Introduction: A Perfect Twist

Picture of A Perfect Twist

I use a LOT of twisted wire in my art. So looking about for good ideas on different things I could do, I noticed there was no instructable (at least that I could find) for twisting wire. Even with all the really great instructables available on the site, I still couldn't find one.  Of course this doesn't mean there isn't one, but I thought I might share this little secret on how to twist wire easily, and get the perfect twist.  I have seen a lot of people trying to twist wire by hand, and having a hard time just to get inferior results, and I have seen "manual wire twisting" gadgets that cost a fortune.  But why spend anymore than what you absolutely have to, especially when the easiest way to twist a perfect wire is by using things you probably already have around the house.

For this instructable you will need:
Wire cutters to cut the wire
Wire - any pretty much any guage can be used determined on what you need the twisted wire for
A phillips head screw driver, the longer the better so you can hold onto it while twisting
A power drill ( I personally prefer to use my hubby's cordless, just because there is no cord to deal with and I don't have to find a place to plug it in)

And even though I didn't mention it, or put them in the photo, you really should protect your eyes! 

Step 1: Cut the Wire and Fold It in Half

Picture of Cut the Wire and Fold It in Half

Remember you will need more than twice the length of wire you would require for a single wire peice.  You will be doubling the wire over, and you will lose a certain amount of wire in the process of twisting.   I don't recommend twisting more than the length you can stretch your arm to hold (see the photo as an illustation).  You can twist a longer amount if you have someone or something to hold the opposite end, but since I generally have no volunteers when it comes to working around me and power tools, I stick to the shorter lengths and make do as I can.

I cut a 20 inch piece of wire for this project, and after twisting and trimming I had a 5 inch piece left.  This will vary for the guage of wire and the amount of twisting applied. 

Step 2: Secure the Wire in the Drill Chuck

Picture of Secure the Wire in the Drill Chuck

You will need to carefully insert the two cut ends of the wire into the drill chuck. It needs to be placed in the center, and be certain not to have the sides get caught as the chuck is closing.  The wire will pull from the chuck unless it is firmly secured dead center.

Step 3: Secure the Wire So You Can Begin Twisting

Picture of Secure the Wire So You Can Begin Twisting

Once you have closed the chuck around the wire, you might want to give it a good tug to see if it will pull out.  Mine come out about 20% of the time, even when I have checked and double checked the placement.
Insert the phillip head screw driver between the two wire and move it down to the looped end (where the wire was doubled over).  Pull the wire taut so that it will twist evenly when the drill is started.

Step 4: Twist the Wire....

Picture of Twist the Wire....

Start the drill while continuing to hold the screwdriver end taut (be careful as the force from the drill can pull the screw driver from your hand and possiby injure you)

This might be a good time to mention again that anytime you are working with power tools you should wear appropriate eye protection.

Step 5: The Twisted Wire Is Done!

Picture of The Twisted Wire Is Done!

You can twist the wire as fast as you are comfortable with, but don't go so slow that the wire begins to twist on itself.  Remember you MUST hold the wire as taut as you drill so that it will twist evenly.

When the wire is completely twisted, it will break on it's own.  You can release the chuck and remove the two small peices of wire that are left in the chuck. 

Slide the looped end from the phillips head and you have a nice, evenly and tightly twisted piece of wire to use for whatever the purpose is you planned.  You also have a nice loop with a strong twisted wire on it if you want to use it that way.  It makes a great hanger for objects it can be soldered onto. 

Step 6: Now What to Do With the Wire.....

Picture of Now What to Do With the Wire.....

 Someone asked me to post something I use the wire for.  I have been really busy with family matters lately, but I did get a chance to get out into the shop and put together a few things.  For a couple of them, I used some twisted wire.  This is just one of the ways I used some of it.
I bent the wire to form a treble clef, and the letter S to make a glass heart for my niece who loves music.  I added the pieces to a "pickle" in order to clean them and help stop any oxidation of the metal during the firing process of the kiln.
I collected a large number of various pieces of COE 96 glass, and put them in a porcelain heart mold.  I added the wire pieces and covered it with clear COE 96 glass.  I fused it (and there will be an instructable to come on glass fusing when I get things caught up here).  The result was the piece you see.   


rebollo1 (author)2010-07-20

Sorry I speak Spanish. If you go through a roller press can be made bracelets and rings for hands

arpoky (author)rebollo12010-08-12

If you speak Spanish, then why are you speaking English? Lulz.

realwombat made it! (author)2015-10-15

awesome and so easy. thank you!

RebeccaB7777 (author)2013-08-31

Thanks so much, exactly what I was looking for.

CatsPaw (author)2013-08-08

Hi - just found your instructible. I'm looking to make some torques for a play next year and so far I have only played with wire twisting so I am unsure what wire to use. One torque is 4 string (2 plain and 2 of thinner wire twisted together) the others are 3 string (2 plain and 1 thinner twisted wire). I was wondering if you could help me with how much wire I might need to make around 17-20 inches with 18 and 24 guage or 20 and 26 guage?

barefootbohemian (author)CatsPaw2013-08-10


There isn't really an exact number I can give you since it will depend largely on the tightness of the twist you make. I have found from experience that a nice even looking twist requires about 2 1/2 to 3 times the length you want to end up with.

I have only double twisted wire a few times experimentally (twisting together 2 twisted wires). I will say that it will take at least 4-5 times the length and some brute force to hold the end while it is twisted so it comes out smooth and even. It will start to "bunch" up and twist out if shape uncontrollably in the first 1/3 of the twist if you don't put some torque to it!

My suggestion would be experiment with a cheaper similar gauge wire several times. Measure before you twist it the after and you should be able to come up with a formula so you will be slightly past the desired length, then trim is to size with a cut-off blade.

Good luck and I would love to hear how it goes and see the finished product!!

Lizzie0 (author)2013-04-03

Very helpful instructable. Thanks for posting. Especially the reminders about lengths of wire needed etc.

bxridley (author)2010-11-22

I just used this for powering LED lights, with two strands of coated magnet wire. It really sped up and improved the process versus hand twisting! Thank you! I'll post an instructable later and link back here for credit on that part of it.

Short One (author)2010-08-31

My dad does this for his electrical type wires, to keep them together and neat and prevent tangling. I got to help him a few times. It was fun. :D

anonymouse197 (author)2010-01-21

 I have tried this with solder. Very beautiful yet totally useless. Also may I suggest taking a long piece and twisting it more than once? It makes a quite nice shape but not quite as nice as the single twist. Anyway, Thanks! Great instructable. Something very satisfactory - I must say!

Actually doubling solder can be quite useful. There are many times I could use a thicker solder than what I have, and that does the trick :)

 I have tried the doubling of the twist before. Unfortunately I wasn't strong enough to keep mine from kinking back on itself. But it would have been nice I think, if I had been able to. 
I started out playing with solder when I was very very young  I would sit on the floor of the garage while my dad worked on things, and I would take the scrap solder and make rings and other jewelry.  Makes me wonder what I did to my brain cells back then! All that lead, probably some acid core solder? I might have been a true genius had I not done that LOL! Or maybe not. But thanks for the compliment. I have been trying to get back on here to do some more instructables, but my father has been seriously ill so I end up spending more time in the hospital than in the shop.  But I shall return! eventually..... 

arpoky (author)barefootbohemian2010-08-12

Could you not do this by taking the finished twist, folding it in half, putting it back in the drill, and twisting it again?

barefootbohemian (author)arpoky2010-08-15

I tried to do this a couple of times and ended up with it kinking up before the twist was done. I imagine it could be done, but it would take a stronger person than me to keep tension on the wire.

anonymouse197 (author)arpoky2010-08-13

Yes, that is what I mean.

barefootbohemian (author)2010-08-15

I think you have a wonderful idea rebollo1 :) in any language...

barefootbohemian (author)2010-08-15

It doesn't matter what language a person uses, as long as it is understood what he says. So why argue about it? No hace nada cualquier idioma Uds. prefieren , mientras se entienda qué él dice. ¿Tan porqué discuta sobre él? Non ci è differenza che lingua una persona usa, finchè è capito che cosa dice. Così perché discuta a questo proposito? Es gibt keinen Unterschied, welche Sprache eine Person verwendet, solange es verstanden wird, was er sagt. So warum argumentieren Sie über es? And with that said.... have a beautiful day!

rebollo1 (author)2010-07-20

Si lo pasa por una prensa de rodillos . Se aplana y se pueden hacer pulceras o anillos

AEchinoderm (author)2010-02-24

 If you have a bench vise, you can flip the whole thing around. Instead of inserting the two ends of the wire into the chuck (and having them come off eventually), get them held by the vise's jaws and put a hook (one of those with a thread, to be screwed into walls) into the drill's chuck (by the straight end).

AEchinoderm (author)AEchinoderm2010-02-24

 The hooks I mentioned:

rickyd! (author)2010-01-08

 im thinking guitar strings

dudejetfighter (author)rickyd!2010-01-08

 that sounds extremely hard

jongscx (author)dudejetfighter2010-01-14

*that's what she said*...

I don't think it'd actually be possible by hand, at least not with the same accuracy/consistency to have it still usable with a guitar... I may be wrong tho

dudejetfighter (author)jongscx2010-02-07

 lol. The only difficult part of that would be getting the strings to the right gauge.

 I'm thinking I want to know how it comes out if you try it! I would be afraid it would uncoil since most the wires used for guitar strings are pretty stiff, aren't they? 

But extremely awesome, too.

frollard (author)rickyd!2010-01-08

Guitar strings are similar, but they are one co-axial wire (with no twist) wrapped with another thinner wire to add mass/texture.  "How its made" has a good sequence on this.

fkuk (author)2010-01-25

what you want to do is

make two piceses of twisted wires same length going in the same direction

put both wires in the drill and spin in oposite direction

it gives a very interesting pattern

submark (author)2010-01-14

I use considerable amounts of very fine (.003 -.020) colored copper and brass wire in my fly tying and jewelry . I have twisted anywhere from2 to 5 strands together to achieve a desired effect.  
A small, inexpensive hand operated rolling mill (from Harbor Freight) has allowed me to flatten some of these wires and twists into ribbons or tinsels. Soldering the ends together before twisting can be of great help. In fact soldering the materials along their full lengths can be a help for some effects. Any separation of solder during rolling will quickly repair during annealing. 
You may want to experiment with combinations of  wires (copper/ brass/ silver etc.) if you  want mixed metal twists. Anneal your wire/ribbon OFTEN to avoid metal fatigue and failure.
I also incorporate strands of thread, floss, and feather and fur into some of these twists for decorative purposes. These materials are NOT durable for much milling or any heat, but can add stunning accents and textures to items. submark 

barefootbohemian (author)submark2010-01-16

 You should post an ible of that! It sounds really cool!

submark (author)barefootbohemian2010-01-23

I do much more fly tying than jewelry these days, and with such lousy short term mem..... shore time monkey?.......sure takes money?........
Anyhow I am VERY photo challenged. When I sold my SLR to a friend in the '80s it still had film in it from my days in the Navy in the early 70's. Not much of a snaphound.
Check out  makersgallery/goss/rollprint for some kickass techniques.
I can't find my little rollpress and Harbor Freight doesn't carry them anymore. If you're really serious about non ferrous metalwork, try to find a used one. They are necessary for serious and quality work.

rosesand56 (author)submark2010-01-21

Hi fromYuma, you sound a seasoned jewelry maker. Do you have any pics to show of the materials you incorporated in the wires?

BlackCloud (author)2010-01-17

My dad made me a toy grappling hook using 3 pieces of wire using this method when i was a child :)
It was so awesome.

 That would be cool! Although I am not sure I would have wanted to use it for climbing even if I was a child.  But that is just a cool thing for your dad to have made for you! Did it get your started in that direction? 

jenmcd (author)2010-01-14

If you are using a long enough piece, you could also hold the drill near your torso, and use your feet to hold the screwdriver. I've done that when "power twisting" yarns/threads, and have done it with some wire before, too. The tension is provided by pulling up on the power drill.

barefootbohemian (author)jenmcd2010-01-16

 I've done that too :). Except I used an old flag pole, the kind that people put those "cutesy" flags out on their houses with. I kept it from the trash because it was a good long piece of straight metal and I figured I could use it someday, it worked perfect for that! 

redhand rik (author)2010-01-15

just for comparison... when i twist i use a hand drill with a button hook in the chuck. i put the 2 loose ends in a vise, and put the button hook in the loop end. then  i lubricate the wire well with beeswax and twist. the wire slides over itself with much less friction and doesn't work harden as quickly. the best things about using a vise is that you are not limited to the length of your arm, and you don't run the risk of getting caught in the twist.

 Wow, that just sounds like a lot of work, you should make an ible on it! I am more a visual learner myself.  I can see why the beeswax, and get the idea behind it, but I can't put it together in my head good enough to really make one. 
Cool way of doing it though!

crankyjew (author)2010-01-07

zat 16 or so gauge wire?
what manner of wire art do you do?

 I used a 20 ga wire for that demo.  Most of the wire work I do is to use in other project types or to make hangers for my stained glass work.  I also use it to incorporate into kiln fired glass. 
I have used everything from 14 ga to 24 ga wire in a drill to twist it, and they all seem to work well. 
Do you do wire art? I would love to see what you are doing.

myself not so much, at least not with such thin gauge wire..
i've found myself rather into chain maille recently, in fact i'm currently working on a full length shirt. i've also done a number of bracelets and other such jewelery.

 That would be cool to see the shirt when you are done.  I love chaimaille, haven't done a lot of it except for jewelry work. 

santakart (author)2010-01-12

 Good evening I currently work in the aviation industry and there are some pliers out in the world that twist wire just like that Check with harbor freight if there is one in your neighborhood or with a tool truck they may be expensive on the truck though

 I dig harbor freights prices! Don't always love their quality, but some of the stuff is cheap enough to replace if it doesn't last.  There isn't one near here, but then there isn't even a wally world near where I live LOL! Thanks for the tip! 

CMPalmer (author)2010-01-13

Here is one I did for 2 or 3 strands of wire twisted by hand:

 I might just have to try that when I need an odd number of wires twisted. I have done two and four with the drill, never tried more than that.  Nice work! 

Redfrk (author)2010-01-08

Awesome technique.  This looks like copper wire, and I think it would look great as a bracelet!

barefootbohemian (author)Redfrk2010-01-16

 I am thinking that if a larger gauge wire was used, like say an 8 aug or a copper conduit wire, and then hammered flat after it was twisted, that would make for a really cool bracelet! Of course I have a thing for copper, always have... :) Sounds like you have a great idea started!

FrozenStar (author)2010-01-15

I made a perfect twist in tech class using pliers, biggest fluke ever but it was great :)

 Hey, flukes work! :)

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