On Becoming A Coil Builder
This Article Is Spread Over Multiple Pages
As the number of people that choose to vape continues to grow, more and more people are becoming interested in building their own coils. Whether its RDA’s or RBA’s, the ability to customize the vape with custom coil building is becoming an alluring alternative to clearomizers, tanks, and even sub-ohm tanks. Building coils is what this article is all about. (You might want to bookmark this page as a reference for future building.)
Before we get started, you are going to need a handful of tools, as well as a bit of wire and some organic cotton for wicking. Don’t fret, the tools and supplies are very affordable. Your biggest expense will be the collection of RDA’s you’ll probably wind up buying as the ease in which you begin building coils and the urge to build ever more advanced coils.
What You Will Need
I highly recommend a Coil Master Kit OR the LV Complete Builder’s Toolkit . For a relatively small cost a coil kit will contain everything you need to start building right away. Each have the tools you need, so either one is a fine choice. I’ll go over the tools again a little later, for now, these are the two kits I recommend before building your first coil.
LV Complete Builder’s Toolkit
1x Zipper clam shell case
1x Regular pointed nose pliers
1x High quality FLUSH cutting pliers
1x LV Ceramic pointed tweezers
1x Small cotton shears
1x Lightning Vapes Multi Screwdriver, with 4 flat & 4 phillips bits,
stored inside screwdriver via screw cap
2 Strip Cotton Bacon V2 by WICK ‘N’ VAPE
Universal Tools Coil Jig w/ 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, & 3.5mm rods
Protective plastic tube w/ caps to store premade wire or misc RBA parts
Allen key (Fits most RDA grub screws)
Ohm Meter (2x AA batteries included)
DOES NOT INCLUDE WIRE.
Coil Master Kit V2 – $49.99
1 x diagonal pliers
1 x Needle-nose pliers
1 x Stainless steel folding scissors
1 x Pen styled cross Screwdriver
1 x Pen styled straight Screwdriver
1 x Ceramic Tweezer (T1) so you can fire your coils while squeezing to
1 x Elbow Tweezer (T3) to make all your adjustments.
1 x Kanthel wire
1 x Ohm Meter to measure the resistance of your atomizers
10.1 x Coiling Kit V3 11. 1 x Silicon rubber case
First Build – The 26 AWG Kanthal A-1 7-wrap Coil
The reasons someone would want to become a coil builder and how to do so are simple. Building coils to vape with allows vapers to ensure larger clouds, increased flavor, and most importantly, specific preferences in their vaping experiences. Many choose tanks over DIY (do it yourself) vaping, however there are those of us who like to vape with tanks or DIY methods, to adhere to our specific vaping preferences.
The very first coil you should build is a 7-wrap, 26 gauge, 4mm Kanthal wire coil. The reason is that this coil is the most common coil built by DIY vapers, and is recommended for use at 30 watts, so the majority of devices should have no problem with outputting 30w.
There are many sources for picking up a roll of 26 AWG Kanthal (26 gauge) on the web, MyVaporStore being one of them. If you find a source and they are out of stock, simply search with Bing or Google and you will surely a vendor with stock. Amazon lists great prices for more than one source of Kanthal. It is usually best to start with a 25-foot spool for around $5, this will provide more than enough wire for practice and experimentation.
A Coil Jig and an ohms reader are also available from Amazon and other sources on the web. The ohms reader is more important. When you build a coil, you want to know its resistance, so it is safe for use with your mod, be it regulated (battery housing with wattage settings) or mechanical (simple battery housing with no adjustable settings or safety chip). If the amperage draw of your coil is too much for your battery, the battery can short circuit and burst. The 26 AWG coil described above is safe for most 18650 IMR battery mods.
An RDA is a “Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer.” For 18650 mods, RDAs are usually 22mm in diameter. For a 22mm RDA one can install one or two coils, depending on their preference. Some RDAs only have two posts. For these, single-coil builds are usually the best option.
Before wrapping a coil, you must select a rod. A coil jig or comparable tools for winding coils are best, however many builders prefer drill bits or screwdrivers, instead. So long as your rod is 3 to 5 mm in diameter, about the size around as a common ice pick or 9-penny nail, you will be able to easily wind your first coil.
To wrap a 7-wrap 26 AWG Kanthal coil, first cut off 8 inches of 26 gauge Kanthal wire from the spool. Hold one end of the wire one inch length to of your wiring rod. Here is a photo of a piece of 26 AWG Kanthal A-1 on a coil jig.
Simply wind the coil around the rod one time, ensuring that the wire makes a complete loop on the rod. That is the first wrap. It is okay to make sure the wire touches itself when you complete the wrap. Continue to wrap the wire around the rod six more times. Then pull the wire snugly, almost wrapping another half of a wrap, to where both ends of the wire run parallel. Squeeze the coil together while it is still on the rod to make it look like a small cylinder. 26 AWG does have a little ‘spring’ to it, and that is okay. Here is a photo of the coil still on the coil jig.
Remove the coil from the rod and you have your first 26 gauge Kanthal 7-wrap coil, ready to prime and wick. To install the coil in your 22mm RDA, make sure the screws are open. Install the coil to where the coil itself is about 1mm away from the connection posts and tighten down the post screws. Clip off the excess wire sticking out of the posts with wire cutters or wiggle them until they break off. Check the build with the ohms reader. It should read about 1 ohms. Here is a photo of the coil on the ohms reader along with the 22mm Baal V2 RDA and some wire cutters. The other photo is a close-up of the coil on the ohms reader.
Next, be sure to prime your coil. When you prime your coil, it simply means to get it hot enough to burn off any toxins from the Kanthal. Priming is also for shaping. When you get your coil hot, do not breathe the fumes. Also, prime the coil in a ventilated area. If nothing else, prime it while exhaling. Just remember not to breathe in fumes from any new naked wire. Here is a photo of the coil installed and formed on top of a Tesla TC 100W mod.
When you prime your first coil, heat it up with 30 to 50 watts of power. Simply activate the mod for one or two seconds to see fumes come off it. Squeeze the coil together gently so the wires are close together. If possible, use ‘rod pliers,’ or ceramic tweezers, to form your coil into what looks like a cylinder. Get the coil hot, release the firing button, then form the coil by squeezing it together and inserting the rod you wound it with, or use pliers meant for such an action. Repeating this process helps you form a near-perfect coil. Remember not to squeeze the coil or bend it into place while you have the firing button pressed down, or you will risk shorting out the battery. This kind of short is not too dangerous, however it can melt part of the coil in a specific point and break the coil.
Once you have your coil formed into what looks like a cylinder, hold the firing button down for a few seconds and release it. This will show the coil light up orange from the center first and then to the outside, which is what you want and will see if you formed the coil properly. You want the coil to perform in such a manner for reasons related to safe polarity flow. Here is a photo of the coil showing how it is hottest in the center of the coil. The other photo shows the ohms reading on the mod when the coil was activated at 40 watts.
Once your coil is primed and looks nice enough, you will no longer need to get it hot enough for it to turn orange, again. Let it cool and install a shoestring size piece of organic cotton or vaping cotton into the coil. You can make an “invisible aglet,” or tip of a shoe string for threading, by twisting the end of a strand of organic or vaping cotton into a small cone, and pulling the cotton through. You want 3 to 5 mm of cotton showing on both sides of the coil, depending on your RDA or wicking preferences. Cut off the ends of the cotton to desired length, and tuck the cotton under the coil, if necessary. If the deck of your RDA has a deep drip trough, you can pull the cotton to the length from the coil to the deck, so it will soak up e-juice from the bottom of the deck. Always give your RDA a thorough examination before building your coil for it, and also consider how long you want your wick material to be.
For a dual coil build, simply make two coils instead of one. The negative posts of an RDA are the ones on the outside, and the positive post or posts are on the inside. When installing two coils, loosen the screws and position the first coil. Tighten the negative post, leaving the positive post open. Then install the other coil on the other side of the positive post, tightening the negative post first. You will then have an open center positive post. Here is a picture of a dual 26-gauge Kanthal 7-wrap coil build, with the positive post screw still loose.
Position the coils and tighten the center post. Clip or wiggle off the excess wire and they are ready for priming. with any two-coil build, try to make your coils look exactly the same, so they will heat up at the same rate. Here is a photo of the dual coil build on a Drok ohms reader, after the coils were formed.
Once you have cotton in your coils, you can drip some e-juice onto the coils and press the firing button a few times. You will see small vapors. Let the e-juice soak in a little, then proceed to add enough e-juice to saturate the cotton well. If you are out of e-juice, food grade vegetable glycerin is available at many pharmacies for cheap and can be used for vaping. Pure VG makes the largest clouds. If the deck of your RDA is deep enough (over 2mm deep), it is okay to add some more e-juice to the bottom of the RDA. This way the e-juice will soak up into the cotton after each vape. A good example of an RDA which can hold a preferable amount of e-juice is the 22mm Cylapex Gate RDA. Here is a photo of the dual coil build in the 22mm Baal V2 RDA with e-liquid saturated into some Japanese organic cotton.
You can now replace the top of the RDA. Adjust the air holes, as desired, if the RDA has air-holes, and you can vape for 4 to 10 puffs. Once the vapor seems to begin to taste somewhat dry, to continue vaping, remove the top of the RDA and add 3 or four drops or so of e-juice to each coil installed. For people new to vaping who used to smoke, 4 or 5 large puffs off of a new build usually will satisfy your cravings for nicotine for at least half of an hour. For some, 4 or 5 nice puffs will last two to four hours. Some people take about four or five puffs in the morning, and that is all they need for the day. Most people vape according to their own opinion. Please, remember to be safe and vape responsibly.
This is the simplest, safe, and popular way to vape with a DIY build. Many vapers think that there is really no reason to build a different sized coil or even to choose a different wattage level than 30 watts. Once you get this method down, you may prefer it over other coil builds. We can now discuss why you would or would not want to venture into coil builds other than the one mentioned here in the introduction to this article. We will also discuss why you might want to choose a different size or gauge of resistance wire, and we will cover the hows and whys of resistance and wire size as simply as possible. A simple explanation of why someone would want to build coils, as well as explaining the resistance of different-sized wires and coils is why we wrote this article.