Clay, Application to Refinement


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With the wire tool handle completed we will now proceed with the wire shapes. The wire from a couple of old bicycle spokes will be used to produce the set shapes for the wire tool. They are of a sufficient length where after bending there will be enough material left to set them into the handle.


Wire tool handle with straight wire for the loops before bending.

Lets start by marking out a board with the shapes on. On the outside edge hammer in small nails. This will act as a reference for the shape after bending.


Take the wire and place it in a vise at about the mid-point. Bend to 90 degrees using a hammer. Try to keep the corners as sharp as possible without fracturing the wire. This will help when it comes time to sharpen the wire.


From the outside of the first bend measure 3/4" and place in the vise and bend 90 degrees. This is quite an awkward procedure to do due to the first bend getting in the way. Therefore, it is best to hold the wire at the very edge of the vise in this case. The overall dimension should be 3/4" plus a wire thickness. This will allow for sharpening.


With a pair of pliers, grip the wire so that the jaws are tight against the 3/4" face. Apply pressure and bend to form the angle for the body of the wire. Repeat this procedure for the opposite side.


Next measure down from the wire face 2" and bend the leg so that it is 90 degrees to that face. Repeat for the other leg. You should now have a wire form the same as in Photo B.


To bend the radius wire tool, clamp the wire against a 3/8" diameter bar in the vise. Using a hammer, tap the wire around the bar to produce the first radius. 

Clamp the wire face against a 1" diameter bar and tap the wire around to give the curved face of the wire tool.


From the outside edge of the curve measure 1 1/16" and clamp against the 3/8" diameter bar. Use a hammer to tap the wire around. You will find this as difficult as when making the flat wire. Make adjustments by tapping the curve with the hammer to give it a nice flow. The overall dimension again should be 3/4" plus a wire thickness to allow for sharpening.

With the overall width established, make sure to over bend so that the wire legs cross over at the 2" mark. At this point, bend the legs to achieve a 90 degree angle to the face. Photo A.

From this bend the legs will be set into the handle.



Bending the wire loop.

Bending the wire loop using a jig for controlling the form.

                                                                                                                     Photo A                                       Photo B    

Wire loops and DMT sharpening system.


Now that we have the basic form, grind or file the wire on the outside faces to a dimension of 3/4". The flat wire should have sharp 90 degree intersections. If you find that the dimension is a little undersize, this can be remedied by placing the wire on the anvil side of the vise and hitting it with a hammer to spread the material. You then re-grind or file to the given dimension.

Repeat the procedure for the curved wire.


Take the wires and flatten both sides on a diamond stone or oil stone. This will ensure a sharp edge when the final sharpening is done.


Using a Swiss file, sharpen the inside of the wire tool by filing at an angle to produce a chisel like edge.

Make sure when filing to keep sharp, crisp corners without breaking the chisel edge. Repeat for the opposite side.


The same procedure should be repeated with the curved wire.

Sketch showing the method of filing the angle onto the basic wire loop.

Handle set in jig for drilling hole for wire loop.

Now that the wires have been sharpened, set up the handle in a wire tool drilling jig. This will secure the handle and keep it vertical.


With a drill press and a 1/4" or 6.0mm drill bit, drill a hole 2" deep into the handle to accept the shaped wire. If you don't have a drill press, clamp the wire tool drilling jig to a table and use an electric drill, making sure that the drill is held vertical while drilling. To ensure that the depth is 2" set the stops on the drill press. If drilling without a drill press, wrap masking tape around the drill bit at the 2" mark. This will then be the indicator for the depth.


Release the handle from the jig and repeat for the opposite end. We are now ready to set the wires into the handle.


Use the wire tool drilling jig to hold the handle while gluing the wires into place.


Mix up equal parts of 5 minute epoxy resin and apply to the hole and the legs of the wire. Place into the handle, easing out the air by rotating while pushing into place. Align the wire face parallel to the wooden back board and allow to set.


Once set, remove and repeat for the opposite end.


Make sure that the wire is set in-line by using the wooden back board as a indicator.




Handle in jig with wire loop set in with 5 minute epoxy resin.

Finish wire tool.

With both wires set in, the only thing left to do, is to coat the wooden handle with shellac or a polyurethane lacquer. Once dry, a light rub down with fine sandpaper and apply paste wax. Buff out to a nice smooth finish.


           We're ready for some clay modeling!!!


                       Finished tool opposite.

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