If you’re still in the process of mastering the use of your round nose pliers, this is the ideal jewellery making project for you to take on. In this tutorial you’ll learn two new skills:
- How to make wire rings – a simple ring made with leftover wire that will help you master the use of your pliers and get creative with your own design ideas.
- How to make wire rings with stones – a more advanced technique that will enable you to create professional looking wire wrapped rings featuring a stone or bead of your choice.
How to make wire rings for beginners
Have you got leftover bits of wire taking up room on your workbench? Or are you just getting into jewellery making and looking to take on new projects? Wherever you’re at in your jewellery making career this tutorial on how to make wire rings is the ideal project to help you master the use of your round nose pliers.
Supplies you’ll need:
- Soft or half hard round wire (use 0.8mm or 1mm to start out – you’ll find this easier to work with as the strength increases in your hands)
- Side cutter or flush cutter
- Round nose pliers
- Ring mandrel
- Tumble polisher
- Rawhide mallet
Let’s get started.
- Prep your materials. If you’re using scrap wire, you’ll need to find a length of wire that measures anywhere between 8cm and 13cm. If you’re starting from scratch, simply take your side cutters or flush cutters and cut the length of wire you require. Make sure you experiment with different lengths using your ring mandrel to ensure you get the ring size you’re looking to create. This can be a little tricky to start with as you try out different designs.
- Make a loop at each end of wire. Take your length of wire and your round nose pliers. Then lightly grip your pliers and place the nose at one end of the wire, applying pressure in a twisting motion to create a loop. Repeat this process at the other end of the wire but in the opposite direction. This should leave you with two loops at each end curling in opposite directions.
- Use your mandrel and rawhide mallet to form. Now you can take your ring mandrel and wrap the wire around it. Choose the correct point on the mandrel so that you can size it as accurately as possible, using the rawhide mallet as you go along to ensure that the ring remains round and any sharp corners or uneven points which may appear whilst wrapping are correctly shaped without leaving any marks. Don’t worry if the loops at each end of the wire overlap – this will become the decorative element of your wire wrapped ring. At this point you will also need to use the rawhide mallet to ensure that the ring is round as you go along.
- Tumble clean. Adjust as necessary on the mandrel if the wire needs tightening or loosening in places. Once you’re happy with the result, you’re ready to tumble your wire wrapped ring so that it hardens up, stays in place and is polished ready for customers.
- Perfected the simple loop wire wrapped ring? Experiment with new ideas. Try forming straight lined, geometric shapes instead of loops or add some texture to your ring with some hammering techniques.
How to make wire rings with stones
Now you’ve read our tutorial on how to make wire wrapped rings for beginners, you’re ready to add some beads or stones to your wire wrapped ring designs.
In addition to the above tools and supplies, you’ll need:
- 8mm semi-precious beads or stones of your choice (make sure you go for a bead with a pre-drilled hole straight through, especially if you’re not experienced when it comes to drilling small beads and stones)
- 56cm of wire to accommodate for extra wire wrapping
- Chain nose pliers
- Needle files
Here are the steps you’ll need to make your piece.
- Check your bead. Try to thread your wire through the hole in your bead twice before you get to work. If you’re having trouble fitting the wire through the bead twice, you may need to try another bead.
- Take your mandrel. Lay it flat on your workbench. Place the wire underneath the mandrel at the correct size, making sure you have an equal amount of wire either side.
- Get wrapping. Now take each end of the wire and wrap it over the mandrel. Repeat this on the underside of the mandrel so that you’re left with three layers of wire wrapped around it.
- Thread your bead. Add your bead to one end of the wire, then take the other end of wire and thread it through the bead in the opposite direction. Now tighten up the slack of the wire so that the bead sits centrally on the mandrel.
- Stabilise the bead. Holding the bead in place, take one end of the wire and wrap it just under the bead using one half turn, creating a nest like effect under the base of the bead. Repeat the half turn wrap on the other side using the opposite length of wire. As you wrap the wire around the bead, you’ll need to adjust the wire to make sure you’re happy with the position, look and tension of the wire. Continue this process until you’re left with enough wire either side of the bead to produce a small flourish that wraps down the length of the ring shank.
- Take one end of excess wire. Tuck it through the ring and pull tightly using your chain nose pliers. Look at the length of wire at each side of the bead – is one length of wire longer than the other? If so, start with the shortest length. That way, you can cut down the longer length of wire once you know how many wraps you’ve made using the shorter piece, then each side will be even.
- Start wrapping. Using your chain nose pliers, tightly wrap the excess wire around the ring shank, starting at the shoulders right next to the bead and working your way down the shank. This will leave you with a decorative flourish to finish off your wire wrapped ring. To finish, push the loops you’ve created together using your chain nose pliers for a professional and symmetrical finish.
- Count the number of loops you’ve created on the shorter length of wire. Make sure you mirror the amount on the other side when you repeat the process of wrapping the wire around the ring shank. Once you hit the required amount, snip off the excess using your wire cutters or flush cutters.
- File down any sharp edges. Are the ends of the wire a little jagged? Make sure you file these down using a needle file for accuracy and remove any sharp or rough edges.
- Work harden your ring. Place your ring onto your ring mandrel. If you’re happy with the sizing you can harden the ring shank by taking a jobbing hammer and gently tapping it against the mandrel. This will work harden the ring making sure it’s less likely to flex with wear.
Now you know how to wire wrap stones and beads you’re in a great position to experiment with new wire wrapping techniques. Don’t be afraid to play around with new design ideas by tweaking the way that you wrap your wire. And if you’re looking for more projects to get stuck into, visit this article on our top 5 favourite beginner jewellery making projects to refine your jewellery making skills.