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Draw Bench

Hi All, Here’s something I’ve been interested in getting into for
some time… What’s the story with a draw bench? Is it a huge
undertaking to get started making my own wire? Does it require super
human strength to pull it? And what is the best unit to start on? Any
tips would be appreciated.

Thanks, Drew Andrew Horn Designer, Alythea Arts

A good heavy duty vice, (to hold the draw plate, always horizontal
never vertical,) a pair of draw tongs, about 15 feet of heavy nylon
rope , and a hand wench. ( I use a boat wench salvaged from an old
boat trailer). Mount the vice on one end of a sturdy work bench
and the wench on the other end. Attach the rope to the wench and
place a slip knot in the othe end. Put the slip knot around the
handle of the draw tongs so that it tightens as you crank the wench.
Put the business end of the draw tongs on the wire coming out of the
draw plate, hold them tight and tighten down on the rope by cranking
the wench. It takes a little practice but you should be cranking
wire in no time… It helps to have a rolling mill to bring the wire
down to a managable size from the ingot . If you don’t have a mill
you might as well order wire in the size you need unless you want
some exotic shapes that you have draw plates for. I hyave been
pulling my own wire for over 30 years and believe that the equipment
necessary to do the work has paid for itself several times over.
There is also the convience of always having the exact size and
shape wire you need. Frank Goss


Nothing too exotic required,

Boat trailer winch bolted to a 2x4 or two (making a tee cross
section for strength) Hardwood ‘ears’ glued and screwed into notches
to hold draw plate regular slip joint pliers with a 2" hoop slipped
over handles to pull and close

If you don’t make it strong enough the first time you’ll be more
experienced for the second attempt. Remember that a steel winch cable
is ELASTIC. Mine has survived 10 years, hangs in a corner til needed,
clamp in a bench vice to use. Charles Lewton-Brain discusses homemade
draw benches in his hinge and in Cheap Thrills books, probably
worthwhile to check the Orchid archives.

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modeling & Goldsmithing


It is certainly possible to make wire without a draw bench. Clamp
the draw plate in a vise and pull the wire through it. The advantage
of the draw bench becomes obvious when you are trying to pull large
diameter wire through the draw plate. Unless you are built like the
Hulk, it ain’t gonna happen!

I worked for years without a draw bench and didn’t think I need one.
When one came my way at a good price, I bought it. I soon wondered
why I didn’t buy one sooner. Now, I use it almost every day. It makes
easy work of drawing down tubing, square wire, rectangular wire, etc.
Imagine having a rolling mill without a reduction gear: it is a LOT
of work converting an ingot of 14k to 24 ga. sheet. So, you soon
learn to avoid it, buying more metal pre-made and pre-rolled. With a
reduction mill (or a power mill), the job becomes so much easier that
you won’t hesitate to make your own alloy and roll it to whatever
size you need. The money you spent on the equipment becomes less that
the money you save on excess inventory, especially if you are working
in 18k and platinum.

You don't need to spend a lot to get a good draw bench. Otto Frei

lists several in their catalog. The floor mounted ones come in 24’'
and 44" lengths. I recommend the longer one, unless you have a space
issue. They also have a tabletop model that you can hang on the wall
when not in use. Other tool suppliers also offer these, so check with
your favorite tool guys.

Douglas Zaruba
Zaruba & Co.
35 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-4556

Hi Drew,

Probably the easiest way to get a little understanding & feel for
drawing wire is by getting a draw plate & draw some existing wire to
a smaller size. A draw bench isn’t required. All that’s really
required is: a drawplate, a vise (or other means of holding the
drawplate), a vise grip pliers (or a parallel jaw pliers & a good
grip of your own), a file to file a taper on the end of the wire to
be drawn & some lubricant (bees wax, dishwashing detergent, etc.).
There’s a page or 2 on drawing wire in the Complete Metalsmith.

Draw plates are available with many shapes of holes other than
round, but round would be the recommended shape for learning the


Assuming you’ve got the cash to spare it’s dead easy to get started.
Buy a drawbench, buy a couple drawplates --one round and one square
is a good place to start-- anneal some fat wire or rod, clean it,
taper it down so the tip (at least .25-.5 inch) of it pokes through
the next few holes smaller than the last hole that it will pass
through, rub a little oil or wax along the point and some of the
length, poke it the hole beside the “pass through” hole or the one
next to that, grab the protruding point with the big heavy drawing
tongs that came with the bench, hook up the tongs to the drawing
mechanism, check that everything is stable and ready to go … check
again … and crank away! Voila! Drawn wire.

Of course there are the usual common sense things: don’t try to draw
down too much in a single go, anneal when the wire starts getting
too springy, etc, etc. If you forge the taper on your wire it’ll
stand up better to multiple drawings. If you break a sweat at any
time then either you need to draw down in smaller steps, you need to
anneal more often, or it’s too hot in your studio. There should be no
serious physical effort required. In fact if it’s too much work then
watch out 'cause something could break and you get pointy hard things
flying through the air, usually towards you.

Good options for a purchased bench include everything from the big,
beautiful chain-driven benches (see Durston’s new offering at, Rio Grande has something
similar on page 239, etc) through to a table-top effort such as the
one that was auctioned off at the recent Orchid dinner (see for a picture of it). The cost range
here is $1000-ish down to $200.

Drawplates cover a wide range too. At the high end you’ve got huge
plates with 100 or more holes, spaced by 1/10 mm, and carbide
inserts (these are nice plates!) down to your basic 15 or 20 hole
hardened steel plate. Prices vary widely: $100s down to $20 for
cheapo imports. Of course plates come in every hole shape imaginable.
You can even get combo plates if you like that idea.

Now, assuming you haven’t got buckets of cash to throw at this
there are many cheap alternatives to buying a big expensive bench.
Charles Lewton-Brain’s “Cheap Thrills in the Tool Shop” mentions a
few on p.43-44. I also seem to remember that he was working on or
had completed a new paper that had a section on home-made benches.
Sorry, don’t know details.

Personally I built my own drawbench using a 6’ piece of 4"x6" timber
and a boat winch. I had the plate-holding part custom made at
machine shop out of 1" plate steel. I put casters on one end so I can
stand the whole thing up and roll it into a corner. Total cost for
this drawbench, including tongs, was approx US$200 and it has the
advantage that you can pack the business parts into a small box, toss
the timber and hit the road, should that ever be something you need
to do. The design of this bench is basically the same as the
table-top item mentioned above, but my plate holding setup is much
sturdier. Whether that really matters is debatable.

Hope this helps,
Trevor F.

Hi Andrew,

I make all my own sheet and wire from pure gold. A Canadian Maple
Leaf Coin, which can be bought at any coin store for the price of
gold plus 5%, is 4-Nines or 99.99% pure after the year 1984. The way I
have it figured, is that the fabrication costs for an ounce of gold
is about 30% of the price of gold or about $100+ an ounce. After
using 15 ounces of gold, I have paid for a very nice rolling mill.

I originally made a draw bnech from some pictures one of the Orchid
members sent me. It was a very nice draw bench even if I do say so
myself. Made entirely from bicycle parts which I got for free from
the local bike shop trash bin. Bike chain for pulling, bike Gear to
put the chain on, couple of pedals to hole while turning, and some
wood to mount it on.

I eventually gave it away, as it isnt needed for gold. I have my
draw plate in a vice in the garage on the bench, and draw all my wire
by hand. The reason is that Jean Stark told me not to use the bench,
because the diameter of the wire changes if you pull a length more
than about 18 inches. I wanted really exact wire, the same diameter
from start to finish, in order that my jump rings will be the same
from bracelet to bracelet. It takes just average strength, and I
taught some of the ladies how to do it in Jeans Granulation class
here in Dallas.

  1. Get a good draws plate with carbide inserts if you can find one.

  2. Keep the wire oiled prior to going into the drawplate. I use a
    black paper clamp with a wad of oiled cotton inside.

  3. I filed the ‘teeth’ off of my draw clamps in order not to mark
    the wire. They never have slipped and it makes drawing smaller wire
    (26-30 ga) easier.

  4. Anneal whenever the wire starts to get springy, usually about
    every 2 hole sizes. Better to anneal too much than not enough.

  5. Draw slow and continuous.

Hope this helps
Love and God Bless

    What's the story with a draw bench? Is it a huge undertaking
to get started making my own wire? Does it require super human
strength to pull it? And what is the best unit to start on? 

G’day Andrew et al. Firstly if you want to get into wire drawing
you have to think carefully about what and how. Wire drawing just
for the sake of it is booooring!

But if you will need a variety of wire diameters for whatever it is
you want to do, then your best trick is to buy a wire die which
starts at 2.5mm and goes down from there. You can get these from any
good jewellery tool supplier. The act of wire drawing is very simple
. If you buy wire 2.5 mm diameter, you simply file a taper on the end
of the wire, rub a piece of beeswax or candle on the wire, poke the
tapered end through the hole in the wire die plate next to 2.5 mm,.
grab the protruding wire with a pair of stout pliers, and PULL! Then
continue to the next hole. after about three reductions, anneal the
wire, and carry on. It really doesn’t need great strength.

However, if you make 4 - 5 mm rod from scrap and reduce them down,
then you must first begin with a rolling mill -which’ll cost you
heaps of cash! Otherwiae you will need to be a bit of a body

Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ

The First component in a Draw Becnh is the Draw Tong. Second comes
the Winch. Third is the wire Rope or Belt that pulls the Draw tong
and fourth is a holding device.

A US made vise grip can work for a Draw Tong price $10 to $18.00

Next a good boat winch for about $28 to $ 35.00. (Harbor Freight may
be cheaper).

A vise bolted on a Bench can hold the Draw Plate. $ 15.00 to 25.00

One could put toghter a draw bench for under $100.00.

You could buy a ready made Draw bench mounted on a steel Channel
with all components attached drlilled & Machined for mounting and
holding. With freight and packing shipped any where in the US for $

Kenneth Singh

I’m probably going to be boiled in oil for this response, but I get
such a chuckle out of this very common spelling mistake that I just
had to say something. A WINCH is what you use to pull things along.
A WENCH brings to mind images of a buxom serving lass in a pub in
merry old England, thanks to too many old movies. I once saw an ad
in the newspaper classifieds for a 4WD vehicle with a ‘front mounted
wench’. Brought tears of laughter to my old eyes. Jim

I can’t advise you about a draw bench unit, but Chris Hentz taught
me a way around the “super human strength” problem. He uses a garage
door opener and says it’s awesome.

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Benicia, CA

A WINCH is what you use to pull things along. A WENCH brings to
mind images of a buxom serving lass in a pub in merry old England,
thanks to too many old movies. 

No boiling oil, just a fun family memory. My late father, when a
very young lad, was in some school play, perhaps a bit of shakespear
or something of the sort, where the line he was required to recite was
"come hither wench". At that age, he had no idea what a wench was,
and assumed he’d mis-heard the line, so he said it the way it sort of
seemed to make sense. It came out, “come hither, wrench”. to the
considerable amusement of the assembled audience…

Oh, and for the record, I can think of a few wenches I’ve met who
were themselves pretty good at pulling things along (like their
guys, to social functions the guys didn’t want to go to…)


    What's the story with a draw bench? 

The first draw bench I ever built, back when I was just out of
school and on a very restricted budget, was about as simple and cheap
as it gets. It was just a series of one inch deep holes drilled in a
piece of 2 x 4 lumber. That got C-clamped to the workbench top, with
one end butted up against the vise that was already mounted there.
Then I took a length of sturdy iron rod or pipe (I don’t recall which
it was) and attached a hook made from quarter inch steel rod ,
attaching it about four inches from one end so that with the end of
the steel rod inserted in a hole, the hook was just about level with
the vise jaws. I used a vise grip plier with a ring attached to one
end, as a draw tong. After fixing the plier to the end of the wire,
I’d catch the ring with the hook, and use the long lever of the bar,
with it’s short end stuck in a hole, to pull the plier along,
switching holes every few inches. Worked well enough, though slower
than a “real” draw bench, and it tended to give the drawn wire
slight step marks from each time I’d have to interrupt the draw to
change holes. How much power it gives you is simply a function of the
length and strength of the lever bar… Since at that time I only
needed such a thing occasionally, it worked fine.

Peter Rowe

Just a couple points to add about making your own wire drawing

If you use a boat winch, you should use Dacron rope or strap, NOT
Nylon – Nylon stretches very readily, and if the wire should break
while you are drawing it, you could easily get the draw tongs right
in your teeth from the recoil – not fun! You can pick up a tag-end
of low-stretch Dacron braid at any decent boat supply shop for a few

A cheap, adequate, though not great, substitute for draw tongs is a
pair of needle-nosed visegrips. I drilled out the rivet and
substituted a long boat shackle to attach them to the winch rope.

I have my winch set up at one end of 6-foot bench, through-bolted to
a piece of 4x4 oak. At the other end, I bolted a piece of 1x6 red
oak plank, with a 1" hole bored through it just past the end of the
bench. The draw plate is clamped on the side of the plank opposite
the winch with a spring clamp, aligning the hole in use with the
plank hole. I’m not worried about the strength of the plank – I
can’t put enough weight on the winch handle to deflect it more than
a hair! I’ve pulled down very heavy gauge wire with this setup.


Bob Edwards
Chromis Designs
San Francisco

I highly recommend acquiring a draw bench, I am very pleased with
mine. After many years (decades actually) of fabricating and pulling
wire and tubing of all shapes and sizes through drawplates, by hand,
I finally bought a draw bench from Kenneth Singh. It is one of my
most practical tool purchases to date. The first time I used it I
wondered why in the world it took me so many years and sore arms and
elbows to realize what an essential tool this is. I look forward to
pulling large wire now rather than dreading it.

Contact Kenneth Singh at (212) 221-6088 46 Jewelry
Supply Inc. 46 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10977

A very happy customer,

Michael David Sturlin

I thought I’d add my comments to this subject which has been covered
by so many. I have made my own draw bench which is quite similar to
those already described and is certainly an easy chore for most
anyone. I mounted a boat winch at one end of a 5 foot 2X4 and a
small bench vice at the other end which holds the selected draw
plate. For safety sake, I replaced the cable with non-stretch nylon
woven rope to which I attached an S-hook by making a small loop and
cinching it with dental floss (this has held up for @15 years. The
"draw tongs" is a needle-nose pliers which was modified in the
following way: I increased the serations on each jaw using a
carborundum disk for better gripping and I removed the adjusting
bolt, silver soldered a steel ring to the top of that bolt and
reinserted it in the pliers. After gripping the wire coming out of
the plate with the pliers, I hook the the rope with s-hook attached
into the ring at the end of the pliers. This works quite well and is
easier to use than the usual bent handle draw tongs.

This is quite portable and to use it is clamped to a bench top using
a C-clamp. And I can sit down while I draw down the wire. It is also
easily stored out of the way when not in use.

There are a few other tricks I’ve incorporated into the procedure
which might be useful to some.

  1. I cover the next several holes with a piece of magnetic strip so
    that I don’t have to remember the last hole I went through.

  2. When the gauge of the wire gets too small to file an elogated
    point, I hold the wire in a pin vise well tightened. I mount two
    sand paper discs on a mandrel facing one another. Insert the short
    piece of wire extending from the pin vise between the two discs
    which are held in the hand-piece that I rotate slowly while at the
    same time I twirl the pin vise with the thumb and forefinger of my
    other hand.

This gives me a smooth tapered point to insert in the
small holes of the plate. HTH some, Joe Dule

I made a really cheap one that is easy to store with a Winch and a vise. Very easy take a look