February 7, 2014

Making Hammered Wire Sticks: Beaded Ring Project

Hammering surfaces for wire jewelry: Lisa Yang's Jewelry BlogMy last post about the differences between jewelry mallets and hammers made me want to experiment with a few things.

For example, which hammering surface do I really prefer, the mini anvil or the 4x4 stainless block?

I also realized that although I frequently hammer things, I'm not very proficient at hammering.  It's something that I do, not something that I'd say I'm good at.

So, I decided to take on a few projects that will at least improve my hammering skills.

My first project seems simple - and - well... I guess it was.


Making Hammered Wire Sticks


I know you've seen jewelry made from hammered wire sticks.


Hammered Copper Wire Stick: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Hammered wire sticks are just what they sound like - pieces of wire 14-18g, hammered flat - sometimes flared at the end (which I call bones) sometimes shaped into a gentle curve before or after hammering.

They can be used for earrings, focals or connectors on bracelets, connected with links to make chain, or even curved into a ring shank.  When I stopped to think about, I decided they are a versatile jewelry component - and therefore an important thing to know how to make.

Hammered Copper Wire Sticks: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I made 4 batches of sticks that you see above - starting with 2 inches of 16g wire and gradually working my way down 1/4 inch at a time to 1.25 inches in the last batch.

I was trying to see if my hammering skills improved from one batch to the next.  Sad to say - NOPE!

To be fair, I tried different techniques or hammering surfaces with each batch too.

The big surprise - I like hammering the wire on the mini anvil better than the flat block!  It was easier to hold the wire by wrapping my fingers around the side of the anvil - and I hit my finger less - which is always a good thing!

Hammered Copper Wire Sticks: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

My hammered sticks didn't spend quite enough time in the tumbler - but it still shined them up a lot.  This is after less than one hour of tumbling.

Making Holes in Hammered Wire


If you're wondering how I got the holes in the sticks - it's not by drilling! 

Punch for Making Holes in Hammered Wire: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I use this Pliers-Style Hand Sewing Punch that is meant to be used with leather.  It has a pointy end and round dies on the bottom of various diameter.  It will not go through thick metal - but I find it goes through hammered wire well.

The rotating dies on the bottom of the tool are great - because they prevent you from making too large of a hole by pressing too hard on the handles.  If you use one of the small settings - no matter how hard you press - the punch will only go in so far.  I got mine at Michael's with a 40% off coupon (of course!).

When you punch the hole, it leaves excess metal around the edge on the bottom.  I file that flat with an emery board.

So, now I had all these gleaming sticks that I needed to make something from.  Earrings are the obvious choice - so I made a ring.

Hammered Stick Ring with Focal Bead


I curved a 1.5 inch hammered wire stick around my mandrel at size 8.

Free Tutorial, Hammered Wire Stick Ring: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Because I didn't anneal the wire stick after hammering it, it didn't fold as neatly as soft metal does - and creased a little in the back.  I used my mallet to reshape it on the ring mandrel.

Free Tutorial, Hammered Wire Stick Ring: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I left the wire horseshoe shaped so I can put a bead in the middle.

Free Tutorial, Hammered Wire Stick Ring: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I would love to say I spent considerable time picking the bead for this project - but it's not true.  This bead was pretty much the first one I found on the bench that I thought would work.  It's a  rectangular shell bead, about 8x10mm - but it is shiny and pretty!

Free Tutorial, Hammered Wire Stick Ring: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I used 22g wire to thread the bead on the ring shank - and then wrapped it a few times on each side to secure it.  I think the wrap wire was about 4 inches long.

Free Tutorial, Hammered Wire Stick Ring: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog


I've seen rings like this before, but the wire holding the bead has torch balled ends.  I'd like to try that too.

This ring has a found a new home for now (it's actually moved to my right hand since this picture).  So far it is  comfortable to wear and I like the look - simple.

Free Tutorial, Hammered Wire Stick Ring: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Normally, I don't like it when a bead can 'flip' over - but in the case of this bead, it is nice.  One side is silver and the other side is more black - so you get two looks from one bead.  Always a bonus!

The ring could still use some LOS and a tumble polish - but I think the experiment is a success.  Hammered wire sticks from 16g wire make a comfortable and usable ring shank.

I can think of several other designs that might work with the larger sticks too.

7 comments:

  1. I love that you posted about your experiments and your ring looks great!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, I'm just starting out hammering on metal. This looks like an easy and fun project that I'd like to try. Thanks again!

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  3. Thanks for sharing this! Great info!

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  4. This is great... I know I'm late to the party but what kind of tumbler do you use?

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    1. I have a rotary tumbler from Harbor Freight Tools and I put a pound or two of stainless steel shot. http://www.harborfreight.com/3-lb-rotary-rock-tumbler-67631.html

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  5. Very nice, love it! Thanks!

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