Gauge is a measurement of wire thickness. Keep in mind that the smaller the number of gauge, the thicker the wire is. For example, 4 gauge wire is extremely thick and 34 gauge wire is extremely fine.
You can determine wire gauge in a variety of ways. The American Standard Wire Gauge (AWG), also known as the Brown and Sharpe Standard, is the standard most commonly used in the US and Canada for measuring the gauge of a wire.
The tool for this wire gauge is round and has notches around the perimeter graduated in sizes to accept the wire. Each notch is a particular size or gauge. There is also another standard for wire gauges known as the Standard Wire Gauge (SWG) or the British Imperial Standard.
If you are following a pattern, it is important to know which standard of measure is called for. You can also use a sliding millimeter gauge or electronic digital calipers to determine the gauge of a wire. See our Brown and Sharpe Gauge Conversion Chart to convert between inches, millimeters, and gauges:
|Brown and Sharpe Gauge Chart|
|Gauge||Inches (" or In)||Millimeters (mm)|
Here are some sample usages for different gauges of wire in beading and jewelry making:
- 30 gauge wire is very fine and often used in wire crochet.
- 26 and 28 gauge wires are best used for wire wrapping and delicate wire work.
- 24 gauge is intended for beads with smaller holes, such as garnet stones and pearls.
- 22 gauge is fairly thick and good for stone and crystals. It can also be used for making your own findings such as eye pins and jump rings.
- 20 gauge is sturdy and good for making clasps.
- 18 gauge is good for chain mail and other custom wire projects for heavier-looking pieces.
Click here for information on wire hardness.