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How To Make Your Own Wire Twister

Pre-twisted wire has many, many uses. From decoration for rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, to just about any wire wrapping project, pre-twisted wire can add that extra bit of detail you've been looking for.

If you take a single strand of square (or flat) wire and pre-twist it, you'll get an entirely different texture. Instead of reflecting light back from one flat surface, you'll have many little reflections that give it a dancing sparkle effect.

Another Effect

You can take two wires of different colors and twist them together for a very unique effect. As an added benefit, this doubled wire will be thicker and much stronger. It can be used as is or even flattened with a mallet to achieve yet another effect!

What I'll be showing you in this tutorial is how to twist your own wire at home. Buying pre-twisted wire can be expensive, and the selection might not be exactly what you're looking for.

In addition to saving yourself some money, you get greater control. The wire takes on different textures the tighter you twist it. In other words, the more you twist, the more loops or spirals you'll get. The procedure doesn't take long at all and you'll be able to make as much as you need.

A Note About the Wire

Small gauge wires will be fine for practising this technique, but for your finished pieces, you'll probably want 20 gauge or larger diameter wire. In case you don't know, the wire gauge numbers get smaller as the wire's diameter gets larger (i.e., 18 gauge is larger wire than 20 gauge). Don't ask why, I couldn't begin to explain it.

A Free Wire Twister

Now, on to the big question: How can I twist my own wire (without it costing me anything)? It's easy!

Take an ordinary, everyday wire coat hangar and bend part of it into the following shape:

You can see it's nothing but a simple crank with a half loop at the end. The optional sleeve can be anything that fits over the hangar without being too loose. However, it does need to be loose enough for the twister to turn freely inside of it. A skinny straw would work. You could roll up some thick paper and tape it. I used an old piece of metal tubing I found in a junk drawer. The sleeve isn't really necessary, it's just for extra comfort.

Approximate Dimensions

If you'll refer to the diagram below, I'll give you some approximate dimensions. The length of  "A" can be anywhere from 3 to 5 inches or more. The length of  "B" can be from 2 to 4 inches (the longer this is, the more distance your hand will travel with each turn of the "crank"). The length of  "C" can also be from 2 to 4 inches, enough to form a comfortable handle.

The length of the sleeve can be anything that fits. As long as it doesn't rub against either end. All these measurements are approximations. Whatever works for you is fine.

Make sure the straight parts of the coat hangar remain straight. Otherwise, the looped end will wobble as you turn the crank. The easiest way to do this is to clamp the coat hangar down for each bend and then cut off the excess at both ends after it is formed. Remember to insert your sleeve before you bend the loop at the end.

Cutting the Wire

To cut the coat hangar ends you can use a pair of wireman's pliers, a metal chisel, a dremel tool, a hacksaw, or just bend it until it breaks. If you bend it back and forth to break it, you might want to take a hammer and pound out the jagged edges for comfort's sake, or maybe wrap electrical tape around the handle end. In any case, be careful not to bend up the crank as you cut off the ends.

How To Use It

You can twist different wires around each other or you can twist a single strand of wire if it is square wire. Square wire will show all the twists nicely. If you try to twist a single strand of regular round wire, you won't see much difference in the wire.

Cut a piece of square wire (or a pair of regular wires) about a foot or two long and clamp it at one end. You'll need a clamp that's attached to a table so that it does not move. If you don't have one, you could have another person hold the end with a pair of pliers. At the other end, wrap the wire around the loop of the crank a couple of times so that it's secure.

Now hold the sleeve (or the area where the sleeve is pictured) with one hand while you turn the crank with the other hand. Notice how the wire looks as it gets tighter and tighter. Stop whenever the wire looks good to you, or just keep going to see the effect it has.

Note: It might be advisable to experiment once or twice with some cheap wire so you can get a feel for this before using more expensive wire.

The Lazy Man's Way

For those of you that are extremely lazy OR don't have a coat hangar to spare, you can accomplish the same thing (albeit awkwardly) without changing the coat hangar at all. Just use the curled part as your loop and use the triangular part as your crank. It's not as good, but it still works in a pinch.

Using Power Tools

For those of you that have access to a variable speed electric drill, your work is already done for you. Simply clamp one end of the wire down as described above, and secure the other end in the drill's chuck. See the diagram below:

Start out slowly. You need to have control over this, so the drill needs to be a variable speed type (this means that the harder you press the trigger, the faster it goes). If the drill had just one speed, it would be pretty hard to control. You'll be able to go a little faster with practise.

Electric Screwdrivers

An electric screwdriver can also be used if you have a "hex-shank keyless chuck" attachment. These are available at any good hardware and tools retailer. This attachment is basically the same thing as the drill's chuck and it fits in electric screwdrivers because they all use "hex-shank" bits. Electric screwdrivers usually have only one speed, but it's much slower than a drill so you should have no problem controlling the wire.

That's all Folks

Once the wire is twisted to your satisfaction, you only need to remove it from the clamp and the twisting tool and clip off the ends. Now you're ready to use the twisted wire on whatever project you want.

I don't as of yet have any pictures of this in the gallery, but there are some pieces that were done with guitar strings that are of a similar nature. The possibilities are only limited by your own imagination and experience. Pre-twisted wire can be used anywhere that wire can be used. Experiment with it. Have fun!

If there's anything I forgot to mention, please let me know.

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