Daily Tip June 30: Adjusting for Wire Gauges

By on June 29, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
June 30, 2010

Question:

Hello, Dale! I love the site, and I find the information so useful!

The biggest issue I have is trying to determine how to adjust for different gauges of wire when I make something. I have found tips and instructions that specify the required gauge, and sometimes there is a caveat that states, “Adjust lengths accordingly if using a different gauge.” So, how do I adjust the lengths? Thanks!

-Karmadhyana in Salem, Oregon

Answer:

Thanks Karmadhyana, we try to do our absolute best!

Regarding your issue, there are a couple ways to think about this. Of course, if you are wrapping a bundle of wires that are a larger gauge than the pattern specifies, you will need more wire to go around the bundle.

However, I think most often this question concerns adding beads to a bracelet or other design. For example, when adding larger beads to a platform bangle, the bead wire would need to be longer due to the additional needed height of the platform so this wire ends up being long enough for proper folding and finishing the bracelet ends (generally an additional 1/2-inch will do). When using larger beads to make a woven or braided beaded item (collar, bracelet, earrings) because the braiding wire goes around each and every bead, this wire length needs to be increased to compensate for the larger bead size.

I know not having a lot of scrap wire is important to all of us; however, the only way to figure this particular change would be to guesstimate the additional length (I add 3/8-inch per 10mm bead to the original formula) and to keep track of your results. While making these experimental braided items, you will build a nice stock of size varieties for your next show.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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4 Comments

  1. avatar

    Carolyn

    June 30, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I always keep some craft wire or bronze wire in various gauges. When I’m experimenting on something new I always make it up in this inexpensive material first. If it turns out great, it ends up as a bargain item at shows. If it’s not great, I cut the beads off and try again. Only when I’m happy with the result to I start working in silver or gold wire. Then there’s no stress about wasting precious materials.

  2. avatar

    Mike Capps

    June 30, 2010 at 10:56 am

    The answer to Karmadhyana’s specific question about how to determine wire lengths needed for different gauges is this:
    Fact: Since thin gauge wire has a smaller diameter than thick gauge wire it tales more wraps of thin gauge wire to cover a given area than it does when using a thicker gauge wire.
    Here is an exaggerated example of this fact: If you took a one-inch thick garden hose and wrapped it around a two-inch thick pipe it would take two wraps of the one-inch hose to cover two inches along the pipe. The length of hose required would be equal to two circumferences of the pipe (two wraps around the pipe). In this example the pipe’s circumference equals its diameter (2″) times “pi” (3.142). Therefore the length of hose required would be 2″ x 3.142 x 2 wraps = 12.57″. But if you use a half-inch hose to make the same two-inch long wrap along the pipe it would take four wraps to cover this area and the length of half-inch hose required would be 2″ x 3.142 x 4 wraps = 25.14″.
    The same formulas are used to determine the length of wire needed to wrap around other wires using diameters based on gauges of the wires. If you are wrapping around an irregular surface it becomes a bit more complicated and you will have to make estimates and educated guesses. Of course you will want to use more wire than what you calculate is needed so you have ends to hold on to when performing your wraps and also so that you don’t come up short. It’s always better to have a little left over than to come up short. Just trim off the excess.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      July 1, 2010 at 10:48 am

      Nice example for using round wire Mike, thanks! However working with square wire is a bit different as there is no need to add wire length to ‘hold on to while wrapping’, and a wrap wire length is easily figured by measuring the width, multiplying by 2 and add 1/8 inch. Personally, when I specifically mention to adjust lengths in a pattern, I mean for bracelets and pendants, according to the size of the stone/beads being used.

  3. avatar

    Jane Elizabeth

    June 30, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I have a journal I keep every design project I make in, the materials and any changes I make to that individual piece. If I change the bead size I note that as well. If coping the design from an article or book I make note of that as well and at the end of the day I have a very clear picture of the work I’ve done, time spent, materials used and how much and the author of the piece. You could even track customer comments on the design etc.
    Thanks Dale for all you do and have done to make wire wrapping the incredible art that it is!!!! Your dedication to perfection joined to that of all at wire-sculpture.com make life for this wrapper much easier and happier! Please keep on keeping on!

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