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Draw plate not working

Hi all,

So I am making a ring for a friend that uses rose gold, yellow gold,
and white gold. It’s a rolling ring with 2 of each metal. I managed
to get = the yellow and white gold in the correct size for a
reasonable price but the rose gold was either unavailable or
ridiculously overpriced. So I bought a draw plate for $50 from Rio
Grande, foolishly thinking it would be simple. So far it isn’t. I
experimented with sterling in the same size and every time I try the
first hole smaller than the wire works well (perhaps because the
difference in size is so small, although it is still resized a
little). But then I move on to the next even after I anneal and I
just either can’t pull it through (my hands are covered in bruises
and sore just typing this) or I end up snapping off the tapered bit
of metal or I fall over with the pliars slipping off. I am using
vegetable oil for a lubricant and pliars that have notches in them (I
forget what they’re called!).

Any help would be super appreciated. I am so frustrated with this
but I guess I’ll learn eventually.

Hi Jane, If you are trying to pull anything with a diameter more than
about 2.5mm (0.1"), you will certainly need a drawbench. Even 1.5mm
is hard to pull by hand, so something comparable in size with a ring
shank is quite impossible.

You need to find somebody to do it for you, or acquire a drawbench.
They are rather expensive to buy, but not impossible to make
yourself. Here’s a link to a PDF I wrote on how to make one very

Regards, Gary Wooding

I’ve done this myself.

Proper annealing, with the torch flame change method is pretty good,
and doesn’t rely on the incandescence on the hot metal.

Either file a taper, or hard solder on a piece of brass.

Go slow, use bees wax as a lubricant.

Clean the pliers, and make sure the taper is loooooong, so you can
adequately grasp it with the drawing pliers.

Regards Charles A.

But then I move on to the next even after I anneal and I just
either can't pull it through (my hands are covered in bruises and
sore just typing this) or I end up snapping off the tapered bit of
metal or I fall over with the pliars slipping off. I am using
vegetable oil for a lubricant and pliars that have notches in them
(I forget what they're called!). 

Actual drawtongs are easier to hang on to, especially when drawing
larger wire.

Then, are you pulling the wire in the right direction? It goes into
the larger tapered opening and is pulled out the smaller tighter
side. Don’t laugh. I’ve seen people make this mistake before, not
realizing they were mistaking which side the wire enters into.

Beeswax works better than vegitable oil. So does “burr life” or
similar bur/cutter lubricants.

The taper in the wire cannot be too steep, or you end up trying to
pull on a stub thats substantially smaller than the size wire you’re
drawing. That can make it more likely for the wire to break.

If you have a wire rolling mill, use it to get the wire as close as
possible, so you’re drawing it down as little as needed, starting the
drawing with the smallest size that will still give the size you
want. If you’re drawing wire that’s larger than the smallest grooves
on your wire mill, then use the mill to step roll a taper into the
end. That means you’re pulling a taper that’s work hardened, even
though the wire you’re drawing is annealed. You can also do this,
after annealing, but hammering the end to a tapered flat, then
filing the wide dimensions you just hammered in, to get the end
taper. This reduces the breakage problem.

Then, what size wire are you trying to draw? Rose gold is pretty
hard and stiff stuff, even when annealed, at least as compared to
yellow golds or silver. So what seems like it should be easy on
silver can be substantually harder to draw in rose gold. Many
drawplates go to larger sizes than can be simply hand drawn in harder
metals. For those larger sizes, you’d need a drawbench to get enough
force the draw larger wire. A 2.5 mm round wire in rose gold could
easily be very difficult to hand draw, especially if you’re not as
big and strong as the local highschool football players.

If you don’t have a drawbench, at least be sure the plate is really
securely clamped in a heavy enough, securly mounted, vise. If the
plate wobbles or shifts as you pull, you increase the chance of wire

Also, check to see that the serrations on your pliers are not too
sharp. Some serrated pliers have such sharply cut grooves that they
cut the wire when strongly pulled, not just grip it. You may find
slightly sanding the inside of the plier jaws to take off the sharp
edges may help reduce breakage.

And finally, what quality of draw plate did you buy? Carbide ones
are universally easier to pull than steel, and while good Italian
made steel plates work well, there are also cheaper plates made that
can be virtually useless. For 50 bucks, you should have gotten a
decent steel plate, but check. If it says “india” return it or throw
it out. many of them are almost useless.

Hopefully something in there will help…

Peter Rowe

Check your drawplate to see if it is the correct plate for drawing
wire. The typical goldsmithing draw plates for wire have a rate of
reduction of.1 mm (one tenth of a mm) between holes.

The Italian made draw plates favored by most professionals are
available from Otto Frei in Oakland

and Contenti in Pawtucket RI

A draw bench will also be a great investment if you are fabricating
large diameter wire.

Michael David Sturlin

Hi Jane,

Welcome to the world of wire drawing! I love drawing wire. I have a
large Cavallin drawbench in the shop that I constantly use. I even
built a portable drawbench that I gave to my local goldsmith guild
to raffle as a fund raiser. I came to know what I do about wire
drawing because of problems just like yours over 20 years ago.

There are two areas to deal with. First, red gold has different
working properties than sterling or yellow gold. If you try to
anneal red gold as if it’s yellow gold or sterling, you will get lots
of cracking. Annealing yellow gold is almost fool proof in compared
to red gold. Once your gold has been heated to a nice red glow, you
let the metal just lose it’s glow and then quench in water. This is
probably the reason your draw dog (the tapered end of the wire that
sticks through the drawplate) is breaking off.

The second issue is with the actual drawing of the wire. I don’t
recommend using vegetable oil for a lubricant. Over time the residue
is likely to become rancid. Ick. Personally I use grease. The
difficulty with grease will be one of cleaning. You’ll need to make
sure you remove all of the grease before trying to solder. If you
have any issues with soldering success, be aggressive cleaning off
the wire. Use an ultrasonic cleaner if you have one. In my
experience, those who have trouble soldering often are dealing with
issues of dirt, oil or grease on the surface or in the soldering

A part of this second issue is that drawing down wire by hand larger
than 1.8 to 2 mm is difficult, even if you’re using a carbide
drawplate. If you’re a big person and have lots of weight to throw
around, it’s easier, if your a smaller person it’s time to use a
drawbench. You can find an excellent Ebook on making a wire drawing
bench by Charles Lewton Brain on The portable wire
drawbench I made was inspired by that publication. It will cost you
about 1/2 a day to make (depending on your skill and capability with
woodworking tools) and another $100 bucks or for the parts and the
Ebook, but in the end you’ll be able to make much larger and more
diverse kinds of wire.

I hope you’ll invest the time, energy and capital into creating your
own drawbench. My opinion is overly weighted on the side of classic
hand fabrication techniques, but I don’t think a person can honestly
call themselves a goldsmith if they don’t have the capability to
draw down wire…it’s that essential. Meanwhile, you can add up all
the costs of creating your own wire and find out why red gold wire is
ridiculously overpriced and scarce.

Here’s a link to a photo of the drawbench I made:


Hi there - well, it’s never easy, but it shouldn’t have you covered
in bruises particularly if you’re annealing in between each pull. Do
you have drawing tongs? That’s likely the problem. Drawing tongs
give you an amazing grip and I don’t imagine leverage is the correct
word, but perhaps it’s all I can come up with. Also, are you filing
down the first inch of the wire so that it slips easily through the
next hole? File down enough so that you can get a good grip and give
it a gradual taper and it should break less frequently.

Good luck!

From your description, I take it that you do not have a drawing
bench. Unless, you are a burly guy like me, it could be a problem. The
second part is that 50 dollars draw plate is less than optimal. If
you drawing by hand, you need smooth finish of carbide and difference
between the holes is 0.1mm for larger wire, and 0.05mm when you go
bellow 1mm. For wires less that 0.5mm even finer resolution is

That is an equipment section, let’s talk about technique. You must
not anneal, just because. In drawing, and everywhere else the over
annealing, is detrimental.

Tapering the wire for insertion, also should not be approached
casually. Tapered end takes a lot of stress, and should be formed
very carefully. It should allow enough clearance for the tongs to
engage, and at the same time be as thick as possible. Use pin wise to
hold the wire, and shape the end very carefully.

Rose gold is not an easy alloy to work with. High copper content,
mandates sudden cooling, immediately after redness is gone. Your wire
should be in a tight bundle for annealing as well.

Leonid Surpin

You need a draw bench. I made one out of some 2x4s, a boat wench, and
modified vise grip pliers and some right angle steel. It works great
and it cost me $30 Give me an email address and I can send you pics.


You can try improvise a cheap drawing bench firmly screwing a small
bench vise (use copper pads for clamping de plate) in one extreme of
a 3 or 4 feet long piece of strong lumber and a crank on the other
extreme, the type used for strapping stuff on trucks and trailers,
the big ones, usually with yellow straps and pretty big hooks, Mount
all the assembly in a sturdy bench vise and use a locking pliers for
clamping, not to tight, the filed or tapered end of the wire. Then
adjust the length of the strap and start to crank, is no fast and not
the best but it work for me even with thick wires for about 50

This might help…

I was taught by asian friends to draw heavy wire by making a good
long taper and then, sitting on the floor, putting my feet up and
placing the drawplate behind them. You can then use the full force of
your arms, legs and back to draw the wire.

First, how thick is the wire? Anything about 2mm is hard to draw by
hand, and above 3mm verging on the impossible.

Second, you say you’ve annealed, but if they taper is snapping off,
it must be too hard.

Third, don’t use pliers to pull it, get some heavy drawtongs. You’ll
be amazed what a difference they make.

Jamie Hall

First, how thick is the wire? Anything about 2mm is hard to draw
by hand, and above 3mm verging on the impossible. 

I drew down some ancient bronze wire the other day.

It started out as a 3.5 mm rod, now it.s 1.3 mm.

It was easy enough, just made sure I annealed it once every 3-4
holes on the draw plate, and loads of beeswax.

Having gibbon arms does have some advantages.

Regards Charles A.