RDA Coils: How to Build Your Own (Tips for Beginners)

How to build the perfect RDA coil

Building your own RDA coils can seem like a daunting task when seeing what other people are building, or even watching your local shop do a rebuild. I know that I couldn't have been more happy than when I built my very first coil using 26 gauge Kanthal.

Don't get me wrong, by no means was it pretty, but it worked and opened the door to endless coil building possibilities. Whether you are researching for building your first coils, or have done a few builds and just want to make them a little better I wrote this to share what I have learned so that you can get to know how to build a coil.

In my experience the RDA coils that are meticulously installed, are the ones that provide the best experience. Wrenching down your RDA screws often does more harm than good. Poor RDA maintenance is another culprit for another discouraging RDA coil building attempt. It isn't surgery, but it’s pretty close, so if you take the time to straighten your Kanthal, why wouldn't your installation be just as careful with your coil installation?

Kanthal A1 heating coil in the best in class wire you can find for your rebuidable atomizer.

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Wrapping your RDA/RTA coils:

Wrapping your RDA/RTA coils

I prefer using screwdrivers that have a lip on the handle for coil wrapping. This allows you to use your thumb to maintain pressure while you wrap.

I find that the Steam Engine Vape Calculator is an invaluable tool, especially if you don’t own an Ohm-meter. The accuracy of this site is fantastic, and in my experience is accurate to plus or minus 0.1 ohms. More often than not, after I install my coil builds they read out exactly what steam engine calculated.

The actual wrapping of coils is important from the beginning of coil building. If your wire isn’t straightened, you are going to build a sloppy vape coil. I started straightening my wire as best as I could by hand with mixed results.

I eventually broke down and purchased a Ryobi drill, and get perfectly straightened wire every time. Whatever you decide to use to wrap your coil around, make sure you are keeping constant tension on the wire. I have been unable to snap Kanthal or nickel wire by hand thus far.

The end result of wrapping with even tension is a gorgeous coil that doesn’t require much adjusting. Do your best when wrapping them to keep them as uniform as possible. I have seen a couple of methods for this. First is the more traditional wrapping the wire around your screwdriver or drill bit with your off hand. The second would be rotating your screwdriver or drill bit, while maintaining tension with your other hand. Whatever your personal preference, the end game is always uniform wraps.

Quick Tips

  • When I wrap a coil I am as careful as possible to keep firm and even pressure with my off hand on the wire. This ensures that your inner diameter will be as even as possible.
  • If your first coil looks like the picture below don't worry, you can still make a perfect version with a little patience.

Kanthal A1 heating coil in the best in class wire you can find for your rebuidable atomizer.

Installing your RDA coil builds:

Installing your RDA coil builds

Keeping your coil on the screwdriver or drill bit allows for more precise installation. Additionally it maintains the shape of the coil during installation.

While Kanthal is a more forgiving wire to install into your RDA, nickel wire is not. It is paramount to the effectiveness of your coil build that your nickel wire is trapped in the center of your post-holes. That being said, why wouldn’t you install Kanthal wire the same way?

I have found that using my screws to trap the wire inside the post-holes sacrifices conductivity. Taking a little bit of extra time during the installation to ensure your coil build is in the center of each hole pays off in the long run.

I started building my vape coils, by wrenching my post screws down as tight as I could get them. This more often than not damages the wire or wires and prevents a good connection. I tighten my screws down just past finger tight, and I have found my coils are far better connected than wrenching them down.

Also if you re-use coil builds, the legs that are installed are undamaged with carefully securing them under the screws.

Knowing your RDA is also important. For example the Plume Veil V2 has very sharp screws right out of the box. The Hobo V2.1 utilizes “grub” nuts, which are flat on the bottom. Also realizing that after you heat up your coil build, it expands and contracts is key.

I pulse the firing button on my mechanical mod or regulated box mod to check for “hot spots”. These are areas of the coils that heat up at different areas of your coil. It is important to have a coil that heats up evenly from the inside to outside of the wire.

This can be achieved by “pulsing” or momentarily pressing the firing button on your device, releasing it after the coil is red hot and using tweezers or pliers to crimp the wraps together. Holding slight pressure with your tweezers or pliers will cause your coils to settle more evenly, this also is the time to correct any imperfections or gaps that occurred during the wrapping of the coil.

You can re-insert the screwdriver or drill bit back into the coil to readjust positioning, and ensure it is lined up with your airflow on your RDA. It is important to note that you should never dry fire nickel wire builds, this will damage the coil and cause issues with your temperature reading.

NEVER under any circumstances introduce metal into your live electrical circuit while it has power.

Quick Tips

  • Leaving the screwdriver or drill bit inside your coil during installation will give you complete control of your coil for perfect post hole placement.
  • If your coil isn't perfectly aligned on your build deck use the lip of your screwdriver or place your thumb over the coil to move your coil into place.
  • Inserting and removing your screwdriver into the coil a couple of times is a good way to remove any remaining hot spots after your coil is aligned.

Kanthal A1 heating coil in the best in class wire you can find for your rebuidable atomizer.

Wicking Your RDA Coil:

new coil side

When first installed most coils aren't perfect. This is where your adjustments make or break your coil. I prefer using ceramic tweezers to pinch my coils together while pulsing my device. NEVER use metal on your coils while pressing your power switch. This will cause your device to short out.

coil adjusted 1-tile

Once all of your adjustments have been made, your coil should heat up evenly from the center to the outside of the coil.

I personally use Japanese organic cotton or Cotton Bacon by Wick N’ Vape. There are a bunch of different wicking materials out there from silica, to stainless steel mesh; this decision is up to personal preference. It should be noted that failure to oxidize your stainless steel mesh would result in a short in your coil.

The advantages of organic cotton are superior flavor, as well as it being readily available and cheap. Organic cotton is also very easy to work with, as it can be made to fit just about anywhere in your RDA.

I have personally used, as well as seen many different methods of wicking RDA coil builds. The point behind the wicking material is to ensure that your coil has sufficient juice supply to prevent charring your wick.

For example a super Nano coil (a coil wrapped around a piece of Kanthal wire) has an impossible to wick inner diameter. Placing a cotton cloud (a small bit of wispy cotton) underneath the coil provides juice to the coil and intense vapor production.

As long as the wick is in constant contact with the coil, and saturated thoroughly with e-liquid, you will have an amazing vape.

Certain coil builds require a certain wicking method; the Nano dragon coil will not perform the intended way if it isn’t wicked properly. Like with the super Nano coil, the Nano dragon coil is a small diameter coil build. The Nano dragon coil is angled down away from the positive post, and the wick closes off the backside of the coil.

This provides a blanket of wick to the coil that causes vapor to shoot out of the top of the coils. The best part of wicking a coil is experimentation. You can wrap the exact same coil as someone else, but if you're wicking is different you may be getting a completely different experience.

Some people say less is more when wicking, but on lower Ohm builds the coil requires much more liquid. Keeping this in mind ensuring that your wick fills up the entire diameter of your coil, and fits snug will result in better juice distribution. As long as your wick doesn’t impede on the airflow of your RDA, you can do whatever works best for you.

Kanthal A1 heating coil in the best in class wire you can find for your rebuidable atomizer.

Vape Wire Selection:

Vape Wire Selection

TemCo Industrial manufactures American made wires, and Lightning Vapes is imported wire. I use both, however I have noticed TemCo wire leaves less residue when twisting or straightening your wires.

With a coil build from a brick and mortar shop running about $10, and a spool of Kanthal running $7.75 for 100 feet of 28 gauge it’s more cost effective to do yourself. I have also found that you aren’t going to get twisted builds, or Clapton coils built from your local shop. If they did, I am sure the cost would be insane based on the difficulty of certain coil builds.

Nathan has already published an article on here: Kanthal Wire Article about different suppliers of wire. The two that I have used are Lightning Vapes and TEMco Industrial. I won’t go into too much detail on the particular shops as the article about them already has that information. In my experience TEMco Industrial has a longer time to wait for orders of nickel wire, where as Lightning Vapes seems to have an endless supply of wire.

TEMco Industrial is based in California, and is also the manufacturer of “Vapo Wire”. Lightning Vapes is based in Florida and is slightly less expensive. Lightning Vapes is imported wire, and TEMco is American made.

That being said wire selection is what can make or break your particular coil build, or possibly even turns you off to rebuilding. I have found that 26 or 28 gauge wire is a good starting place for anyone getting into rebuilding.

While 26 gauge Kanthal is springier than 28 gauge, it is a more substantial wire and once straightened it is fairly easy to work with. Doing some research will help you make your decision on which to purchase first or buy some test wire from your local vape shop.

26 gauge wire has a lower resistance than 28 gauge, meaning that it will require more wraps of 26 gauge to create a 1.0 Ohm coil than with 28 gauge. That being said lower resistance wire is required for lower Ohm building.

For example in order to wrap a 0.2 Ohm coil with 28 gauge around a 3/32nd drill bit, it would be a dual coil consisting of 2 wraps. This sacrifices vapor production as well as flavor production, so using 22 gauge Kanthal in the same scenario would require 7 wraps, providing greater surface area as well as vapor production.

There are many different types of wire out there for coil building, ranging from Kanthal to G-Plat wire. Each wire has a different purpose, and offers something different to your vaping experience.

Ribbon wire offers incredible flavor, but doesn’t produce very much vapor by itself. Twisting wires together creates juice channels within your coil build. This translates to a coil that has wicking properties by itself; in addition to getting better heat with a ribbon wire build.

There are literally thousands of how to build coil videos on You Tube, and a lot of them are works of art. You as the builder have the advantage of being able to take a coil build and add to or take away from that particular building idea. Once you start building your own coils you can start testing different builds and finding your perfect coils.

I started by building standard dual coils, and then parallel coils. I was incredibly happy that I had built what was making the vapor in my RDA; from there I started building coils that looked interesting to me.

Riptrippers YouTube has a bunch of build videos ranging from very easy to more advanced Rip Trippers YouTube Channel. Twistedmesses YouTube has building videos that are works of art, and cater to the more advanced builder Twisted Messes YouTube Channel.

I would recommend spending a couple extra dollars and getting an Ohm-meter to ensure that your coils are safe, as well as safe batteries. Samsung 25R 2500 mAh, LG HE 2500 mAh, or the Sony VTC 3,4, or 5 batteries are all good options for relatively safe and best batteries.

We hope this guide has helped you in your quest to learn ​how to build a coil. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.

After getting out of the Army Michael wanted to quit smoking and started vaping, and has loved it ever since. Building coils, and making e-juice quickly became a hobby that he tries to pass on to anyone that is interested in having a better vaping experience.

25 COMMENTS
  • Allen 04/30/2015

    Great read for anyone who vapes.

    • Michael Myers 04/30/2015

      Thanks Allen, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • William Thornley 05/02/2015

    Wish someone could recommend a entry level dripper with a deep juice well. Something with simple dual coil ez to build. Definitely a clone. Help anyone?

    • Michael Myers 05/02/2015

      I recommend the Mutation X V3, under $40, authentic, 4 post design for easy building and it can be run in single, dual or quad coil.

      • Brian 02/16/2016

        I just bought a succubus rda with 4 post for $25 amazing build small well but works well comes with two tips one of which is an anti spitback tip running 2r gauge wire 2 coil at .24ohms

    • Morgan 08/30/2015

      As a new to rda builds caper (started with cartomizers years ago and didn’t like me so I went back to Ryo cigs) I recently got tossed off the proverbial deep end by a buddy. I picked up an authentic cloud champ by vprs and I love building on it 3 post 4 hole design great deep well and generous airflow design that’s stupid simple to adjust on the fly. You might try finding a clone as I paid about 80$ at a shop for the authentic I’ve done basic dual coils, quad vertical dual-parallel (Chuck Norris) coils, and parallel wrap dual coils so far. It handles standard wicking dragon coil wicking and more complex “serpentine” wicking without airflow restrictions at all. The manufacturer states they come with 22 gauge dual coil builds (mine didn’t probably removed by the shop) so they have generous holes for coils. Good luck with your builds!

    • ryan 10/30/2015

      Velocity clone runs about 30 dollars and is absolutely amazing for begginers and accomadating to even the most experienced builders great airflow and a 6mm drip well check out the reviews you’ll be glad you did

      • bud Thornley 10/30/2015

        Ryan, I got a velocity clone and couldn’t be happier. I have 6 other drippers but this is my end all be all! Really appreciate yours and everyone else giving me help. I’m about to order the aromamiser rdta with velocity deck.. Love how this community comes together.

    • Chris 11/08/2015

      Deadmodz clone is what I have super deep juice well very easy to build on plus had a glass cap that gives off amazing flovor

    • Tyler 02/16/2016

      I have the Mad Hatter V2 rda and it’s really simple to build on. It’s a dual post dripper and the juice wells are pretty phenomenal for its size. I recommend checking it out for yourself

    • Nikko 02/16/2016

      I don’t have an RDA, but I have built on a 4 post and 2 post design. The 2 post is much easier and has more room. I would look into a Velocity clone as they can be had for a low price.

  • Morgan 08/30/2015

    Oh also awesome article great information and advice!

  • Alistair1231 09/05/2015

    Great!
    exactly what I looked for. 🙂
    I wanna start vaping on a RDA and didn’t understand how to do the right coils. Now I do. 🙂
    Thanks.

  • Seton 09/10/2015

    I have an ipv3li! Wanting biggest cloud coil build with 28 gauge kanthol wire. How many wraps 10 on each side sounds to many to me and I don’t have a ohm reader to test the coils! I can build coils well just wanting to know if 10 wraps a side would be bad or not!

    • Nathan 09/10/2015

      If your building coils you need an ohm reader. You really need to spend the $10 to insure you don’t damage your gear or even hurt yourself.

      • Yo Momma 11/05/2015

        They are more than $10, especially at every local vape shop I have found. That is… for the single purpose OHM readers with 510 connection.

        -PetRiLJoe

  • Michael Myers 09/10/2015

    Seton, wrapping 10 wraps more than likely wouldn’t fit very easily. If you want clouds, and don’t want to build a more difficult coil, doing 7 parallel wraps with 28 gauge will read out at .3 ohms. For safety purposes I recommend using steam engine, the link is in the article. I get the best vapor production from more intricate builds, but parallel wraps (two wires side by side for a total of 4 strands of 28 gauge) will produce much more vapor.

  • bud Thornley 10/30/2015

    Id just like to take a moment to express my appreciation for all the work and time you put into this site. This is one of a very few that I can honestly say I look at every day. I’m sure I speak for many when I say we thank you so much for all your efforts in making this possible.

    • Nathan 10/31/2015

      Thanks a lot! I really like to hear people are enjoying Vaping Cheap.

  • bud Thornley 11/05/2015

    Try shopping online as opposed to the vape shop. Many sales. Smok makes a pretty accurate one. Got mine for about $15.00. 101 vape is a good starting point. Waaaay too many to mention.

  • PAIN13 11/08/2015

    For me best ever wire for both flavour and cloud was zipper/chain style twisted 8 strands of 34/35 AWG kanthal wite. 6 wraps around 2.5 mm gives 1.15 ohm. I’ve tried everything and this is the best.

  • Lakin 01/08/2016

    I’ve still been having trouble wraping my coils for my atty rda. I use 28 kanthal wire but i just seem to get the perfect wrap any advise?

    • Nathan 01/08/2016

      There is no one perfect way to wrap a coil, I’d advise you to just keep practicing till you find something you like.

  • Nikko 02/09/2016

    Thanks for the heads up regarding Temco. I try to buy American made products when I have the chance.

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