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To draw wire or not to draw


#1

I wonder if it is cheaper /or better to draw my own precious metal wire or to buy it?

If it makes more sense to buy the wire, then suggestions as to good suppliers would also be appreciated.

Many thanks and I look forward to learning from you all !

Sandy


#2

Hi Sandy,
You should have had the tech details from the co you bought the d plate from, to say what dia wire the plate will produce. If they havnt given you this data send it back.
we here also cant be specific on how to draw the very fine sizes of wire, ie from .5mm down to say .1mm. It depends how thin you want the wire to be.
Can you specify? Ive drawn 999 silver down to .5mm with no trouble.
await your reply


#3

Sandy- I’ve done it. It’s a real pain in the ass. I made extra so that I
wouldn’t have to do it again. Ever. Still have that little stash.
That said, we make all of our own wire and a good bit of our sheet in
house. It is a savings but you have to factor in the cost of the time it
takes. We only do bespoke in our shop. When I worked in busy trade shops
where speed is everything I loved having my sheet,bar and wire already
made.
To draw fine wire the biggest problem I had was filing a point. I find that
when it’s that fine it bends rather than file down. I ended up using a
fingernail emery board and small duck billed pliers with a little tooth cut
into the jaws. Draw tongs are just too coarse and heavy to use. Also
annealing fine wire without melting it is a challenge.
Good luck.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
-Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#4

Hi Sandy, I posted an answer yesterday but it disappeared into the ether. So here it is again.
I draw wire on a regular basis from factory made wire (rarely) to wire that I draw from ingots that I pour in my studio and roll out. I do the latter because it utilizes scrap and gives me just the diameter that I need from the material that I need,
The wire that I mostly draw is from 4mm to .3mm or so. The smaller diameter I use for welding with my pulse arc welder (Orion). The reason that I draw that wire rather than purchase laser wire is that I want to use the same alloy that comprises the piece that I’m working on when I’m filling or adding material.
Here’s what I’ve learned over many drawn out experiences (sorry).

-Taper is all important. Too abrupt a taper (I call them puppy noses) gives little to pull and snaps off quickly.
-A long gradual taper eases thru the hole and gives you a firmer grip.
BUT
-Remember that the taper is only a leader. I get the wire started by pulling on the taper and then re-grip the wire at the meatier place as soon as I can see it.
-If I can’t file the thin wire I’ll taper the end with the side of a separating disc, a snap-on wheel or a flat lap.
-Lubrication really helps. Wax, bur-life/lube, even soap or chapstick.
-Anneal-goes without saying. But it may be easier to file the taper on stiffer wire and then anneal.
-I have several draw plates in each size range. The holes never seem to advance evenly (even with some tungsten plates—probably Chinese). I work back and forth between plates.
I’ve also made a more agile set of draw tongs from linesman pliers that I found at yardsales or junkshops. I bent them by heating with my soldering torch. They grip the small wires more gently and accurately.
The other thing is that finer metals can be a bit more difficult to draw because they want to stretch at the taper before they compress in the plate. Then they snap. So again, a long gradual taper I find id key.
This works for me.
Take care,

Andy

Andy Cooperman Metalsmith
andycooperman.com http://andycooperman.com/
(206) 781-0648


#6

I forgot to add that if I can roll down the tips of larger wires in the wire section of my mill. It’s quick and hardens the tip…


#7

Sandy, where did you get the draw plate?


#8

Thank You! @andy_cooperman1, Very helpful indeed!
@richard_hart4 I got it off eBay (of course), the maker is unknown.


#9

My opinion is drawing wire sucks and is time consuming. If you really enjoy
it, do it, but it’s cheaper to just buy it


#10

Even with a long taper it is difficult to get the wire moving through the plate. I use parallel serrated flat jaw pliers to get the wire started and may skip the draw tongs for fine wire and just use the pliers.Cheers,Karen


#11

Maybe, but then you are limited to stock that you have on hand. Just my opinion.


#12

Shannon Dalton, as a goldsmith, drawing wire is part of my job description, just like sawing and using a torch.
A lot of wire I need, small pieces of specific
size, color, karat, and I need it now. That is how I make money, instead of paying for more than I need, and shipping which just narrows my margin of profit.


#13

Amen brother.

Please excuse any typos-- curse my clumsy digits…


#14

And just one small item to add to Andy’s excellent description. When gripping a draw plate in a vise…no not grip it at the bottom and expect to draw at the top! Place the plate in the vise so about 1-1.5” are above the intended target hole. These plates are hard steel and quite brittle. Hence…they break!! Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL.


#15

Sandy, I forgot to mention: file the end of your wire to gradual taper before you anneal it because it is less likely to bend. Anneal the thin wire by putting it coiled up in a tin can; turning the can upside down on a soldering block. Then you can get the can red hot. Like a tiny oven, it will get the metal red hot. I’ve never melted wire this way but it won’t work with platinum. I use an Altoid tin even though I can’t stand the mints. Have fun, tom


#16

Yes! Thanks. I always put my drawplates in crosswise: the long axis parallel to the floor or vice jaws.

Please excuse any typos-- curse my clumsy digits…


#17

I use the kiln to aneal my wire


#18

Regarding kiln annealed wire:

Do you put the wire in a tin can first?

How do you determine when it’s annealed?

Do you start when the kiln is at the annealing temp.?


#19

I periodically make (in gold) or buy (in silver) a bunch of 1.00mm. wire to have on hand and then draw down as needed. I draw down to 0.30 mm. regularly. Wire drawing is extremely quick and easy if you file the points optimally so they 1) don’t break and 2) go through the hole easily so you don’t have to struggle to get a grip on it for pulling.

THE KEY: When you file the end, think ‘parallel’—not ‘point’!!!

The angle off parallel should be minimal. This is especially important with very thin wire. See illustration:

Happy drawing!
Janet in Jerusalem


#20

Hi Sandy, Drawing 22K or 24K wire really isn’t hard to do. And if you have good quality draw plates it’s a great way to get any gauge wire at any time you need. I’ve drawn 22K down to 31 gauge, and going that fine can be a little tricky, but if you take your time, it’s not difficult.

Follow Andy C’s great advice! It’s really important to remember that he says "the taper is only a leader. I get the wire started by pulling on the taper and then re-grip the wire at the meatier place as soon as I can see it."
This is where it will snap off if you don’t take care! I use a small needle nose plier to start and then sometimes switch back to my tongs, or just stick with the needle nose.

I also anneal in a small trinket kiln, and keep a close eye on the wire, it will melt easily if you don’t. I anneal between every pull after I’ve gotten to 24 gauge. Use lubrication between each pull as well.

You may want to practice a bit with fine silver before trying 22K.

I know a lot of people think it’s a waste of time, but there is something very satisfying about making your own wire, or sheet for that matter.

Good luck!
Amelia


#21

Thanks Amelia and Sandy!