February 11, 2014

How to Make Wire Sticks or 'Bones'

Free Tutorials: Hammered Wire Stick Projects at Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog


I'm not quite finished with hammering wire yet - but probably getting close.

My fingers are definitely feeling it!

Since my last post on making hammered wire sticks, where I made one into a ring shank, I have scoured the internet for more inspiration on how to use them.

I made a board called Hammered Wire Sticks/Bone Jewelry that you can look at.

I also found a few free tutorials (listed at the end of this post) - and decided to make this project loosely based on one of them.

Hammered & Twisted Wire Link Chain 


The project I decided to try is a necklace chain that uses hammered wire links.   Sharilyn Miller has a free Bone Links Chain Tutorial that I used as inspiration - although our methods and tools vary a little.

Hammering the Links: With a Twist


For my chain, I used 14g copper wire and cut 18 pieces just under 1 inch long.  The main difference between these hammered wire sticks and the ones I made previously, is after hammering one wire end, you rotate the wire 90 degrees to hammer the other end.

Free Tutorials: Hammered Wire Stick Projects at Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I marked the center of each piece with sharpie to make it easy to know what point I should hammer up to.

After a lot of trial and error, I found the quickest and easiest way to make each link.  First, I hammer with a ball pein hammer, to flatten the wire from the middle to the end.

Then, I re-hammer each wire link with my chasing hammer to flare out the end and flatten the overall shape.

It felt like it took forever.  I timed it though - and it was less than 3 minutes per link once I got the process down.

Free Tutorials: Hammered Wire Stick Projects at Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I did that until my fingers were black (and blue).

Hammered Wire Stick Projects at Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Here is my pile of freshly hammered twisted wire bone links.

I used my pliers style hole punch - which I think look easier than the Euro Metal Hole Punch Pliers that Sharilyn Miller uses - but since I've never tried it, I don't know for sure.

Tumbling Hammered Wire Sticks: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Then it was time for a tumble.

I tried to cheat and not sand the little nubs from punching the holes.  I wanted to see if tumbling would smooth them out enough.  It doesn't.  I ended up tumbling, filing, and then tumbling again.

Tumbled Hammered Wire Sticks for Jewelry: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

But aren't they pretty?

That's as far as I got today.  I've started assembling the chain, but haven't finalized how I want to link them.  So many options!

So, until tomorrow, I'll leave you with a couple of more free tutorials that use hammered wire sticks.

Free hammered wire bail tutorial from Daisy Chain Designs Jewellery Blog

Hammered Wire Dangle Earrings Tutorial from My Girlish Whims

Curved Hammered Wire Dangle Earrings Tutorial from Jewelry Making Journal

19 comments:

  1. easy peasy, once someone like you spells it out for us! :-) Thanks Lisa - I can already think of a couple ways to link these - and even more things after that!

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  2. Hi Lisa thanks for all the advice! One quick question. Is tumbling necessary? I have everything except a tumbler! Thanks again.

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    1. Normally, I use the tumbler to harden and polish my wire projects. In this case, the wire is plenty hard from all of that pounding - but the polishing from the tumbler is what really gives the necklace sparkle. I think you can do it without tumbling, but it will definitely have a more rustic look.
      Once you get the basic jewelry tools - I highly suggest a rotary tumbler from Harbor Freight. On sale and with a 20% off coupon that you can find in their flyers, they are under $35.00 and worth every penny!!

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  5. Lisa these are beautiful! Thanks for the tutorial...I can hardly wait to try making these myself instead of buying them.

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  6. I love your tutorial, I am going to get a tumbler for sure!!! One question when I make these prattles they are always wonky. What am I doing wrong, yours are straight and perfect.
    Thank you

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    1. I had a lot of practice! There are some tricks to hammering that I should write about some time. Generally, don't whack the hammer down like you do when you are hammering a nail. Hold it somewhat loosely and let the weight of the hammer do the work of moving the metal. Instead of striking the metal, you are doing a little more than dropping the head of the hammer on the metal. This gives you more control over where it strikes and comes out more even. It seems like this would take a lot longer, but it doesn't.

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  7. Great tut! May I ask what gauge wire you used?

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    1. It says 14g wire in the text above. I think you can hammer thinner wire, but you won't get big paddles on the ends like these. I remember buying the wire at home depot in the electrical section. I use my (old) vegetable peeler to remove the insulation from the outside.

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    2. A potato peeler?! I never would have thought of that one, clever. But I like to save time and money, so when I need copper wire I head out to our local metal recyclers.
      Electricians recycle lots of uncoated shiny wire. Here it's folded loosely in bunches and is sold by the pound.
      You only get the usual electrical gauges, but much of it works, and I can draw some down if I really have to. If not, I go to the hardware store or Rio Grande.

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  8. I don't know if you're still blogging but I'd love to know what shot you used in your tumbler. Pretty plz.

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    1. I use at least one pound of stainless steel shot that is specifically for jewelry making. I'm pretty sure I purchased it from Thunderbird Supply - but even if I didn't, it looks exactly like this: http://thunderbirdsupply.com/steel-shot-stainlessjwlrymix-1lb I know I purchase 2 pounds, but I'm pretty sure I only used one and have the other one kicking around somewhere in the studio (garage). You want it to have those different sizes because that is what burnishes it and gets in the tight spaces.

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    2. I learned this from a glazier friend,he works with aluminium frames. He uses a drill bit in reverse by hand. The bit is just a bit bigger than your hole to get rid of that little nub from the punch. It works really well.

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  9. Ni I'm writing you from Venezuela and can't hardly wait for the result of these beauties you just did

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  10. Great tutorial, Lisa! I have the Euro Power Punch which is awesome for thicker metal but the die punches are a bit tricky to change. So I agree that the regular hole pliers is just fine for this project. Will share on my blog so others can come visit here!

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    1. Thanks Pearl! I will look into the Euro Power Punch. I always love a new tool!

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  11. hammering a bit on the holes after you punch them is a great way to reduce filling time. It creates a rivet end of finish which look really cool. Only downside is that it also reduces the hole size a little bit

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    1. Yes, that is a great idea! I'm pretty sure I usually end up doing this without thinking much about it. I'm so glad you added it.

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