Cheap and expensive drawplate

Hi Doug,

 I have a need for different size wire from time to time but can't
justify the cost of the high price plates for occasional use. Can
any one tell me what the trade offs are, and sources for

Basically, we’ll only talk about steel drawplates. There are
drawplates made with carbide & diamond inserts as well, but they’re
used mostly in industry for drawing difficult material or thousands
of miles of wire.

The main difference between the cheap & expensive drawplates, other
than country of origin, is the finsih of the holes. The expensive
drawplates tend to have a higher finish applied to the holes. An
other common difference is the size variation between holes. The
size variation is more uniform in the expensive plates. I’ve seen
cheap plates where 2 or 3 side by side holes have had the same

If the holes are other than round (square, oval, etc), the shapes
sometimes vary from hole to hole & the smallest hole may be to large
to be very practical. The hole finish also leaves something to be

If you aren’t afraid of doing a little finish work on your own, the
holes in a cheap drawplate can be polished using round toothpicks, a
flexshaft & diamond grit. The diamond can be purchased from folks
who sell faceting supplies. It’s available from 100 to 200,000 grit.
Mixed with a little oil & appiled to the tooth pick it does wonders
for polishing the holes.


Steel Draw Plates:- The best draw plates were made by “JOUBERT” &
“PELLERIN” in FRANCE. These were expensive and the ITALIANS put them
out of business. The Italian draw Plate was never as good. Then
there are steel draw plates Made in INDIA (no good at all).

Tungsten Drawplates these are far better than the Steel draw plates.
These can be highly polished (mirror finish). Due to intensive labor
the better ones came from TAIWAN. The three most popular sizes were
SRM-10, SRM-20 and SRM-30.

SRM-10 24 hole wire sizes, SRM-30 36 hole wire sizes & SRM-30 24
hole for Tubes.

Recently they have been copied by China and they put out a 39 hole
Draw Plate for wire. This may be Tungsten Carbide but does not have
the high polish and is not as good.

The inner surface of the hole in the draw plate determines the
finish on the wire that you draw. Tungsten is cast and some of these
Chinese drawplates have porosity holes which translate into
scratches. The Tungsten Insert is rather small compared to the
TAIWAN drawplates. The Chinese do not know or cannot afford the
polishing techniques.

Look for the SRM #'s & ask the vendor if the product is from China.
Always take a 10x magnifier and inspect the holes. If the price is
cheap then it cannot be the real thing.

We have been selling the KARAT Draw Plates for the past 20 years &
never had a complain except when customers go for price.

Kenneth Singh

I have both steel and carbide drawplates. While it is true that
carbide drawplates are ground to greater precision and polish, the
steel drawplates that I own have proven perfectly serviceable. The
sizes that I use range from .25mm up to about 9mm. The largest is an
antique that I suspect is a hundred years old or more. It has
suffered some severe abuse but until fairly recently I was using it
to make tubing. It has since been replaced in practice with a steel
drawplate that runs from about 8mm to 5mm that I use quite often. I
also use from time to time oval and square drawplates. The only
carbide plat that I have coincides with a steel plate that runs from
1mm down to .25mm. I have been very happy with the steel drawplates
over the years. Don’t underestimate their value. In their case, I
don’t think that inexpensive necessarily equates to cheap.

A note: A lot of years ago, I was working with springs and needed a
slightly smaller gauge that I had on hand. Attempting to pull the
wire through a carbide drawplate was disastrous. One of the dies
split under the pressure. the result was a drawplate that was
virtually missing a hole. Pulling a piece of gold wire through that
die resulted in fins corresponding to the crack. Big mistake. I had
done the same thing a couple of years earlier with a steel drawplat
and got good results. Consider this a learning experience. Steel has
it’s place.

Bruce Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler

I have about 15 drawplates, all of them are steel in quite a wide
range of sizes and shapes; round, oval, square, triangle, trillion.
I use them daily, for many things; wire-making, tubing, forming,
finishing my crochet chains, and fabricating settings, they can even
serve as a bezel block in a pinch.

I have purchased mine from Frei and Borel in Oakland California
800-772-3456 . They are very well made, average
from $70 to $150 each, and are good quality tools which will far
outlast the life-span of any one goldsmith.

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist @Michael_David_Sturl1

Michael Sturlin
Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA