Daily Wire Tip: Anodized Aluminum and Chipping

By on April 19, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip


Hi there! I love using wire in jewellery-making and I’ve noticed there are so many lovely colours of soft anodized aluminium wire and copper craft wire around. But what puts me off using them is that they seem to marr and chip really easily. Is there a varnish or lacquer that can be sprayed on finished pieces to protect them?

-Joanna in Cookstown, Ireland


Hello Joanna, how lovely is Ireland! I totally understand your frustration, because my daughter has used anodized aluminum rings for some of her chain maille designs.

Aluminum is a very soft metal and next to impossible to harden, so tool marks are going to happen! While working with this pretty wire as well as colored craft wire, it is important to be firm and confident with every tool move.

Sometimes folding a piece of lint free-material (such as a piece of cotton t-shirt) or a polishing cloth over the wire while you work will help avoid dents and the removal of the color coating.

When using colored copper craft wire, some people enjoy using nylon jaw pliers as the jaws will not nick the wire when making 90° bends.

After finishing a piece, some people use nail polish to repair color chips and bad scratches. My favorite protective product is the Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Spray. For details about this product, please refer to Seashell Jewelry. Just remember to educate your customers about the products you use and that all protectants are temporary.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar

    Janine Brown

    April 20, 2011 at 8:05 am

    With the price of Silver today I have started to use the
    Anodized craft wire in some of my designs. Thank you so much for the helpful tip…I have tried to stay with the basic colors that have the nailpolish color to match…

    I love reading the daily tips


  2. avatar

    Tara T

    April 20, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Aluminum is very soft, so you don’t need a lot of force to manipulate it. Proper use of your pliers, with minimal force, will not mar your rings or wire, if you have a quality wire. Be gentle but firm, and you will have a beautiful product.

  3. avatar

    Cindy Hill

    April 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    You can get Plasti-Dip at the hardware store and coat your plier tips to prevent damage to your wire as you work.

    • avatar


      December 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      I was wondering if the Plasti Dip worked better that tool magic? If you’ve ever tried tool magic that is.

      • avatar


        December 13, 2011 at 10:13 am

        I am sorry Draya, but I hadn’t heard of this particular product until you mentioned it. If it is a thin coating, it would probably work better than the other dip, because there are times when you want and need a sharper edge for a crisp angle.

  4. avatar


    April 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Reading this made me think of another question. Is argentium silver as hard as regular sterling silver?

    If it is softer, is there anything special that has to be done to prepare it for jewellery?

    Cape Breton

    • avatar


      April 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Michele, no half hard Argentium silver is just a hair harder than half hard sterling and works in the same manner, same with Argentium soft.

  5. avatar

    Joe Barela

    April 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Hello everyone, thought I would add my 2 cents here, just so U know Acrylic clearcoat is what is called a reversible coating. That is because it can be returned to a liquid by exsposing it to laquer thinner. It is also sensitive to moisture and will turn white if it gets wet and stays wet for a short time. What to look for is an Acrylic Enamel clear. It is more durable and more resistant to water. Also if U warm up your project with a hair dryer just prior to coating it it will dry faster. U will need to practice to get the timming just right.
    As for Argentium silver, U can get jump rings (open or closed)that are tempered and they are very strong.
    Personally I have never bothered with craft wires. I have seen too many products that look nice at first but later customers bring them to me for repair. Since I do repairs and offer full warranties for my products, I stick with the gold and argentium. 25% of my sales come from doing free repairs (within limits) for customers on products by other crafters. I also get good ideas from them and designs I can improve on. Note, I do not get complaints from customers about the products from other crafters that they bring me to repair, it seems they know what they are buying, but they just cannot find anyone else to do the repairs. …JB

  6. avatar

    Rachel Ison

    December 8, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Joe I want to ask if the Acrylic Enamel clear is a spray or in a jar. Do you use it before or after making the jewelry and where do you get it? Also if the wire is rebent, will the coating crack?

  7. avatar

    Mary F

    December 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    When using the basic primary colors, I find that Sharpies work very well and they may be a bit more permanent than nail polish. So far, so good! :)

  8. avatar

    Marj Scooros

    December 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I’ve found that a Sharpie of the same color works well. Sharpies come in so many different colors these days that I can usually find one that matches.

  9. avatar

    sue beebe

    December 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I recently had a really nice blue laguna agate that I wire wrapped with black craft wire and I had several nicks to cover. I found that the sharpies didn’t work that well and finally used nail polish, which covered every nick up very nicely. I would like to know if dipping your good Swanstrom’s pliers in Tool Magic will do anything harmful to the pliers?

    • avatar


      December 12, 2011 at 1:20 am

      Actually Sue, I have been asked this question before and in my opinion, a thick coating like the one you mention “rounds” the edges of the pliers, so if you are seeking a crisp bend, the coating will prohibit it.

  10. avatar

    Lori Crawford

    December 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Just wanted to add my tip on working with colored wired. I wrap the tips of my pliers with pieces of cloth bandages. The part that sticks to the skin. Yeah I know that sounds silly but I needed something quick and that is what I came up with about a year ago and I have been using them ever since.
    And I use sharpie markers too with good results.
    Now I am wondering could you spray the Acrylic or even put the nail polish on before you work the wire?

    • avatar


      December 12, 2011 at 1:18 am

      Well Lori, the nail polish is suggested “if” the color chips, so it would be used after working the wire. As for acrylic spray, I would use it after the design has been created, to prevent the finish from coming off while bending.

  11. avatar

    Dixie Ann Scott

    April 26, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Hi, I have used plastic-dip on my needle nose pliers but if you read the instructions you need to dip them several times to get a thick coating. If you dip them less times you get a thinner coating. It is going to be up to the individual as to what thickness they want for their tool.

  12. avatar


    January 9, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Hi there, very interesting conversation. When using the colored wire I coat my pliers with a rubber coating. I try to keep it thin not to add a bulkiness to my pliers. Infact I keep a separate pair ready when I need them. If you don’t have that luxury the coating comes off easily. Also, I have seen some people wear the color off the anodized wire. I think its like some people with copper…it will turn black over night. One gal put a ankle bracelet on and 5 days later the color was gone. When I use it I try to use is where is does not rub on the skin.
    Thanks for your time…

  13. avatar

    Barbara Martin

    August 7, 2014 at 4:54 am

    I sometimes wrap my pliers in painter’s tape to prevent marring.

  14. avatar

    Rhonda Chase

    November 19, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    A word of caution. If you use nail polish to repair chips, protective coatings may act like nail polish remover. Test an out-of-the-way spot first.