STEELING BEAUTY: Chain Making With Steel Wire

In the search for interesting materials with which to create, the greatest surprises can come from the most unexpected quarters.
Take, for example, a cheap, ubiquitous and unassuming roll of steel wire, sold for use in the construction industry…
With some simple tools and layman-ready information,this mundane material comes thrillingly to life.
Super-strong, versatile and - best of all - beautiful,this amazing wire can perform like no other material can.
Join internationally-known artist and found-object 'stuffsmith' Keith Lo Bue as he delves into the world of steel wire creativity.
Whether you're interested in jewelry, sculpture, mixed-media, textiles or any number of other creative pursuits,
STEELING BEAUTY will provide in-depth information and instruction on safely, efficiently and properly working with
and caring for this magic stuff.
Learn in detail how to create chains, links, bails, clasps, structural forms, settings and more.
Filmed in Lo Bue's Sydney studio, you'll feel like you have a benchside seat from the comfort of your own home.
So learn to create beautiful things with steel wire from one of the artists responsible for bringing it to a mainstream
audience and making it such a popular alternative to precious metals.


NOTE: Several of the supplies needed for this class can now be purchased directly from me in my online shop: - just click the 'STEELING BEAUTY Supplies' category on the left-hand column.

Where possible, I've included links both to US and Australian resources.


Note for US students: Volcano Book Arts has a good Metalsmithing starter kit for $80 that comes with a jeweler's saw, Bench Pin, Saw Blades, Rawhide Mallet, Needle Files, Wooden Hand Vise (ring clamp), 2 Storage Tubes for Blades. This will take care of all those items on the list in one hit, so it's recommended: <Here> "Metalsmithing Starter Tool Kit"

Note for Australian students: As many of you are well aware, supplies can be difficult to find here in Oz. I have provided links where I can, and I hope that my new online resource will help make your hunting a bit more successful.

'Re-bar tie wire' <here> (also found in most US hardware stores in the construction materials section, near the cinder block and chain-link fencing. IMPORTANT: make sure it is steel or iron wire, NOT galvanized! NOTE: This wire is much harder to find in Australia - I have anticipated this, and have just purchased a large shipment of the wire, which can be bought directly from me at

roll of 19 gauge (.9mm) 'dark annealed' steel wire: US Students:<Here> Australian students: <Here>

set of transfer punches A fantastic value - used as jump-ring mandrels. US students: <Here> Australian students: <Here>

a small power drill - An invaluable tool, for all creative projects. This one is GREAT value. Can be ordered in Australia as well. <here>

Hard-wire 'memory-wire' shear cutter <Here>

3M Wet-Or-Dry Polishing Paper This is simply a MUST HAVE. Comes in a pack of six sheets. Be sure to number them on the back when you first open the package, 1 being roughest to 6 being finest. <Here>

rawhide mallet US students <

table bench vise US students <here> This will allow you to use the flat steel surface to forge the steel wire on, and the jaws forother important techniques. DON'T buy the kind that swivel on a ball-joint (hobby/light-use), or a hollow construction vice - the one you'll need has to be similar in design to the one pictured.

bench pin <Here>

steel bench block: NOTE: If your bench vise has a flat anvil surface attached, you won't need this! US students <Here> Australian students <Here> Be sure to use a sandbag (even some sand in a Ziplok bag will do) to put under your block--it'll make it much quieter!

a 4oz. (115g) ball pein hammer US students <here>, Aussie students <here>

a pair of linesman pliers Here is a link to the FANTASTIC ones I use in the class - US students <Here> Australian students <Here>

a pair of miniature lineman's pliers - Essential for manipulating this wire. I use one in each hand! <Here>

jewelry pliers: a standard round nose jewelry plier (available at any bead/jewelry supply)

large round-nose plier A necessity for working with chunkier forms in the steel wire. <Here>

The Stuffsmith Portable Jump-Ring Jig <Here>. NOTE: THIS IS NOT REQUIRED, only highly recommended - you'll see it in action in the class. I make each one to order, so order early for timely delivery.

Fine wire brush - <Here>

super-fine (0000)
steel wool - find it in a paint-supply section of a hardware store

2 micro bar clamps - US students <here> It's also a great idea to order one 6" clamp which is larger for a firmer hold (works great with my extra-wide bench pin): <here>.

a decent quality beeswax furniture wax polish (not the liquid, and not car wax, but furniture wax in a flat can), or, if you want the best, a can of Renaissance Wax <here>

ear plugs or over-ear protectors

jeweler's saw - get a 6" (150mm) if you don't have one yet - US students <here>, Aussie students <here>. Don't mess around with wooden-handle saw frames, they aren't reliable - these are german-style frames. You get what you pay for here... Aussie one comes with blades.

Jeweler's saw blades - US students <here>

Safety glasses!

• a pair of close-fitting leather safety gloves


Please email me with any questions you might have that this page didn't address.