Wire Weaving FAQs

A collection of wirework tools and supplies used for wire weaving jewelry

Beginner wire weavers tend to ask many of the same questions. So I’ve gathered those wire weaving FAQs here along with links to helpful resources that will expand your knowledge of this wonderful craft.

This page will continue to grow and evolve as I encounter new questions, so be sure to check back frequently if you’re not finding answers anywhere else. And of course feel free to contact me directly if you have a question that’s not listed here. The best way to reach me is to email me at wendi@door44studios.com.

What type of wire should I choose?

There are so many different kinds of wire on the market that it can be confusing to figure out where to begin. If you want to make the type of wire jewelry that you see here on my blog, though, that narrows down your options considerably. I only recommend solid jewelry wire. You can learn more about the kinds of solid jewelry wire that are available and where you can buy those kinds of wire in this post.

Which wire gauges should I buy first?

This is the burning question on the minds of every beginner. And I get it. It’s hard to know where to begin when there are so many wire gauges to choose from. But the answer to that question depends on the type of wirework that you want to pursue. You can learn more about which wire gauges are used for what purposes in the three main categories of wire jewelry in this post.

What tools do I need to get started?

The beautiful thing about wire weaving is that you don’t need a lot of tools. That makes this craft perfect for apartment dwellers like me because you don’t need a ton of space or loads of supplies to make beautiful wire jewelry. I recommend just 8 essential hand tools for beginner wire weavers. And I discuss those tools in detail and I provide links to my favorite sources for them in this post.

Where do you buy your supplies?

I get my supplies from a variety of sources. My wire comes from Rio Grande pretty much exclusively, but I buy beads and gemstones from lots of different sources. And I do my best to support local bead shops by shopping there as frequently as I can. Learn more about my favorite jewelry supply sources in this post.

What is a jewelry mandrel and where can I find one?

A mandrel is simply a tool that’s used to form wire into a specific shape. There are lots of specialized jewelry mandrels that you can buy from any jewelry supplier such as Rio Grande. But you can also use simple objects that you can find around your house to form wire. Find out which common household items I use as mandrels in my work in this post.

How do you get such a shiny finish on your jewelry?

I use a rotary tumbler to polish all of my jewelry. A tumbler is a very simple machine to use, and it’s my preferred polishing technique because my studio space is actually one corner of the bedroom that I share with my husband. Polishing by hand with a rotary tool works just as well, but it’s much too messy for someone like me who doesn’t have a dedicated studio space. Learn more about why I believe every wire weaver needs a jewelry tumbler in this post.

Do you always use a tumbler? Or is there an easier way to clean everyday jewelry?

The only time I really re-tumble finished jewelry after its initial polish is if I need to make a repair that requires touching up the patina. I maintain the finish on all of the jewelry in my personal collection using two of my favorite dry polishing products. Learn more about what those products are and why I use them in this post.

My tumbler barrel stopped turning. What should I do?

First of all, don’t panic. This is a common problem with rotary tumblers. As you use your tumbler, the drive belt gets worn to a point where it loses its tension. And there’s a super simple way to fix it. Learn how in this post.

My freshly tumbled jewelry lost its bright metal highlights. What happened?

This happens when you tumble your jewelry with dirty shot. Many people simply aren’t aware that their stainless steel jewelry shot needs to be cleaned regularly. It’s a simple routine maintenance task that every jewelry maker needs to know how to do. And I go over that cleaning process in detail in this post.

How do you get such a pretty hammered finish on your jewelry?

Using a jewelry hammer effectively is very different than using a carpentry hammer. Most people use too much force and they also hold their jewelry hammer incorrectly. Learn to master the two hammer techniques that every jewelry maker needs to know in my 2-part series that will help you get the most out of your chasing hammer: Planishing is the technique used to smooth and flatten wire. And peening is the technique used to texture planished wire.

My weaving wire broke. Now what?

Don’t worry. You don’t have to take it apart and start all over. There’s a quick and easy way to seamlessly splice in a new weaving wire. I show you exactly how to do that in this post.

What is the Modified Soumak Weave?

Well, for starters, it’s my favorite weave! The Modified Soumak weave is a modified version of the common Soumak stitch, which is used primarily in textile weaving. That weave has been adapted to wire with a slight variation. Hence the addition of “Modified” to the name. Be sure to check out my quick and easy tutorial that will help you master the Modified Soumak weave over two core wires. And then expand on those skills while you learn to increase and decrease the Modified Soumak weave over multiple core wires.

How do I keep my Figure 8 weave nice and compact when making pendant bails?

I hear you. The struggle is real when it comes to keeping the Figure 8 weave looking neat and tidy. And that’s especially true when making pendant bails.

This is a subject I plan to write about some more in the future. But for starters, be sure to check out my Interchangeable Figure 8 Bail Tutorial. There, I share some helpful tips for keeping the Figure 8 weave neat and compact when weaving across a gap between core wires. And I also share one of my favorite tools, which helps me achieve a tidy weave.