Like I say there, my question is what steel to use for the
plates? Mild steel is going to get banged up, no? Tool steel is
Tool steel is not some extra fancy stuff. Just a good grade of high
carbon steel that can be fully hardened, and I'd guess this is what
you want. it's the same sort of stuff things like files, chasing
tools, various punches and tools you already may have, is made of.
if you don't wish to make your own, and perhaps even want a tool that
can crank this out faster than your hammered together plates (a
somewhat iffy method for consistent results), you might want to look
at a pattern rolling mill. The little cheap "made in India" or Spain
or some such mill that's often sold for under 300 dollars has
available, optional pattern rolls that include a range of
interesting embossed wires, some of which, if I recall, are classic
beaded wires. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall that the Karat
Brand carries these...
Would cost you more, of course, than banging out your own tools, but
likely you'd save almost as much back again, in terms of the time
and trouble saved, plus the rolling mill makes more than just the one
pattern of wire.