Daily Tip: Can I Store Wire on a Spool?

By on June 13, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

As an alternative to plastic bags of wire lying around, could I use empty spools to store my wire? Will it have any adverse effects on the performance of the wire?

-Cal in Baldwin, Wisconsin

Answer:

Many people prefer to store their wire on large spools. If you wish to do so, my advice is to make sure you keep the square wire “on the square,” and to coil any wire shape or temper slowly and carefully around a large spool, so as not to work harden it.

Storing wire in closed plastic bags to prevent tarnish is not all that hard, either. We have several methods explained by Sherrie in this video tip.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

Have a question? Submit your question here

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22 Comments

  1. avatar

    Cherries Hill

    June 14, 2010 at 6:46 am

    I like this idea, as I have many empty spools.

    Good heads-up on spooling “other than round” wire. Now that I think about it, I’ve never rec’d square wire on a spool…always in a bag. You could also put a lable on the spool, with size, price,metal,seller, etc.

  2. avatar

    kathy

    June 14, 2010 at 7:07 am

    I have kept all my wire in the original plastic bags I received from wire-sculpture and then enclosed them all in a pastic container with a lid and have never had a problem with the wire. It is still in pristine condition and we are talking 5 years now.

  3. avatar

    Jo

    June 14, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Where possible, I store my wire loosely rolled in a ziplock bag (my SS wire usually comes like that anyway). The ziplock bags I store in labelled page protector pouches in ringlock binders. Keeps it tidy, and it’s easy to keep track of what I need to order since everything is visible at a flick and glance.

    • avatar

      Laurie Baker

      February 14, 2013 at 9:58 am

      WOW! What an awesome idea! I usually just keep my wire in the original plastic bags (it’s labeled ect…) BUT I’m so going to do this! Thank you Jo!

  4. avatar

    Ginni Tutterow

    June 14, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Such a favorite topic! I bought “file jackets” from my office supply store. They are exactly like file folders in size and material, but they are sealed on the bottom and both sides, open on the top.

    I label them like I would file folders by size, shape, material and temper.

    I keep the wire coil I’m actually using loose in the folder, and any additional coils in plastic bags in the same folder. That way, I have “pristine” new shipments of wire, not 5 half-used orders. I can always tell if I need to reorder or not.

    All my wire is “filed” in hanging folders in a credenza drawer…easy access and very portable. I bought a portable file box at the office supply store and when I travel to shows, I pull the jackets I want to take, pop them in the port-a-file and it’s ready to go.

    I truly detest spooled wire…if I unintentionally lose control of the wire end one time, it whizzes off the spool and I have one ugly pile of wire instead of a nice, neat spool.

    • avatar

      wendy

      June 14, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      i absolutely love this idea!! thanks for sharing… :)

    • avatar

      Peggy

      March 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      My supplier of wire always comes on a spool in a plastic bag. I like the bag (saves me from having to put it in one of mine). I just add an anti-tarnish tab to it. But…I have the same problem re: the wire whizzing off and making it a pain. I like the idea of the wire being loose. Do you have any idea for “whizzed” wire from a coil. Do you think it might be a good idea to unwind it and place it in a bigger bag? I prefer to make things as easy as possible. All of my wire is kept in a file folder and labeled with the little tabs, but it’s just such a pain to work with new wire that becomes partially uncoiled. HELP!

      • avatar

        Rose

        March 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

        Hi Peggy, I would probably put it in a gallon ziploc bag, at least so that it doesn’t get tangled with other wires. I would probably leave it on the spool though, because unless it’s coiled neatly, it will probably get all tangled up in itself, especially if it’s any longer than 10 feet or so.

        Order from Wire-Sculpture and your wire comes in a neat coil, that would solve your hassle… :)
        Rose

  5. avatar

    Karen

    June 14, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I love Jo’s Idea of putting the plastic wire in their bags and inserting them into sleeves for a three ring Binder. They can be marked easily on the sleeve and even a “sheet” of bubble wrap could be put front and back if you don’t have a lot of wire so that they are kept flat inside the binder. I am definately going to do this. Thanks Jo for a Great idea!!

  6. avatar

    V

    June 14, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    What does leaving wire “on the square” mean? The context being spooling wire…

    I am quite certain it doesn’t mean using square spools. ;-)

    I have this fantastic plastic spool with a wrap-around clear plastic
    holder, that leaves a small gap uncovered. Through this gap, you can feed through wire, and it keeps the wire pressed to the spool but has a light enough grip that it doesn’t bend or dent the wire.

    The worst part is, I don’t know where I got this wire! IT is the most sane method of wire storage I’ve found outside the Accuflex “huggyspool” which works great for beading wire (think tigertail) but may not work so well for regular wire. Though this is what I desperately want for fine gauges, because they have a tendency to wander off the spool and become unruly messes…

    Wire-sculpture.com is the first place I’ve seen wire stored in ziploc bags. Seems to work well, so far…

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      June 14, 2010 at 4:22 pm

      V, what I mean by ‘on the square’ is not to spool square wire on one of its four corners, rather, keep it on one of its four flat sides while rolling it onto a spool.

      • avatar

        beverly bishop

        June 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm

        Dale, this is exactly the trouble that happens with the square craft wire. It does come in coils but it is not at all “on the square”. It makes it frustrating to make bundles that are straight and even all going the same way. I recoil most of my round wire on spools, but half round and square wire I leave them just as they come so as to not distort or twist them. I never thought that I was work hardening the wire doing this so I will rethink the practice. Thank you for your description of square wire Dale. Bebeaz

  7. avatar

    Nancy Matus

    June 14, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I keep my wire in the plastic bags I receive it in, and label the bag with date, price I paid, how many ounces, size,temper,metal type. I also order in ounce packages, whenever possible, even if I need several ounces of a particular size. This helps me to keep better inventory of what I have on hand, by being able to see how many ‘unopened’ bags of 1 ounce I have, and I can estimate the ‘opened’ bag by comparing it to an unopened ounce bag.

    I keep all of my bags of wire in a file folder system, labeled and sorted by metal type, then within that by temper and size. All of this is stored in a narrow portable file box with a handle on the lid. This is a very easy method for me to keep.

  8. avatar

    Adrien

    June 14, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I agree with Jo 150%. Ziplock bags and heavy duty page protectors in a 3 ring binder is the way to go.
    I struggled for about a year and a half trying to store my wire in an efficient manner. Spools are bulky and you can’t see the labels unles you lay them flat. Then you can’t see the wire. I also tried file folders, but I found that method more cumbersome than binders.
    A big plus with the binders is that they are portable. I can grab my “gold” binder and know I have all the wires I have at my fingertips. I use a separate binder for each metal and arrange the wire by shape, temper and lastly gauge. It works for my way of thinking. I can flip through my wire binders to see what I want to use or need to order. On occasion I have had to order a large quantity of wire that was just too much for coiling. I still label a page protector with the shape, gauge, temper and a note that this particular wire is on a spool.
    I’ve given up putting the price on the label. Sometimes it is intersting to see what I paid for wire, especially if it’s a year or more since I bought it, but the price I paid is not near as important as the price I will have to pay to replace it. I have adopted the pratice of always looking up the current price I have to pay to replace the wire I used and using that cost as the basis for pricing my jewellery.
    Incidentally, I cannot take credit for any of these ideas. They have all come from fellow artists who shared their thoughts and ideas on Wire-Sculpture. Great site for info and sharing. Thanks to WIre-Sculpture and the many people who share thier ideas and experiences.

  9. avatar

    Lisa Feringa

    June 14, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I keep my wire in the bags they come in since that helps tarnish resistance. Each bag comes from Wire Sculpture with the info printed on the label about the wire. I then put them in a clear gallon sized Ziplock bag according to the type of metal, ie… gold/silver. In my Craft room I use big metal shelving with hooks to hang the bags of wire off on the sides. I can walk right to the bags, and at a quick glance find what I need quickly.

  10. avatar

    Dorothy

    June 14, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I am one of those people who has to see something to know that I have it. The minute I file something, in my mind it’s gone. With most wires, I have a pegboard panel with hooks, and I hang the wire on small dowels inserted into the holes. For SS wire, however, I leave it in the bag and punch a hole in the bag to hang it. Even spools can be held with a small dowel, and this works well for me. I have a label under each dowel for what the wire is, plus I have a label on the coil or spool, or bag of wire. That way I’m can see all my wire at once, and I don’t have to rummage through a file of plastic bags. It works well for me.

  11. avatar

    Chris

    June 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I leave my wire in the plastic bags but put them in a large accordian file with each folder being labeled with type & size. I divided it into 3 areas within the large accordian, gold-filled, sterling and copper, the three meatls I work in and then from small to large within that area. Also I put some of those packets to help keep it dry and anti-tarnished in the bottom. Works great! I always know where to find the wire I want!

  12. avatar

    melissa

    June 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I have also seen ziplock type antitarnish bags.

  13. avatar

    Jeanne

    September 8, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I agree with most everyone above: plastic bags with anti-tarnish strips when necessary…except I have enough wire for 3 accordion files: 1)Silver includes silver plate, silver filled and sterling; 2)Copper & 3)Brass, includes.what little gold plate and gold filled, rose gold wire I have as well as any miscellaneous wire.
    I wish ALL wire came coiled! I really dislike dealing with spools except that I need those types, color, gauges etc. My spools go on a thread spool rack.
    I must also agree that I have had Wire Sculpture’s square wire come not so “squarely” coiled.

  14. avatar

    Deborah

    April 6, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I started storing half round wire on empty Beadalon stringing wire spools which has a clip after receiving a coil that was rolled flat side up–it exploded everywhere as soon as I removed the tie holding it–23 feet of it. The spool will easily hold an ounce or more of half round 20-24 gauge wire in an easily accessible manner–easy to take off short sections while keeping the rest in order. I then place it into the baggie with anti tarnish strips or a packet from a shoe box or medicine bottle.

  15. avatar

    Judith Durling

    April 9, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I always keep the wire in the plastic bag it is shipped in. I do take a black marker and make the symbol in the upper right corner of the wire label; i.e., a round circle, a square, or half-circle. But I love the idea of placing the bags in a binder. I have to admit, I have taken the time to record in a sort of diary just what wire I have on hand. I put sizes in ink and add inventory in pencil so that I can change amounts. I separate them by metal in the diary. The wire diary I can stick in my bag when I go shopping.

  16. avatar

    Juanita

    January 1, 2016 at 2:13 am

    My husband and I share a common interest. He likes making DVD’s and I like using his emply plastic Disc containers. I have found that they are easy to store, can be seen through to check the quantity and take a label really easily. It is such a popular idea that the Lapidary club I belong to has also adopted the idea for club wire. Best of all, they’re free ! ! !

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