Daily Wire Tip: Wrapping Slippery Cabochons

By on January 11, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

I’m rather new to working with wire, but I have also surprised myself with some of the things I’ve made. One thing I have trouble with is when I’m wrapping stones; they are very slippery and hard to hold on to. I’ve also noticed that there have been a few scratches on the stone because of this. Can you help?

-Renee in Maple Heights, Ohio

Answer:

Congratulations, Renee, it sounds like you are having a good time with your latest venture.

Believe it or not, the easiest way I know to hold slippery stones is to cut the sticky ends off a fabric band-aid. Stick these to each side of the cab, and you will be able to hold it more easily.

To remove the sticky residue when you are finished, simply use a bit of acetone or denatured alcohol.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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38 Comments

  1. avatar

    Jane Elizabeth

    January 11, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Great questions deserve great anwsers like this one! I was under the impression the only way to defeat slippery cab was with stronger and more nimble fingers added to experience!!! Great to have this tip!

  2. avatar

    Helen

    January 11, 2011 at 8:50 am

    great tip Cougar, I never thought of that.

  3. avatar

    Catherine

    January 11, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Renee,

    I use painters tape. It doesn’t always leave much residue and many times none at all.

    In fact when I’m doing a lot of spirals, I wrap my index and thumb fingers with painters tape so it doesn’t hurt afterwards. This allows me to hold onto them easier and even provide more control.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      January 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Nice Catherine – thanks!

    • avatar

      Natalie

      March 20, 2012 at 11:05 am

      I love this idea Catherine! I am a die-hard wire wrapper and my fingertips often pay a painful price. Thank you for this great idea – can’t wait to try it!

    • avatar

      Kathy Statton

      July 31, 2012 at 6:10 am

      All your solutions are great – wrapping fingers is one I have to try – sounds soothing.

  4. avatar

    Gayle Knapp

    January 11, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I work on a surface that reduces “skidding” of the metal wrap–bought a thin foam rectangle from Michael’s for this purpose. Also, when I’m doing the back of the wrap on a rounded cab I frequently place the cab/wire combo on a thicker piece of foam or a towel that has been folded over several times to form a cushion for the face of the stone.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      January 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Gayle, I like a cushion style mouse pad for a work surface.

  5. avatar

    Gale

    January 11, 2011 at 10:41 am

    masking tape works well too

  6. avatar

    Céline Barberio

    January 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I recently purchased a ring tutorial that listed “Packing Shipping Putty” to be used as a temporary adhesive for the gemstone. She says to remove the putty before final adjustments. I have to be honest and say that I have not tried this method yet, but I will be very soon as I feel that it would prevent the gem from moving more than any other option I have tried so far. The lady listed Office Depot as a provider for this shipping putty.

    Celine B.
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  7. avatar

    Dharlee

    January 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    This is a great idea! But I would caution as to what type of stone it is before using the acetone on it. I have seen some damage to certain porous stones with this.

  8. avatar

    Kitty

    January 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    In addition to tape, I love my parallel action pliers that give an even grip across the entire bundle of wires.

  9. avatar

    Kathy Bloom

    January 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I don’t know if this would work or not but what about wrapping one or more of your fingers with a small strip of blue painters tape with the sticky side out. It will hold the cab and not leave a residue.

  10. avatar

    Judi H

    January 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I have used carpet tape. Stick it down on your work table or work pad. Pull off the backing and lay your cab face up. I rarely have any residue on the stone when I am finished. I position the cab above my ruler which I have also stuck to my work surface so I can design and mark on my bundle.

  11. avatar

    Barbara

    January 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I attended a wire-wrapping workshop where the instructor advocated using a rubber band. I did that during the workshop, and it worked fairly well. Once the wrap is in place at the bottom, slide the rubber band around to hold the frame against the sides while you wrap the top portion. It’s easy to reposition the band as needed.

    Some people suggest rubber-tipped spring clamps, but I’ve never tried that method. It seems that could be a bit awkward.

  12. avatar

    Joe Barela

    January 11, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Hello, everyone, Just adding my 2 cents here. Great ideas, I have found that if U wrap your fingertips with the medical tape that only sticks to itself. The stretchy strange looking stuff with holes all over it. It holds the stones very well and it allows U to still feel the stone or wire, and it can be re-used, over and over until it gets too dirty to stick to itself. It also will completely conform to your finger tips. It is also great for picking up small faceted stones and working with beads and is great for holding pearls while hand drilling a larger hole. For women it can also protect your nails while working…Grin. Plus it comes in different colors….. JB

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      January 11, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      Cool Joe, thanks! (love the ‘fashion’ tip too)

    • avatar

      Natalie

      March 20, 2012 at 11:06 am

      ooo – this is a good one too. My fingers are luvvin’ it!

  13. avatar

    Thomas H

    January 12, 2011 at 1:57 am

    If you paint the tips of your fingers with rubber cement and let them dry, your fingers will be able to hold smooth items better. When you’re finished, just peel the rubber cement from your fingers.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      January 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Cool idea Thomas – thanks!

    • avatar

      Arlette Miller

      May 9, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      That’s a good idea, but many people are very allergic to latex. I use rubber cement, but I never touch it.

  14. avatar

    Gina

    January 12, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I just use painters tape for everything. If you get in residue from any sticky media on your cab or wire, Avon Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil will remove it without hurting anything.

  15. avatar

    cecil

    January 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I use spray electrical tape,as that is my primary, and it works well

  16. avatar

    Aliene

    March 20, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Just wondering – haven’t tried this yet – would the “rubber fingertip grips” that are sold at office supply stores work? That way, you could use one or two or… I’ve used them in the past for sorting paper easily… they grip really well…

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      March 20, 2012 at 8:50 am

      Great thought, Aliene – will you let us know how those work?
      Thanks!

  17. avatar

    Linda Heiny

    March 20, 2012 at 7:13 am

    The best remedy I have ever found for slippery stones, wire, anything is product called “Sit-Tite”. Is is used by equestrians and applied onto leather gloves, reins, the seats of saddles, on the inside of their riding breeches and boots. It gives a non slip surface and is totally harmless to fabrics, metal,…virtually anything. I have used it on stones, beads, metal findings, wire of all types. I just rub it on my fingertips. It isn’t sticky feeling, just gives a non-slip grip. Wipe off with water.

  18. avatar

    Jil S

    March 20, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I use those “rubber finger tips” that office workers use for sorting papers. They come in different sizes, so you can get one for your thumb and another for your middle finger… (or whatever finger you need it on.) I also use them on my fingers for holding square wire too. I seem to have a more difficult time holding square wire than round. These you can use anytime you need more grip without residue.

  19. avatar

    Val Bogdan

    March 20, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Hi, these are all great tips and I have one more. There is a non drying putty called “museum mount”, that may be a brand name, but you can mold it, tear it, sticks to anything without residue and pulls right off. We use it to stick tags onto artwork and it stays on until you pull it off.

  20. avatar

    Cairenn

    March 20, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Let me make a comment about ‘Museum Putty’. We use it in the booth, a LOT to keep Texas wind from blowing over busts and such. It doesn’t really like real hot days, but it is invaluable to us.

  21. avatar

    Cathy

    March 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Hi everyone,
    I have found that shelf liner that can be found at the dollar store (has a rubbery feel, sold rolled up and has a waffle-like texture) is very handy for working with slippery items. It is also great to hinder rolling items, rolling up works-in-progress and protecting at the same time. If you cut an appropriately sized square, you can hold the slippery cab or safely place it in a vise. I LOVE that stuff, and it is so cheap!

    • avatar

      Kathy

      July 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      I have been using the rubbery shelf liner for several years. However I also have a 1″ X 4″ X 11 2/2″ (most of the shelf paper is 12″ wide). I cut a piece of the shelf liner about 13″ long. Then I apply a silicone glue to one of the 4″sides and apply this end of the liner & let it dry. After this I carefully wrap the liner around the wood and attach the end of the liner with the same glue on top of the beginning end that was glued. Attach the only the one side of the wood with glue and the other 4″ side (without glue) becomes my work side. I also keep several smaller pieces of this shilf liner around my work area where it is easy to reach. I never know when I might need it.

  22. avatar

    MERRY

    March 20, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Dale I do not have a very good grip so after wrapping 1 ring I went to the drugstore and got some rubber fingertips and thin rubber gloves. They seem to solve all those slippery items.
    Merry

  23. avatar

    Margaret Lakas

    March 21, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Good question and answers. I thought it was just me unable to hold securely. I wish I had thought to ask this one and saved a lot of scratching up beautiful stones. Great ideas!

  24. avatar

    Kathy

    March 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I’ve tried thin rubber gloves from a hardward store and had pretty good luck. I will try some of these suggestions as well to find the one that works best for me. Thanks all for the many good ideas.

  25. avatar

    melissa

    May 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    haven’t tried it, but what about that poster putty that is used for hanging paper and posters on walls. just an idea. I do use a mouse pad and/or the rubber shelf liner and both work well.

  26. avatar

    Pastora

    July 16, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I recently started wire wrapping and have made several bracelets which I’v sold already! I made two of them with 18 guage copper wire wrapped with 24 guage since i didn’t have anything smaller. Since the 24 guage was so thick it was hard wrapping it tightly around the 18 guage and at the end I had cuts on every finger from pulling it so tightly. The bracelet came out beautiful so it was worth it. I sold it two days later. I wanted to make more and I wasn’t going to go through the pain again, so I used the tape that I wrap my fingers with when I play golf. You buy it in the bandage section of any drugstore or Target, Walmart etc. it’s flesh color and It is soft rubbery, spongey and very “grippy”. It adheres to itself when you wrap it on your fingers and anything else but comes right off. It works like a charm holding whatever you need to hold. Not only that you can use your fingers like nylon jawed pliers and no pain! It’s pretty amazing and I highly recommend it.

    • avatar

      Judith

      January 13, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Great idea. I think that stuff also is used for sprains to wrap ankles and I have some already.

  27. avatar

    Chelsea

    September 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    This might sound a bit odd, but lately I have been using a racquetball glove on my right hand while doing big wire wrapping jobs. I am right handed so this is perfect for me. The leather glove protects my fingers but still allows me to have full and complete control of my dexterity so I can still get into all the tiny places that I need to get into. I was able to get a very decent glove for around $13 at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I did try to use golf gloves as well, but it is not as easy to find a glove for the right hand firstly and secondly, for some reason, the leather on golf gloves is just a hair thicker and just a tiny less breathable. (If you can believe that!)

    With the racquetball glove I am able to hold my cabs better and also weave wire so much easier as I can pull the wire much, much tighter than I could without the aid. I will definitely try some of your other suggestions as well! Especially while on the road (as there have been times where I have been asked to make something for family and friends and I have forgotten my gloves at home.)

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