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Home | Jewelry Making Wire | All About Wire Twisting Tools For Wi . . .

All About Wire Twisting Tools For Wire Jewelry
Preston Reuther Master Wire Sculptor

When I was in the supply business about 3 times a week I would get calls from customers who say they have purchased a pin vise from me and it doesn't work or it's broken. I can tell you in the last ten years, we have probably sold 10,000 pin vises and not one of them has been broken . . people just have a hard time using them. For you old timers who have already been twisting wire, this article may not apply to you. We are trying to help those new comers figure out how to twist their wire with different types of tools. We are going to look at and talk about six different wire twisting tools that are used regularly in wire work. Let's dive right in!

Double Ended Pin Vise

We work in an art form that has very few tools designed specifically for it. The pin vise is one of the few tools designed specifically for wire workers to twist wire. The double ended pin vise is the most common tool used to twist wire. It is good for up-close work with short lengths of wire. It will handle very small wires ranging from 26 gauge to 20 gauge. Remember, only square wire will give you the visual appeal that comes from twisting. Round wire won't twist, it will only get harder but it doesn't twist. The double ended pin vise has two collars, one on each end, and two tubes inside. The trick is to get the opening that works best for you in the gauge that you are most commonly working with and tighten it up so it's ready at all times. This tool is very inexpensive and virtually indestructible. When you buy a pin vise, you are usually buying it for life!




Single Ended Pin Vise

The next wire twisting tool is the single ended pin vise. It does basically the same thing as the double ended pin vise, but it has a different feel in your hand that some wire workers prefer. It has two collars that can be used as seen in the diagram.




Mini Pin Vise

The mini pin vise is essentially the same as the previous two pin vises, except for the fact that it does not have any adjustable collars included. It is primarily used with very small lightweight wires like 26 gauge.


Extra Large Pin Vise

This fourth pin vise is truly a monster! It is very large - approximately 6 inches in length. The handle on this pin vise is hollow so the wire can be run up through it. It is only used to twist very large wires like 12 or 14 gauge. This pin vise is widely used in areas where there is no electricity to do hard handwork with large wires. Many times these pin vises are sold in complete sets.


Automatic Wire Twister with 3 Prong Head

I pioneered the automatic wire twister about ten years ago and it is the most efficient way to twist wire. Basically it's nothing more than a cordless screwdriver and a 3-prong jeweler's head. The cordless screwdriver normally operates at 120 to 180 RPM's which makes it perfect and safe for twisting wire. The newer models that are on the market are larger and much more expensive but powerful enough for twisting wire. Once in a while you can catch them on sale at Wal Mart under retail value!

The three prong head on it is what makes it adjustable to fit virtually any size wire. The tool itself is surprisingly powerful, allowing you to twist wires all the way up to 14 gauge. For best results, the three prong head should be permanently glued into the socket using E6000 to prevent it from constantly falling out during use.-----------NOTE: The three prong head can be fitted into almost all cordless screwdrivers.




Rotary Tool

The final tool is the rotary tool. This tool operates at speeds from 10,000 to 20,000 RPM's which is a very high rate of speed. This tool should only be used to twist very long lengths of wire. You need to use MUCH caution when using this tool and you will need a lot of room, like across your yard.

 It IS NOT for up close work at your workbench or for short lengths of wire. The only time you should use this tool to twist wire is when you want to twist a very long section of soft wire. It will not twist hard wire - the wire must be very soft. Let's say you have 2 or 3 ounces of wire and it's 30 or 40 feet long, you can take one end of your dead soft wire and stretch it across to one end of your yard and anchor it down, then twist it with the rotary tool. It will twist the soft wire perfectly, but you have to monitor it carefully. REPEAT, you CANNOT use a rotary tool or a drill to twist wire at your workbench because it could possibly injure you! Please be very cautious.


The end objective when twisting wire is to add ornamentation to your wire sculpted jewelry. As you can see in the diagrams, a limited amount of twisted wire can add a beautiful accent to a wire-sculpted piece.


Twisting wire should be a trade secret between you and your customer. If you use the term twisted wire with your customer, it's kind of like a magician letting the rabbit out of the hat. Use the word "filigree" when describing the twisted wire, and your methods and techniques for getting that filigree look should only be known to you.

Remember, there is an art to twisting wire, and it should only be used to accent a piece. If you over twist your product, it begins to look more like wire, so use twisted wire sparingly.

Preston Reuther Master Wire Sculptor

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