I have learned to make Viking knit chain and want to move from craft wire to gold-filled, sterling silver, or fine silver. I like 26 gauge but I'm not sure if I should use dead-soft or half-hard. After weaving, I draw the wire through a drawplate to even out the weave and stretch/thin the chain. It may be drawn through 2-8 times depending on how thin I want the final result to be. Hammering would deform the chain. Any recommendations? I'm also looking for appropriate end caps for the chain.
Use dead-soft wire when creating Viking knit to ensure a smooth and easy weaving experience as well as for successful drawing-down. Dead-soft is fully annealed and very malleable, and will not become brittle through the process of making this chain.
When working with precious metal wires, it is a good idea to begin your project with a product like Zebra Wire™. Weave about 1/2 to 1-inch using Zebra Wire, then switch to the sterling or gold-filled wire. It is recommended to use a less expensive material for the first part of the weave as it is usually trimmed off with the pull loop that is created at the beginning (the loop used to pull the chain through the holes of the drawplate).
Cord coils are a nice way to end the chain. They have loops on the end and can accommodate a chain up to 3.9mm in diameter, plus they are easy to use. Put a drop of glue on the end of the chain and slide the end of the chain into the center of the cord coil. Gently compress the first coil inward to tighten the cord coil to the chain. Let glue dry per the manufacturer's instructions and trim any excess wire showing on the loop side of the coil. Attach a clasp to the loop on the cord coil.
You can also use beading cones or bead caps to finish the ends. Cones and caps are wide at the base and fit nicely over the ends of chain, then they taper toward the top to provide a nicely finished end. Select a cone or cap that is a little wider in diameter than your chain. Secure a length of wire, 20-gauge or heavier, through the end of the chain. Pass the wire through the beading cone or cap, wide end toward the tapered end, then slide the cone or cap toward the chain until it is resting against the end of the chain. Finish the wire with a wrapped loop to secure the cone or cap in place.