Online source for copper wire

Punky

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Hello,
There are many online shops that sell copper wire and I’m looking to purchase copper for the first time. I know this hobby has some wonderful people, but it also attracts some charlatans. What is a reputable source for a decent price online? I’m a beginner (2 seasons) if that affects your answer.

There is a shop about 30 min away: Maruyama’s in Sacramento. I really like the owners and their prices seem fair so far but I wasn’t interested in wire during any of my previous visits so I’m not sure on their prices or selection. I’m not sure when I will be back out that way and I’m kind of impatient to get some wire, so I want to consider online.
 

fore

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IME, I've tried Adams Bonsai, Jim Gremel and Ryan's at Mirai. I grade them the same, Mirai > Gremel >Adams. I was really happy with Jim's, but when Ryan came out with his own I wasn't expecting much difference. But Mirai's is very noticeably more soft.
 

monza

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Ya sorry, not copper- I thought they had copper, but you can use this as an alternative.
 

JudyB

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Stone lantern did carry copper, they may still, but it's not annealed, or not well. I got some the first time I got copper, and it was not soft at all. I'd go with one of @fore suggestions, I've gotten good wire from both Julian and Gremel.
 

PABonsai

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Going off pure cost, Easternleaf.com is very cheap. I bought some of their aluminum, but they have copper in all sizes.
 

Punky

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Thank you. I think I’ll try the Mirai wire. I initially thought it was pricey, but it now appears wire is expensive everywhere. I convinced my wife this hobby wouldn’t be expensive... oops!
 

hemmy

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Thank you. I think I’ll try the Mirai wire. I initially thought it was pricey, but it now appears wire is expensive everywhere. I convinced my wife this hobby wouldn’t be expensive... oops!
When I last priced the Mirai wire a month ago on a $/ft basis, I was surprised how reasonable the cost was and it beat Jim’s and Julian’s prices on certain gauges. Last time I ordered from Julian, he had a starter set that included many different gauges for a reasonable price.

A couple weeks ago, scrap wire was paying $1.70/pound, selling at $3.40/lb. Going off memory on my price chart; Mirai, Julian, and Gremel ranged from about $12 - $17/lb for quality annealed wire. Which seems like a reasonable markup for really good annealed wire.
 

Traken

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American Bonsai also carries copper wire:


I haven't tried it, mind you, but when I need to get some at some point, I think I'll try theirs. I've always been impressed with their tools. Hopefully it carries over to their wire as well.
 

Punky

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When I last priced the Mirai wire a month ago on a $/ft basis, I was surprised how reasonable the cost was and it beat Jim’s and Julian’s prices on certain gauges. Last time I ordered from Julian, he had a starter set that included many different gauges for a reasonable price.

A couple weeks ago, scrap wire was paying $1.70/pound, selling at $3.40/lb. Going off memory on my price chart; Mirai, Julian, and Gremel ranged from about $12 - $17/lb for quality annealed wire. Which seems like a reasonable markup for really good annealed wire.
Sorry I was whining about prices, which are not that much money in the scheme of things. It just took deciding how much I want to commit to this hobby.

I ordered gauges 6-14 last night from Mirai. Comparing the lengths to the cheap aluminum I bought on Amazon, it should last me quite a while.
 
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PABonsai

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Sorry I was whining about prices, which are not that much money in the scheme of things. It just took deciding how much I want to commit to this hobby.
You don't owe an apology or explanation. This hobby gets very expensive very fast. That's why you'll find all sorts of threads on making growing boxes, cutting down nursery pots, using tools for multiple jobs or "non bonsai" tools for it. I mean, just ask how many here reuse and re-anneal their copper even. You don't have to always buy it new. There's lots of ways to cut the cost so don't apologize for looking for them. As a side note I would suggest at least looking at aluminum unless you know for sure you need copper. Aluminum is like half the price of copper and is fine for most uses.
 

Sansui

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You don't owe an apology or explanation. This hobby gets very expensive very fast. That's why you'll find all sorts of threads on making growing boxes, cutting down nursery pots, using tools for multiple jobs or "non bonsai" tools for it. I mean, just ask how many here reuse and re-anneal their copper even. You don't have to always buy it new. There's lots of ways to cut the cost so don't apologize for looking for them. As a side note I would suggest at least looking at aluminum unless you know for sure you need copper. Aluminum is like half the price of copper and is fine for most uses.
I agree with PABonsai! For example, I just annealed some small batches of 14, 12 and 10 AWG scrap copper wire this morning using some firebrick and a MAP gas torch.
 

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Punky

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Thanks! I have aluminum. I plan to continue using it for the bulk of my work, but even the larger gauges don’t seem to hold thicker branches. Hence, my desire to invest in copper for certain species/tasks.

Plus, I think I also wanted the “credibility” of having “the real stuff”... I can be petty at times :)
 

PABonsai

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Hey that's fine. And honestly, if you were willing to anneal yourself, you can get bare copper delivered (or maybe even locally available) from Home Depot as well. Obviously it is size dependent, but for example, through them you can get 8 gauge, as little as 50' for under $0.50 a foot. And you won't need many sizes bigger than that.
 

hemmy

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Sorry I was whining about prices, which are not that much money in the scheme of things. It just took deciding how much I want to commit to this hobby.
I get it! It starts to add up fast and that could be money spent on more pots! It’s also tough to compare prices because they are different lengths and some price more on weight. I found some stats online for weight/foot of various gauges to compare. Here’s some charts. But big disclaimers, since these were the prices on the websites and shipping will be different for everyone. Also the Gremel price I’m using are 2018 and Julian has prices on his site but another guy handles the wire so those could be outdated. Julian’s are the lowest on a per foot basis, but again those are probably old. I posted it more to get across the idea that can’t just straight look at the price.
 

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Punky

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I am not willing to anneal at this point. It would be impossible to know if I did it right because I do not have experience working with copper.

Thank you for the amazing charts!
 

hemmy

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I am not willing to anneal at this point. It would be impossible to know if I did it right because I do not have experience working with copper.

Thank you for the amazing charts!
I get that. It’s pretty easy to know if you did it right. Especially after you get that Mirai wire and see how it should behave. Too hot, too long and it will be brittle. Too cool, too short and it will still be hard to work with compared with the ‘pro’ wire.
 

Schmikah

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I am not willing to anneal at this point. It would be impossible to know if I did it right because I do not have experience working with copper.

Thank you for the amazing charts!
I think you are overthinking how difficult it is. Let's break it down to the basics.

Copper is annealed (for best results) at around 600-700 C (about 1300 F). Turns out that a camp fire or fireplace produces coals that are roughly 1500 F but surrounding temperatures due to air flow, etc. are usually 1000-1200 F.

Since we don't need perfectly annealed copper (we only care about reduction in the shear strength, while maintaining it's plastic deformation region of the stress-strain curve) that temperature range is basically good enough.

Coincidentally, that temperature region is about when copper begins to glow (visible in a well lit room during the day, like a deep red color), so you can use that as a rule of thumb. This means that even if you don't have a nice fireplace, you can basically do it by sight with a torch. Keep in mind that you don't need to hear the entire wire, you can anneal small sections at a time if a torch is your only option.

From my experience, annealing around the 1000 F temperature takes at least 5 minutes. I have not fully tested this but it seems that running a little long (at 1000 F) will not cause a decrease in toughness and/or increase in strength (I.e. it becomes brittle) that is appreciable.

Here's some I annealed last night in my potbellied stove. I used a water bath to cool it down (reducing oxidation) but it is not necessary.
 

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