ I think it is American. Beeswax is ok. Traditionally
Bears grease was used. Not to day I hope.

Later buy a Dutton boat winch and make a drawbench, attach some
heavy polypropelene webbing, not car seatbelt.

As to draw tongs I dont know whats available, I have used second
hand long handled fencing pliers in an emergency. I like the sound of
the ‘tightening down’ ones.

David Cruickshank
Australia


#4

Diane,

My drawplates were made by Joliot of Paris, they are hardened steel
and have served me well for the past 30 years. If you are drawing
wires that are gold, silver or copper hardened steel draw plates are
fine. I would advise the use of a draw bench also, it is great for
drawing wires but also is useful for straightening wires. If you do
not know the method here it is. First anneal the wire, bend one end
of the wire over on itself, feed the other end of the wire through a
hole on the draw plate, using a hole that is slightly larger
diameter than the wire to be straightened. Place the draw plate on
the drawbench, grip the free end of the wire in the tongs, then
gently turn the drawbench handle a fraction of a turn until the wire
is taught straight, then reverse the turn on the handle and you will
have a straighened length of wire.

Peace and good health for all.
James Miller FIPG


#5

Diane,

We use a drawplate a lot in our studio, as most of us make our own
wire. The 2 round wire drawplates we commonly use in the studio are
fairly inexpensive ones, that do NOT have the more expensive carbide
inserts. The potential problem with the drawplates which have the
pressed-in inserts, is that if you are not careful, and happen to
pull a stuck piece of wire out of the drawplate in the same direction
it went in, you can pop out the insert, which is difficult to
re-attach solidly into the drawplate. If you are missing an insert,
you can’t skip that missing hole as you draw down wire sizes with the
drawplate.

Essentially, you will have a “handicapped” plate.

Other jewelers out there will certainly have their own take on the
value of carbide-insert drawplates, and maybe a way to fix popped out
inserts. I’m just fine with our round wire ( insert-less) drawplates,
as the wire comes out perfectly smooth.

As far as other shapes in drawplates, we don’t use half-round or
square plates, as we make all those shapes with our rolling mills.

A suggestion: an inexpensive bench drawing machine is vital, unless
the wire you are making is pretty thin.

The drawing machine ( mine was less than $200, complete) will take
the “muscle” out of making all sizes of wire and tubing. For small
ga. wire, you can put the drawplate into a heavy bench-mounted vise
and pull with draw tongs.

As far as draw tongs go, look for a heavy model with the hook in the
handle (so your hands don’t slip off) and a curved ( instead of
squared-off) tip. This curved end is for rocking out a short tapered
wire tip from the drawplate, to get a longer piece of wire to grip
with the tongs. Have fun making wire! Remember to make your square
wire about 2 gauges larger than the round wire you plan to make from
it.

Jay Whaley


#6

I have 3 draw plates that I never use so I can’t really comment on
the draw plates. What I do use are individual drawing dies. They are
carbide dies set in a steel housing. They cost about $20 per wire
size for made to order in the US dies (company called Summit Dies).
If a die wears out I replace the on piece. I do draw some tough stuff
like stainless and I’m using a 7 pass wire drawing machine so it’s
not a solution for everyone but it is another option. The dies fit
nicely into the drawing machine so if you are using as a drawplate
you need to figure out how to hold the die.

Jon Daniels


#7

I bought three small, very cheap, Indian made drawplates many years
ago when I’d just started learning to work metal. They were about
$AU15 when the Aussie dollar wasn’t much more than US.60 cents. One
was round, one square and one half round.

As to what they will or won’t do:

I only used one… it is so rough, nothing will pull through
smoothly, no matter how well lubricated, and the resulting wire is
rough to the touch. Further, the holes are uneven and go down in much
too large increments.

In other words, I totally wasted money I could ill afford at the
time.

I’ll leave it to others to advise on the best mid range drawplates!

Jane
www.australiannaturalgemjewellery.com.au


#8

Cheap or Expensive they all serve their purpose.

Cheap ones cost up to $30
Good Steel ones cost from $60 and up
Good Carbide ones cost fro $78 and up

Good STEEL BRANDS are JOLIOT, PELLERAIN, FAVORITE & ITALY.

CARBIDES you have to look for “MRM” brand part # SRM10, SRM20, SRM30
and SRM1.Came from Taiwan and Thailand.

There are knockoffs that come from China. Any carbide drawplate
under $ 75.00 is a fake or cheap quality.

The external plate may look the same as the Original and some even
have the same Numbers.

Take a Jewelers loupe and look at the opening specially the smaller
end where the wire exits.

The cheaper drawplates will have unfinished porous holes the carbide
insert is cast to size and not polished. The expensive ones will have
miror finished holes true to size polished to the actual measurement.
(usually cost 4 times more).

The inner surface you see inside small end of the drawplate hole
will determine how shinny and clean your wire will be.

If the wire you are getting is not clean with horizontal lines you
have to check the drawplate.

Kenneth Singh
KARAT46
46 JEWELRY SUPPLY NY


#9

When I was starting off in metalsmithing I purchased several "cheap"
drawplates, made in India. I have used each one only once. They are
now paperweights. The draw holes are so badly finished that any wire
passing through is marred with grooves along the entire length. The
half round wire also seems to draw out with a twist which can be
annoying to straighten out. I have tried to modify/repair, but soon
gave up and purchased better quality drawplates, both steel and TC,
which are great. There really is no substitute for quality…

John Bowling


#10

FYI-I bought some cheap (from India) drawplates on eBay, and they are
a curse-they scratch and chip my silver wire, the hole increments are
not even. I do use lube (Burlube), anneal frequently, and sand or
file chips and scrapes off, but there seems to be no workaround for
decent end results. I now realize that I am wasting my time and
materials with them and am looking to buy better ones! My question
is: how little money can I get away with spending for a usable set
of plates? I need 12ga-about 26ga round, 10ga-22ga square and
8ga-14ga low dome half round.

Joris


#11
My question is: how little money can I get away with spending for a
usable set of plates? I need 12ga-about 26ga round, 10ga-22ga
square and 8ga-14ga low dome half round. 

Take the plates you already have and polish them on the inside.
Bronze rod, some diamond abrasive, and some elbow grease - and you
will have the set of plates to be proud off.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#12

Please go to Guesswine for Carbide Holes in a multi-size holes
draw-plate. Use beeswax or 3-in-1 on the holes when drawing. You will
not have to polish your wire after the pull. I have used mine for the
last 1000 years and I am sure it will out-last me.

Stephen Wyrick, CMBJ
Gemmologist


#13

Otto Frei’s selection of Italian made draw-plates is quite good and
I have never had a problem with the quality of the wire drawn in
them.

http://www.ottofrei.com/store/home.php?cat=949

Draw-plates are one of those places where cheap means bad. If you
want good wire buy a good draw-plate. The German, French and Italian
ones tend to be the best

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#14
Take the plates you already have and polish them on the inside.
Bronze rod, some diamond abrasive, and some elbow grease - and you
will have the set of plates to be proud off. 

I agree with Leonid. I used a very cheap set of indian made plates
for 20 years - but my tutor showed me how to turn them into a decent
set with diamond polish. I could draw wires down to.05" with
relative ease.

I bought a new set five years ago and donated my old ones to a
student when I left the UK to come to the USA.

Somewhere out there they’re probably still going strong.

Now here’s the clever bit. I asked the student to pass the plates on
when she got a new set and to use the same condition to the new
owner. Maybe they’ll still be around in 1000 years?


#15

Leonid,

What a great idea! I’ve never heard of anyone polishing the dies of
their drawplate. Why not?

It just goes to show that so many tools need to be modified or
improved to get the performance we require.

Jay


#16
Otto Frei's selection of Italian made draw-plates is quite good
and I have never had a problem with the quality of the wire drawn
in them. 
http://www.ottofrei.com/store/home.php?cat=949 

The variety of draw plates from Otto Frei is SOOOO cool. Although I
have no need, I find myself coveting them. One question: How
difficult is it to draw wire through some of the plates with pointed
edges like the half-moon shape or star shape and not have those edges
break or deform?

Jamie


#17

Leonid,

Take the plates you already have and polish them on the inside.
Bronze rod, some diamond abrasive, and some elbow grease - and you
will have the set of plates to be proud off. 

I am machining my own drawplates out of tool steel. Can you describe
the process of polishing the hole using the tools you suggest in
somewhat greater detail?

Thanks,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#18
I am machining my own drawplates out of tool steel. Can you
describe the process of polishing the hole using the tools you
suggest in somewhat greater detail? 

To polish a drawplate one can use many options. Bronze rod works
well, but can increase the size somewhat. Shape bronze rod to
correspond conical profile of drawplate holes and use some diamond
abrasive. One needs drill press for that. If several drawplates needs
to be polished, consider using clover compound. It is cheaper than
diamond and specially formulated for steel. The disadvantage is that
is sold in large cans. Diamond can be less expensive that buying
several cans of different grades.

Final polish is best achieved with hardwood dowels. Principle is the
same. Secure dowel in drill press, apply some polishing medium and
you ready to go. Dowel needs to shaped only approximately. It will
quickly assumes profile of a opening.

If you have access to a machine shop, conical reamers are great but
very expensive. This is a luxury option.

If holes are very rough, it may pay to make a conical punch, with
profile required. It needs to be made in high speed steel. It can be
accomplished with drill press, but lathe is the best. High speed is
required because punch should be able to retain hardness at elevated
temperatures. Harden and polish punch very well. Heat drawplate to
bright red. It is a good idea to cover drawplate with liquid soap
prior to heating. Punch should be mounted in drill press. Drill press
should not be on. In this case it is used as press only. Apply punch
to red hot opening and press firmly. If necessary re-heat and
repeat. Of course, if you have access to foot operated press, it
works even better. Some of the metal will be forced out, so drawplate
need to be made flat after finishing all holes. After hardening
polish with fine abrasive and wood dowel. Hardening is tricky due to
warping. Plunge with stabbing motions at 30 degrees angle.

Please understand that all these processes take a lot of time. I was
making drawplates back in Russia, but only because one cannot buy
ready made. Even if you value your time at 3 bucks an hour, it will
be cheaper to buy high quality draw plate already made.

The process only makes sense for profiles not commercially
available.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com