Annealing wire

I made a video that shows how to anneal thin copper wire. The same method can be used for silver or brass and for thicker gauge wire. Thicker wire should be kept in a tight coil with the use of binding wire.

I use a honeycomb soldering base and a white soldering block, but you don’t need both. Even a heat resistant tile with some charcoal on top will do.

The wood surface of my table is protected by a sheet of steel in case hot metal falls off the soldering block. I have heat resistant bricks around the soldering area to concentrate the heat and avoid accidents.

The torch I use is a Clarke Weld mini torch, that I ordered from the UK, but any torch will do. Remember to keep the flame relatively low to prevent wire from melting, and keep the flame moving. The point is to heat the whole surface evenly.

After heating the wire I place it in a warm acid bath for a few minutes to clean the metal. I use safety pickle in an electrical container that keeps the temperature steady but a glass container over a heat plate will also work. Just remember to turn off the heat when you see vapour coming. The acid will burn if it gets too hot and will become worthless.

I use a soft toothbrush to wash the wire because I don’t want to harden it again with too much scrubbing. For sheet metal, which doesn’t have that problem, I use a brass brush.

Here’s the video:

Wire weaving tips – sampler and ways to hold your wires

I’ve recently returned to wire work.

I love silversmith projects but I have to sit at my bench, with the drawer open over my legs, while I saw, file or polish. Sometimes I just want to get out of there for a bit and wire work is ideal because it doesn’t require a lot of tools. I can oick up a couple of pliers and some wire and sit on the couch, watching tv while I make a pendant. Wire weaving in particular is a very repetitive technique and it usually takes a few hours to complete a project, so it’s nice to be comfortable and entertained while I do it, otherwise it might start feeling like work.

To help me get started on a wire weaving project, in particular to help me choose the weaves I want to do, I decided to make a sampler. I folded a wire in half, with a loop on the folded side, so I can hang all the samples on a safety pin, so I don’t lose any.


Another tip I’d like to share is how I hold all the wires together when I start a weave. My favorite tool is a wooden ring clamp. It secures all the wires in place without marking them and I don’t hurt my hands trying to hold everything in place with just the strength of my fingers.


This ring clamp is used a lot in silversmith work, to hold rings or small bits of sheet metal while filing. As you can see it can be very helpful for wire work as well.

Other alternatives for holding the wires in place are painter’s tape, spring clamps and even forceps. The importan thing is to find ways to prevent too much stress on your hands and wrists.

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