How To Wire Wrap – Beginners

It’s important to gather all the items you’ll need before starting your priceless project. For example you’ll need a ruler or tape measure, pliers, wire, and some stones. After wrapping for a while you’ll have tons of inventory and lots of ideas. I personally used Pinterest and YouTube to get my fresh ideas. YouTube helped me mostly to better understand how wire wrapping works. To help you I below also have a how to video to get you started. So shall we get started!?

Ruler or Tape Measure 

Tape measure

These items are so helpful because if your wrapping similar stone sizes then you can reduce waste of your wire. You’ll know exactly how many inches you’ll need. I remember before I got the idea to measure my wire out I used to cut my wire to short. That became very frustrating to me when I came very close to being finished and ran out of wire.

What wire should you use?

Depending on what you’re designing you’ll want different size wire. I’ve read in other post were people are suggesting to use copper wire to start out rather than sterling silver. Copper you can buy in large quantities for much less than other wire. As a beginner you might consider this route first till you get the hang of wrapping. This way your not wasting your money. I remember when I first started wrapping I would put crimps in my wire and I didn’t like how cheap it made the finish product look. Below I have a list of different gauges listed for the different tasks they are used for. This way you know exactly what you need.

28 & 30 Gauge 

This size is a thread like wire. It can easily become kinked and break. So you would need to work slowly with these small wires. The hardness of this wire doesn’t really mean much because it’s so fine that it’s easily pliable. These small wires are not suitable as structure wires to wrap other wire around, nor should they be used for open loop links. You’ll want to use regular or fine tipped pliers to shape and cut.

This wire is used for:
• coiling
• weaving
• knitting / crocheting / viking knitting
• wire wrapping very small light beads, though the finished wraps will be very delicate and could bend and break quite easily.

26 Gauge 

this wire is still quite fine but is relatively strong. This wire can be shaped with the use of regular or fine tipped pliers. It should not be used as structure wire or open loop links.

This wire is used for:
• coiling
• weaving
• knitting / crocheting
• wire wrapping (wrapped loops) small beads and briolettes
• wrapping around stones
• balled headpins

24 Gauge 

This wire is a very versatile however it’s not recommended for open link chains. It can however be used as a frame to wrap smaller wire around like earrings, when the finished piece is not structural. It can be shaped by hand or with the use of regular pliers. 

What this wire can be used for:
• coiling
• weaving
• binding
• spirals
• headpins
• wire wrapped links, wrapping briolettes and other stones
• framing 
• small jump rings
• head pins
• wire settings for small stones 

22 & 21 Gauge

21 gauge is preferred by many for prong settings and earwires. This wire can be shaped by hand and with the use of regular pliers.

What this wire can be used for:
• wire wrapped links
• open link chains (for light or small stones)
• earwires
• headpins, eyepins
• jump rings
• spirals
• frames
• small clasps
• wire settings for small to medium stones

20 Gauge 

This wire is also good for a variety of other delicate handcrafted findings, like links or looped chandelier earring components. It can be shaped by hand with a regular set of pliers. 

What this wire can be used for:
• earwires
• hoop earrings
• frames
• spirals
• headpins, eyepins
• open link chains
• delicate clasps, double wrapped hooks
• jump rings, split rings
• rings
• wire settings for medium stones
• bails for light stones

18 Gauge

This wire can be shaped by hand and with the use of regular set of pliers also for shaping and cutting.

This wire is used for:
• bails
• large jump rings, chainmaille jewelry
• frames / structure wire
• bracelets
• rings
• delicate clasps
• neck collars
• other handmade components

12, 14 & 16 Gauge 

This wire may be available in either dead soft of half hard temper in some materials. It can require heavy duty pliers for shaping and cutting.

This wire is used for:
• frames / structure wire
• clasps
• thick jump rings, chainmaille jewelry
• rings
• bracelets, cuffs, bangles
• neck collars

Which pliers should you use? 

Depending on what you’re designing, you’ll want different tools for different steps of the process. I’ve gathered descriptions of the different types of pliers to further explain what I mean. 

Flat Nose Pliers

These pliers you would use to bend angles in wire, hold small beads, and open and close jump rings. They offer a perfectly flat edge with a rectangular cross-section.

Round Nose Pliers

These pliers are used for bending jump rings, making chain, and wire wrapping. These jaws are round and taper to a fine point, making them great to get into tight spaces.

Chain Nose Pliers

Useful for opening small jump rings, bending thin gauge wire, and holding small beads. These jaws are flat, round on the outside and taper to fine point.

Bent Nose Pliers

Preferred by some people over chain nose pliers because the bent jaws provide better access to tight areas. Especially useful for “tucking in” wire ends in beads. Cross section and taper is the same as chain nose pliers, but the jaws bend to one side.

Concave & Convex Pliers

This is a forming plier used for bending gentle curves in wire and sheet. The cross section of the concave jaw is closely matched by the curve of the convex jaw. Both jaws have a consistent width.

Flat & Half Round Pliers

The half round jaw has a gentle curve, making it suitable for bending ring shank stock and for making large diameter loops. The upper jaw is rectangular and is preferred by some over concave because it is less likely to dent the material being bent.

Flat & Round Pliers

This forming plier is used for making small loops and jump rings and for bending tight curves in sheet stock. The lower jaw is round and tapered like a round nose plier, while the upper jaw is like a flat nose plier.

Concave & Round Pliers

Similar to the concave/convex forming plier, but more useful for making smaller diameter loops and jump rings. The tapered lower jaw provides a range of diameters for wrapping wire and sheet.

Wire Wrapping Pliers

This specialized plier is perfectly suited for making small quantities of jump rings and for wire wrap artists. Unlike other concave/round pliers, the lower jaw of this plier is stepped instead of tapered, providing three or four constant diameters.

Rosary Pliers

Typically used by beading artists, the rosary plier is a combination of round nose plier and side cutter. The round jaws are great for wrapping wire and holding beading cord, while the integrated cutter means you don’t have to switch tools as often.

Compound Parallel Jaw Pliers

A compound joint ensures that the jaws of these pliers remain parallel throughout their range of movement. This action makes them perfect for working with difficult to hold items such as round beads. Available in flat nose and chain nose styles.

Bow Opening Pliers

Designed to easily open bows, loops and rings. The small grooves on the outer surface of the jaws “grab” wire, holding it securely. The specially designed joint opens the jaws when the handles are squeezed and a spring returns them to the closed position.

Diagonal Cutters

For cutting wire or small pieces of sheetstock. This is the most commonly used cutter and is available in standard bevel cut, flush cut and super flush cut. The tapered ends allow it to get into tight areas.

End Cutters

The cutting edges of these cutters are set at right angles to provide easier access to tight areas. Better suited to cutting protruding wire ends than diagonal cutters.

Oblique Cutters

Similar in design to end cutters, but with jaws that are slightly offset to one side. The offset provides increased clearance. Available in flush cut and super flush cut versions.

Sprue Cutters

Designed specifically for cutting casting sprues. The compound joint and spring action provide maximum leverage with minimum effort. Also useful for cutting thick stock and hard materials.

Cutter Styles and Wire Ends

Bevel Cutters require more cutting force and leave a large pinch on wire ends, but are very durable.

Flush Cutters require less force and leave a small pinch, but are not as strong and wear faster.

Super Flush Cutters require minimal cutting force and leave almost no pinch.

Double Flush Cutters require the least amount of force and leave no pinch on wire ends.

Now You Know

Everyone has their preference and some of these tools you can use for the same steps in wire wrapping. I personally would start out with a starter kit or just a few different types of pliers that fit comfortably in your hand until you get the hang of wrapping. Then as you become more of an expert you might want to gathering more tools for different tasks.

I hope you were able to get something out of my post for how to begin wire wrapping. If you have any questions or suggestions please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

How To Wire Wrap Stones – DIY Video


History Behind Jewelry Making

History of Wire Wrapping 

Beaded work and wire wrapped jewelry still exist around the world today that is thousands of years old. The British Museum have samples of spiral wire components from the Sumerian Dynasty that is dated approximately 2,000 years BC. Other samples of jewelry from Ancient Rome show wire wrapped loops also dated approximately 2,000 years BC. Which is one of the most important techniques used in making wire wrapped jewelry. When crafting jewelry began the techniques for soldering did not exist. Later, as the technique for soldering developed, the wire wrapping approach continued because it was economical and a quick way to make jewelry components out of wire. At this time, the wire wrapping approach to making jewelry is primarily inspired by individual craftspeople.

What is Wire Wrapping?

Wire wrapping is an ancient technique used for handmade jewelry. This technique is done with jewelry wire and findings to make components. Wire components are then connected to one another using mechanical techniques without soldering or warming up the wire. The wire is bent into a loop or beautiful, decorative shape to wrap around itself and make that loop or decorative shape permanent. 

Characteristics

Wire wrapped jewelry is handmade with wire that is mechanical connected instead of soldered connections. A mechanical connection is connecting a loop to another loop by interlocking them. Wire wrapped jewelry is made of wire and sometimes findings similar to wire (head-pins, jump rings, etc.) A key element in wire wrapped jewelry is a loop made out of wire. Loops are used in wire wrapping to mechanically connect components to one another. 

In their basic form, P loops and eye loops are “open” loops. This means that the loop can be opened mechanically to allow it to connect to another component. The opposite of an open loop is a closed loop. In a closed loop, the end of the wire is wrapped around the stem of the loop so that the loop is permanent and can’t be opened. A closed loop is also called a wrapped loop. It is because of this technique or approach that you and I came to know it as wire wrapping. 

When making a wire wrapped bracelet or necklace, you would use wrapped loops to connect the components into a chain. For bracelets and necklaces, wrapped loops are recommended because open loops could be pulled apart if the chain were to snag.

In the simplest example of handmade wire wrapped jewelry, a bead is threaded onto a jewelry finding called a head–pin. The bead is held in place by the “head” on the head pin. The portion of the head pin coming out of the opposite side of the bead is essentially wire. This wire is bent into a loop using hand tools and the excess wire is cut off. The resulting bead hanging from a loop is called a “bead dangle”. To complete a simple earring, the loop in the bead dangle is connected to the loop at the end of an ear wire finding resulting in a completed earring.

I hope you were able to get something out of my post. If you have any questions or suggestions please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!