How to Straighten Heavy Copper Wire




You need to straighten heavy solid copper wire before you can precisely bend it into shapes for building your own Gray-Hoverman TV antenna. Rather than straighten the wire in bulk, I deal with only each short length as needed, and it takes just a few minutes of hand work. This is one of several of my Instructables related to building this antenna. To see the others and my related Instructables, click on unclesam in the INFO box at right and repeatedly click NEXT to page through them all. To receive automatic notice about my future antenna construction postings, you can click in the INFO box to subscribe to me. In the final step I include links within that further describe the antenna.

Step 1: Material and Tools

The Wire
Copper wire, solid, uninsulated usually #6 (0.162 inch diameter), but other sizes are sometimes specified. This wire is sold in hardware stores by the foot, cut in the store from a reel. I have each piece cut to the length I need for each part of the antenna, to the next foot, so I can easily carry it out the store in sticks. The part pictured in this Instructable called for a piece just over 34 inches long, so I had three feet cut off for it. Doing that requires me to do less straightening before then bending it to the required shape and dimensions.
Wood block
Small clamp
Bench top or board, flat

Step 2: Tap and Bash

Short sharp bends can be gently tapped out aginst the benchtop with a hammer, the copper will easily yeild. The wire should be rolled during the tapping. Larger severe bends can be straightened by smacking down on the wire with the edge of the wood block or hitting the block with the hammer. You do not want to flatten the wire. Once the severe bends are smoothed out, clamp one end of the wire to the benchtop and rub the block, applying downward pressure, from the center of the wire to the loose end. The wire will quickly become hot, so it is necessary to unclamp and roll the wire frequently, otherwise it will curl. Clamp the other end and repeat the process. It will take a few minutes, but the wire will become straight. The block might work better if it had a shallow V groove in its bottom to run along the wire, but the plain block works so well that I have not bothered to try that.

Step 3: Gently Rub

Once the major imperfections have been removed from the wire, unclamp it and grip one end with one hand, just off the benchtop, while using the other hand to rub the wire against the bench. Constantly roll the wire as you rub, and turn the wire to work out any curves. The wire may have a very long curl, perhaps for its entire length. Lift one end of the wire up and rub against that side that will work out that curl. With a little effort the wire will be ready to become part of your antenna, as shown in the intro photo.

Step 4: Antenna Information Links

1. The Gray-Hoverman version I am making is described at this link, though I am adding what are called tophat NARODS for improved VHF-high reception:
2. Introduction to the Gray-Hoverman antenna
3. Antenna Research and Development Forum"
4. Photo of mast-mounted outdoor G-H antenna (by others, post #94)
5. The antenna design information is protected by license (by others), is made available free for individual use, but commercial exploitation is prohibited. Link to the license:



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    9 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Use a drill and a vise mate


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the tutorial! Using this to make a yagi wifi antenna but need to strighten out 14ga wire. This did the trick!


    8 years ago on Step 2

    Why Not just put One end of the Wire in a vise, clamp a pair of vice grips/pliers to the other end, and pull the wire taunt and hit the vice grips with a hammer. The section of wire between clamping sections will be straight...

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, this is easiest and fastest. I don't like the idea of spinning it. It would do internal damage. Why hit the pliers at the end though?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I really like this and your other articles about the GH antenna, especially the bending jig. One way I learned to straighten copper wire from a guy I worked with is by stretching. You can grip short lengths between two pairs of pliers or clamp one end in a vise and the other end in pliers. You don't need to stretch much, about 1-5%. You COULD anneal the wire afterwards by using a welder's trick. Build up a layer of carbon on the wire with a butane lighter and then heat the wire with a propane torch until the carbon is completely consumed. That way you know it is hot enough to anneal the wire.


    7 years ago on Step 4

    The unpatented Gray-Hoverman antenna designs are available for anyone to use be they commercial or otherwise.


    7 years ago on Step 2

    You can also straighten the wire by clamping one end in a vice, and connect the other end up with a drill. Pull the wire tight, and turn on drill. Wire will turn, become straight after a few turns. Works great for #6 wire and smaller, Saves time, rolling, and provides more strength for the wire.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    My favourite way is to clamp one end in the vise, and the spin it with the drill. Straightens wire out quickly and easily.