Aluminum Armature Wire

Sculptors build figures with aluminum armature (*) wire, because it’s dead-soft, bends easily, and holds its shape:

Armature Wire assortment
Armature Wire assortment

The sizes: 1/4 inch, 3/16 inch, 1/8 inch, 1/16 inch. The latter came from my Big Box o’ Specialty Wire, with the others from Richeson via Amazon. You can certainly get better prices for larger quantities from metal suppliers.

I’m thinking it might hold RGB LEDs around glass doodads, eliminating the need for epoxy, as the utter unreliability of those WS2812 chips has burned out my enthusiasm for permanent assemblies:

Failed WS2812 LED - drilling
Failed WS2812 LED – drilling


  • 1/4 inch wire is way too rigid, although a stalk might hold a display
  • The 1/8 inch wire looks much different than the others
  • 1/16 inch wire may work better inside a braided sheath with the LED conductors

The wire is probably a 1000-series alloy, if only because anything else would start out too stiff and work-harden too quickly, although the sharp bends in the coils already feel hard. It’s possible to anneal aluminum by hand with some soap and a torch, with meltdown an ever-present hazard. Other references suggesting soaking at temperatures in the 300-400 °C range in a furnace I don’t have.

(*) Armature wire has nothing to do with motor armatures!

6 thoughts on “Aluminum Armature Wire

    1. IIRC, that furnace came from a tag sale, so maybe I’ll see another one. Of course, I’d have to leave the house …

      The real problem with the LEDs is gluing the holder to the glass: upping my LED spend should buy more reliability, eliminate the need to replace the things, and let me proceed with Plan A.

    1. A pair of battered ovens, along with a nice electric furnace, are long gone. [sigh]

      The oven atop the kitchen counter peaks at 450 °F, well under the bottom end of the annealing range: firing it on Broil for an hour or two would surely release The Big Stink.

      On the upside, I have an ancient set (*) of Omega temperature crayons. If my torch hand remains strong, perhaps I can sleaze up to the proper temperature and chase it along the wire.

      (*) Back before they came individually, you got twenty Temprobe® crayons and one holder in a foam box. The 800 °F crayon has crumbled into dust, but the others seem OK.

  1. What you could do is glue a holder ring to the tube that has a socket that mates with a housing that your plcc socket is held in. Then you won’t be as disappointed when your upspended ws2812 fails as well ;-)

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