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Twisting heavy gauge wire questions


#1

Hello and hope everyone is doing well,

I am curious as to how heavy gauge wire or multiple wires can be
twisted and soldered together to make necklaces or bracelets?

Having looked through all the books I have and internet searches, I
can only assume that either the handheld twisting tools are used that
I see for sale are used, (but from pictures of tool, I believe y ou
can only twist 2 to 4 small wires in them?) or for heavy gauge cable
such as Yurman style bracelets, they are probably put into the chuck
of a low geared lathe?

So my question is, what is the limitations of the 10 inch hand held
twisting tools, and has anyone twisted heavy gauge sterling wires
with drills? And am I missing any other simple ways? Also, am I
assuming correctly that twisted rope/cable bracelets are hard
soldered after the entire length is twisted and in held in the shape
you want and they simply heat up the piece from one end and move to
the other end? I believe I read this technique for a rope chain from
my Alan Revere goldsmith book.

I obviously am very new to fabrication of jewelry outside of rings
and pendants so please forgive me if these are silly questions.

many thanks,
Rick Powell


#2

I have made 6 to 14 gauge twisted wire bracelets for years, twisting
as many as four pieces of wire at a time in the smaller gauges. Most
of the time I am twisting two pieces of wire that are first soldered
into a circle, flattened out, one end goes into the vise, the other
end into a channel lock plier and twist until done. I usually then
do some forging operation, but have also left them round. You need
to anneal regularly. No special tooling is needed. Heating while
twisting will allow you to progressively twist tighter, if that is
your desire, or it will loosen up one part that didn’t get annealed
as much as the rest. Regardless of how many pieces are being
twisted, they should probably be soldered on the ends so that they
don’t come apart in the vise or pliers. This is a pain and hard to
fix. Go to the hardware store and buy some copper wire in various
sizes and experiment. Annealed copper is a lot softer than silver,
but it hardens quickly and you will get some good experience from
it. Most of my designs were done in copper first. My brother and I
have been at this for forty years and my father for thirty before
us. There are thousands of our bracelets running around and probably
buried in the ground that were made in the way described above. It
is fun, therapeutic, and occasionally profitable. Go to my website
www.robmeixner.com to see examples of my work. Feel free to ask more
questions if you have them. Rob


#3

Rick,

As long as the wire you are twisting is evenly annealed, you can
twist almost any number of them by hand, and they should come out
twisted evenly. It also pays to practice, and always make more than
you will need, as a portion of the twist may not come out perfect.
One end of your bundle is crushed into the jaws of a strong vice
mounted to a heavy workbench ( mounted to the wall or floor). The
other end can be crushed into the jaws of a large pair of
serrated-jaw vice-grips ( my favorites are called “Lockjaws” because
they are self adjusting). Make sure the wires are as straight as
possible before twisting. Pull back hard as you twist.

With the larger bundles of wire, it is a very good idea to solder
each end together, to keep the bundles of wire from unraveling while
being twisted.

I’ve even twisted a series of smaller wires surrounding a solid
center core of a larger diameter. The whole bundle twisted evenly
around the center core, so that the outer wires covered the center
core completely.

Those tire-twisting specialty pliers ( made for safety wiring on
aircraft) will only work on fairly small diameter wire. The big
stuff you must get out the vice grips and muscle it around by hand.

Good luck!
Jay Whaley


#4

I use a giant electric (plug in type) hammer drill. (I turn the
hammer feature off, obviously).

Paf Dvorak


#5

As Ive said in the past, if its been done before it can be done
again.

Yurmans multi strand twists are nothing more than industrial steel
cable construction which youll find how to make on in steel wire
rope production references. His designs are pretty basic.

when you move on up to the next level ie, mixed metals in
multistrand then you will be getting good.

Now how you will do it depends on what tools you have, ie do you
have a lathe? as you will need one for twisting wires over say 1/10th
in thick, thats hard to do by hand.

So you need to get your tooling and techniques in place so you can
produce consistent results say in 30 in long lengths of twisted
stock. You will also need to run your development trials in base
metal, ie copper or a 70/30 brass, all fully annealed and cleaned!!
before you replicate in silver or whatever.

good luck with your trials.

Ted a twisted wire spreciallist.


#6

Hi Richard,

One of the wonderful things about being a metalsmith is that you can
make whatever tool you need.

Handheld drill not strong enough to twist the wire you you need to
twist? No problem! Make something that will twist it.

Case in point: I don’t think I’d fuss with a hand drill as a twister
for anything much heavier than 2 strands of 14 gauge wire.

That doesn’t mean I don’t twist heavier things, just that I don’t do
it with a drill.

I’ve got a twisted wire bracelet that I do with beginners that’s two
strands of 6ga nickel silver twisted together, sometimes with
another pair of twisted brass or copper wires threaded into the
gaps, so sometimes it’s two 6ga nickel silvers, plus 2 roughly 12ga
brass wires. No way on earth a hand drill is going to shift that.

But a screwdriver does just fine.

Take your wire, double it over, and then clamp the loose end in a
vise, just as you would for twisting with a drill.

Then go find the biggest phillips (cross) head screwdriver you can
find. The one I used was about a foot long, and about 1/4" thick.
The reason for the phillips head was that the head doesn’t get
thicker than the body. Failing a big screwdriver, a foot long chunk
of simple round steel bar will work just fine. The important part is
that the ends not be bigger than the middle.

Stick the bar into the loop in the end of the wire, pull back away
from the vise, and start twisting. It’ll be slow, but that’s not
really a big deal. Stop twisting when you like the twist. The
important part is to keep pulling on it, to keep it taught.
Otherwise it’ll kink.

When you’re done, just pull the rod out, and you’re good. The end
loop will have clamped down on it, which is why it’s important that
the ends not be bigger than the middle.

Hope that helped.
Brian


#7

Richard- Back in the 20th century I used to get requests for Yurman/
Balinese style bracs.

For large gauge wires I just used a heavy vise to hold one end and
used my heavy vise grips to twist with by hand. Prior annealing and a
lubricant between the wires is helpful. If it’s heavy enough you may
need to anneal part way through.

I only use an old fashioned hand drill and the vise on light weight
wire. I don’t solder the ends until after twisting. Be sure to anneal
before trying to solder or your wires may want to relax and untwist.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com