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# Daily Wire Tip: How to Use a Wire Gauge

By on July 19, 2010

Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

How do I find out what size my wire is? I’m not sure what wire gauge it is.

-Mary in Santa Rosa, California

Answer:

Mary, you can use a wire gauge tool to determine the size. I would like to explain how to use a wire gauge.

If you hover over this picture of a wire gauge tool, you will notice that the top of the slit between each number/size is straight on each side. This is where your wire is placed to determine its size. Simply fit the wire between the slits until the wire rubs against them: not too tight, but still snug.

You can measure round, half round, and square wire with this tool. For half round, make sure you measure across the widest point of the wire. For square wire, place the flat sides of the wire between the metal slits.

Here’s an image of the Wire-Sculpture staff measuring a 14-gauge round piece of copper wire.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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## 11 Comments

1. mary

July 20, 2010 at 8:35 am

I believe that any wire, whether round, square, half-round, triangle, etc. is subject to having an assigned wire gauge “size” to it. Checking in the front of most jewelry supply catalogs will give you a breakdown on types of wire as well as gauges, etc.

2. Teri

April 17, 2012 at 6:11 am

After determining the gauges, a useful tip is to get an expanding folder and place the different gauges in different sections. This helps keep your wire together but separate at the same time.

3. April 17, 2012 at 11:50 am

I use zip lock bags (the zippered kind) to hold my wire coils and they are marked with a Sharpie for type, gauge, half-hard, etc. These are then placed in a hanging folder, which is then hung in a plastic box designed for files next to my work bench. I stack several boxes to bring the “wire” box level with the desk. I store extra materials, books, and tools in the bottom boxes.

• April 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm

That’s a fantastic idea. I’m always looking for more space to store jewelry supplies.

• Sherry Castro

July 8, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Great idea, Thanks for sharing.

4. Sue Johnson

March 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I, too, use zip lock bags. But, I punch a hole in the top of the bag & hang them from hooks in pegboard on the wall & on a revolving “bait” display from an out of business bait shop. This way I have the type of metal broken down into gauges, shapes, hardness, etc. So much easier for me to find than when I used to have the bags in drawers.

• Lori McKinney

March 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Once you punch a hole in the bag, aren’t you leaving your wire open to more corrosion? I would think the wire would be safer in Sealed zip lock bag with metal tarnish treatment paper.

• Margaret Mate

May 7, 2013 at 5:50 am

If you punch the hole on the outside of the zip part of the bag, no air gets in. I use a piece of tape before punching to strengthen the hole. Works for me any way.

5. Nancy

May 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I store my wire in gallon-sized zipper top bags, or the very largest zip bags that my wire is shipped to me in. When i order, i always request it coiled, not spooled, and in 1 ounce cuts, one to a bag. This greatly simplifies my inventory-keeping. And the coils make sure everything is flat, making for easier filing of the zipper bags. This is for all of my gold filled, sterling, argentium, and pure copper wire. Artistic and colored copper wire can sometimes be ordered in smaller coils, and smaller amounts come on small spools. I label each bag with: metal, gauge, shape, where i bought it, date of purchase, weight, price I paid. I throw a slip of anti-tarnish paper or bag of dessicant into each zip bag.

I store the Artistic-type wire in flat plastic storage boxes. My GF, Ss, Arg, and Cop wires arestored in a portable plastic “filebox” that holds file folders. I created divider cards, labeled with each metal type, and shape. Then in each divided area, separate folders with each gauge, for the sizes/types i use. I have narrowed down my wire to certain sizes i tend to use the most. This box has a latching, hinged lid with a handle, and is easy to carry or move. Hope this helps!

6. Jeanne

July 9, 2014 at 7:30 am

First of all, I have to say I have not had very good luck with any wire gauges. I have tried 3 and all have areas that “don’t measure correctly”. It started with my first gauge when I tested with wire I knew the gauge of and discovered the holes were off by 1 – 2 gauges, and all the holes from about 24 and up were the same size. I also noticed that trying to decide which number went with which hole was confusing. In the above photo how would you know if you were testing the 13 or 14 gauge hole? I ordered another one thinking it was made incorrectly but … it was the same. So, I tried a different style – rectangular. At least I knew which gauge I was testing but I found it was only about 50% accurate – often off – 20g wire = 18g hole. It doesn’t test odd number gauges.
I also keep my good wire in zip lock bags in accordion files. I have found that a sewing spool holder (Walmart) works great for those craft wire spools. You can put 2 spools on a peg. I keep them in order by color and then by gauge. It hangs nicely on the wall.

7. Nancy Duncan

December 7, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Thank You for this really helpful tip. I really appreciate your tips.