Daily Wire Tip May 4: Metal Draw Plate Tips

By on May 3, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
May 4, 2011

Question:

Hi Dale, I’m curious about draw plates and how to use them. I purchased two draw plates somewhere about a year apart and both times the holes were huge compared to the stamped size they were supposed to be. I would like to know things like, can you pull gold filled wire through a draw plate or would it take off the gold? How long a piece of wire does a person start with? Do you have to heat the wire on every pull? I can’t find these or any other in-depth answers about draw plates anywhere and believe me I’ve spent hours online trying. I need almost all the steps involved in using a draw plate.

-Dean in Blaine, Minnesota

Answer:

Dean, the marked size of a draw plate hole is the outer dimension. When you are pulling a single strand of wire through a draw plate to make the wire smaller in diameter or a different shape, it is important to first make one end as small as possible (cut and file the wire end to a fine, thin point) so it will fit through the smaller-sized holes.

Square Draw Plate
Square Draw Plate

Pulling by hand can be a challenge as the wire gets smaller. Folks who draw wire all the time will often invest in or build a Draw Bench (click for a picture). The most comprehensive information I found about drawing individual wire strands is this Ganoksin article, Wire Drawing Hints.

With regard to drawing gold-filled wire: because the gold layer is heated/fused to the brass core, the gold will stretch with the wire, and there should be no problem until you pull the wire several times through progressively smaller holes.

Using a wooden draw plate to reduce items such as Viking Knit Chain is similar to using a metal draw plate. Click to watch Albina Manning discuss wooden draw plates: How to Use a Wooden Draw Plate.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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4 Comments

  1. avatar

    Lorraine Brooks

    May 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Seems to me just too much hassle and expensive equipment when you can just buy the correct size wire to begin with.

  2. avatar

    Adrien

    May 5, 2011 at 7:34 am

    I too, am interested in draw plates and their use. Aside from the fact that you can reduce the size of a wire whenever you need a smaller gauge, is there any advantage to drawing wire? Is it not easier and more efficient to use wire manufactured to the desired gauge?

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      May 5, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Hi Adrien and Lorraine, I agree with the fact that purchasing the wire gauge desired is much easier than using a draw plate, however some folks like to experiment with sizes that may not be readily available, or they may have a large amount of a shape they don’t use often and wish to change it to one they use on a regular basis.

  3. avatar

    Jen

    May 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I’ve also seen where a draw plate is used to thin only a portion of a piece of wire…Say you want to create a loop earring with 14 gauge wire but 20 is best for the post…you can draw down the size so that the post is 20. It creates a lovely seemless earring design.

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