Things You'll Need
- 3/4-inch hardwood board, 6 inches by 6 inches
- 3/4-inch or 1/2-inch acrylic sheet, 6 inches by 6 inches
- Framer's square or right angle
- #16 gauge drill bit
- Electric drill or drill press
- C clamps
- 2d finishing nails
- Heavy wire cutters
- Metal file
A WigJig or wire wrapping jig is essentially a series of movable pegs that fit into a sturdy base, providing wrapping or reversal points for forming wire jewelry or art. By repositioning the pins and wrapping the wire around them in different ways, a nearly infinite number of shapes, designs and patterns can be achieved. One of the advantages of using a wire wrapping jig is that your work will come out much more consistently than if you were to bend the wire freestyle. A simple wire wrapping jig can be made with a few nails and a piece of wood or acrylic.
Lay Out the Pin Grid
Hold your ruler up against the left edge of your piece of wood or acrylic. Starting at the edge closest to you and mark a point with your pencil or pen on the face that is one inch from the edge (ultimately you will create a one inch border around the pin grid).
Mark a point at every every quarter inch until you have made 15 more marks.
Align your framer's square along the left side of the board. Line the ruler part of the square up with the first point you made and draw a straight line all the way across to the other side of the board. Repeat this process for each of the 16 points that you marked.
Turn your board or piece of acrylic 90 degrees clockwise so that the lines you just drew now point vertically rather than horizontally. Repeat the process of marking 16 points and drawing lines until you have created a grid with quarter inch squares and a one inch border.
Drilling the Pin Holes
Fit your #16 gauge drill bit into the chuck on your electric drill or drill press. Clamp your wire bending jig into place firmly so that it will not move around.
Drill holes carefully through each of the points that intersect on your grid (256 holes altogether). The cleaner and more precisely you drill the holes, the better your finished product will be. Be sure to drill the holes perpendicularly to the face of the wood or acrylic and go all the way through to the back with each hole.
Sand the surface of your newly drilled wire wrapping jig with sandpaper to remove any splinters or burs left from the drilling process (only perform this step if you are working with wood).
Adding the Pins
Insert a 2d nail into one of the holes that you drilled. It should be a snug fit, but it should not be difficult to get the nail in and out. Re-drill the holes if necessary to remove excess material.
Insert several nails into the holes in your grid (pattern and placement is dependent on the design you wish to make) and begin wrapping your wire around these jig pins to produce unique wire jewelry. You can add and remove additional pins and experiment with placement to produce the desired results.
Cut the heads off the finishing nails if you are having a difficult time sliding your wire jewelry off the jig pins because the heads are getting in the way. Use a pair of heavy duty wire cutters to snip the heads off them. This will leave a sharp edge, so be sure to file the jig pins down flat with a fine metal file.
If you are using acrylic, make sure your bit is sharp and that your drill is set to a high speed. Remove the bit from the hole often during drilling to clear out waste material. Otherwise you may over heat the acrylic or cause it to crack.
You can add letters and numbers to the sides of the jig grid to help you remember where you put the pins when you produced a certain design. Just record the horizontal and vertical coordinates of the pins you used and recreate the same pattern any time.
Using this method, you can create a jig grid of virtually any size by changing the overall dimensions of the grid, the number of holes and the the distance between the holes. Customize your wire wrapping jig to attain the desired results every time.
- "How to Make Your Own Wire Wrapping Jig"
- "Inspired Wire: Learn to Twist, Jig, Bend, Hammer, and Wrap for the Prettiest Jewelry Ever;" Cynthia B. Wuller; 2009
Randal Singultary is a freelance writer, fiction author and poet, living and working in the Boston area. He graduated cum laude from Wheaton College with a B.A. in English in 2009.