Introduction: Hardware Store Bracelet

Picture of Hardware Store Bracelet

Make a classy bracelet from hardware store materials! This simple bracelet looks very upscale, but is inexpensive, classic, and easy.

Step 1: Materials Needed

Picture of Materials Needed

Obtain the following materials from your local hardware store (and/or bead or craft shop):

spool of 20 ga brass wire
spool of 20 ga copper wire
spool of 18 ga copper wire.

Look in the sections where they have doorbells and picture-hanging supplies if you are having trouble.

Step 2: Tools Needed

Picture of Tools Needed

Get the following tools if you don't already have them. Some of them, like the round nose pliers, are more jewellery specific and may not be available in hardware stores.

an anvil or bench block (solid and smooth chunk of metal)
hammer with a nice smooth face
wire cutters
nylon tip pliers (or regular pliers with their jaws wrapped in layers of tape so that they are smooth)
round nose pliers (needle nose with wrapped jaws will be OK)
2 pin vises
floral tape
metal file
polishing cloth
and a thingie from the hardware store called a "quick-grip clamp"

Step 3: Cut and Straighten the Wires.

Picture of Cut and Straighten the Wires.

Begin by cutting 24" of the 18 ga copper wire. Clean and straighten it, then cut it into four 5" pieces. One 4" piece will remain.

Smack the 5" pieces flat using the anvil and the hammer. Try to keep them as straight as possible. They will lengthen by about 1/4" and curve somewhat; simply straighten the curve using the nylon pliers. Polish them with the cloth and file one end smooth. Set aside for the moment.

Double over the 4" piece and smack it gently. This piece should not be as flat as the others. Polish and set aside.

Step 4: Make the Twisted Wire for the Outside.

Picture of Make the Twisted Wire for the Outside.

Cut 18" of the 20 ga wires, both copper and brass. Clean and straighten them then, using the pin vises, twist them together. Set aside.

Step 5: Weave the Middle Braid.

Picture of Weave the Middle Braid.

This is the most complex part. Read it through a couple of times.

First picture.
Cut 4 10" pieces each of 20 ga brass and copper. Clean and straighten each one. Tape them together, in a straight line, at the bottom with floral tape, alternating the metals. It won't be extremely neat, but don't worry about that; just do your best.

Second picture.
Place into the clamp just above the taped area. Bend alternating pairs of wire (one brass, one copper) in opposing directions. One set forward, one set backward.

Third picture.
Bend the pair on the right all the way across to the left, keeping the wires aligned.

Fourth picture.
Fold the remaining three pairs over the bent wires to the opposite sides.

Fifth picture.
Manipulate the bent pair, formerly the right pair, so that it is now the far left pair. Bend it so that it is parallel with the second pair.

Sixth picture.
Very carefully release the clamp and reset the wires down so that they are just above the edge of the clamp. You will cover the first weave. Tighten the clamp back up.

Continue in this manner until the wires are woven. (Clamp, weave, unclamp, move it down, reclamp, repeat.) Should you need to put down the work, make a note which side is the front so that when you pick it up it will be in front again. (It will create a bend in the work if you weave it backwards.)

Seventh picture.
The wires will stick out the right side of the clamp at an angle as you work on it.

When you cannot weave any more, remove the braid from the clamp and straighten it with the nylon pliers. You may like to hammer it very gently to get any lumps out of it.

Trim the ends to make a 6" piece of woven material. File the ends if necessary to remove any roughness.

I've tried to make the pictures pretty clear. If you are stuck for extremely detailed directions, I am stealing this part pretty much straight from the book "Woven Wire Jewelry" by Linda Chandler and Christine Ritchey. Many libraries have it.

Step 6: Make the Cage.

Picture of Make the Cage.

Fold the twisted wires in half to make a cage for the woven piece.

Use floral tape to assemble temporarily.

Step 7: Bind the Cage to the Braid.

Picture of Bind the Cage to the Braid.

Make a hook in one of the 5 in. flat copper pieces. Neatly wind it around the end of the bracelet, securing the woven part to the twisted part, leaving a small loop for the clasp. Make 3 or 4 twists, cut and flatten the flat bit on the back side.

(You will be cutting off about half of your flat wire, but you need the extra so you can grip it firmly.)

Repeat on the other end and in two other places, spacing the pieces about 1.5 inch. from the ends. File any rough edges.

Step 8: Finish It Up!

Picture of Finish It Up!

Lower left and upper right pictures:
Trim the twisted wires to about 1/2". Twist more firmly if needed. Curl into two loops, tucking the ends into the flat wire. You will want to make sure the flat wire can't slip off..

Upper left picture:
Bend the folded end of the 4" wire to make a hook. Measure recipient's wrist at this point and cut the hook to size so that the bracelet will fit when clasped. Work the wire patiently so that the hook end won't get any skin pinched inside it -- it needs to be quite closed at the operating end.

Lower right picture:
Attach the hook to the twisted wires. The two ends go into the two loops created in the first part of this step, and then roll into themselves (think "scroll") with the ends on the inside of the bracelet.

Background picture: Carefully manipulate into a wrist-friendly shape using anything you have handy for a mandrel. I used a piece of pvc to form the tighter curves at the side and my hands to ease the rest into a curve. Round doesn't work, for some reason. After you clasp the hook you can kind of pull on the short sides to get a pretty even shape.

Step 9: Admire Your Beautiful Work.

Picture of Admire Your Beautiful Work.

Since you've now spent two or three hours making this, it's time to sit back and really admire your handiwork. Take some pictures (using river rocks like I did, or roll your own backdrop).

Then make a second one, since you're probably going to end up keeping this one for yourself!

To keep the copper clean you can rub some dry baking soda in and then brush with an old, dry toothbrush then rinse with water and dry well. Brushing with toothpaste, like you brush your teeth, will also make it sparkle.

These instructions were originally composed by me and posted here:

So if you've been looking for me, now you've got another link to who I am. Congratulations. Mike, I expect to be hearing from you about that drink pretty soon.


wire qween (author)2016-03-09

The author of this tutorial should be more knowledgeable on the topic of wireworking prior to posting this project. I read through some comments and the common theme seemed to be problems with work hardening of the wire. She should have referenced the many tutorials, books and utubes that address this issue and instruct what to do with work hardened wire prior to completion of the project. It is a heating and qwenching process that she should have researched before addressing the problems that students were experiencing. Just because a person has done a project once does not make them an expert. This seems to be a recurring trend online. My advice is to not just jump into attempting a project from any other source than books written by well experienced authors. I have been a wire artist for more than twenty years, an educator locally and nationally as well as an author. Believe me, if you are serious about wanting to learn the trade of jewelry wireworking. Seek the experts who can guide you in the right direction. Good luck to you and have fun.

angerivera (author)wire qween2016-10-23

Hmm... That's exactly what my friend would have said. And people have told her that she is abrasive, harsh and totally lacking the ability to be positively constructive. Anyone ever said that to you before? "We have a be nice comment policy. Please be positive and constructive."

gavinn2 made it! (author)2015-12-22

I used only copper 14 gauge wire from my scrap bin. The instructions confused me at first but I got it.

ShaynaC1 (author)2015-12-16

Thanks so much for your post. I am a newbie to wire wrapping and learning what products I need to get before I actually start. Your instructions are clear and the braclet looks lovely.

dimdiode (author)2014-11-06

I really like it, and will have a go at making one myself. Thanks

lovelyloot (author)2013-10-30

Hi, I'm Linda Chandler and I love what you've done with the woven bracelet. What a creative idea. I think I'll make one like you yours now. Thanks for mentioning my name.

hypnoangel (author)2013-05-11

Thanks so much for this tutorial. I am not sure if I have commented yet or not, but want you to know that I have made 3 variations of this so far and I am now making a choker using the same methods. I very much appreciate your time and effort! Food job and very pretty!

minecrafttnts (author)2012-10-16

wow!cool. i will make it for my girlfriend!!!!!!!!!

Cissy Green (author)2012-09-06

wow, gorgeous and also wanna make one like this ~

SethS (author)2012-01-02

Overall this has been a great and informative instructable. The weaving part is a bit confusing though.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)SethS2012-03-23

I'm not sure if the source (with wayyyy more photos) shows up for you, but just in case:

"I've tried to make the pictures pretty clear. If you are stuck for extremely detailed directions, I am stealing this part pretty much straight from the book "Woven Wire Jewelry" by Linda Chandler and Christine Ritchey. Many libraries have it."

The photos in this instructable are my own, though. Sorry if I was unclear - this instructable was actually more or less a repost from a jewellery makers website where I had entered the exact same instructions as part of a father's day jewellery contest. Most of the readers of that site (which is not up anymore) are familiar with wire weaving techniques. As is often the case, when one is too used to the technique, sometimes you accidentally leave out basic instructions.

Thanks for looking at it, and if you have any specific questions, I'll be happy to try to answer them for you. :)

buttersnake (author)2008-04-23

Looks really nice, especially for the little money its costs to make. Just be careful wearing it, with all the meth addicts stealing copper these days you might get jumped! LOL

jseverance (author)buttersnake2011-11-16

See my prior response regarding Renaissance Wax. :)

SeaPoppy (author)2009-08-16

Pretty bracelet, but it'll leave yr arm green, right? Is there some (maybe hardware too?) coating that'll actually work (aka not nail polish, already tried and failed) to make things like this usable? : ) TY!

jseverance (author)SeaPoppy2011-11-16

Renaissance wax! Amazing stuff! I purchased thru Amazon- google it for other sources. It's not cheap ($20ish for a 2oz tin) but a little goes a looooong way. Polish the bracelet (or other jewelry/household item) to desired shine/patina. Use a soft cloth to apply a thin layer of RW to item, buff for shine. RW hardens & seals immediately. (This sounds scary, like it will solidify as soon as you open the jar, but it won't. Your thin layer will "dry" immediately, but not in a bad way!) Use multiple layers for extra durability, deeper shine, or to "fill" surface imperfections. (It's not a putty, tho, don't have crazy expectations here...)

I'm in love with this stuff. It can be used on any metal, or wood, ceramic, papier mache- I can't find anything you CAN'T use it on. The supplied pamphlet says it was developed by the British Museum to restore/protect antiquities in the '50's, I think. It's supposed to not degrade the way other crystalline waxes do, it doesn't have the yellowing issues of beeswax... It's great stuff! There's an alcohol-based solvent that removes it. I assume it wears off as I wear my jewelry and reapply occasionally, but I haven't had any issues. And it cures the green from raw copper!

General note: Don't be silly- this IS a petroleum product, and NOT intended for human consumption. Please don't use this on anything you plan to eat/drink from, please don't lick your fingers when applying it, please don't leave it where your toddler might use it for lotion- you are responsible for your proper use of this product. :)

bluemoon6 (author)2011-07-07

Yup work hardened it got!!! but it really hold its shape when I wear it--and it does tarnish easy---but.......a q-tip dipped in tarnex and dabbed on the wire and bingo --back to its old shinny self!!!! Just love the bracelet--thanks for sharing it with us!!! --in a pinch pickle juice takes away the tarnich too!! not as good as tzrnex though!! LOL!!!

bluemoon6 (author)2011-06-08

with my old arthritic hands this one was a little hard for me--but the end result was very nice--not as perfect as the photo --a little rustic--but everyone who sees it love it--thanks for sharing-----and I braded the side pieces also --cause I dint have a drill to make the sirals perfect or anywhere near it---LOL!!

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)bluemoon62011-07-06

That could look really nice, with the braided edges.

Yah the wire gets a little work-hardened, doesn't it? I was surprised about it. Congrats on the good work!

brainiac27 (author)2011-05-15

Thanks for the guide. I have made countless bracelets like this as gifts and everyone of them still wears it. I added enameled wire to mix it up, a pink bracelet came out well enough.

crak-a-bottle (author)2011-04-05

Never made anything like this...but it looks so cool. And my boyfriend might possibly like it. If I make it and it's crap then I'll keep it. :)

Anionis (author)2007-05-06

Very good instructable! Just one thing, would there be a way to invorporate the side holders into the bind (very careful threading through?), just to hold them on stronger. They could, over time, bend outwards, and splay, making it harder to put on the bracelet, and ruining the look somewhat. Otherwise, I love it!

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)Anionis2007-05-06

Thanks for the compliment!

You have a good question. That copper braid becomes really tough as you work it. As to incorporating the twist while working the braid, you can try it, it would make a neat variation if it works out. The braided ends will need trimming, which will mean that you would have to make two simultaneous twists and then figure out a way to close it (no loop -- can't do it if you don't know how long it's going to have to be). But I'd love to see what you come up with!

The twisted wires become work-hardened and won't budge unless you are really trying. I had the same thought but was very surprised at how rigid they become. You'd have to really work at it to pry them loose.

The first one I did I made out of really small gauge floral wire and thin copper, just to test the twist, and two years later it's still one of my favorites. Gets a lot of wear. Everyone I've made this for wears it pretty much all the time against wrist pain, which I will neither endorse nor dispute, but they do hold up well. My dad never takes his off and it still looks pretty good despite him wearing it while fixing the car (wish he wouldn't do that...)

You could also incorporate another or two flattened copper strips in the front if you found yours splaying. The weaker first bracelet I made will deflect inwards if I lean up against a wall on the bracelet but ya know it kinda hurts to do that! It hasn't spread but it may bend in a little. Wrap it pretty tight and there's no room for it to move.

I did try to make one using phone wire (much easier to manipulate) that incorporated the twist into the sides, but it didn't gel for me. =( I have plans to make a colorful one out of phone wire (the twists on that would be pretty weak) but I haven't got round to it yet.

You can also do another set of 4 pairs and make it thicker, and then sweat-solder a clasp onto the end or otherwise put a nice end finish on and wear it as a cuff. it would be quite stiff and sturdy (use a big clamp). I see that thin 1/4" copper tubing, cut into short lengths and split lengthwise to make a C-shaped tube open down the length, filed neatly and possibly hammered (or the cut ends set with a stone expoxied into it), soldered onto the bracelet.

Variations are totally welcome even if they are just suggestions.

Anionis (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2007-05-06

Thanks for that, as soon as I find the materials, I reckon that thats for me. It would also work (possible) as a steampunk watchstrap, if you could get the right fittings in.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)Anionis2007-09-06

I actually saw a watch variation of this with iron wire a month or two ago in a jewellery magazine. I can't remember which one it was but I'm thinking it was Wire Jeweler or possibly Belle Amoire (which I probably misspelled). The artist is a male and cold-connects (no solder or welding) everything. His work was really cool. The watch was old and it looked good with the flat iron wire and, I think, steel for the weave. I think he just made a couple of loops and hooks and connected that to the watch pin, so that you just had to unhook it from the watch to get it off.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2011-02-21

The guy's name is Richard Salley.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)Anionis2007-05-08

Oh, that would be awesome! I love that idea! Gonna have to try it out.

lemonie (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2007-05-06

You wouldn't use consider any heat-treatments to get around work-hardening? Or is the hardening an integral part of the build? L

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)lemonie2007-05-08

You could anneal it with a torch as you go along, I guess, or use dead-soft wire rather than half-hard (I think the hardware store is half-hard). When I tried it with phone wire, which is super-soft, it seemed plausible, but like I said, I couldn't make it work and gave it up as a bad job. I *would* like to see it come out, so if you succeed, put up a picture here and let us know how you did it!

lemonie (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2007-05-08

I couldn't top this, so I'm not going to try! Was just interested. L

Bifforama (author)2010-07-18

This is one I made for my wife a while ago.

mmcfarland333 (author)2010-04-08

Not that you'd be pounding away on an anvil that size, but just beware of all the cast iron anvils out there, especially the harbor freight  ones...  We call them "ASO's" (Anvil Shaped Objects) because they're only really good for paperweights or door stops... good old regular steel is the way to go if it's going to be seeing any kind of heavy duty use.

I have heard this before, actually -- I have a Real Anvil in my garage <beams proudly>.

Yap the little thingie is only good for tapping at stuff like flattening wire. I have since acquired a proper bench block made of tool steel.

Thanks for checking out my instructable!

ting-a-ling (author)2008-01-10

I made a very similar bracelet about a year ago but i used rebar wire for the outside edges. All you do is hammer it flat on the anvil. I also used it for the wraps.It makes a stronger frame but you should clean it with steel wool and seal it with a high gloss clear coat. Kilz makes a good one.The guy that makes jewelry is probably Richard Salley. check out his websight for instructions, Awesome stuff.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)ting-a-ling2008-03-12

Yeah, his stuff is really neat. I saw some of his work in some jewellery artist magazine over the summer. I bought it and promptly took out those pages and put them in my idea book. Where do you get that iron wire or rebar stuff?

ting-a-ling (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2008-03-13

Hi, I get rebar wire and copper from the hardware store. Rebar wire is iron wire used to tie reinforcing bars together in cement work. It's really cheap, you can get a huge roll for about $6. You need to shape the frame before you hammer it cause it gets really stiff, but it can still be bent. The other cuffs are made of PVC pipe from the hardware store.

mslaynie (author)ting-a-ling2009-11-30

Holy wow, those are amazing!! I've never even thought about using PVC as a jewelry component! Beautiful work, both you and the original poster.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)ting-a-ling2008-08-19

Hey those are COOL!!

106yeahboyz (author)2009-03-10

I made one but it somehow turned out about half the size it was meant to be LOL. I will try again though . cool idea

gerry_49 (author)2009-02-19

You could take a short cut and get braided wire at an automotive parts or electrical store. It's called: grounding wire.

double ott (author)2009-02-10

can you find pin vices at your average hardware store?

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)double ott2009-02-12

I did, but then again I don't go to an average hardware store. I think I got mine at Harbor Freight, but they may have come from Ace. At least I think I got them at a hardware store. Since I do jewellery work I might have picked them up from a fellow lapidary, rock hound, or at a bead show or online somewhere. I may have even got them at an electronic supply place. I really don't remember. Let your fingers do the walking, but do try hardware stores first. I don't remember seeing them at either the orange or blue branded hardware stores, though, you'll want to try an old-fashioned one like Ace.

double ott (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2009-02-13

could you use vice clamps you think?

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)double ott2009-02-14

give it a shot and let us know how that works. You could use an anvil too if you pad the jaws so it doesn't scratch the wire. a medium-duty super clamp might do the trick as well.

HOMEPIE64 (author)2008-06-17

wait don't go in salt water with this on or dip; your arm in citrus juice, would it not be the same as the ancient jar batteries where one bar was copper and one brass and they were in lemon juice?

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)HOMEPIE642008-08-19

No, it would not be the same thing. The ancient batteries worked because the two metals were separated by a glob of tar and the terminals attached to <whatever> created a circuit. It was a very, very weak circuit at that, and you would not risk being shocked by this combo of brass and copper.

I think you might be thinking of galvanic action. To my knowledge you are not going to get a galvanizing event going here either even if you are dripping very salty sweat. Both metals will likely tarnish and possibly even corrode, depending on your body chemistry, but I don't think there is any electrical reaction forming as a result.

Who knows, though: I still hear people moaning about how their quartz watches drain their chakras or whatever. So your mileage may vary. All I know is copper gets nice and shiny when *I* wear it and turns green on lots of other people, and if that happens to you, just brush it with your toothbrush and regular toothpaste, rinse well, and dry, and it will shine right back up.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2008-08-19

although why you would be dipping yourself in citrus juice in the first place causes me more concern that what you are wearing...

NetReaper (author)RaNDoMLeiGH2009-02-12

or thinking

Mother Natures Son (author)2009-02-09

Wow, that's exquisite. I didn't know anvils came fun-sized. Where on earth do you get something like that?

I got that little thingie at Harbor Freight for a couple of bucks. I think you can get them by themselves, but mine was in a 3-pack of mini tools. I forget what the other two things were.

Carlos Marmo (author)2008-10-30

Wonderful Work! Congratulations!

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Bio: I fart around being a basic jill-of-all-trades. I like taking apart things to see how they work, and sometimes even get them put back together ... More »
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