Choosing Wire Hardness

By on August 29, 2016
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by Judy Ellis,

Wire Jewelry Tip for August 29th, 2016

Choosing Wire Hardness for Wrapping

by Rhonda Chase

Today we bring another quick tip from Rhonda Chase on how to choose the correct hardness for your wire wrapping. It’s a great tip that anyone can use – form the beginner to the expert!

Rhonda says:

When wire wrapping cabochons and beads, the wire hardness you choose is dependent on several factors:

  1. The size of the piece you’re making
  2. The intricacy of the piece
  3. Personal preference.

Types of Wire:

Dead soft wire is better for pieces that are small or intricate, since the wire will harden as you work with it. Dead soft wire scratches and dents more easily, so you need a more delicate hand, but it allows for more control.

  • Hint: Dead soft wire is also used for coiling, crocheting, knitting, and weaving, or to mix with half hard wire in certain situations. Depending on the size (gauge) of the wire, dead soft wire does not hold its shape in stress situations, such as prongs; however, it can be hardened and/or beautifully textured by using a variety of jewelers’ hammers. (answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong)

Half hard wire can be better if you won’t be doing a lot of work hardening.

  • Hint: This wire will beautifully hold any shape it is bent into and because it will work harden quickly, it is the perfect choice for executing prong designs. Half hard wire forms crisp clean angles a

Testing Wire Hardness:

A good way to test out wire is to buy about 10 feet of 22 gauge and 24 gauge wire in both dead soft and half hard. Experiment with these wires. Your experience level and wrapping style will lead you to the best choice for you. Ultimately, you should use the wire you’re most comfortable with.


Here’s a great chart to help you understand wire gauge and the way that it’s sized.


Additional articles that will help you choose the type of wire that would be best for your next wire project:

Wire Gauge

Wire Temper

Wire Shapes

If you’d like to see more from Rhonda, you can see her blog posts HERE!

Happy Wrapping!


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  1. avatar


    August 29, 2016 at 5:46 am

    That was very helpful. T.Y.

  2. avatar


    August 29, 2016 at 8:58 am

    A little background first: I had a stroke a week ago and it left me sight impaired. I mostly design Wire rings and from scratch earring. I’m using 20-22 gauge copper or brass wire. I like the soft feel when wrapping the ring shank. Once done I will put the ring on a mandrill and spin it to both smooth and slightly stretch it. I file and pokies or scratchies with files. Earrings get lightly hammered to harden.

    Stone wraps are tougher now. I still prefer ds wire as it will work harden.

    I would use harder wire for headpins.