Sunday, January 15, 2006

Coiling Tool, Part Two

After ordering the coiling tools I mentioned in the coiling tool entry, I thought it would be easy to make one in any size I needed. Here’s how to make one: Take a 5/8 inch dowel, and drill a hole about 3/4 of an inch from the end with a #34 wire drill bit. The hole can go all the way through, or not, it doesn’t matter. You could also make one with a piece of brass tubing, which would be a little harder to drill. Of course you can vary the size of the dowel, and the hole size doesn't matter much, it just needs to accomodate the wire sizes you use.

Make a coiling tool by drilling a hole in a wooden dowel

To use the tool, hold the wooden handle in your dominant hand. (I am left handed.) Put the end of the wire in the hole in the dowel. Then you twist the dowel away from you, supporting the coil with the first finger of your other hand, and holding the wire between your thumb and first finger. There is a photo showing the hand position in the the coiling tool entry. Note that you can form the coil to your left or right. I think for most uses, going toward the long part of the dowel is better, you can make as many twists as you need.

I have been teaching my students to wrap their wire around a dowel held in a vise. I find it’s much more natural to twist the wire onto the coiling tool. The wire is easier to control and keep smooth, and it doesn't need to be pre-cut. The hole keeps the wire from slipping. To free the wire you’ll have to cut it next to the hole with a wire cutter. This is easy because the first wrap doesn’t lie flat against the dowel. The first few wraps will probably not be attractive, so make a few extra. If you wanted to make jump rings you could free the wire and then use the dowel to support the coil while you cut them.

I think the smaller diameter tools from Anima Designs might still be worth buying if you make lots of coils. Wooden dowels are easy to break in the thinner sizes. But if you need a larger size tool, it’s so easy to make your own.

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