Wire Gauges & Temper



Wire is measured in gauges, where the lower numbers indicate thicker wires and higher numbers indicate thinner wires. Depending on style and designs, jewelry makers can choose any thickness they feel necessary.

Thick wire: Ranging from 18 to 22 gauges can be used as base for which thinner wire and beads can be attached.

Thin wire: Ranging from 24 to 28 gauges is applied in techniques derived from needle-lace and basket weaving such as coiling and spiraling.

When combining thick and thin wire in the techniques, it is important to avoid combining gauges too close to each other.

Wire diameter is measured in gauges.
The chart below provides a comparision of thickness. Note that the larger the gauge, the thinner the wire.

Click Here to Print this Wire Gauge Chart at Actual Size.

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Recommended Wire Gauges for Wire Tools
Wire gauge is an important factor to consider when designing.

WigJigs: 18G to 24G
Knitting Spools: 24G to 28G
Wubbers: 18G to 24G
Wire Wrapping: 18g to 24G

Will Craft Wire Tarnish?

Craft Wire is a copper wire that is permanently colored or silver plated. Craft Wire will not tarnish or fade. We do, however, offer Craft Wire spools that are not coated with enamel to protect it, these three colors will patina as they are not treated. These colors: Bare Copper, Natural Copper, and Tinned Copper are ideal for making jewelry that has an antiqued look.


The temper of wire is the hardness or softness of the wire. Jewelry making wire comes in a variety of tempers. Different tempers are appropriate for different applications in making wire jewelry. The most commonly used tempers in wire jewelry are dead soft, soft, half hard, and spring hard.

Spring hard: The hardest temper appropriate for jewelry making, it is only recommended for making pin backs and other very sturdy elements.

Half-hard: One of the most common tempers used by jewelry makers, especially used for border wraps (a bezel around a cabochon or other non-drilled stone) or when binding wires together. In this site, half-hard wire is only used for armatures (thick gauges).

Soft or dead-soft: This is the softest temper used by jewelry makers. Thin wires (26g and 30g) in soft temper tend to behave like fiber and can be used in a variety of techniques, such as stitching, coiling, weaving, lacing. When working with soft wire, it is important to remember to not manipulate it excessively, since it can become very springy and brittle.

Let's look at the best choice for the job:

Temper Wire Sculpting,
Weaving Border
Wire Wrap
Wire Bundles
Pin Backs
Dead Soft X - - -
Soft X - - -
Half Hard - X X -
Spring Hard - - - X

The shape of the wire is achieved by forming the wire and by drawing it through a draw plate. The temper increases each time that the wire is drawn through the draw plate. Wire temper is often referred to by numbers. For example, "one number hard" means that the wire has been drawn through a draw plate one time, and so on. Most of these operations are technical methods that only the dealers and mills perform. You can do it yourself, but most all wire sculptors buy it already prepared and ready to go. That way you can spend more time on perfecting your craft rather than preparing your wire.

Here is a wire temper chart:

Dead Soft Fully annealed
Quarter Hard 1 number hard
Half Hard 2 numbers hard
Full Hard 4 numbers hard
Extra Hard 6 numbers hard
Spring Hard 8 numbers hard
Extra Spring Hard 10 numbers hard


Work hardening your wire actually changes the molecular structure inside the wire. It is the process of manipulating the wire to lock in the design and stiffen the wire to strengthen it. To work harden your wire use the Nylon Jaw Pliers. These pliers gently flatten and harden the wire, without nicking or changing the diameter.

Related Products:

Soft Flex® Craft Wire
Wire Working Tools