RESOURCES – Metal Temper & Gauge Guide


Besides being available in different gauges and metals, jewelry wire and metal sheet for jewelry-making can be

purchased in several different hardness. Another name for a metal wire or sheet’s hardness is it’s “temper”.

The hardness of wire or metal sheet also affects the way the metal bends, and how springy it is, and whether it holds it’s shape well or not, so selecting the right type of wire for your wire-jewelry and wire-sculpture projects is very important.

Dead Soft Wire

  • Hardness of “0”
  • Very soft and easy to bend
  • Makes wonderful graceful curves and curls
  • Easy to twist into an even beaded look
  • Does not hold it’s shape well under pressure
  • Not good for structural components

Half Hard Wire

  • Hardness of “2”
  • Bends easily with tools but stiffer than dead soft
  • Tends to bend sharply instead of making long curves or curls
  • Difficult to twist evenly, but not impossible
  • Is often springy and will snap back somewhat during shaping
  • Better for structural components

Full Hard Wire

  • Hardness of “4”
  • Difficult to work without forming tools
  • Stiffer than Half Hard wire, but not commonly used

Spring Hard Wire

  • Hardness of “8”
  • Requires forming tools
  • Very springy and hard to shape
  • Often used for handmade brooch pins, safety pins, and neck wires


  • Wire can be measured using the British Imperial Standard Wire Gauge (SWG) system, but the gauge sizes are not the same as the American Wire Gauge system measurements. (SWG measurements are quite a bit larger than the AWG system for the same wire gauge number.)
  • Please note that there may be slight variations from batch to batch in the finished diameters of all milled wire products. The numbers shown in the wire gauge chart below are approximate.
Wire Gauge Chart (AWG)

Wire Gauge

Diameter (inches)

Diameter (mm)

12 .080 2.052
14 .064 1.628
16 .050 1.291
18 .040 1.024
20 .032 0.812
21 .028 0.724
22 .025 0.642
24 .020 0.510
26 .016 0.404
28 .012 0.320
30 .010 0.254
32 .008 0.203

From Brandywine Jewelry Supply





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