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February 07, 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.


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

  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!

  3. Thanks for sharing this! Great info!

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

    1. I have a rotary tumbler from Harbor Freight Tools and I put a pound or two of stainless steel shot.

  5. Very nice, love it! Thanks!

  6. It's beautiful. thx for sharing!