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November 07, 2022

Tips for Rounding Wire Jewelry Cut Ends with Ease

One simple step to improve your wire jewelry making is to make sure your cut ends are smooth and burr free. 

Tools Used to Round Wire

And getting a smooth wire end isn't very hard - if you have the right tools.

When you are making wire jewelry, the cut end of wire is sharp and can easily scratch your skin on contact.  Good wire flush cutters that leave a straight edge are the first step to getting a smooth wire edge. With a flush cutter, one side of the cut wire will be straight and the other side will have a slight point.  

What are good flush cutters? You'll have to find which you prefer and meet your budget. 

I have a pair of Tronex flush cutters that are my absolute favorite - but I don't always use them because I messed up my prior favorite by not being careful how thick the wire was. My prior favorite was a pair of Lindstrom flush cutters that now have a small divot in the cutter from using 16 gauge wire. Ugh. It still hurts me to look at them. It hurt even more when I looked at the current prices for these premium wire cutters.

High quality, inexpensive wire flush cutters

The wire cutters that I use day in and day out are 5 inch micro flush cutters from Harbor Freight that cost $3.99 per pair and have a lifetime warranty. I have about 4 pairs of them and that's what you'll see in most of my pictures. They cut all the wire I use day to day from 16g to 26g, stay sharp after cutting FireLine and other fishing lines, and when they fall apart (which has only happened to one pair), I bring them back to the store for a free, no questions asked replacement. Most bargain tools don't work well - but I think these are amazing.

I also have a pair of flush cutters from Xuron that I use for thicker wire, but I haven't used them lately. In general, I like Xuron tools - they're affordable and good quality.

Regardless of how good your flush cutters are and how well you tuck the cut ends inside of wraps, you will also need a way to smooth wire ends. That is especially true in order to make things like earring hooks which require an exposed wire edge - that goes through someone's ear! If you've ever not smoothed a wire end enough, you'll know when you put it through your ear.

Wire rounding tool or burr cup or cup bur

Here's where things get interesting. First up is a tool that is made just for this purpose - called a wire rounding tool, cup bur or burr cup - depending on who you're talking to. 

Tips for Rounding Wire Jewelry Cut Ends with Ease

I have at least three of these, which you might think would mean they work. But I find them pretty useless. The one pictured above being the most useless in my opinion. I hate that the collar came un-glued right as it came out of the package. And I don't think they do anything significant to smooth the wire. 

To come to that conclusion, I did a side by side 2 minute smoothing comparison between the wire rounding tool and my nail files.  Same piece of 20 gauge wire, both ends flush cut.

Best tools for rounding wire ends

One one side of the wire I used the rounding tool for 2 minutes. The other side I used nail files - first a rough grit emery board and then a buffing type of nail file that had three gradually smoother surfaces (all pictured above). The side that used the nail files were smooth in about a minute, compared to the the wire rounder that still had rough edges after 2 minutes.

jewelry making tips - best tools for rounding wire ends

jewelry making tips - best tools for rounding wire ends

I love that I'm slightly psycho enough to think you will be able to tell the difference between the wire ends in a picture. The real test was of course, closing my eyes and smoothing my finger or skin over the wire. But just maybe you can see that the second wire is more evenly rounded on the edges? That's the one with the nail files.

I tried my metal files too. But they didn't work as well either. And they take off more metal, which is what I don't really want because I'm using plated craft wire. Sooooo, it's emery nail files for the win on this one.

There is some technique when it comes to wire rounding. You'll want to start by smoothing the cut end with the flat end of the emery board, but then go over and around the side cut edges to smooth and round them. Same process as you move down with finer/smoother grits of nail files. 

I used the same technique with the wire rounder tool also - started flat and straight on the end and then tilted so it could round the edges. Still did nothing. I mentioned I had several wire rounding tools. The other version I have is in the first picture and is part of a pin vise set. It's easier to hold and turn - but still doesn't smooth as well or as quickly as I expect it to.

Let me know in the comments if you use these tools to get your wire ends smooth or have a different technique or tool.

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