Jewelry Wire Gauge Selection for Your Polymer Clay Bead Projects

Brass Jewelry Wire “I have been wanting to start working with wire. My problem is I never know what size to use where.” ~Peggy-B

Recently, several of you have been asking about what size (gauge) of wire should be used for the various types of jewelry making projects. So today’s post will provide you with some suggestions.

Since there are a lot of beginners here, I like to teach with easily accessible and relatively inexpensive wires such as copper, brass and steel. But the same principles pretty much apply for more expensive wires too… like gold, silver and niobium.

Here are some pointers:

  • The number for the gauge of the wire gets larger as the wire size gets smaller. For example 10g is much thicker than 30g.
  • Many metals come in different hardness’ (tempers) as well, such as Dead Soft, Half Hard, Full Hard and even Spring Hard. Although the hardness rating is not listed on wire materials that I often source from hardware stores like the Home Depot, they appear to be Half Hard. Stiff enough to hold its shape, but still flexible enough to easily bend.
  • Copper, Brass, Black (Anodized) Steel and Galvanized are easy to find in most hardware stores. Copper can usually be found in a few different gauges.
  • 10g-14g – heavy gauge wire is perfect for making large hooks, chain links, large jump rings and hammered bookmarks.
  • 14g-18g – medium gauge wire is good for links and medium clasps.
  • 16g-20g – light gauge wire is ideal for making your own jump rings.
  • 20g-24g – very light gauge wire is suitable for earwires and wire wrapping projects. Although copper can be worn by some, choose Gold, Silver, Niobium or Surgical Stainless Steel for sensitive ears. In hardware stores, this light gauge wire is often found in the picture hanging department.

I hope this information helps a bit when you’re out there looking for wire for your jewelry making projects. If you have had success finding wire at your local store. please let everyone know where you found it. It will help others make their search a little easier. Thanks!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Sue, 23 November, 2009

    For those who are interested, there’s an excellent Wire Gauge Guide (“cheat sheet”) by Christine Gierer that complements the information above nicely at the following location:

  2. JoyceM, 23 November, 2009


    Sue, that kind of puts the frosting on Cindy’s cake, thanks to both of you! Have a great day.

  3. Maria, 23 November, 2009

    Thanks to everyone for this info; as a wire newbie I appreciate all the basic and clear instruction I can get!

  4. Lunes – Kylee, 23 November, 2009

    Hi Cindy this is fantastic advice and I love the way you have simplified the different gauges. Thank you for sharing!

  5. sandra, 23 November, 2009

    great post!

  6. aims, 23 November, 2009

    I’m still here – still reading – just not claying. Sigh.

  7. Elizabeth S., 23 November, 2009

    Thanks Cindy,

    Especially love the breakson regarding which gaugaes work best for what.

  8. Peggy Barnes, 23 November, 2009

    I agree Elizabeth great way to make it easy Thanks so much Cindy. Thank you also Sue I plan to check the site out as soon as I leave this one. I am getting a little more brave with my wire work. I forget who it was back a month or so said something about making there own crimp beads. Now that I have no idea how you would be able to do but it amazes me each and every day what we can learn from Cindy and each other. I say HATS off to all of us.

    In case I do not get a chance again I want to wish everyone in my Clay Family a VERY HAPPY AND MOST SAFE THANKSGIVING. GOD BLESS ALL OF US AND YOURS

  9. Cindy Lietz, 23 November, 2009

    Yes… To all our American friends… Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I know many of you are getting prepped for the holiday on Thursday and I hope you have a wonderful time with your families. Save a little Turkey for me!

    Thank you everyone for you great comments and support! You all make this a fantastic community to share and learn from.

  10. Peggy, 23 November, 2009

    Sorry about that, I keep forgetting this is a World wide family. I’m glad you pointed that out for me Cindy If I had a safe way to send you some turkey I sure would.

    I just wanted to let Sue know I now have 2 cheat sheets from her site she gave us on all the different gauges of wire use. One by my computer and one for my craft room by my jewelry table. Thank you again for the information Sue and Cindy.

Copyright © Polymer Clay Tutor Bead and Jewelry Making Tutorials