From This: To That! Antique Dark Annealed Steel Wire

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A few weeks ago a neighbor friend of mine was cleaning out his garage.  He has tons of tools and gadgets.  I’ve borrowed tools from him to complete my list of supplies for  jewelry/metal working workshops in the past.  His grandfather used to own a hardware store so you can imagine what his garage contains!  Knowing that I make jewelry, he brought out an old shoebox full of different kinds of old wire in 19 & 20 gauge.   He asked, “Do you think you could use this?”  I think I grabbed the box a little too quickly from him as I said, “Yes!”  I was a little excited.  I don’t think he understood why I was so enthusiastic about that old wire he was going to throw away.



I love the antique packaging.  This wire was only .59 cents way back then!  The box was full of copper, regular silver tone and black steel wire.  I had been wanting to buy dark annealed steel wire for quite a while, but just had not done it yet.  I researched it this morning and Hillman makes small packages of Dark Annealed Wire in a 19 gauge which is what I used for this bracelet and I am getting ready to order Hillman 20 gauge dark annealed wire because it will be a little easier to work with.  I am also ordering the 24ga to use with some of my regular beads with average to small size holes.  You won’t find it in craft stores because it is considered a mechanics wire. For those of you unfamiliar with wire gauge and size:

Lower number =  thicker wire = harder to bend and fit through beads

Higher number = thinner wire = easier to bend and fit through beads

Opposite of what you may expect!

Last night I opened up some dark wire and made this bracelet.  I really like it.   The silver plated beads I used have large holes so both the leather and the 19 gauge wire fit through easily.

I managed to incorporate one of my leather infinity links, which worked as a softer contrast to the steel wire.  The huge white pearl, silver pearl and faceted onyx bead add a fun little jingle when you wear it.

Tips for Using Annealed Steel Wire For Jewelry Making

1)  Use a hardware grade metal cutter.  Don’t use your Tronex  if you know what I mean!

2) Wear safetly glasses when cutting.

3) Sand the cut edges with a file.

4) Fine sand paper or 00 steel wool will take off some of the dark color and add interest to your piece.

5) Don’t get it wet if  you don’t want it to rust!  You can use something like Renaissance wax to help protect the finish.

6) Don’t make it for someone with metal allergies and be sure to note what it is made of if you are going to sell it!


Have fun and experiment!  Dark annealed steel wire is a great way to add a rustic, oxidized look at a fraction of the cost of sterling silver or silver filled wire.


Warm Thoughts!

P.S.  I have been posting less frequently than usual because I accidently poured water on the keyboard of my MacBook Pro and drowned it.  Totally out of commission. I spent lots of time at the Apple store hoping to find someone to tell me it made sense to fix it.  No such luck.   I need to buy a new one and I can’t stomach that right now in the height of gift giving season.  So, I have been working on my old MacBook which moves at least  5 times slower.  I am not long on patience so it has been a forced break from technology.  So, I am still here.  Just not at my computer as much.  It’s been good for my mind – once I got through the shakes and withdrawal phase of less keyboard time.  You should try it – just don’t pour water on your keyboard and I would suggest backing up your hard drive every now and then!   Lesson learned for me!














  1. Hello Tracy! I have been missing your posts! Drats on the computer. My home computer is on its last bit of memory. Some days it works well, and then all of a sudden it will be slower than molasses! I even have a laptop but it is not usually in my studio, something that might need to change for the new year.

    I love dark annealed steel wire! I have it in gauges from 16 (called tie wire – usually found elsewhere and in huge spools! But dirt cheap!) that is great for making hammered links and paddles to 24 gauge. I usually condition the wire first with a scrubby pad to remove the black part and reveal the most yummy brushed silver gunmetal color. Then I rub it down lightly with some Renaissance Wax before I work with it. It will rust, so you need to do a step to protect it. I also love copper wire. My best trick is to have my hardware store take me in the back room and cut me a foot or two of some insulated wire. They have gauges like 10 and 12. Once you strip off the plastic you have this awesome wire! You have quite a find there! Enjoy the day. Erin

    • Hi Erin. I just updated a few tips in the post that I thought to include after I hit post and one of them is good old Renaissance Wax. You are a great with wire and I love all the creations you come up with that have wire wraps and links in them. I did not know about insulated wire! I have to investigate. Anything that involves going in the back room of a hardware store sounds like fun to me! : ) Thanks for the advice!

  2. This is a good looking bracelet…I’m going to try this. Dark annealed steel wire..

  3. How exciting, free goodies! I got some small copper washers at my local hardare store for free because they were odds and ends of a style they no longer carried…they were old enough they had prices pencilled in on each individual washer (they were 0.08 each). I wonder who got that job? Love the bracelet you made with the dark wire; you managed to make the darker, heavier materials still look feminine with the addition of the pearls.

  4. Oh, bummer! Sorry to hear about your computer. Well, maybe Santa will bring you a new one, now wouldn’t that be nice. I like the bracelet and I just love those leather links you’ve been making!

  5. I felt like covering my MacBook Pro when I read this, just to make sure I didn’t spill my coffee on it. My condolences. I love my computer and would be totally bereft if it died. I might even have to go back to the PC world (scary thought). Anyway… I love love love this bracelet. Love how you used both the wire and the leather and the beads are awesome. Also love the dangles!

  6. Hiya! I love the bracelet! How do you tie your leather knots so they look so even and uniform…mine always come out wonky looking and uneven. I am using an overhand knot with both leather cords and I can never get it to lay straight. Any advice on this would be much much appreciated!
    I enjoy your blogs and your beautiful jewelry!

  7. Wasn’t that such a great find?!?!??! I get my steel wire at if you need to know for the future! Your bracelet is great!

  8. It’s Simply Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this idea.

  9. Tracy, what a present! Not only receiving a bunch of totally useable wire (for free!), but the fact that it is still in that amazing vintage packaging! Wow, I love it. Have fun with the steel wire! It is a great alternative for the silver look. I went through a bout a few years ago using steel wire. It’s a great time to pull it out with the cost of silver being so high!

  10. Wow lovely bracelet. i love the design.

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