draw plate

Viking Knit Jewelry Part 2 – Draw Plate

Welcome back to part 2 of my series on creating viking knit jewelry.  In the last post you saw the YouTube video that I used to start learning the process.  Today I'll talk about the draw plate.

Just as a background, I tried viking knit for the first time about 3 years ago.  Tried and failed.  Then I thought I'd give it another go around a year ago.  Still no joy.  But for whatever reason, when I tried it again a little while ago -- success!  I like to think that this time it was looking at a combination of three different ways of actually doing the knit.

Viking Knit Instructions

I mentioned that there was a viking knit instructions YouTube video in my last post on creating viking knit jewelry.  It got me started, but I still needed some help in understanding it.

I ended up purchasing (for $10) a .pdf tutorial on viking knit instructions from Jan Raven.  That tutorial was the missing piece of the puzzle for me.

Then once I had shown some of my viking knit work, I had others asking me to write a viking knit instructions tutorial of my own!  I was certainly honored, and so I now have a viking knit tutorial available.

Now on to one of your most important tools -- the draw plate.

What is a Draw Plate?

Draw Plate for Viking Knit (Click to Enlarge)

Draw Plate for Viking Knit (Click to Enlarge)

The one thing that you need to know is that what your viking knit looks like coming off the dowel or allen wrench is not what it will ultimately look like.  And to help you get there from here, you need a draw plate.

A draw plate is basically a piece of wood that has holes of various diameters drilled into it.  Once you've got your work to the length you need, take it off the dowel/wrench.  Then you can start drawing your chain through the holes, and it will condense your chain, smooth out the work and generally make the viking knit look more finished.

First Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

First Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

Where to get a draw plate?  I originally got mine at a bead shop several years ago; if you have a bead shop nearby, try there.  I've not been able to find a good source online, however.  But there is a quick and inexpensive way to get a draw plate if you (or someone you know) has a drill and a good selection of drill bits.

You'll need a scrap piece of hard wood (oak is good) around 1/2" to 3/4" thick.  The size can be anywhere from 4" x 6" on up.  Then starting with a bit a little larger than 1/4", drill holes in the wood, getting gradually smaller with each hole.  (Actually, if you have a large enough piece of wood, you may as well start with the largest bit you have.)Something you need to know:  do not get a jeweler's draw plate, which is made of metal.  The holes in a jeweler's draw plate are way too small for using with viking knit.

Second Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

Second Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

You can usually find a viking knit draw plate available on etsy.

As you'll see in the photos, each time I draw the viking knit chain through one of the holes, it condenses a little more.  Personally, I tend to draw down to around 4mm to 4.5mm because I like to use Pandora-style beads in my work.  Others like their chain to be much thicker, and still others, thinner; the choice is up to you!

How Long to Make Your Chain?

Fourth Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

Fourth Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

Another thing you need to know is that the act of pulling the viking knit chain through the draw plate not only makes the chain thinner, but also longer.  How much longer depends on the gauge of wire, size of the dowel, number of "petals" and if you are doing a single knit or a double knit.  Oh, and also how thin you choose to draw your viking knit chain!

The chain you see me making is 24 gauge copper wire, on a 1/4" metal dowel, with 5 "petals" in a single knit.  I make my chain roughly 2/3 of the final length I want; the extra 1/3 of the length comes in the drawing down process.

When I started, I created a few sample chains of various gauges and number of petals.  I tagged the chains with the following information:

  • Wire gauge and type (copper, silver, artistic, etc.)
  • Number of petals
  • Size of dowel
  • Length before drawing through the draw plate
  • Length after drawing through the draw plate, and the smallest size hole used.
  • Knit type (single or double)
Viking Knit Before and After Draw Plate (Click to Enlarge)

Viking Knit Before and After Draw Plate (Click to Enlarge)

This gives me a small "library" of chains, so I can select my look ahead of time and be sure of the outcome.

I highly recommend creating your own little "library" in the beginning.  You'll be practicing your technique, gaining skill before you start on your first real viking knit jewelry project.  My sample chains are usually around 3" before drawing through the draw plate.

Whew!  Hopefully you have enough information on draw plates for viking knit to know why it is an important tool.  And that you know what you're looking for when buying one ready-made, or how to make one of your own.

The next post will be on argueably the most important part of making your viking knit chain -- the wire you will use.