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Drawing 22k wire from coin

Hi all,

I have not tried to draw wire directly from a 22K coin, e.g.,
Krugerrand, but I’m curious if this is do-able by multiple passes
through a rolling mill (or some other means to compress the coin
edge-wise), followed by drawing through a perforated plate. Has
anyone out there done this, and if so, how good was the wire?

Any comments would be appreciated.

John Palmer
Mackinac Designs

I just ran across an article on this! Rock & Gem, FEB 1998,
pp.50 (photos)-51 “Pull Your Own Wire / Tips On An Arduous But
Rewarding Task” - Paul & Sandra Williams I bet 22K gold would be a lot
easier than the 14K they use. Melt the coin, get a drawplate, … –

Rock & Gem Magazine
Subscription Price: $24.00

Hi John, When I took my first class in metalsmithing, I needed
silver wire but none was available. At that time you could still
occasionally find a silver coin in your change. I sawed a silver US
half dollar in a long thin spiral, starting from the edge. I then
annealed the spiraled square wire, straightened it out and drew it
through a drawplate. It was tedious, but the wire worked just fine.

David Luck
627 Center Street
Iowa City, IA 52245


I think it would be far less labor intensive to melt the coin and
pour it into a wire mold and then go from there.


    I have not tried to draw wire directly from a 22K coin, e.g.,
Krugerrand, but I'm curious if this is do-able by multiple passes
through a rolling mill (or some other means to compress the coin
edge-wise), followed by drawing through a perforated plate.  Has
anyone out there done this, and if so, how good was the wire? 

I like to use Krugerrands, too. You melt one, pour it into an ingot
mold from your crucible, and hammer it out until you can get it into
your rolling mill. It’s so high karat you don’t need to anneal often.

You can go directly from the coin if you want sheet, but I wouldn’t
try to make wire that way.


... Has anyone out there done this, and if so, how good was the

Hello John,

I haven’t done this with gold but I have done it using a 99.99 silver
coin. The approach I took was to cast the coin into a crude rod,
forge that down until it would fit the wire slots in the rolling mill,
roll it down to something smallish that could then be drawn through a
standard draw plate.

The quality of the wire was excellent but the labour involved is
mind-boggling. It took me the better part of two full days of work to
produce, among other by-products that I was interested in, a coil of 1
mm silver wire. It was a useful experience as an exercise but unless
you’ve got a lot of time on your hands and no alternatives you might
want to find other sources for that wire.

Trevor F.


The beauty of gold is that almost anything is possible in the way of
shaping the metal but my suggestion is to melt the coin and pour it
into an ingot former for wire and then draw it.

If you try to roll the coin on edge you will be folding metal over
the edge as you compress it. As the wire gets to a smaller diameter
it may appear that the problem is correcting itself but may prove to
be a problem when you work with the finished wire.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark
Custom Jewelry - Handmade Jewelry - Antique Jewelry

Hi John,

I haven’t tried it myself, but I have a few thoughts. I think if you
cut the coin in thin strips (almost square profile) you could likely
roll and draw that. Compressing a coin on edge in a mill is almost
impossible if not impossible (not that I’ve tried it), but what I
have tried is compressing it with a hammer (making a coin ring) and
the edges spread, but there doesn’t seem any way to compress it into
a perfectly solid square profile. The problem is any air space or
overlapped edges turn into large faults in drawn wire. The best bet
would be to just use a small mould for wire blanks or even file a
groove in a fire brick and cast a blank for the wire. Good luck


Hi John,

I rarely buy wire, except for barrel straight 20ga stainless and 14k
20 guage (for pinbacks, earwire and posts). Whenever I need some
wire, it is a quick matter of melting scrap or shot-- or coin if it’s
the metal that you want-- rolling it out in the mill and drawing it
to whatever diameter or shape I need. I always try to pour up extra
and clip off lengths as I move down through progressively smaller
diameters. This way I have an assortment of guages.

I started working this way out of necessity years ago and now it is
routine. Time from ingot to wire is something like 10- 15 minutes
(depending on the wire desired). I also make my own tube unless I
absoluetly must have seamless. Making my own allows me to have what
ever wall thickness I desire. In either case I can efficiently
recycle clean scrap. (No solder, same alloy, etc.) I do the same
with small pieces of sheet.

Although I would not approach wire from coin making by sawing out a
consistent spiral, the idea sounds quite beautiful and would yield,
in the end, very nice results. It sounds similar to how I’ve heard
wire was made before steel tools: Chisel a strip off a flattened
ingot and roll the strip between pieces of leather until it twists
into round wire. (You can see the twisting pattern in photo
micrographs of ancient gold and silver work…) Two notes:

  1. For heavier wire, say 3mm and up I might consider purchasing in
    the future, since my wrists (for drawing wire) aren’t what they used
    to be. (That, or building/ buying a draw bench).

  2. I don’t make my living as a repair or bench jeweler, although I
    certainly have. (That’s where I learned to melt up small ingots from
    scrap on my soldering pad, pinch them with a pair of tweezers into a
    loaf and roll out wire.) I work through galleries and through
    commissions and custom orders. If I still worked at the bench in a
    trade shop or volume oriented situation, I might find this method–
    even though it is fast-- too time consuming …

Take care, Andy

I remember seeing somewher, National Geographic perhaps, a jeweler
making gold wire from a coin by cutting it into a spiral with shears.
The coin would naturally have to be rather thinner than the one ounce
coins like krugerands, but you coulr hammer them thinne first. I
believe this is also the way that really long leather strips are
made. You can buy leather cord that is 100 feet long, ut I have never
seen a cow that big.

Stephen Walker

And a quick thing to do is save the metal sprues from castings.
They’ll roll out very nicely to smaller sizes.

I’ve read with interest several discussions on Orchid about recycling
coins into ingots, wire, sheet, etc. It sounds like a resourceful
thing to do, and an ascetic exercise in patience, but I think I’d
find myself wondering if the coin wasn’t worth more in coin form. I
hope nobody is melting down Elizabethan Angels or anything like that!
Isn’t even the humble silver half-dollar worth more in coin form now
than the wire one could obtain from it - especially considering the
time you’d put into sawing and drawing it?

Jessee Smith

Hi John,

I do this all the time. Its one of the requirements in Jean Starks
chain making class.

  1. I start off with a Four-Nines (99.99% pure) gold coin. The one I
    use is the Canadian Maple Leaf, after 1984 ( I think that is the

  2. Before 1984, they were Three-Nines and not pure enough for wire

  3. I get the coins at Dallas Gold and Silver Exchange, and usually
    pay 5% over spot for them, cash only. You can get them at most coin
    dealers or off the internet, just shop for someone who will give you
    a low mark-up.

  4. I take a NEW charcoal block, and cut a square depression about
    1.5 inches x 1.5 inches in the top.

  5. I put the coin in the depression and heat it with my torch until
    it melts completely. I stir it with bamboo chopsticks (which I
    collect every time I eat chinese…) If the gold is pure, when it
    cools, it will make a hole in the nugget. Don’t know how to describe
    the hole, but at the last moment before cooling to solid, bing, a
    depression occurs. The surface will be very shiny, like it was just

  6. After cooling , I melt it again and add my copper and silver to
    get to 22kt. You can find the exact porportions in the back of Jeans
    book on chain making.

  7. On the other side of the charcoal block, I dig a trench about 1/4
    inch wide by 5 inches long, from corner to corner.

  8. I heat the gold ingot and push it into the trench, giving me a
    rod just about right to go in my mill. At this point, you don’t have
    to use all of the gold. If you are not going to use all the gold,
    heat the nugget in the big depression till it melts a second time,
    then pour it into water.

  9. Now using the little nuggets from the water, put some in the
    trench, heat till they melt, and form the rod in the trench till it
    is about the size to go into your biggest rolling mill groove.

  10. I roll it out very slowly , annealing after every 2nd pass
    through the rolling mill. More annealing is better than less.

  11. I stop about 3 sizes larger than the wire size I want.

  12. I taper the end of the square wire and start pulling through the
    drawplate. On the back side of the drawplate, I keep a black
    paperclip with a wad of oil soaked cotton iin it, clipped to the wire
    to continuously oil the wire before it goes through the drawplate.

  13. I anneal about every 2nd pass through the drawplate.

  14. I reguarly draw the wire to 30 ga or less.

  15. After the wire gets past 20 ga or thereabouts, I anneal by
    putting it in a coil and leaving it in tht kiln for 10 minutes on a
    piece of mica so the gold dosent touch the kiln face.

  16. With the fabrication cost of gold about 30% of the price of
    gold, I save about $150 for each ounce of gold I draw.

If you have any more questions , don’t hesitate to ask.

Love and God Bless


The best thing to do is to establish a good relationship with your
local Coin Dealer/Pawnshop Broker. They regularly buy coins of all
varieties. Some are of collector value, others simply melt value,
price of the metal on that day.

When one buys coins for melt from these locations, there is no
collector value in the coin. Do not worry that a treasure will
become melt material.

Coins themselves have differing metal values. It is good to know
which is which. To reticulate silver, many believe 80/20 is best. It
is of course possible to alloy that with a fine silver coin and add
20% copper. It is also possible to buy a coin minted at 80/20. Much
easier than calculating and adding appropriate amount of copper. I
have used both methods. No difference in the end result, time is the



A couple of comments on your wire making from a Maple Leaf coin;
First, I don’t understand why you say anything less pure than ,9999
is not suitable for wire making. You can make wire the same way with
10k if you wish. I do it all the time. For that matter you say you
alloy it down to 22k before you draw the wire anyway.

Second, it seems to me you go through some unnecessary steps. The
way I do it is alloy the pure gold with whatever alloy you need to
get it down to the desired karat and pour it directly into cold
water, I then use the charcoal block method and cut a trench in the
block to accommodate the amount of metal required for the amount of
wire I need. If the amount of wire needed is more than I can get
into a trench in the charcoal bloce, I pour it into my cast iron
ingot mold. They’re inexpensive and will outlast hundreds of
relatively expensive charcoal blocks. :slight_smile:

Jerry in Kodiak


Your description of drawing gold wire was very interesting-- thanks.
I do have one question.

 16) With the fabrication cost of gold about 30% of the price of
gold, I save about $150 for each ounce of gold I draw. 

How long do you work for the $150? (That is, how much time does it
take to draw wire from an ounce of gold?)


Hi Noel,

I make all my gold wire. In Canada I have to pay tax on coins but if
I buy bullion (1 oz bars or 10g bars) I don’t have to pay any tax.
It’s a few % over market, depends on the coin shop. When I started
making wire, I used .90 silver coins, then alloyed silver bullion and
then moved into gold. Any karat value of coin should work, though
lower karat values seem to need to be annealed more often. I have
only learned through trial and error. I alloy my gold/silver in a
small crucible, add a pinch of borax, stir it with a charcoal rod and
them pour it into my reversible ingot mold. I get about a 20g round
bar about 6mm diameter. My rolling mill has steps for square wire,
and I anneal the gold every step. My mill has 9 grooves, starting at
6mm and ending about 1mm. I anneal it more during the first 4 steps
than after that as I find I have to straighten the blank with a wood
lined vice or hammer, and I don’t like to straighten it without
annealing it first. As I understand it, more is safer than less
annealing. After the first 4 holes, I can usually hold the blank as
it’s exiting the mill and that keeps it straight. I tend to stop the
rolling when the wire is 2mm. I prefer drawing it after that. I use
tungsten carbide drawplate with divisions .1mm apart. I anneal the
wire about every 2-3 holes. I think it takes about 3 hours to
complete the process. I find it can take longer if I’m watching TV
while rolling :slight_smile: I find it very rewarding to make my wire. Good luck

Brian Barrett

Hi Jerry and Noel,

I’ll try and answer both questions in the same reply.

I don't  understand why you say anything less pure than ,9999 is
not suitable for wire making.

It all depends on what you are going to use the wire for. I make 22
kt wire. I use it for making chains by Jean Stark’s method where I
create the wire, make the jump rings, fuse them and then weave them
into chains. Anything less than 4 nines gold will break during the
weaving step. I demonstrated this during one of her classes in Hilton
Head (not on purpose… …but as a result of not listening to
the teacher and using 3 nines gold.) When I start with 4 nines gold,
I know exactly what is in the final product, pure silver, pure
copper, and pure gold. With anything else, there are foreign
substances I cannot control. Sorry if I was misleading.

you go through some unnecessary steps 

First, I melt the coin to determine if it is pure. When it cools,
if the surface is not bright-shiny-polished, but has a glaze over it,
or a crystaline surface, it is not pure. I save it for casting later
on. If it does not have the ‘hole’ when it cools, it is not pure. I
don’t really know what this means and would love to know the cause,
but Jean showed it to me, and I have seen it every single time the
gold cools with pure gold, and never with 3 nines gold. Any
metalsmiths out there with a solution?

Second, I do what you do. I alloy it and pour it into water if I dont
need a whole ounce of wire, or pour it into the trench if I need the
whole ounce. I use the charcoal block and a bamboo chopstick( or
dowel )to stir when alloying in lieu of flux. The charcoal removes
the oxygen from the process.

I wrap the charcoal block with binding wire, several times, around
the edge to keep it from splitting during use. After I melt or
alloy, I spray the charcoal block with a sprayer filled with water to
stop the heat. This seems to prolong the life of the block. I use
about 3 or 4 charcoal blocks a year.

One neat trick with the charcoal block, is if you are going to make
sheet instead of wire, after alloying and while the gold is in the
depression , press another charcosl block down on top of the gold.
Press down and flatten the mass of molten gold. It will take the
shape of the depression, square and about 1/8 inch thick. Ready for
the rolling mill.

How long do you work for the $150? (That is, how much time does it
take to draw wire from an ounce of gold?) 

This all depends on the guage of wire I am making. Smaller gauges
take longer times. I usually stop about 16 ga. I can always draw down
whatever I need for a job, chain, neckllace, etc from that.

I’ve never timed it, but its not that long. Sort of a side interest
while I’m doing other things.

  1. Melt the coin (2 minutes) and let it cool while doing other

  2. Cut and measure the silver and copper for the alloy for 1 ounce
    of gold. (3-4 minutes).

  3. Re-melt the coin and add the alloy ( 2 minutes ) , pour it in
    Water ( 1 minute).

  4. Put gold pebbles in the trench, heat and form into a long ingnot.
    (2-3 minutes) Let cool while I’m doing something else.

  5. From here on out, its running it through 9 or 10 grooves of the
    mill, about 2 or 3 minutes per 2 grooves, then put it in the kiln to

  6. File a point on the end and draw it through the first two holes
    of the drawplate, about 5 minutes, then put it in the kiln for

  7. Continue until you get the size you want.

  8. I probably go down to 20 gauge in about an hour and a half from
    start to finish. This is with using the annealing time to do
    something constructive.

The actual process may take all day, or several days if I’m not in a
rush for the wire. When I have a free moment, like waiting for a
pickle, I do a step in the wire process.

Love and God Bless