Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How To Make A Necklace From Steel Wire

Hi everyone! I have such a great time making these steel necklaces, I thought I'd share with you all just how I do it. It's no big secret or great technique. It's just fun and I wanted to share my process with you all. So here goes!

First Things First

Here is a list of the tools you will need:

1. 16 gauge steel wire from the hardware store. It's sometimes called "mechanic's wire" or "anchor wire". You can find it in the ropes and chains aisle.
2. A really good heavy duty pair of wire cutters. Do NOT use your fine jewelry wire cutters on this stuff. It will chew them up and spit them out!
3. Small steel block or anvil for hammering the wire.
4. Folded towel or rag to cushion the anvil. This cuts down considerably on the noise, and also helps keep the anvil from sliding around or from damaging your work surface.
5. A pair of earplugs. Believe me, you really should use these! You don't want to damage your ears with the noise of impact while you're creating something beautiful.
6. Good jewelry hammer. If you only have a household hammer that's fine. The jewelry hammers are very smooth and will not leave scratches and marks on your surfaces. But this style of work is very rough and I'm sure any good heavy hammer will do just fine. Those marks could add to the character of the piece.
7. Two sanding blocks. These are for cleaning the wire. They are foam blocks coated with sandpaper, also available at your local hardware store in the paint section.
8. Mandrel for winding wire into shapes. This can be just about anything, from wooden dowels, small bottles, handles of all kinds of things. For this necklace I use my case for my reading glasses!

Now that you have all your tools, it's a good idea to make a nice clean work area for yourself.

Let's get started!!

Step One - Cleaning the wire

Uncoil about 2-1/2 feet of wire. Place the wire between your two sanding blocks and holding them firmly with one hand, pull the wire through the blocks several times. This cleans the surface and leaves a nice dull sheen that looks like pewter.

Step Two - Winding the wire

Start winding the wire around your mandrel. Wind it all the way to the end and make the ends as flat as you can against your mandrel. Slide the coil off the mandrel.

Step Three - cutting the links

Stretch out the coil slightly so that you can get your wire cutters in between each wire to cut the links. I like to make my cut in the middle of the longer side of the oval. Cut your links one at a time.

Step Four - Finishing the ends

If you have a flush cutter then you will have one end of each link that has a nice flat cut, and the other will have a triangular point. With your flush cutters, cut the pointed end off, holding your cutter facing away from the long part of the wire, as shown below. If you don't have a flush cutter you can file the tips of the cut wire smooth.

Step Five - Hammering the links

Time to put in your earplugs! Take a link in one hand, holding it carefully so you don't pound your fingers. Start hammering the link with the flat surface of the hammer as flat against the wire as you can. Pound it just until it has flattened a bit and has a shiny sheen. You don't want to pound it too thin as that will weaken the wire.

Step Six - Making the clasp

Now all that's left is the make the clasp and assemble the necklace.
Cut a piece of wire about 6 inches long. Make a small loop at one end with round pliers, closing the loop completely.

Now make a second loop in the opposite direction, forming a lopsided "S". I use my trusty wooden dowel for this loop. Don't close the second loop.

Hammer the clasp flat, the same way you did the links. Then connect the clasp to the links, and the links to the links.

If you want to add a charm, now's the time!

And there you have it!

I hope you enjoyed this project. If you have any questions of comments, please feel free to post them!
Thanks for reading!


  1. Thanks for sharing! We'll try that sometime!

  2. I love to see other people's work in progress. You do wonderful work! I think your necklaces are something I'd wear more than just once a year... and they might even hold up to the kids tugging on it :) Great job... that was alot of work to post. I'm sure it is very much appreciated. Looks like your headed for a How-Tuesday!

  3. Can't wait to try this out. It's really very clear. You make it look easy. That being said, I know who to come to when I get stuck. LOL

    Kris (BitterMoonD)

  4. Oh I love it!!! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing

  5. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have wanted to try working with this wire for some time but I wasn't sure how to use it. This was very helpful! I can't wait to go home tonight and try it. My husband is a mechanic so I already have the wire! Woo-hoo!

  6. Thanks for posting this! I've done one woven bangle with the iron wire and really liked working with it. I'll have to try hammering it.

  7. can't wait to try it.

  8. Thanks for sharing. I was wondering what I could do with my steel wire.

  9. Wow this is great, do you have any issues with the wire rusting or some treatment required for steel jewelry?
    Janet J.

  10. Hi Janet! Thanks :D I have not had rusting myself, but I don't get the jewelry wet. Of course there are times when jewelry will get wet even if you're careful!
    There is a wax called Renaissance Wax that is just for this sort of thing. You just apply a small amount and buff it. It leaves a protective film on the metal. Museums use it on ancient artifacts and antiques. You can get it on the internet. Just use Google to find a source. All the sources I've seen are about the same prices.
    Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  11. I'm just starting out and I found your article very helpful, thank-you. It would be easier to print out if the background wasn't black though; uses up too much ink.

  12. Hi Anonymous!! I'm so glad you found this article helpful. I can send you a normal copy in a Word document if you like. :D

  13. Hi, I would certainly love to have a copy in Word.
    Thank you. Jean

  14. I love this tutorial! I can't wait to get some steel wire so I can try it out.