Jewelry Supplies from Hardware Stores

by Bev Carlson.
(Bev’s Jewelry)

Kindred Hearts barrel weave bracelet by Bev Carlson

Got to love hardware stores for jewelry supplies. Everything from PVC pipe for rollers to whatever.

Just keep your eyes open.

Fireline is cheaper in hardware stores than in jewelry supply stores. I saw that first in Walmart – same product, same store, different departments. I’m still using my large roll of it from the sports / fishing department.

I belong to a group of Beaders called South Shore Beaders (South of Boston, that is), and we are always laughing about our trips to the hardware store.

I just received an email from one of them saying, “Just the thought of us going shopping to buy hammers is hysterical… other women are buying clothes and we are buying metal and hammers!!!!”

We buy torches, copper wire, copper sheets, hammers from hardware stores.

However, with tools we need to be careful. They need to be smooth. Pliers especially need to be smooth.

Looking at a hardware store with “jewelry designer” eyes can turn up amazing things.

Bev Carlson


Great jewelry supply tip!
by: Rena

And for those of us who don’t have a local jewelry supply shop, another advantage of shopping the hardware / home improvement store is that we can get things the same day we need them – and without paying for shipping!

Thanks for sharing this great tip!

hardware and Fireline
by: Patricia

I’ve been meaning to try fireline but didn’t want to pay a lot. Maybe I’ll try the hardware store! Assuming they carry the really thin radius (width?) that I would need for my multiple threadings through narrow holes. 🙂

Copper Wire Issues
by: Angie S

I too have found MANY great items for jewelry at Hardware store. Do be aware however that some wire found at these types of stores often have a coating (especially copper) and I have come across what was supposed to be round 22G copper wire that was actually flat.
Another great idea, if you don’t mind using base metals, is chandelier chain for long necklaces and as components.
Have fun shopping!!!
Angie S

by: hannah

i thought it was so cool that i can make anything from a simple copper piece or a small sliver tube that can be a great pendant to the necklace and it was cheap its amazing what you can do from a hardware store,thanks for posting 🙂 🙂

hardware store cruising
by: susan whelan

I laughed about this post because I spent an hour and a half cruising the aisles of a hardware store this afternoon, after quickly finding a door striker, which was my reason for going in the first place.
Spent a while in the plumbing section, checking to see if they had any copper washers. (they didn’t.) Moved over to the electrical section and found braided copper wire by the foot. I’ve used this wire before – it’s about 18 gauge, dead soft, non coated and cheap as heck. I’ll be back for more soon. Then the tools – almost bought a buffing tool for my Dremel but decided to wait, check out the hammers and found a few with lovely, flat surfaces at one end of the head and a compact peen at the other end. Be back for one of those, too.
The only thing I couldn’t find was a decent hole punch, but there’s two or three other hardware stores in town, and I’ll find it yet.

by: Glenda Munguia

I have found aluminum wire there at a lower cost than the craft store. It allowed me to learn and practice wire wrapping freely. I bought the non galvanized one. I plan on checking other stores for more gauge varieties.


by: Debbie

Thanks to all of you for your comments and suggestions. I have purchased washers from Walmart before to use in jewelry, as well as fish swivels ( a big hit), but never even though to look for wire and tools!!!!!


Home Depot is the best!
by: Rachel

I LOVE going to Home Depot for jewelry making supplies! My best finds have been a small soldering iron for $14.95 and a mirco-torch for $17.95…the same ones that jewelry suppliers/websites want you to pay $30 – $50+ for!

Don’t Forget Storage!
by: Helen

You can buy floss storage boxes with the movable separators at beading stores and needlework stores. OR you can go to the hardware or sports store for exactly the same storage boxes and come home with more boxes for the same amount of money. These boxes are wonderful for storing your findings and special beads.
Going to a beading class? These boxes are great for that, too. You can put scissors, and favourite tools in there just by moving the separators.

by: Janine Gerade

Thanks for the “wicked Awesome” tip on hardware stores. I’m from Metrowest MA 🙂
I need polymer clay supplies such as pvc piping, ceramic tiles and dowels from time to time and this is something I can share a stroll with my husband he’s also happy to be in a store with me for once!

Moulding for handmade earring holder frames
by: Pam

A few years ago, I used to make earring frames with screen. I bought moulding by 6 or 8 foot sections, cut them down to size with hubby’s miter box, and glued them together with corner braces. Then bought rolls of window screen for the center to hold the earrings. Found that the fiberglass screen tore easily, so used the all metal kind. Very inexpensive way to make these, and they sold well!

More on Hardware Store Jewelry Supplies
by: Rena

Lynda Carson has just posted some of her hardware finds – and two pairs of earrings made with them – here:

More Hardware Store Finds.

Jewelry Supplies from Hardware Stores
by: graciejewellery

Someone mentioned getting ceramic tiles at the hardware store. Try your local flooring store. There is always discontinued tile priced very cheaply, and sometimes they even have boxes for FREE!

Love that Hardware!
by: Anonymous

It is so nice to read about the adventures of other jewelry artists in the hardware stores.

I do a lot of work with 12ga copper wire and 1/4 inch copper tubing both of which I get at Home Depot. The reaction of the sales associates is priceless.

The first time I bought wire I bought 25 feet. The man in the electrical department asked me what I planned to do with it.

When I told him I was making jewelry his only comment was “Ooookay” which was accompanied by a very strange look.

Same reaction at the electronics supply place when I bought brass washers, nuts and star washers.

As far as I’m concerned if you can wrap wire around it or string it on chain or cord it is fair game! It is also great fun to see the reaction of people who have no idea that hardware makes great jewelry.

For Affordable Jewelry
by: Tracy

shopping for supplies at places other than Bead stores, Arts & Crafts stores, etc., is how I keep my jewelry prices affordable. I can’t afford to buy high-end handcrafted jewelry, so I try to keep my prices so that others can have handcrafted jewelry without having to pay high-end prices. Also, leader wire (fireline) in the fishing section also comes in precut pieces which are about the perfect length for average length necklaces.

Forgot to mention
by: Tracy

Sorry, I forgot to mention this: while in the hardware store, don’t forget dowels. Much, much cheaper the mandrels!

Harbor Freight
by: NC

Harbor Freight has boxes of copper washers in a variety of sizes for $9.99. The box is jammed full!!!

inexpensive find@ the sporting goods store too!
by: Kimber H. @ kreations by kimber

I haven’t thought of checking the hardware stores but I have made a few finds at the local sporting goods store. When I 1st started beading I couldn’t find storage that I liked that wasn’t expensive so I bought a large Planno tackle box that had a top that opened up with a lift out tray that was perfect for my tools and fishing line that I used in many diameters & color, also from the sports store.

The box also has a front panel that opens to reveal 3 removabe containers that you can section off to the size you want… perfect for my beads and findings…as my collection grew I found similar tackle box with little lift open compartments on the lid before you open it…I love them! They are less expensive than the.craft store options and hold so much material! And one funny thing, at a flea market I took one with me to work on a piece while I was there and a customer was begging me to sell it to him for his tackle!

I now have 8 & they also stack nicely to keep my things neatly organized. And just recently I saw that Planno is making something similar for crafts at a much higher price aand not near the same amount of storage! Hope this helps! Be well…craft on!

Jewelry Supplies from Hardware Store
by: Bev Carlson

Kimber, What a great idea going to sporting goods stores. Basically, using anything that works. Just keeping you eyes open for different uses for items works. I still remember the first time I purchased Fireline for my beading work. It was a Walmart and they had Fireline in two sections, Jewelry and Fishing. The SAME spool was less expensive in the Fishing department. Fireline caught on to that very quickly.

Craftsman tools
by: Alma Linda

Go to Sears for your jewelry tools, they come in a set by Craftsman, so they are guaranteed replacement!

Hardware store fun
by: Colleen

I too had a good laugh over everyone’s hardware finds. I have had the best times just browsing the hardware store isles. Different size washers pounded out make great earrings as do copper couplings make beautiful bangles. At one store, I even had the women store workers bringing me items they wanted me to try out. It just opens up the mind a bit to see all the fun things you can come up with at your local hardware.

A question
by: Colleen

Forgot to ask all you hardware findings people….has anyone ever found a good jewelers type saw at a hardware store? Something that will cut a 2″ round copper pipe. Tried a moderately priced pipe cutter, it they only go to just a bit under 2″. Anything for above that can get pricey. I want to cut the pipe into skinnier pieces for bracelets. I’m afraid a hacksaw will “hack” it up ( sorry, just had to saw that).

Jewelry Hardware Stores
by: Bev Carlson

Funny about the women bringing you things. I’ve only had men in those stores.

Hardware store fun
by: Colleen

Bev, our local town hardware store is very small and has employed a lot of women. The girls have gotten to recognize me and ask about the jewelry. I think they get a laugh when they see me sitting on the floor in front of the washer drawers looking for goodies and then then next minute going through the cut by length chains. Again, the best was when we were all brainstorming over the possible uses of their finds.

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  1. Sherry says:

    Look in the sporting goods section of Wal-Mart and you can find a box that holds 6 rolls of fishing line. You thread the line through the holes at the front and it keeps the line neatly on the roll while you measure out the amount you need. I have fire line, stretchy jewelry line, and thin cording in mine.

    If you use line that’s too large to thread through the holes, just pop out the rubber grommet. I also found a plastic (gray with purple sections) tackle box that has different sized sections that fit snugly against the lid and each other, so there is no space for small beads or findings to slip into another compartment. Each compartment is removable so you can use the ones you need and keep the lid closed.

    Real handy to avoid accidental spillage. It’s compact and great for carry along projects. I believe both items are made by Plano.

  2. Mayla says:

    These are such great ideas. Thank you everyone. someone was asking about cutting copper tubing. I don’t know what its called but Ive seen a tool that cuts copper tubing that tightens onto the tube then you roll it around and tighten it some more until it cuts through. Looks like a clean cut. Hope this helps.

  3. Ace Hardware has the discount bins in middle of the store aisles. There is a small red metal copper tube cutter. It cuts from 1/4 inch tubing up to 1 inch. I see these all the time in the bins and they are under $3.00!

  4. I love shopping hardware stores/departments for supplies. I was in a Sears once in the tool section with my husband and I said “Oh I could use one of those.” He asked me “For what?” I said “Jewerly!” He just laughed and said “You are the only woman I know who walks a tool section thinking about making jewelry!” Well obviously I am not alone! It is a funny thought I guess, most women want nothing to do with a hardware store or tool section and I’m always begging my husband to go! 🙂

  5. Harbor Freight is my “candy store” – I purchased my tumbler, hand torch, flux, and am now looking at their 3″ buffer/grinder. They also have the best flush cutters there for under $2. The red handled one’s in the plier isle. They also have a great selection of hammers. If you use chemicals, you can’t go wrong with their boxes of rubber gloves.

    I use their magnetic tool holder (it is a strip about 2-3″ wide and about 3 ft long) to hold my pliers in hands reach. It also keeps me from losing them on my bench (grin). One thing though it does magnetize your pliers/cutters which sometimes can cause problems, but it also keeps pieces of wire slinging off in the air to never be found until you walk barefooted.

  6. Patti Panuccio says:

    I found a case, at a big box sporting goods store with a ring binder and zip locked plastic bags and extra bags available.Iit is great for separating my sterling and gold filled wire, I have a bag for each size and or shape and can put anti tarnish strips and scraps and seal them in. I bought this a couple of years ago and with the extra bags I spent less than $20.

  7. I found some GORGEOUS pure brass tags in a hardware store, a few years ago, that they stamp numbers on for electrical boxes, with nice holes for hanging, and used a few on a “Belly Dancer” necklace. They were about $.60 a piece and about 22mm in size, but you have to ASK for them.

  8. Someone mentioned Plano boxes… This is another type of Plano: When I was getting started with all of my beads my husband was getting frustrated with my little bags of beads all over. One day he came home from Menard’s with a Plano organizer box (approx.20x10x7) that has front drawers, like for nuts and bolts. These are 2 different size drawers and come with dividers. On sale they cost around $10 – 12. I keep all my beads and findings in these drawers in little baggies and there is even a place to label the front of each box!

    Over the years I have accumulated 6 boxes and have them stacked at the back of my work table up against the wall (just for safety purposes). They stack 2 high very well but for 3 high I feel you need the support of the wall. It’s also very easy to move drawers around in case you want to reorganize. I keep all the finding in one box and therest alphabetically, but I have also tried by color and by size. If I have multi stone bags I keep them in a separate row labeled multi…

    Then I use the small Plano fishing tackle/nuts and bolts storage that closes up with divided trays and has a handle on the top for traveling. The top has room for the tools I want to take and the trays/drawers for beads and findings I need to travel with. It was less then half the price of the exact same one made for jewelry.

    Someone mentioned pvc, which by the way makes great bracelet mandrels in the different sizes, not to mention, assorted hanging frames. I also have found assorted tools for less than jewelry tools.

  9. I know that Plano box. Mine has a top that opens and stores hammers, tools, odds and ends, etc. Then it has 4 covered trays, with dividers. I have two of these boxes – one for findings and one for charms. They cost about $20 at Walmart and cost $53 in a very big and popular bead site… I also haunt the hardware stores – and Goodwill.

  10. These Plano boxes come in different sizes and with different number sand sizes of drawers so you can find one that really suits your needs.

    Hardware store prices beat the jewelry/bead stores hands down…if you find them on sale they can be 50+% cheaper.

    I use the smaller, fishing tackle, size for traveling and for some items that I don’t use frequently so I keep them under my table.
    Plano also makes what I call a table top version with the small, clear pull out cubbies that would traditionally be for things like nails, screws nuts and bolts.

    I have several of these for the back side of my work table that is up against the wall. They stack, even though I don’t think they are made to, meaning they don’t actually connect. These are permanently in my work space and each cubby has a spot for labeling so it’s easy to find what you need.

    They have a great variety, are multi-purpose, relatively inexpensive, easy to use and store, and… I loooove Plano!

  11. Does anyone know where I can find copper washers? I love combing the hardware stores for goodies, but never come across copper washers :-/

  12. Hi Colleen! If you’re in the U.S., try Harbor Freight. Many of us have found them there.

    Good luck! 🙂

  13. Linda Soderfelt says:

    I just went to Home Depot to check out their copper wire. The smallest they had was 14 guage. I did buy some but wish I could get closer to 18 gauge. Can anyone tell me if they have tried stripping the ‘plastic’ coating off of copper wire to get a smaller gauge? If so, is there a way to know just what guage the wire inside will be?
    In response to some hardware store copper having some kind of finish on them, I wonder if that can be removed in some way. Any thoughts?

  14. Thanks Rena!
    Yes we do have harbor freight here and I do plan on stopping in. Boy will that be dangerous! 🙂

  15. I obtained this information from someone else (darn if I can remember where I got it) If it was from someone on here – please speak up so I can give you credit. AND THANK YOU FOR THE INFO.

    But I copied the information below into one of my files so I can take it to the hardware store with me. I keep it on a laminated card in my wallet so I always have it with me.

    THHN wire has uncoated wires bundled inside an outer coating.
    This is how the THHN breaks down:
    #12 THHN contains 6 bare strands of 26 gauge wire 13 bare strands 24g wire
    #10 THHN contains 6 of 24g 3 of 22g
    #8 THHN contains 19 strands of 20g
    #6 THHN contains 6 of 20g 13 of 18g
    #4 THHN 6 x 18 Ga & 13 X 16 Ga
    #2 THHN 6 x 16 & 13 X 14

    100Amp Grounds Wire 7 x 14 Ga 200Amp Ground Wire 7 x 12 ga
    *0/1 (what they call “aught one”) gauge THHN contains 6 of 14g 13 of 12g
    *0/2 (aught two) gauge THHN contains 6 of 14g 12 of 11g 1 of 10g
    *0/3 (aught three) gauge THHN contains 6 of 12g 13 of 10g


  16. Mary Anne Enriquez says:

    Its always important to research non art supply materials. Be as detailed as possible in your google search…and include “MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET” in the query. For example…many soft “steel” wires found in hardware stores do have coatings…of lead and other toxic metals. They are not made for handling or wearing (unless a coating is sealing the surfaces.) And will have warnings on the packaging– usually the State of California will not allow these to be sold (or shipped) there. Some wires are coated in some sort of petroleum oil to keep them from changing. Making jewelry, our hands can absorb all sorts of chemicals we never think about. Copper might be coated with a clear coating to keep it from darkening. What is that coating and will it flak off into particulates that can be breathed in?

    Copper wire inside of an electrical rubber coating might not have a coating, but you might want to make sure. I can’t imagine stripping all that rubber insulation just to get some wires …I have done that in the past but its no fun even with the right stripping tools. The finer copper wire can be had from electrical supply outlets.

    If something is worn next to or on bare skin…not only is a material a possible hazard to the maker but also to the wearer!

    It just pays to be wise and safe… when re-purposing/ recycling industrial and non “craft” materials for creative endeavers.

  17. Thank you so much, Mary Anne, for adding these excellent safety precautions! 🙂

  18. Linda Soderfelt says:

    Thank you Cyriathia and MaryAnne. I tried another hardware store (Orchard Supply). They had copper wire in a different area than where the big spools are that they sell by the foot. That wire is in packages and comes in 16 gauge and up. They come in 25 foot packages and the 16 and 18 guage are $4.29 per package. They don’t appear to have a coating but I think I’ll either wipe them with soap and water or do a 20 second dip in vinegar followed by a good rinse and dry. Does anyone have any thoughts on ways to attempt to ensure there is no coating remaining?

  19. Mary Anne Enriquez says:

    Linda, You could contact the company that is on the packaging and ask them. Copper is safer than the other kinds of wires….if you are getting any kind of wire in a package…read the info. This goes for steel, brass, copper, aluminum. I would imagine that steel is the most problematic and has warnings. Brass might have a coating. You just need to read.

    I highly doubt stripped electrical wires have coatings. If you are going to strip wire…get a dedicated wire stripping tool…one that has multiple holes for various gauge wires. It makes the job so unbelievably easier! I know this from experience.

  20. Linda Soderfelt says:

    Thanks Mary Anne, The packaging doesn’t say one way or the other but I’ll check with the company.

  21. thank you for the comments. that’s so helpful.
    I have a question on washer? Can washer be used as jewelry wearer??


  22. I love Walmart too for their plastic storage bins in various sizes.. I can put bead caps and bails in the smallest ones and keep glass and stone beads for pendants, separated in larger ones just waiting to be created.
    Our dollar stores also offer great storage solutions in the craft aisle.

  23. PLS NOTE: The vinyl coating that you’re talking about stripping: It has a lot of lead in it, which causes cancer!

  24. The local mom and pop hardware shops don’t have anything neat or more special than you would expect. It leaves me going back to good old reliable Home Depot for all my supplies, even jewelry supplies. I never would have thought I’d be frequenting hardware stores 20 years ago 🙂

  25. Pastora Cahow says:

    I found copper washers at Harbor Freight in a little plastic box that I now use to store components I’ve made. I just purchased my second box. I have made wonderful earrings and pendants to hang on chain. Now am making clasps for necklaces and bracelets. I anneal and then hammer or texture them to the desired size. I paid $6 for a box of 80 assorted sizes and sell a pair of earrings anywhere from $20-$35 depending on how simple or embellished they are. I’ve also purchased 18 and 24 gauge copper wire at my local DoIt Center.

  26. Beth Bernard says:

    I’ve loved looking for things to use in my jewelry/craft making in my local hardware store almost since I started. One thing I like to make (and sell) is an earring tree made from copper refrigerator tubing and 18g copper wire. Pull the coil of tubing up to make a spiral. Using the 18g wire, I make four wraps and a loop, four wraps and a loop, from the tip to about five inches from the end of the tubing. I crimp the ends and cap them with lampwork beads. One pair of earrings for each loop and I can hang about 40 to 45 pairs on the tree.

  27. Linda,
    I get 22′ of 18 gauge copper wire (uncoated) for $4.95 at Lowe’s.

  28. Mina Zaffarano says:

    Beth Bernard. I would love to see a picture of that earring tree.

  29. Omg! ladies, you are all so awesome! so much to learn. thank you all for sharing.

  30. You need to be careful when using metals that are not intended for long term skin contact, such as washers from the hardware store. They are a blend of metals and are not usually pure. Beyond the nickel allergy issue, they contain higher amounts of lead, traces of cadmium and other dangerous elements.

  31. Hehehe awesome article, i love going to the hardware store even more now that i make jewelry. Id way rather go to the hardware store with my boyfriend than clothes shopping with the girls any day of the week…..tho i find my boyfriend dragging ME out of there these days!! Not sure if someone already posted this but picture hanging wire is great for practicing and very affordable. i found 3packs of 20g= about 50ft at the dollar store (cleaned em out) as well as hardware stores. Always keep your jewelrs eye open there is stuff everywhere usually cheaper than the craft stores!!

  32. One of my favorite places to shop for supplies are welding shops. I picked up large (1 lb.) spools of aluminum wire when I was first learning wire work. Of course it doesn’t work for every project, but was less than $10 a spool and allowed me to do lots of inexpensive experimenting. I’ve even used it very successfully for Rena’s Gypsy Style Adjustable Wire Bracelet, along with my stamped aluminum charms.

  33. I’m so impressed with everyone’s ideas. I’ve certainly purchased copper wire at the hardware store. Also, 100% brass ball chain and small brass nails, but you have all opened up my eyes — and my imagination.

  34. Yup Friedman’s has a bulk wire section. Best place to buy larger copper wire gauges. They are never coated at my local store, you can’t beat 15 cents a foot for beautiful copper wire in really low gauges. Usually you can tell if it’s coated just by sight and touch, after you get more familiar.

  35. I love going through Hardware stores but my best buy for copper roof sheeting was on Craigslist. I got 75 feet by 1 foot for less than $50 and it seems to be a gauge 22 which is perfect for bracelets (some I double metal with brass and rivets),etching and pendant. I got a lifetime supple of it for now. Occasional I have found copper wire while rockhounding. Take it home , clean it up and anneal if needed.Never know what you find when in other stores.

  36. Wal-Mart also has some awesome anti-tarnish, plastic, see through storage cases (by Flambeau) in the fishing dept for a whole lot less than anywhere else.. The containers come with tabs for customizing the size of the bins. The anti-tarnish coating is on the tabs and are perfect for storing findings and other metal parts so they don’t tarnish.. I think I paid about $5 – $7 for them. They have a small and large one.

  37. Janet, great tip! Thank you! 🙂

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