Many years ago, I had a beautiful old draw bench on loan to me for several years because the owner didn’t have room for it, but when he decided to sell it, I actually found it much easier to work without it…:-)… My tried-and-true techniques–which have served me well over 40+ years–may or may not be suitable for you:
I cast an ingot rod, usually not more than an inch or two. I reduce it in the wire part of the rolling mill till I can start hand-pulling it through a drawplate mounted on a plain old screw-on vise mounted anywhere which allows me to walk backward as many feet as I need to draw the length I want.
When I need yards of wire, here’s an old-time solution used by Yemenite jewelers: when you are walking backwards pulling your wire and eventually come up against a wall (which happens pretty quickly in a small space), you start rotating in place so that the wire (pliers held waist-high during the pull) starts wrapping around your waist. One would think it would pull tight and hurt, but it doesn’t–it wraps nice and comfortable, keeping the wire nice and smooth (unbent)! You can get infinitely long wire this way.
I only use a draw tongs if I’m drawing very thick gauges. My favorite pliers for drawing is an ancient small pliers which is half broken, but the part that is not broken grips thin wire firmly without breaking it. Or I use a serrated parallel pliers, whose flat nose gives a good grip right up to the plate. The most important thing is to file the pulling-tip as thick as possible, taking off only enough to get it through the plate for a good grip–which is sometimes just a millimeter beyond the face of the plate:
These suggestions might not be applicable for you–eg if most of the wire you need is too thick for you to pull by hand through a drawplate. When I need really heavy round wire, I do go to a colleague to use their drawbench. (Square wire I can always roll out on the mill and sharpen up the corners by hand-pulling through a square-hole drawplate.) But for those of you who mostly use wire a bit over 1 mm. and/or below, the above techniques are probably the least expensive, most space-saving way to make it…:-)…
Janet in Jerusalem
Rob–I just realized you are not the original poster–this reply replies to your comment, but it is actually directed towards the original poster ‘myfiorella’.