Wire coiling is a simple and handy technique that you use in wire jewelry making. You'll find detailed instructions and a video on this page.
Finished coils are used in many different ways. Sometimes it is obvious when a coil was used in a piece of jewelry. Other times you don't even realize that the coiling technique was used. For instance, you can't see that a jump ring is made from a coil if you didn't know it beforehand.
This is a sterling silver bangle made with three long coils.
There are a few different methods and tools that you can use for wire coiling. The end result is the same. Some methods are more useful when you need only a few jump rings and others are useful when you need a perfect and long piece of coiled wire.
On this page I will explain the method that needs the fewest tools and can be used in most cases - wire coiling on a mandrel.
To make a perfect coil, your aim is to get the wraps of the wire snug together. You can cheat a little with thin wire. Squeeze the wraps together after you have wrapped them. This isn't ideal, but when you start making wire jewelry it is a solution to getting a better looking coil.
Another thing that I need to mention to a newbie is that your wire hardens once you have wrapped it around and around a core wire. Most of the time this is a useful feature because it's good to have a strong coiled piece. However, if you need to unwrap the coil, you'll find the wire much harder to work with.
You need the following tools to do wire coiling on a core.
flat nose pliers or nylon jaw pliers
mandrel or core wire
The Wrapping Wire
The wrapping wire is the wire that is going to form the coil. You wrap this wire around and around the core wire. It needs to be thinner and softer than your core wire.
Your material needs to be fairly straight. Straighten sharp bends out of your wrapping wire with a flat nose pliers (or nylon jaw pliers if you have one) without leaving marks on the wire.
The Mandrel or Core Wire
The mandrel or core wire can be a piece of wire or it can be any other kind of mandrel. Whatever you use, it needs to be harder and a heavier gauge than the wrapping wire.
The mandrel (core) also needs to be straight. Your wrapped coil may get stuck when you have a dent or a defined bend in the core wire.
The Wire Wrapping Process
Start with your wrapping and core wire gripped in your left (non-dominant) hand. Grip the two between your thumb and index finger... hold the core wire with the wrapping wire across it.
Leave at least 3" (8cm) of the wrapping wire as a tail to grip onto as you wrap. Start about 1.5" (4cm) from the end of the core wire. Grip the wrapping wire in your dominant hand.
Start wrapping the wire away from your body rotating over the top of the core. Hold the wrapping wire tight with some tension between your two grips.
Position wrap after warp tightly against one another. Move your finished coil down the core wire, when you run out of wrapping space.
You can finish wrapping the coil by turning everything around. Finish off by wrapping the tail that you left to grip onto.
You have to let the wrapping wire turn in your dominant hand. Otherwise you will twist this wire around and around.
You can unwrap a piece of wrapped wire to re-wrap again. Just put the wrapping process in reverse. Remember that the unwrapped piece will be harder to work with.
Wire Coiling Videos
Coiling Video 1
This video shows you how to start coiling on the core wire or mandrel.
Coiling Video 2
This one shows you how to continue coiling to make a long even coil.
You can use this technique with twisted wire for a very interesting effect.
The picture on the left is a close-up of a twisted-wire-coil.
Have a look at the picture of the bangle at the top. A section of the bangle is made of a coil of twisted wire. This kind of coil takes more than double the length of wire than a coil with plain round wire.
Another option is to use a half round wire as the coiling wire.
Wrapping It Up
After this lengthy explanation, it's weird to say that this is a simple technique. However, when you get the hang of it, you'll realize that it is!