Introduction: What Gage Is That Steel or Wire?

I recently was asked to repair a decorative windmill for a friend. One of the vanes was missing. I needed to know what gage the steel vane was so I could make the missing vane and its weight would be the same as the others, lest it run out of balance in a strong wind. The procedure outlined here works also for determining the gage of wire.

Needed: I do not have a micrometer. I used a machinist's clamp and a feeler gage set. You also need a sample piece of steel or wire you want to size.

Step 1: Place the Clamp

Attach the machinist's clamp to the steel or wire you want to size. As best you can, make sure the jaws of the clamp are parallel to one another when the clamp jaws are tightened.

Step 2: Measure the Gap

Place blades from the feeler gage set into the gap between the jaws as close to the steel or wire held by the clamp as possible. In this case, I was able to slide two feeler gage blades into the gap. The two together amount to 0.026 of an inch.

Search the Internet for <wire gage size>, like this one: http://www.efunda.com/DesignStandards/gages/wire_forward.cfm Enter the thickness of the piece as you measured it. The web site will tell you the gage or the range of measurements for each gage.

Comments

author
panteraozz made it! (author)2010-03-11

what about a pair of calipers?

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Phil B made it! (author)Phil B2010-03-11

The calipers I have flex too much to be reliable.

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avlewis003 made it! (author)2009-06-09

The 'gage' or 'gauge'system is indeed confusing, since there is no direct correlation between a gauge number and a unit of measure. Furthermore, as Vidar_76 points out, there are different gauges for different materials. To add to that using, a specific example, in Canada, sheet steel thickness is often referred to using a gauge number, but depending on whether you are speaking about a roof cladding or a sheet steel drywall stud, the gauge numbers refer to different thicknesses. Hardly conducive to clear communication. To produce wire or sheet steel, the basic product from the steel mill, rod or a slab, would be drawn or rolled through a succession of dies or mills. The thinner the wire, the more dies it must pass through. The 'gauge' would be the number of dies that the wire, (or rollers, for sheet steel) the product was passed through. Although this system is less helpful today than, say, using decimal (0.015") or thousandths of an inch (15 mil), or even SI units (0.381 mm), old habits die hard. What is especially fun is when one sees material from a manufacturer where there are both 'gauge' and decimal thickness designations on the product, and both are wrong, but that's maybe a different subject altogether.

author
static made it! (author)2009-01-30

In the event I needed to know the size of sheet metal or wire, on a regular basis, I'd invest in this handy dan tool.
http://store.b2bprofessionaltools.com/3556835568-jpg.html
Then I would have make sure it didn't grow legs and walk off.

author
Phil B made it! (author)Phil B2009-01-30

You make a good point. But, I seldom need to know the gage of something. When I do, the procedure in this Instructable gets me what I need.

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Vidar_76 made it! (author)2008-08-19

I'm sorry to ask such a silly question, but whu do you use the Gage-system? Wouldent is just be easier to say it's 0.75 mm or 0.05 inch? And it seems to be different thickness depending on the type of wire? Wery confusing for us poor europeans... And the reason your link doesent work is bekause f the dot after .cfm Kindly

author
Phil B made it! (author)Phil B2008-08-20

My father was an electrician and I was his helper. Wire was always sized according to gage. It is the way I learned to think about sizes. The same is true of my experience with sheet metal. When I needed metal for a new vane on my friend's garden windmill, I went to another friend who owned a heating and air conditioning shop. His frame of reference is the gage system. It was easier to tell him I needed a particular gage size than to say I needed so many thousandths of an inch in thickness. I am pretty sure he does not have a micrometer, either. Thanks also for finding the problem with my link. I have fixed it.

author
Vidar_76 made it! (author)Vidar_762008-08-20

I suppose you get used to anything you grow up with. (exept Brussels sprout) I'm happy with the metric system and you like your way. Luckily we have internet so comparison-charts are easily available. :-)

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theRIAA made it! (author)2008-08-19

take the period at the end out...

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Phil B made it! (author)Phil B2008-08-20

Thanks for identifying the problem. It is done.

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ll.13 made it! (author)2008-08-20

Good Instructable. Sadly I don't have a feeler gauge anymore. :-/

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kricketone made it! (author)2008-08-19

your link is no good need to check it..

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kricketone made it! (author)2008-08-19

nice job I use this alot just never thought of putting it on here ...

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Bio: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying ... More »
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