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How to Make Your Own Wire Wrapping Jig

I guess the first thing I should mention is that there is a pre-made one of these on the market for about $50.00 US. You can find out all the information in our Links section.

For those of us that can't afford the money, or just like to work with our hands, it's a simple matter to put one of these together.

Starting Out

First you'll need some graph paper, a piece of wood (at least a half inch thick) cut in any shape you want, an electric drill, a hammer, and a bunch of small nails (the kind that have very small heads).

 Sample of blank graph paper Get the piece of graph paper, preferably with small squares, like the one shown at left.

Smaller squares mean finer designs are possible. However, the smaller the squares, the more drilling you might have to do.

Marking the Piece

Tack or tape the graph paper to the piece of wood securely, so that it cannot move.

Using a small nail (an awl or a sharp punch works even better) and the hammer, punch holes through the paper at the intersections on the graph paper so that you make small indentations in the wood. Remember, you are not trying to go through the wood, but only to make a place to start the drill bit, otherwise the bit will try to wander. This will take some time, so please be patient.

 Graph paper with holes marked 
 close (upper corner)
 or loose (lower corner)

You don't necessarily have to use each and every hole as shown above. You can punch every other hole, as shown in the bottom right corner (above). You'll have to decide how fine a design you want to be able to work with and how much drilling you're willing to do.

Once you've done that, you can remove the graph paper and discard it. You should be left with a piece of wood that has many, many small, evenly spaced indentations on it.

Drilling the Holes

Now take the electric drill with a bit the exact same diameter as the small nails you have. Check this by putting a nail and the bit next to each other. You want to be able to push the nails into the holes snugly, and pull them out by hand. If it's too tight, you won't be able to do this. If it's too loose, the nails won't stay put as you wrap the wire around them. It's a good idea to try this out on a scrap piece of wood before you start working on the main piece.

You're going to be drilling holes about three quarters of the way through the wood (not completely through). You can wrap a piece of colored tape around the bit to show where to stop drilling (see diagram below).

 Drilling the holes to correct depth

Make sure the holes are perpendicular the the surface of the wood. This way, when you put the nails in the holes, they'll all stand up parallel to each other. Check periodically to see that the tape isn't getting pushed up the shaft of the drill bit. If so, reset a new piece of tape or you'll wind up drilling completely through the wood.

Don't try to drill all the holes in one siting. Take a few breaks. Let the drill bit cool off every once in a while. And give your hand a rest, too.

Using the Jig

Once you have all the holes drilled, you have a wire wrapping jig. Use a clean piece of the same size graph paper to draw out your designs and figure out where the nails should go. Then all you have to do is put the nails in the appropriate places and wrap the wire around them in the correct pattern.

Once you have it set up, it's easy to make as many of the same design as you like.

Check out our lesson on Wire Wrapping Ideas for the jig.

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