Gauging Metal Thickness

A wire gauge.
Image via Wikipedia

Recently I saw that someone was searching for what gauge metal to use while fold forming and came across my blog.  While I’ll never know if they actually found what they were looking for, I can help future searchers out.

Metal gauge simply refers to how thick your metal sheet or wire is.  Jewelers use what is called the B & S gauge system in this country to standardize our supplies. (If you want to see how gauges convert to inches and mm – click here.)

Now on to the good stuff!

For my bowls, I generally use 20g.  For Troika I used 18g copper, but that’s a little thick.  I have used 16g copper for a bowl before, but I don’t think it’s really necessary to start with something that thick for a basic bowl. If I happen to make a nickel bowl, I use 22g just because nickel is so freakin’ hard to work with.

24g is what I use for brass or sterling cuffs. 22g for copper ones.

For fold forming, it varies depending on what you are trying to do.  Most of the time I use 24 – 22g, but you can use 26g (I think that’s a little chintzy and too easily punched through or bent) or even 20g.  The thickness will change how thick your line folds are and how fluid you can get your folds.

In general, if you are trying to save money or keep a piece light, use the thinnest gauge that will hold up to use.  Rings will wear through if they are too thin, as will bracelets.  Holloware  needs a certain amount of strength to keep it from denting too easily, though fold forming can add some strength to thinner metals.  So basically you should really try different thicknesses out and see which ones work the best for you.  Aren’t you happy I cleared that up for you?!

2 thoughts on “Gauging Metal Thickness

  1. Wendy, I recently made a cuff with 20g sterling and about 2″ tall. I can barely shape it (anticlastic), even after annealing. So now, it’s a bit more round than the oval I was trying to achieve. I think I need to pump some iron first. 🙂

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