View Full Version : Filing wire???

01-11-2009, 07:08 PM

Another daft question ...

I'm just practising with copper wire and learning how to twist things - I made a bracelet which was really just twisted figures of 8 linked together but I wanted to get the ends a bit tidier , should I file them and if so what sort of file should I use? or is there a tool to help with this?

Also how do you get the pieces the same size - do you just use a Jig?

and finally ...

What tools can I use to help me hold the wire whilst straightening or tightening up loops etc that won't mark the wire?

I'm still plucking up the courage to experiment with soldering at the mo !!

01-11-2009, 07:37 PM
If you mean the cut ends of the wire, you can use a needle file, or tbh a four grade nail file. For rounded ends, a burr cup is the tool you're after - you can use it in a flexshaft or by hand in a pin vice - always turn in the same direction.

For making identical figure of 8 type links, a set of bailing pliers or multi loop pliers can be very helpful. I don't use a jig, but I know some people like them for making multiples of components.

As for toolmarks, there are a couple of things that helps - one is to make sure you're not using a 'death grip', the other is to smooth the edges of the jaws of your pliers so there aren't sharp bits that can cut into the wire.

Copper is a great medium both for practice and for finished pieces, but it is a very soft metal and very vulnerable to marking. You can smooth out a lot of marks by using 0000 wire wool and then wet and dry papers, polishing papers, or (my favourite) micromesh cloths.

01-11-2009, 07:59 PM
should I file them and if so what sort of file should I use? or is there a tool to help with this?
I think most people perhaps have their own favourite tool or method. One of my favourite tools is a diamond nail file I was given as a gift about 37 years ago. I suspect it must be very good quality, I've never seen one anything like it. That's just right for taking the sharp burrs off cut ends of wire. But I also use an impregnated silicone disc in a rotary tool (held permanently in a clamp so I can work with both hands) when I have a bit to do and also fine grade wet and dry.

Also how do you get the pieces the same size - do you just use a Jig?
Rack ofth'eye and twist of gob largely. I have a little card in my tool box drawer that I refer to often, which has lines drawn on it for the various lengths to cut wire for particular links, clasps and assorted earwire styles. Once I decide what length works for something, I draw a line on the card, with a scribble of the link shape next to it. I can just lie the wire along the line and cut one off, then can cut more the same as the first one. Often I need different lengths for different gauges/tempering of wire.

As for shaping, I tend to use looping or bail pliers for most of my links, as opposed to jigs, I never did get on with them - I prefer working in my hand. Experience simply teaches you where to position your wire along the plier and where to start your turn etc. There's not really any quick fix, just experience and time learning.

And getting to know metal too. Copper bends much more tightly to the shape of your tool, because it's softer. Half hard silver would spring back a little, so make a shallower curve of greater diameter using the same tool.

What tools can I use to help me hold the wire whilst straightening or tightening up loops etc that won't mark the wire?
There are many tips and again, I suspect we all have our favourites. Most people grip far too tightly, that will mark unnecessarily - work relaxed. You can use nylon pliers, rubber type solutions to coat your tools and I personally, tend to grind any sharp edges off and have a favourite pair of pliers, with soft edges for the hefty gripping. I also keep some thin strips of anti-slip matting (they type you get in cheap shops on a roll for about a pound) with my tools when I need to get a really good grip on something heavy or tricky. It both protects the wire and improves grip.

01-11-2009, 08:06 PM
Wow thank you both

Thats loads of information which really help me.

I have very little experience with wire as you've probably guessed but I did buy a cheap jig but I don't think I'm going to like it either I do quite like making the shapes myself and feel it would help me become more skilled.

Hmmm my saved shopping basked on Cooksons is about to grow - again!!

01-11-2009, 09:01 PM
Boo and George, can I ask what are bailing or looping pliers? I looked up both, but got no joy.

01-11-2009, 09:02 PM
Oh, and without a grinding wheel, what is the best way to grind the edges of your pliers?

01-11-2009, 09:49 PM
Ha! I see that George and I said the same thing.

If you look on Cooksons, they have one called Multi-sized Looping Pliers - item no. Product Code: 999 CB12.

I also have some bail pliers that are much the same, but with just two straight sided sizes, 6mm and 8mm made by Beadsmith. Putting that into Google will find loads of references to them.

You can just use some fine grit wet and dry on the edges of flat pliers to soften the edges - Cooksons sell many grades of it.

01-11-2009, 10:00 PM
My current favourite bailing pliers are made by wubbers. Three pairs, so six sizes of tip. I use them all the time. I find the multisized ones a little clumsy to use by comparison.

I tend to file my pliers with a 2 cut file to start with, and then wet and dry or micromesh to finish. It makes a huge difference.

01-11-2009, 10:02 PM
Thanks for that guys

07-11-2009, 07:47 AM
Thanks for all of your tips, I have now filed my pliers, used a needle file and burr cup to smooth out the ends and I feel much happier with my finished results.

I now have some more questions - sorry

When making a 'wrapped loop bead link', I find it very hard to twist the wire into place when I have attached the bead (so on the second loop) and it always looks 'not quite right'. My fingers seem to get in the way, either that or the bead does. I'm thinking that maybe I'm trying to bend the wire a little too close to the bead ? and wondering what you guys think?

Also is there a technique to get the wire on both sides a the same angle - I'm finding that i end up with one horizontal and one vertical and have to twist them level which then messes up my twisting. I'm trying to figure out what direction to bend but it just confuses me every time.

I also attempted to make 'eyelet chain links' my first few attempts were very poor but now I have succeeded in making them reasonably ok. However the instructions say to bend the wire around something (so I used those staggered pliers) then the straight ends should go in a bit and then down rather than hanging straight down from where I have bent it (I hope this makes sense) I'm finding it difficult to bend the wire at the straight end bit into shape. I have managed it now but it takes me an awfully long amount of time and after only a few links I've very sore fingers and broken nails. Im pretty sure I am doing something wrong but my book is only explaining it in simple terms.

Can anybody pin point what I'm doing wrong with this???

and finally ... how do you store your wire, mine has gotten a bit muddled up (same as me it would seem) and I think I need to be more careful in how I store it and unravel it on the next batch.

And it all looked so easy :)

07-11-2009, 08:17 AM
I just store my wire as it came, in a coil (or on a spool) in a marked ziploc bag, then inside an airtight box. All my silver in one box, copper in another, everything else in another. I just take each one out as I use it, then put it back as it was.

I can't help with the eyelet chain loops, I just wasn't sure what shape you were working. But I do a lot of wrapped loops and thing I get them pretty neat. There is some really atrocious workmanship out there and some of the tutorials seem to promote sloppy technique too. Once you establish a good technique, it will become second nature - you get into a rhythm and always do it exactly the same way.

The best tutorial I saw in the very early days - the one where the penny dropped for me, described the loop as a little stick man - he has a neck (the length of the wire through the centre of the bead), a little round head, perfectly perpendicular over this neck, then you wrap a scarf around his neck.

When I'm making a chain of beaded wrapped loops, I tend to make the first loop, pop my bead on, put my flat pliers against the bead and bend the wire over it ** - you need a neck of about 2-3mm to accommodate three wraps of your wire. Obviously a longer neck the thicker the wire. I tend to do 3 wraps each side of the bead. ** My habit is to bend this second loop at 90 degrees to the one below the bead - I think the resulting chain is less likely to kink in wear if the loops alternate in direction.

I'm going to do you a quick diagram of how I do a wrapped loop as I think it gives consistently neat loops and I don't have time for photos at the moment. Back shortly.

07-11-2009, 08:32 AM
Thanks Boo

07-11-2009, 08:55 AM
Right, I hope this will make sense and I apologise for the crappy quick drawing, but I think it explains it - the black lines are your wire and the solid grey shapes are your pliers.


At least, this is how I do it:

1. You start your first loop by making a bend in the wire about 1" from the end and just less than 90 degrees. Then place your round nosed pliers onto the shoulder of that bent wire at a place along the pliers that will give you the size of loop you want and wrap the wire tight right around the pliers to come out the other side. I always work with 2 pairs of pliers, I don't think you have enough control and firmness using fingers. Whenever I've see someone who does sloppy loops, they've used their fingers.

2. As you take the pliers out of the loop, it might not now be perfectly perpendicular over the neck of the wire, so kink it back so that it is - it's your chappie's head over his neck. I tend it just flick the pliers back towards me a little after making the loop to bring it back in line. It should look the shape in fig. 2.

3. For me, this is the key stage to neat loops - if you start to wrap his scarf now, it will skew your loop from circular and the wrap will not sit nicely - so at this point, I put my thumbnail against the point where his scarf is extending under his chin ready to wrap, and kink it downwards slightly, so that there's a shallow bend at the intersection/overlap of the wires and the scarf is now angled downwards slightly.

At this point, I'd grab the loop in some flat soft edged pliers in my left hand and the end of the wire in pliers in my right hand and wrap three loops of scarf around his neck - tightly (but light of grip or you'll skew everything) and controlled. Each wrap should nestle against the last.


Once I pop my bead on, I place my flat pliers against the bead and bend the wire over them, just like fig.1 above - and then repeat that process, bringing the last loop of the scarf tight up against the bead and tucking the end right in. The amount of that neck you allow above the bead will come with practice, but it needs to be the same amount of distance as the wraps you did on the other end, so each side of the bead is the same.

I think you can see in this bracelet how the loops are at 90 degrees to each other at the opposite ends of each bead:


Oops, best hit the shower!!!

07-11-2009, 09:45 AM
Hi Boo

Thats really helpful thanks. I can see what you mean about having the loops 90 degrees to each other and I can see how it would make it flow better.

I best hit the shower too, then later I will practise.

I have one more question which is about supplies for good quality beads - I notice you use lots of lovely beads, if its not against Cooksons rules could you advise me on suppliers please. I have been googling them but not turning up much to be honest and reluctant to spend unless they seem like a quality supplier.

Have a good day!

07-11-2009, 10:12 AM
I'm surprised that you can't find bead suppliers, there are masses of them.

I'm just not going to give away all my secrets in public, but these are well known bead suppliers that I've had good service from and happy to recommend, I'm sure other posters will add many more.

The Bead Shop - International Mail Order Beads, Nottingham. Index Page. (http://www.mailorderbeads.co.uk)

Empire Beads UK Limited (http://www.empirebeads.co.uk)

Grove Beads UK, Swarovski Crystal Beads , Swarovski beads wholesale, Crystal Pearls, Gemstones, Jewellery making supplies. (http://www.grovebeads.co.uk)

Beads Direct UK - your best value Bead Supplier (http://www.beadsdirect.co.uk)

Beads UK - Beadsisters (http://www.beadsisters.co.uk/)

And some independent UK sellers on Etsy (haven't bought from these):

AA & AAA Gemstone Beads Faceted Briolettes by TheCuriousGem (http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheCuriousGem)

Sandstones Beads and Jewellery Making by sandykidd on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/sandykidd)

the one I was looking for is closed for holiday. But that should keep you going for a while.

07-11-2009, 10:27 AM
Hi again

I have found bead suppliers but there are so many and I'm not sure as yet what to look out for so I thought if I could have some recommendations then at least I would feel confident enough to spend some money!!

Thanks for all of your help.

Di Sandland
07-11-2009, 11:20 AM
Michelle, I found out the hard way and not without a bit of instruction from MizGeorge that wrapped beads lay much better if you put a jump ring between the wraps. I don't like to see the loops at 90 degrees to one another, I much prefer the symmetry of both sides being exactly the same and this can only be achieved with the inclusion of jump rings.

As for your beads - what type are you looking for and I'll see what I have on file. Are you wanting to use:

semiprecious stones
Swarovski crystals (don't use so won't be able to help here)
Handmade lampwork
Mass produced

07-11-2009, 11:25 AM
I don't turn my loops to 90 degrees. It's all very well attaching wired components directly to one another, but this makes adjustments or repairs more time consuming, as well as a potential waste of wire. I keep all the units lined up with one another, and link them with a jump ring (or two if it looks a bit 'mean' with only one). This lets the whole thing drape better, and gives a space for adding charms or twiddles if you want to.

As for gemstone bead suppliers, I try to buy in person whenever possible - it's worth getting to a bead fair or two for this alone. You also get to meet the sellers, and that makes a big difference in my experience.

For online, I'd happily recommend the curious gem for high end stuff The Curious Gem | Faceted Gemstone Beads, Briolettes, Rondelles, Semi-Precious Stones (http://www.thecuriousgem.co.uk/)
And for everyday, I've had good quality from Home page (http://www.sunnyenterprise.co.uk/) (from China, but with stock held here in the UK).
In addition, Sandstones, for all your Beads and Jewellery Making needs! ::, A dazzling array of beads for you to choose from that include; pearls, turquoise, jade, crystal, glass beads, gemstones and jewellery making components which will inspire you to create yo (http://www.sand-stones.co.uk) are good for pearls.

I also buy from Affinity Gems, and from various etsy sellers on a pretty regular basis.

It is worth finding your own suppliers though, we all like different things, and it's nice to develop a relationship with people you are happy working with.

Di Sandland
07-11-2009, 11:31 AM
LOL - writing at the same time George.

Couldn't agree more about the personal relationships with suppliers. It works well for both parties. Also, I have no problem in letting folk know who I buy from - if somebody is particularly good at something it seems to me that other people should get to know about it, thus growing hte business of that particular supplier. Excellence, I think, should be rewarded.

We could use exactly the same components and come up with something completely different, so I don't care particularly if you use the same suppliers as me ;)

07-11-2009, 01:08 PM
Thank you both

I'm going to have a play around with the wires tonight and see if I can perfect the twisting business. I'm going to try all of the suggestions and see which ones work for me but if I could just perfect the twisting I'd be happy!!

Thank you also for the references to suppliers - I think I do need to meet people in person but I'm not patient enough to wait until a bead fayre at the moment :)

I guess to hear about bead fayres I can google or read jewellery magazines etc.

I was more concerned with semi precious stones as I don't want to buy rubbish and also I bought some beads from Ebay and they didn't look too great (great for practising with though so it wasnt all a waste).

Di Sandland
07-11-2009, 01:26 PM
I've used this (http://www.semipreciousbeads.co.uk/)company quite frequently, although not so often now as I discover others. However, they got me started. The site is easy to navigate, they are friendly, delivery is quick and I've never had to return anything.

Also, for pricing up they helpfully give the price per bead. You must remember to add postage to that though.

07-11-2009, 02:04 PM
Reads with interest ... its always useful to check out different suppliers. Many thanks for those guys :Y:


(while the men are snoozing, their women are on the forum, tapping away - well, mine is anyway)!