6 Ways to Make Higher Quality Wire Jewelry (Video)

Making Wire Jewelry with Rena
video by Rena Klingenberg.

Here are six easy things you can do to make your finished wire jewelry items higher quality, more durable, and more professional looking:

 

One note of caution when working with wire that’s plated or coated:

The outer layer can be chipped or scratched off by tools that file, buff, or hammer.

So work carefully with plated or coated wire, and ease up if you see any sign of scratching or chipping as you work.

 

Transcript of This Video:

(This transcript also contains a few additional tips that aren’t in the video above.)

1. Make Your Wire Ends Smooth

When you cut a piece of wire, the ends are usually rough or sharp. We don’t want to them to scratch or poke anything.

And besides that, wire jewelry just looks much nicer when the wire ends have been neatly smoothed off.

Here are three different tools you can use to smooth off your wire ends:

  1. First, you can use a cup bur – a tool with a little cup-shaped file on one end that’s made specifically for smoothing and rounding wire ends.

    You just put it over your wire end, rotate the tool a few times, and you have a nice, smooth end.

    cup bur

  2. A second tool you can use is a jewelry file.

    File in one direction, and make sure you get the very tip of the wire smooth – as well as all the way around the tip.

    jewelry file

  3. A third tool you can use to smooth off your wire ends is a knife-sharpening stone.

    You can get one of these pretty cheaply in stores that carry camping and hunting supplies.

    You can use it just as you would use a jewelry file.

    knife sharpening stone

2. Work-Harden Your Wire Components
to Make Your Jewelry Sturdier

Work-hardening makes wire stiffer – so your finished jewelry will be stronger and less apt to get bent or pulled out of shape while being worn.

Here are three ways you can work-harden your wire:

  1. First, if you want to work-harden your wire before you work with it, you can pull your wire through your fingers, or through nylon-jawed pliers, or a through piece of fine steel wool:

    work-hardening wire

    The steel wool can also protect your fingers from sharp edges on square or half-round wire, and make your wire clean and shiny before you start your project.

    Don’t over-harden your wire at the beginning of your project.

    Even pulling your wire once or twice in one of these ways will make a difference in its hardness.

    So be careful not make your wire too stiff at the outset – or you’ll have a difficult time trying to bend and shape it.

  2. Another way to work-harden wire is to bend it back and forth.

    This is something we often do with jump rings to make them sturdier and stronger.

  3. Third, you can hammer-harden your finished wire components.

    You can place your wire component on a steel jeweler’s block and use a nylon, rawhide, plastic, or rubber hammer to pound on it.

    You need to have a steel bench block underneath your piece of wire, and pound the wire all over.

    Be sure to turn the piece over and pound on the other side too.

    Hammer your wire work to strengthen and flatten it

Not mentioned in this video:

You can also tumble-harden wire jewelry that can withstand a trip through a rock tumbler.

3. Adjust and Straighten Your Wirework
as You Go

Don’t wait till the piece is finished to start straightening and re-aligning things.

Every so often while working on a piece of wire jewelry, see where things are getting lopsided or out of whack, and make corrections as you go.

It’s usually much easier to correct something that’s twisted or lopsided before the piece of jewelry is finished.

4. Make Similar Wire Components Uniform

If you’re making a piece of jewelry that requires multiples of one component, your finished piece will look so much more professional if you make all those matching components as close as possible to being the same size.

Here are some easy ways to do that:

  1. First, you can use a fine-tip Sharpie marker to mark the exact spot on your tools that you’ll be using when you make these components.

    For example, the marks on my round nose pliers help me make the same size loops every time:

    marking jewelry pliers

  2. You can also make really convenient measuring templates – such as marking a popsicle stick with the exact lengths of wire you need to cut.

    Popsicle stick measuring template for making headpins

    Popsicle stick measuring template for making headpins

  3.  

  4. Here’s a cool way to make a flexible template from a twist-tie – like the kind that comes with bread bags and trash bags.

    After you mark it, you can You can curve it around to measure anything that isn’t straight.

    Flexible measuring template: bread-bag twist tie

    Flexible measuring template: bread-bag twist tie

  5.  

  6. Another easy way to make wire components uniform is to make marks on the wire itself – on the exact spot where you want to make a bend, a curve, a cut, or whatever.

    Or you can mark the wire itself, on the exact spot where you want to make a bend, curve, cut, or whatever.

    A fine-tip Sharpie marker is perfect for this, and it cleans off easily when you’re done.

    Zen Spiral Bracelet Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Not mentioned in the video:

You can also make create more uniform components by making all of your multiples of that component in one sitting, while your hands and mind are in the groove of forming that kind of piece.

5. Make Tool Marks Less Visible

You can reduce the appearance of most tool marks from your finished wire jewelry by gently filing them away with a fine jewelry file.

File in one direction, and follow up by buffing that spot on the wire with fine steel-wool.

6. Work Toward Durability and Comfort

Whenever you’re designing or making wire jewelry, always be thinking of ways you can make it more comfortable and sturdy.

No one wants to wear wire jewelry that’s uncomfortable.

And anyone who wears your wire jewelry artistry wants it to last for a long, long time.

It may even become a family heirloom someday.

So make it built to last, and make it comfortable to wear.

I hope these six wire jewelry quality tips help you make some high quality pieces of wearable art!

Want to Learn the Basics of
Designing Your Own Wire Jewelry?

Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components Class In my Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components video class, you’ll learn how to get great ideas for wire jewelry designs – and then follow my easy system for turning those ideas into successful pieces of jewelry.

By the end of this online video class, you’ll be designing and making your own artistic earwires, clasps, connectors, and pendant bails.

You’ll also learn my tips for making wire jewelry more easily, with more professional looking results.

 

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Comments

  1. These are all wonderful jewelry making tips!! I do just about all of the above and it does make a difference. Thanks, Rena for the great suggestions :)

  2. Great advice! Thanks, Rena

  3. Lois Sherwood says:

    I agree also all terrific tips! Thanks for always being so helpful Rena – have a safe holiday season.

  4. Funny! I was just thinking the other day about how to do these things the right way and what supplies would work best. Thank you!!

  5. The cup bur should only be turned in one direction, always, not back and forth, to make it last. Thank you for sharing such valuable tips with all of us. Love the video and still pictures so all of us can see and/or hear the great ideas.

  6. Bula Rena!

    Once again thanks for the great tips – I’ve been experimenting with copperwire given to me by my husband’s friend who is a motor rewinder mechanic(?) – made some beaut jewelry but also made a bra which I entered in a ‘make a bra” competition in aid of breast cancer patients – and won first prize!! will try to upload pictures – but thanks again for all the great tips and may God continue to shower His blessings on you abd your family and work.

  7. Thanks so much to all for your comments! I love hearing about your experiences with wirework and how you do it. Thank you also for your lovely well-wishes. :)

  8. Caron Lambert says:

    I love the tips about using the twist tie and popsicle stick to mark common lengths for projects. Genius! I always wonder why I didn’t think of that!

  9. Another thing I sometimes do is use a burnishing tool to get rid of tool marks. It takes a little practice using the burnisher but it can work where files don’t sometime.

  10. Thank you so much, Rena, for the great tips. The one about marking one’s pliers is exactly what I needed to learn

  11. As someone else pointed out, cup burrs have teeth that work in one direction only. If you twist the burr back and forth like shown in the video, you are actually rounding over the teeth on the burr and dulling it.

    The same goes for needle files. If you are using standard-toothed files (not the diamond grit-impregnated ones) the file works on the push-stroke only, not on the pull stroke as shown in the video. The pull-stroke actually rounds the teeth and dulls the file. For the same reason, files should not be used in a back and forth motion like you do on fingernails with an emery board. My silversmithing students do this a lot, and I have to remind them frequently of the correct way to use a file.

  12. Hi Rena,tnk u so much 4 dis tips,you have just answered some of my question. Tnx a lot.

  13. Amber says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this :-)

  14. This is a great article, Rena. I know and use some of these, but more knowledge is always better and I plan to implement your tips. Your work is always so professional and clean. It is one of the features of your jewelry that always stands out.

  15. Thanks for all the kind words! :)

    Thank you, Carol, that’s lovely to know.

  16. I’m just getting started in the art of wire wrapping. I am priding myself that I don’t make copies of my art pieces. I am collecting a lot of ideas so I can pull out different things into my art until I get enough in my head so that my ideas can just start flowing out of me.
    I was a manicurist for 27 years working no stop, its now 34 years. I was in a car accident and I’m totally disiabled and I’m trying to find something to fill in the gap . I have always been very crafty with anything I have picked up. So I hope to learn as much a I can from you and eithers. So thank you ahead of time.

  17. Thank you for these lovely tips. They are very helpful, I always had a hard time making the endings smoother, thanks again for the tips.

  18. Sheila Meador says:

    Rena, I’ve learned so much from your blog and appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience with us. I want to thank you especially for including the transcripts because I am hearing impaired. So many tutorials on YouTube and other jewelry sites do not provide this.

    Without the transcript for a video, I have to wear my cochlear processors, switch to a special setting, and wear a T-coil headset plugged into the computer to follow the words. It’s a blessing to be able to hear again after 25 years of deafness, but I still like to read instructions as well.

    I appreciate what you do!

  19. Sheila, thank you for your lovely message, and for letting me know how valuable the transcripts are for you. :) And I’m glad you have the opportunity to hear again after so many years!

  20. Thanks for the great tips

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