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Hand Drawn
Wire is often reduced to the desired diameter and properties by repeated drawing through progressively smaller dies, or traditionally holes in draw plates. The wire may be heated to red heat in an inert atmosphere to soften it, and then cooled, in a process called annealing. An inert atmosphere is used to prevent oxidation, although some scaling always occurs and must be removed by 'pickling' before the wire is redrawn. An important point in wire-drawing is that of lubrication to facilitate the operation and to lessen the wear on the dies. Various lubricants, such as oil, are employed. Another lubrication method is to immerse the wire in a copper (II) sulfate solution, such that a film of copper is deposited which forms a kind of lubricant; this eases the wire-drawing considerably. In some classes of wire the copper is left after the final drawing to serve as a preventive of rust or to allow easy soldering. The wire-drawing machines include means for holding the dies accurately in position and for drawing the wire steadily through the holes. The usual design consists of a cast-iron bench or table having a bracket standing up to hold the die, and a vertical drum which rotates and by coiling the wire around its surface pulls it through the die, the coil of wire being stored upon another drum or "swift" which lies behind the die and reels off the wire as fast as required. The wire drum or "block" is provided with means for rapidly coupling or uncoupling it to its vertical shaft, so that the motion of the wire may be stopped or started instantly. The block is also tapered, so that the coil of wire may be easily slipped off upwards when finished. Before the wire can be attached to the block, a sufficient length of it must be pulled through the die; this is effected by a pair of gripping pincers on the end of a chain which is wound around a revolving drum, so drawing the pincers along, and with them the wire, until enough is through the die to be coiled two or three times on the block, where the end is secured by a small screw clamp or vice ready for the drawing operation. Wire has to be pointed or made smaller in diameter at the end before it can be passed through the die; the pointing is done by hammering, filing, rolling or swaging in dies, which effect a reduction in diameter. When the wire is on the block the latter is set in motion and the wire is drawn steadily through the die; it is very important that the block shall rotate evenly and that it shall run true and pull the wire in an even manner, otherwise the "snatching" which occurs will break the wire, or at least weaken it in spots. Continuous wire-drawing machines differ from the single-block machines in having a series of dies through which the wire passes in a continuous manner. The difficulty of feeding between each die is solved by introducing a block between each, so that as the wire issues it coils around the block and is so helped on to the next die. The speeds of the blocks are increased successively, so that the elongation due to drawing is taken up and slip compensated for. The operation of threading the wire first through all the dies and around the blocks is termed "stringing-up." The arrangements for lubrication include a pump which floods the dies, and in many cases also the bottom portions of the blocks run in lubricant. The speeds at which the wire travels vary greatly, according to the material and the amount of reduction effected.