Daily Wire Tip: How to Shape a Bracelet

By on April 28, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip


I make plain wire (1/2 hard) and twisted wire (dead soft) bangles from both Sterling and Gold-filled square wire. The wrapping goes fine (with 18-gauge half round) but forming the bangle into a nice round shape is very time consuming and sometimes frustrating.

Currently I use a variety of found objects as mandrels and just wrap around them. I also do some forming with my pliers. I was wondering if a bracelet mandrel and a rawhide hammer could work? The spring in the half-hard wire is what makes me unsure of this technique. Do you think it would hold its shape if I formed a rough circle and then hammered the wire on the mandrel? Or do you have any tips or ideas for making this process easier or faster?


Many wire workers use a metal bracelet mandrel and a rawhide or nylon mallet to shape their bracelets with success. The procedure involves beginning the shape by hand, around the mandrel, by hold one end on the mandrel and bending the wire bundle around with the other hand until the bracelet can be clasped. Then the bracelet needs to be held in place with one hand while using a mallet to pound on it, working from one end toward the other.

Personally, I prefer to shape all of my bracelets around a larger, plastic medicine bottle. Hold one end of the wire bundle on the bottle and bend it around the bottle 2/3 of the way, forming half of an arch. Repeat by holding the opposite end, forming another arch, that together look like a rainbow. Then reverse the procedure used to take the curve out of the wire, slightly bending the wire with your thumb, over the index finger, in 1/4 inch increments, working form one end toward the center and then reverse the procedure from the opposite end.

My very favorite project ‘The All Wire Bangle’ is now on a DVD and explains this as well as many other useful procedures: Beginner Series DVD 1

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar

    Lori Crawford

    December 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I have used medicine bottles too and they work well. But I found the an old wooden baseball bat at a yard sale and it works even better. I can hammer on it to shape, form and harden them. I only paid $1 for it, so the investment was well worth it. You can even use it for neck collars. And it does not scar your metal when hammering.

  2. avatar


    December 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I, too, use unusual things to shape bracelets. My favorite is an 8-inch section of an old shop broom handle. My bracelets are not round, however; they are wrist shaped, like an oval, so I just shape both ends. And most all of my bracelets have catches, so they stay on. Probably my most unusual jewelry shaper is the really large blue wine bottle (think about two liters in size) that makes a great neck wire shaper and holds a beautiful artifical flower when just sitting around.

    • avatar


      December 20, 2011 at 11:01 am

      DeLane – in my opinion, your bracelet shaping “oval” is perfect, as our arms are not “round” :)

  3. avatar

    Kathy C.

    December 20, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I use PVC “joints” from the hardware store. I have 3 sizes and they sort of nest together. They cost about $.25 each. They are about 1 1/2 inches tall and are light weight so travel well. Merry Christmas, everyone!

    • avatar


      December 20, 2011 at 6:35 pm

      Cool suggestion Kathy – thanks for sharing it with us and Merry Christmas to you too!! :)

  4. avatar


    December 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I have been using a 1 pound coffee can for a mandrel for collar necklaces. I like the wine bottle one, the surface is harder. Could one use a rawhide mallet with that one? My coffee cans just don’t hold up for long.
    I thought about putting gravel (fine)or sand in it, but I don’t know how to be sure it won’t just burst with duct tape on it and have stuff all over my work space!

    • avatar


      December 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      Humm, I’m not sure I’d want to beat on a glass bottle for any length of time, Linda. Just how hard are you beating a collar on a coffee can? Yes, I do tell folks to use that exact item, a 1 lb coffee can – but if you use a rawhide mallet and just hit the collar hard enough to shape it – that can should last quite a while! Maybe you should take your frustrations out by learning how to raise a bowl from sheet copper and “then” work a bit more lightly on jewelry? Just a suggestion, because I would hate to hear that you had a can of sand burst all over your work space! :P

    • avatar

      Debra Wisinski

      September 9, 2014 at 7:14 am

      I haven’t read the rest of the comments so if this has been posted I appologize. I was thinking that you could fill the coffee can with concrete/cement then you wouldn’t have to worry about sand falling out and I think it would hold up pretty well. Just a thought!

    • avatar

      Aileen Flood

      October 9, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      I have been using wine bottles filled with sand and corked well for many years. Use rawhide mallet. This works well for wire work and other soldered work. Aileen F.

  5. avatar

    Marge f

    December 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    The best thing that I have found is a child’s ball bat. The graduated size works well with different sizes. The one I have has a plastic soft covering on it

  6. avatar


    July 1, 2014 at 5:42 am

    I use a sock covered piece of galvanized plumbing pipe (Comes in different sizes) for shaping my wire. Works great! Never wears out and a great use for those lost socks!

  7. avatar

    Sarah wood

    May 5, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Am I correct in thinking that you are not necessarily shaping the whole bracelet at once (like you would a ring), but instead encouraging the curve around the circumference of the bracelet a bit at a time with the mandrel as a guide? Thanks!

  8. avatar

    Ron Miller

    November 3, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I make a bracelet bending jig using 1 1/4″ square stock, 1″ pvc, 1 1/4″ pvc and 2 – 4″ carriage bolts with wing nuts. The added feature of this jig is the 1″ pvc is 4 1/4″ cir. for a border wrap of a standard cab. The 1 11/4″ pvc is the size of a large doughnut. The jig is held in a bench vise leaving the hands free to bend the bracelet.