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Finishing Wire Ends
by Judy Ellis, Wirejewelry.com
Wire Jewelry Tip for March 18th, 2016
Finishing Wire Ends
by Judy Larson
Today’s tip is from our good friend, Judy Larson. You’ve probably seen her patterns and some of her other tips here on our blog. Today Judy gives us a little advice on how to finish wire ends cleanly in order to get rid of that “ouch” factor. Enjoy!
One sign of quality workmanship on a jewelry piece constructed with any gauge of wire is finished or smoothed wire ends. It only takes a few seconds and makes a big difference in the final product. Imagine putting an ear wire that has not been smoothed in your ear-ouch! Or putting on a beautiful pendant you just created, only to be scratched by an errant wire end. Even if the wire end butts up against another piece of wire, gemstone or piece of metal, the finished piece will just look better if you smooth the wire ends.
When you reach the spot in your design where you will be flush cutting the wire end before you tuck it in to the design, smooth the wire end. Even if you are making a spiral with the wire, smooth the wire end before doing so.
When the wire is cut to a specific length, as for ear wires, you can finish both ends of the wire before you start construction, or smooth the end where you will make the loop. Then finish the ear wire and smooth the end that goes through your ear lobe.
Tools to Use:
There are several tools that you can use to finish wire ends to keep them from snagging clothing or scratching skin. Just a few twists with a cup bur/wire rounder is the easiest way is to smooth wire ends. If you are not doing production work or making many of one item, then you may want to invest in a manual cup bur/wire rounder.
Wire Rounder with Wooden Handle:
This 1.8mm cup bur/wire rounder is perfect for smoothing/de-burring the ends of ear wires. You can use it on wires up to 16 gauge, but the best results are with 18 gauge and finer wire. Storing it in the protective tube it comes in will extend the life of the tool.
Wire Rounder Set, 3 pieces:
This cup bur/wire rounder comes with two bits- 1.8mm and 1.2mm so you can smooth the ends of even thinner gauge wires that you would use in wire weaving and coiling.
If you are doing production work or making many of one item, then you may want to invest in a cordless drill and wire rounding bits. Just make sure that the jaws on your drill reduce small enough to secure the bit.
If you have a hardware store like the True Value in my hometown that carries small drill and shaping bits, you might find wire rounders/cup burs in that section. These came in a set of three, with the middle one being a 1.8mm. The largest one de-burrs the ends of up to 14 gauge wire. There are also other, larger sets that you can find at JewelryTools.com, like the one below.
Swivel Head Pin Vise:
Twist gold, silver, brass and copper wire. A double ended chuck is inside and can accommodate any small wire. Approximately 3 3/4 inches long.
To use the bits manually, you can secure them in a Pin Vise.
3.6 Volt Automatic Wire Twister (Cordless Screwdriver):
3.6 Volt Automatic Wire Twister. Includes 1/8 keyless chuck to hold drill bits up to 1/8. This model is high-powered at over 200rpm and runs extremely smooth.
A cordless drill or screwdriver makes quick work of smoothing wire ends. It saves on hand fatigue when you need to smooth many wire ends in one sitting.
If you have strength or dexterity problems, a ring clamp, which will not mar your wire, may be an item that would work for you to securely hold wire in place for filing.
Maghony Ring Clamp:
Nylon Ring Clamp:
Sharpening Stones and Files:
A whet stone for sharpening fish hooks or knives can also be used to smooth wire ends of 22 and heavier gauge wires (finer gauges bend too easily). Rub a small drop of sewing machine oil on the stone and gently drag the wire end across the stone. Twist the wire around and repeat. Keep twisting the wire end around so the complete circumference of the wire end has been smoothed. At WireJewelry.com we carry two types of Sharpening Stones. Click to see them.
You can also use a nail file in the same manner as a whet stone, but minus the oil. The beauty supply section of your local drug store will have very fine nail files and buffers that are great to use in making jewelry. We also carry a large selection of buffs, brushes and files.
Lortone Rotary Tumbler for Jewelry or Rocks – 3A:
If you have not used a gemstone, pearl, glass bead or cabochon in your design, tumbling an item with steel shot can further smooth wire ends. However, this is not a replacement for hand finishing wire ends.
How to Use a Cup Bur to Smooth your Wire Ends:
Because an ear wire is so small, the easiest way to grasp it securely for de-burring with a tool is first place it on your pointer finger. Grasp it with your thumb and then twist the cup bur back and forth several times on the wire end. Check to see if it is smooth. Repeat as often as needed to smooth the wire end. Note: All wire ends can be smoothed in the same manner.
I hope that you’ve learned a few new ways to finish the ends of a wire! If you’d like to see more from Judy Larson – CLICK HERE!