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Vape Wires and Coils Intro Part 2, Wire and Tool Selection

Vape Wires and Coils Intro Part 2, Wire and Tool Selection


Welcome back – we hope you've had a chance to check out the first part in our series, a discussion on different wire materials. Also, we hope that as a beginner you've opted to go with Kanthal A-1 to make your first coils for a wattage-based setup.

The next thing you're going to need to consider is wire gauge. Vape wire comes in a variety of thicknesses – the bigger the number, the thinner the wire is going to be. 40 gauge is thin as thread, and really only useful for wrapping other wire to create the complicated (and beautiful) coils hardcore enthusiasts dedicate entire photo shoots to. 18 gauge is nearly as thick as the thinnest bicycle spoke.


If you get too thick a wire, you'll find it difficult to bend and shape. Too thin, and you'll end up with springy coils that don't want to hold their shape.


Another thing to consider is that as wire thickness increases (gauge goes down), resistance decreases. Here's a chart that shows how much resistance is in an inch of wire of varying gauges.


We should note here that for the sake of discussion we're talking about standard round wire – also available for purchase is flattened "ribbon" wire, measured in width rather than gauge. For now, let's assume this is beyond the scope of your first build and stick with the round stuff.


So, what gauge to choose? For those that prefer the tight, mouth-to-lung draw of older first-generation clearomizers (we're guessing there are a few of you out there), a thin-but workable gauge like 30 would be a good jumping-off point for coils in the 1.0 ohm and higher range. If you're into super-sub-ohming (less than 0.4 ohm resistance), you might want to look at a thicker wire like 22 or 24 gauge. A good jumping-off point, though, might be 26 gauge – it's thin enough to be easily pliable, thick enough to hold its shape well, and can be used across a wide range of simple builds for both low- and high-power applications. Don't worry if you end up moving on later, wire is ridiculously cheap (about $5 for a 25' spool that will make literally dozens of coils), so you can always grab a few gauges to experiment with.


Now that you've got your wire selected, it's time for the most important component of all – an ohm meter. We'll be honest here – some people (not a small number) rely on their mod to measure the resistance of the coils they build. Just a couple years ago, the chip technology of box mods was so inconsistent (and so many people were still using primarily mechs) that having an independent ohm meter was an absolute must, and we still strongly recommend a quality one as both a convenient building platform and to check against the possibility your mod's reading is off by a bit. That said, if you decide that playing with electricity isn't worth double-checking for safety, that's on you.


Okay, have you got an ohm meter on order? Good. Next, figure out how you're going to wrap your coils. To start, you're going to want to go with simple "contact" coils, meaning the wire loops all touch one another. This is much easier to get right than a spaced coil with an even gap between each loop, but keep in mind that some TC-only wires are prone to melting and catastrophic failure if the loops touch, which is why we're working with Kanthal for now.


A simple and cheap way is to simply find something round to wrap your coil around. This could be a nail, toothpick, whatever will give you the right inside diameter to stuff some wicking through. Jeweler's screwdrivers are particularly popular, and you've probably got some lying around somewhere (especially if someone in your family wears glasses). It's helpful to know the diameter of whatever you're using, because then you'll be able to plug in your wire type and number of wraps at Steam Engine (coil builders love Steam Engine, and you will too) and get a really good idea of where the resistance of your coil will end up…if you did things right.


Another option that we've found to be invaluable is a coil-wrapping tool. We're particularly fond of the Kuro Coil style (several brands exist, take your pick) – with this, you just choose the post with the inner diameter you're shooting for, shove your wire through a pre-drilled hole, pinch it at the bottom and wind with the top cap. Voila, coil! It does take a little bit of practice, but you've got more than enough wire to give it a couple tries, and that's probably all you'll need.


Okay, now you're set with the materials you'll need to start building your own coils. Next time we promise we'll finally get around to actually building one!