Draw plates

I’d like to purchase a draw plate, primarily for chain making. There
seems to be a great variation in pricing for what appears to be a
simple product. Is there a different between draw plates used for
making tubing, making chains and drawing wire?

Linda in central FL

Is there a different between draw plates used for making tubing,
making chains and drawing wire? 

Chain draw plates can be easily made by drilling holes in hardwood

Actually wood works better than anything else in chain making.

Tubing draw plates have larger differences between holes on the
theory that tubing can be reduced at faster rate. This somewhat true
for thin walled tubing, but not for thick wall tubing would be very
difficult to make with these plates.

Wire draw plates are the right way to go, but they are more
expensive than plates for tubing.

Also to cover wide range, one would need several plates as opposed
to just one made for tubing.

Leonid Surpin

 Is there a different between draw plates used for making tubing,
making chains and drawing wire?


Linda- We prefer to use draw plates with a carbide insert. They are
more expensive but draw beautifully and leave a very nice polish on
the wire.

Not cheap, but worth the money.

I use my draw plates to make wire, and tubing. We have some hard
wood home made draw plates that we use to draw finished chain

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

For drawing chain you could make your own from hardwood, like maple.
Get an 1.5 inch thick maple or other smooth grain hardwood board.
Then drill holes across the grain using different size drill bits, ie
start with a bit that is about the same size as your chain and then
use bits successively smaller bits until you get to the thickness you
want your chain to be. Also the wood will not mar your chain. Vince
LaRochelle, Oakridge, OR

chain making works best with a wood draw plate- make your own with a
hardwood plank available at home stores and drill bit set so you
have graduated sizes. Finish the holes with progressively finer grits
of wet/dry papers or micro-finishing films (3M brand) and then dress
the holes with beeswax or micro-crystalline wax- do not use tung oil
or other woodworker’s oils as they can gum up in links of your
chain/maille work. It is far cheaper to make your own for chain
drawing than purchasing them.

If you buy drawplates for wire - a sapphire insert is top of the
line, carbide inserts more affordable if you don’t require the
absolute best number of suppliers carry similar economy grade draw
plates made in India, or Pakistan they are reasonably priced and do
what they are supposed to do, but don’t pre-finish wire as do plates
of better quality).

Thanks to all who responded to my inquiry. I picked up a nice, thick
piece of oak board from my auto mechanic yesterday, who also just so
happens to be a trained woodworker, as well. The big box stores all
wanted to sell me an entire plank of hardwood, while Rick kindly
gave me scrap. He had a lovely antique dresser and mirror at his
shop, which he’d just refinished for his sister-in-law, and showed
me photos of the shaker inspired wine bar he’d built. I’m going to
see what he’d quote me on building a country style step-back
cupboard to fit the empty wall in my kitchen. Just have to decide
whether to leave it natural or have it painted…

Linda in central FL

What finish you choose for your step back cupboard will depend on
the rest of your kitchen theme.

With that in mind, with you comissioning this piece, from real wood?
not chip board I hope!, it should be something that every time you
look at it you will get pleasure from.

Just maybe eventually remodel the whole kitchen around this proposed

A job well done with care, even from ordinary softwood is still
something of value.

The wooden house I built here some 42 yrs ago was done with the
minimum of cost, but with great care, its been a pleasure to live in,
raise a family and hopefully enjoy for a good few years more.

What supplier would you recommend to find a sapphire draw plate.

Thank you
Aubrey Finn

Being new and collecting tools as I learn, I am ignorant as to the
purpose or uses for a draw plate. Knowing it is for wire, but what
use? thank you, brenda

Being new and collecting tools as I learn, I am ignorant as to the
purpose or uses for a draw plate. Knowing it is for wire, but what

You use it to draw down, or thin out, wire, or to change it’s shape,
or both. So you could use it to take round wire to triangular, for
example. You anneal the wire, put your draw plate in a vise and use
your draw tongs to pull the metal through.

When I was new at jewelry, I found I could learn a lot just by
reading catalogs. That helped me figure out what all the tools were


Good will - your friend knew what he was doing in handing you a
small piece of wood! I’m envious of the space available in your
kitchen to have such a wonderful piece made for it. (smile)

I am fortunate in that I was able to purchase a hand-crafted wooden
drawplate. It has a nice broad base that I just found out is ideal
for placing in a bench vise. I’ve been teaching Viking Knit off and
on for a couple of years and honestly, I learn something new from my
students just about every time!

Other than Viking Knit, are there other times when a wooden
drawplate can be used?

Betty Leeper

Indeed - my best googling only surfaces a reference in an
Engineering article fromm some while ago and the recent Orchid
reference in the original post.

Thanks, Bob

Brenda, one of Orchid’s regular contributors, Hans Meevis, did an
excellentillustrated tutorial on the subject of drawing wire. You
can quickly access it using Google. Just query " how do you use a
draw plate".

Jerry in Kodiak

A drawplate gets its name from it being a rigid sheet or plate
containing tapered holes though which something can be pulled
(drawn) to change its thickness and shape.

They are usually made of metal and used for making wire. Typically
you start off with some wire, thicker than you want, that you have
made by rolling some relatively soft metal (gold, silver, copper,
etc) in a grooved rolling mill.

You shape the end of the wire to a blunt point (called a “dog”) by
forging and filing it until it can be poked through one of the holes
in the drawplate. Choose a hole the same size, or a little smaller,
than the wire you have, with enough dog poking through to allow you
to grab it firmly in pliers (or, better still, proper “draw tongs”).
Hold the drawplate in a vice and pull the wire through the drawplate.

Repeat with the next smaller hole until you reach the required
thickness. If the dog breaks, form another. Anneal the wire after
pulling through about 3-4 holes, and use a lubricant such as candle
grease or soft soap.

The force required to draw the wire can be considerable, especially
for wire thicker than about 1mm. I’ve managed 2.5mm but wouldn’t
recommend it. Far better to use a “draw bench”.

The holes don’t have to be round; they can be any shape you like.
You can gets plates for square, oval, star, crescent, etc.

Wooden drawplates are often used to true up hand-made chain. Wood is
used so as not to mark the chain.

Regards, Gary Wooding

I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this but a friend of mine had
Corian strips left over from new kitchen counters and drilled it for
a drawplate for chains. It worked really well.

Donna in VA

What finish you choose for your step back cupboard will depend on
the rest of your kitchen theme. 

Thanks for your thoughts, Ted. Yes, the cupboard would be solid wood

  • not press board or plywood - UGH! Ihave a number of primitive
    antiques in my home, along with a set of solid wood New Mexican
    style chairs and solid wood dining room table - a gift from my late
    M-I-L that I just couldn’t part with when we sold our Mediterranean
    styled south Florida house and moved to central FL. Our current
    houseis also a vernacular home we designed ourselves, but this time
    it’s “Cracker” style, with some concessions to efficient cooling and
    hurricane protection.

My kitchen cabinets are “antiqued” maple, so perhaps I should match
that wood - and style. I loved the cabinets so much when we had the
house built that I used them in both bathrooms, as well.
Kitchen-height counters are easier on the back for those of us with
issues. And I am leaning towards unpainted, as I do love the look of
good wood.

Linda in central FL

Many recommend those drawplates which have carbide or other inserts
to make the pulled wire smoother and more polished. While a more
expensive drawplate with inserts will create a smoother wire, what
you really have to be careful of is having to remove a wire from one
of these drawplates that has become stuck. This is not at all
uncommon if you draw wire either by hand or with a draw machine.

The problem is pulling the stuck wire back out the way it went in,
which is NOT the way a drawplate with inserts is designed. The insert
is designed to be pulled against the heavy body of the drawplate,
keeping it supported and held in place, by the direction and force of
the wire being pulled through it. If one is not VERY cautious about
removing wire from this type of drawplate, you can accidentally pop
the insert right out of the drawplate.

A carbide insert can be extremely fragile, removed from the
drawplate, and may break if you try to push it back into the

Since the usefulness of a drawplate depends on using each gradually
smaller hole to evenly draw down wire being pulled through it, having
a missing insert can severely limit that drawplate’s use. You may
then be limited to using just the holes before the missing insert,
and those after it. Trying to “jump” the wire over the missing insert
and using the next smaller hole may be too much of a reduction for
your wire or drawplate to handle, which leads to the wire getting
stuck once again (and maybe losing another insert trying to remove

Since our studio’s drawplates get a lot of use by students, our most
used drawplates are not those with inserts. These are extremely
reliable, durable, and are unaffected by having to pull stuck wire
out the back side of the drawplate. The wire has an acceptable smooth
finish, I think.

Jay Whaley

Well put Elaine

just like to add: Can be used to make tubing and spectacle settings.

Why don’t you buy your silver from a bullion dealer?

Xtines Jewels

I made my drawplate for Viking knit chains out of a piece of Corian.
Sometimes one can get sample pieces from a kitchen cabinet type of
store. It works very well.