View Full Version : Making Copper Coils

The Dragon
14-10-2009, 02:53 PM
Ok it's ** odd years since I did any work with copper at school. so I've forgotten a lot about it's properties. :'(

My OH has very kindly donated some copper wire from his reel of ringmain cable (well he wil donate it just as soon as he misses it lol!:)). I want to use this to make some copper coil spacers for a necklance, they will be approx. 12 - 15mm long and will be threaded onto one of Diane's SowZereE Silks. Stupid as it sounds it would be helpful if someone could answer the following:

Do I need to heat them with my hand torch before I make the coils?

Will I be able to tumble them without them loosing the shape?

If I can't tumble them will hand finishing harden them off sufficiently for everyday wear?


14-10-2009, 03:20 PM
Do you mean coils like the start of my cord end fastenings? As per the tut I blogged: Boo's Jewellery: Tutorial: wrap your own cord ends (http://boojewels.blogspot.com/2009/09/tutorial-wrap-your-own-cord-ends.html)

If so, depending on the gauge of copper you're using (the wire in the photos is 0.8mm) you certainly don't need to heat it first, it's softness is somewhere between soft and half hard Sterling silver wire - I hand work happily, without annealing, with copper up to 1.7mm. It will noticeably harden as you work it.

They won't lose shape with tumbling (unless they're very fine gauge with a large diameter) and will harden by it - but it would need a reasonable time to harden - I tend to use other methods to actually harden copper. I loose tumble 0.6mm/50mm headpins and they don't get bent, so a coil won't mis-shape.

If you want to get the copper a little harder before you start coiling, twisting is very effective with copper. Grasp both ends of a length and with anything from 2 pairs of pliers, pin vice or slow rotary drill etc., twist the wire by rotating the ends in opposite direction to each other. It doesn't need much twisting to significantly harden the wire.

14-10-2009, 03:34 PM
Reads with interest! Thanks for that.


14-10-2009, 04:02 PM
Great tip on twist hardening - that's how I harden my sterling ear posts after they've been soldered :)
nic x

14-10-2009, 05:08 PM
Ooh, great tip - might try that one myself!

The Dragon
14-10-2009, 06:33 PM
Boo you are an absolute treasure. :X

I hadn't got as far as thinking about the ends, just little tiny spacer coils between knots to spread the beads out a little. So you answered my next question before I'd even thought about asking it. :Y:

15-10-2009, 06:13 PM
Just to ask about the twist hardening, do you twist one way, then untwist again? Does the wire distort at all?

15-10-2009, 06:27 PM
If you hold it taut it doesn't actually change shape outwardly - you don't see a twist - it only needs a rotation or two to shift the metal crystals - it doesn't take much to make a significant hardness difference with copper - just try it with a scrap piece of copper a few inches long and see how it works.

You grip each end - I tend to use pliers on one end (usually, with the ball end of a headpin, at that end behind the ball) - and pin vice on the other - and just rotate them in opposite directions - or hold one still and rotate the other - there's nothing to see once you have done other than maybe some slight marks where you've gripped it. I just do a couple of turns - or several part turns really with my fingers - just in one direction.

You can feel it harden as you work (I'm waiting for Geti to jump in now) so just stop as you feel it's done enough. When I'm doing copper ball headpins, they take 20 seconds each to clamp and twist.

15-10-2009, 08:03 PM
Thanks Boo. I'll try that on some scrap.