Twisting together heavy gauge wires of different hardnesses
I have a ring design that I normally do in Argentium that is
basically two 14g wires twisted together, fused and hammered to form
the shank, then separating at the shoulders to make 4 ends with one
on each side coming around to meet the other and form the rest of
the circle while the other 2 curve around to surround a center
stone. Now I have a customer (a good friend actually) who wants the
design done with Argentium and 18k gold and a very nice Australian
parti-colored sapphire. So my concern is this: the difference in
hardness between the two metals is quite a lotand I'm worried that
attempting to twist 14g Argentium and 18k wire will result in just
wrapping the softer Argentium around the much harder gold. I've
thought about heat hardening the Argentium and annealling the 18k
first to make them closer in hardness but I'm not sure if that's
going to work very well. Do any of you have experience twisting
heavy gauge wires of different hardness?
Is there a trick I should know about?
Thank you for your help. May we all never stop learning.
Experience twisting different hardness wires?
Yes I have.
I got round this problem by using 2 wires half the thickness of the
harder wire twisted first, then twisting this initial twist with the
For example, most probably my most successful design of twisted
metal finished up as follows.
2 ni/ chrom wires of of 50 thou twisted first, the white colour, laid
along with 1 off 10% ali/bronze wire, the yellow colour, 100/000 th/
in annealed then 2 off phosphor bronze also of 100/1000 tho, the pink
colour. also annealed.
All 36 in long. Going round the bundle you have the white pair, then
a pink then the yellow then the pink.
Wind some scrap iron wire around one end, clamp in the 3 jaw chuck
in the lathe on slow speed.
the other end also bound with iron wire.,also held in a 3 jaw chuck
on the cross slide.
Power up the lathe and let the cross slide move as the twisting
When the twist is at the right no of turns per 12 in. Stop.
Unchuck, anneal, pickle, and its ready for the next operation. This
changes the shape from round to either half round, square, or oval
depending on its final use.
For wires half this thickness I twist up by hand, using a carpenters
brace on one end of the wires and the other end held in the leg
Smaller still, I have a hand drill with a 1 to 1 handle to chuck
ratio to do the twisting.
The only way to really find out if your plan for gold and argentium
will work this way is to give it a try.
Id be inclined to hard draw the argentium and fully anneal the gold.
then do a simple hand bend test.
your hands, with experience should be able to tell if the hardness
is near enough to twist up without failure.
Also you will need to make a reasonable length, ie 12 in or so.
Let us know the results of your experiments.
I have had to twist Titanium and 18ct together and found the best
way to get a really nice result was to fold more than twice the
length required of each metal, then locking the two titanium ends
tight in a vice twist the double wire till it is correctly twisted.
Repeat the process with the gold till the two twists conform. Release
from Vice. Very carefully untwist the wires by hand and re twist 1
gold and 1 Argentium together the tighten twist in vise and
I regularly twist heavy gauge sterling silver and 14 K gold
separately and, once in a while, together. I make sure that they are
well annealed and then, if they want to twist unevenly, carefully
heat the coil with a gentle torch while I am twisting the entire
coil. By doing this, you can even out the twist or control the twist
so that it is progressively twisted loose to tight in a manner that
fits your design. This works on both wire coils and when you twist
solid dimensional wire. Make sure that you start with more than you
will need because each end will twist differently than the middle.
This usually just happens to the first coil at the vice end and plier
end. Another thought, although I have never done it. Is to make an
identical coil of each metal and then carefully take them apart and
put the unlike metals together in one coil. Rob
I don't think that there will be any difficulty with twisting the
18KYG and Argentium Silver together. I have twisted 24 ga. and 20 ga.
of each, and fused them---without the problem you describe. Nugold or
red brass are pretty similar in hardness to 18KYG--you could twist 14
ga. AS with 14 gauge nugold, and check the results. Let us know how
the projects works out. I'd love to see a photo!
How cool and simple. I have this great book with several pages in
the middle devoted to different wire twists that I used when I first
started, and was making lots of bangles to help fill out my display
with moderate prices. As I progressed and started using different
types of metal I ran into this same problem and somehow never
stumbled upon that simple solution. I am going to go play with that
tomorrow. Thanks, Thomas III
Thanks for the ideas, I particularly like the idea oftwisting them
separately and then retwisting after separating them. Of course that
will take twice the metal, but then I can make two rings from the
process. I think I may try it with some copper first to see how it
I think this is going to be a really beautiful variationon my
If anyone else has other ideas on how to accomplish this task I'd be
interested in hearing them.