Topics: Dead-Soft, Half-Hard and Full-Hard Wire Uses

Q.
Would you please explain the differences of sterling silver wire dead soft/half hard and what type of projects they are best suited for. Thank you much!
- Cheryl
A.
Precious metal wire is used for wire-wrapping, chain-making and other jewelry construction. Precious metal wire is available in:
  • Two Metals:
    • Gold-filled
    • Sterling silver
  • Four shapes:
    • Round
    • Half-round
    • Square
    • Twisted
  • Three types of hardness:
    • Dead-soft wire is extremely malleable and can be bent easily into a myriad of shapes. If you use dead-soft wire to create an element that will be put under a lot of stress, such as a clasp, it is recommended to harden the wire after shaping. To harden the wire, so it can hold up to the stress, place it onto an anvil and strike it with a hammer. Please note: This will cause impressions in the wire.
    • Half-hard wire is malleable; however, it will maintain an intricate shape under moderate stress. It is useful for weight-bearing parts of wire-wrapped jewelry. You can also harden half-hard wire so it can be used for an element that may be subjected to high stress, such as a clasp.
    • Full-hard wire holds its shape for wire-wrapping jewelry. Its tempered nature holds intricate designs well and is excellent for clasps. Wire size is determined by gauge or thickness of the wire. Wire-gauge ranges from a very fine 26-gauge to a very heavy 14-gauge. It is best to choose the diameter that suits the size of your piece.
For instructions on working with wire, it is recommended to take a class or to review a few books to see which one covers the specific topic you're interested in.

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