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Help w/ work harden wire?


I have a Studio in Seattle, Washington and we would like to make
our own ear wires out of sterling silver and gold filled wire. Our
problem is simple. After annealing say 1/2 hard wire, how then can
we ‘work harden’ the wire to return it to a more ridged state and
clean it up, possibly at the same time??? Any would be
Oh so greatly appreciated.

							Sincerely,    Susan

Hi Susan, Put the wires in a tumbler overnight using steel shot.
This will work-harden the wires. Good luck. Tom Arnold

Clean up your wire…If you haven’t drawn it down to the size you
want for earwires, do so and it will harden your wire at the same
time. If you have drawn the wire, then, put one end in a pin vise
or some pliars and the other end in a fordom handpiece and give it
a few twirls. that will harden it. Good luck

Hi Susan, all you have to do to harden the wire is to twist it a
little. The best method I’ve learned is to stick one end of the
wire into a handpiece of a #30 type, and hold the other end in a
vice, pliers or anything that works. Step on the foot pedal slowly
and be careful not to let the wire twist out of control.

Rael - Erix Workshop

Hardening sterling wire:

  1. twist it which keeps the thickness the same.
  2. stretch it.
  3. tumble it.
  4. Heat at 750 celsius for 30 minutes followed by immedaite
    quenching and Asubsequent heating to 300 celsius for 60

This is from page 207 in Professional Goldsmithing. Page 206 gives
the same Aprocedures, with specific times and temperatures for 14k
and 18k alloys.

-Alan Revere=0A

    Our problem is simple. After annealing say 1/2 hard wire, how
then can we 'work harden' the wire to return it to a more ridged
state and clean it up, possibly at the same time?

I generally make earwires out of hard wire. Hitting the annealed
silver wire a few times with a mallet on an anvil will harden it.
I haven’t tried annealing gold filled wire, but my gut feeling says
it would just be a mess. Clean by pickle & polish, the old
fashioned way :-).

Dianne Karg
WRAPTURE wire jewellery
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Hi, Susan!

There are several ways to work harden wire, including stretching,
hammering, and twisting with a pin vise. If you are using the wire
to make ear wires, though, is it really necessary to anneal the
wire? Unless you are soldering the wires to the backs of your
earrings, and the annealing is a secondary outcome of that process,
you should be able to sidestep this problem by not annealing the
wire in the first place. If the wire is being annealed as a result
of soldering, you might want to browse the Orchid archives- there
was a fairly extensive thread on this a few weeks ago.

Hope this helps!

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry
Phoenix, Arizona

You didn’t say what form the wire is in, wire or fromed into ear

Assuming it’s still in wire form, the simplest way is twisting.

  1. Clamp one end of a length (any convenient length, several feet)
    of wir e in a vise or secure to a nail driven into the bench.

  2. Clamp a cup hook (or a hook fashioned from 14ga or heavier
    wire) in th e chuck of an electric drill.

  3. Attach the remaining emd of the wire to the hook in the drill.

  4. Hold the wire taut with the drill & start the drill, twist the
    wire until it breaks (usually at one of the ends). If the wire
    starts to bounc e up & down while twisting, lightly laying a finger
    on it will usually stop the bounce. If it doesn’t, stop the drill
    until the bouncing stops, then resume twisting. Shorter lengths can
    be twisted by hand using a pin vise instead of the electric drill.

If you just have a short piece (1 foot or so), clamp one end in a
vise. Grasp the other end with a plier & giver it a sharp pull

If the wire is made up into ear wires, the wire can be hardened by
flattening with a hammer in the area of the bend.


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Hi Susuan,

I work harden wire and other things in my tumbler. tumble with
steel shot and cleaning compound and water over night…they come
out beautifully polished and nice and hard.