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The Beader's Toolbox: Jewelry Making Tools and Supplies
Like many aspects of my beading world, my toolbox came into its current existence slowly. It evolved from a complete disorganization of tools anywhere and everywhere in our living room and spare bedroom to a small, organized box that I can easily take with me. I do the vast majority of my beadwork in the living room. This means that when we have company over or I need to clean up for something, the process can be somewhat messy and/or time consuming. There are a couple things that I've done to ease this process, one of which has been to create a box devoted solely to my beading tools. When it's time to clean up, I simply put everything back in the box and move it out of the room.
The toolbox has a couple other additional advantages. The first one is traveling. If you are going to take your beading on the road, a toolbox will make part of the packing process much easier. You may need a few more things for the road such as extra wire, but hopefully your main stash of supplies will already be good to go. The second one is craft fairs. In my craft fair tips article, one topic that I cover is bringing tools for repairs and/or alternations. If your toolbox is ready to go, this will be one less thing to worry about when you're getting ready for a show.
Finally, one other issue I had with beading in the living room was what to do with my thread scraps and culled beads. Now I use my toolbox for them. Every so often I take everything out of the box, throw out the discarded materials, and re-organize my tools.
This toolbox is not all inclusive for every beading technique out there. I primarily use beadweaving techniques and simple wire work. This toolbox fits those needs. If you use other techniques such as stringing and wire wrapping, your toolbox will need a few different things. I hope that this post will still give you the inspiration that you need to make your own box.
How I Organize My Jewelry Making Supplies
Scissors - I have both a small sewing pair and a fold up pair that are safe for airplanes. Larger scissors are okay, too, but it's nice to have small ones for precision cutting, plus they are perfect for travel. It is really important that you have scissors that you use solely for crafting. Paper will quickly dull your scissor blades. Most sewing stores and big box stores with craft departments such as Wal-Mart have a variety of affordable scissors. You can purchase folding scissors here.
Thread - I use Nymo thread and keep white and black spools in my box. I buy the largest spools available on Art Beads, which easily last for a few months, even with lots of beading. If you use Fireline, I highly recommend purchasing it through Amazon. I have more information about this in my beading resources article. You probably don't want to travel with huge spools of Fireline. Consider cutting lengths that you'll need for projects on the road. For more information about Nymo vs. Fireline, check out this article.
Wire tools - If you do any type of wire work, at a minimum, you should have needle nose pliers, round tip pliers, and wire cutters. You may want to get bent nose and chain nose pliers as well. Personally I have not invested in high end tools. If you're serious about your wire work, consider your options for tools. You can learn more about the different types of pliers available here.
Tape measure - I keep a tape measure handy to measure the length of my work as I go. I also use it for recording length and width measurements for my online listings. Tape measures are cheap and available at any sewing store and most big box stores.
Earring cards/earwire clutches - This isn't an absolute must for a toolbox. Honestly I found that my little bag of earwire clutches got lost if I didn't put them somewhere safe so they ended up in the toolbox. Now that I have a storage bin dedicated to findings, I could keep them in there with my earwire. Regardless, it's nice to have my earring materials in my toolbox so I can put earrings with cards and clutches right away after I've finished them. You can get the clutches that I use through Art Beads here. I order my earring cards through one of my good friends on Etsy, Edi at memoriesforlifesb.
Glue - I don't use glue for too many of my beading projects. However, for my heavier pieces, I dot my final knots with single drops of super glue. I also used glue on my square knots for a recent custom stringing project. I have used jewelry glue in the past, but Loctite super glue is a much better product. The nozzle control is amazing.
Extra needles - I am not picky about my beading needles. A lot of beaders swear by specific brands and/or sizes. I use a lot of small seed beads so I tend to use skinny needles, but otherwise I'm not particular. I order my needles through Art Beads, which carries Beadsmith needles. I've done a few pearl projects that required twisted wire needles, which I also ordered through Art Beads. You never know when you'll break or lose a needle (and yes, I've done both a number of times) so it's always good to have extras on hand. A lot of people prefer John James needles, which are available here.
Additional supplies - If I'm working on any wire projects, I also put jump rings and lobster clasps in my box. I put these supplies into small screw top containers (see the top photo). You also use small Ziplocks or old bead containers for such supplies.
Again, you'll need to consider other supplies for more serious wire projects (and probably a bigger box than the one that I use). Check out this article for a wire supply check list. Consider supplies that you'll need for specific projects as well such as other clasps, crimps, headpins, etc.
Anything else you'd like to see here? Let me know!
How to Choose Jewelry Making Pliers with Patti Bullard as seen on Beads, Baubles and Jewels
Great Articles on This Topic to Check Out
How to Make Jewelry : Jewelry Making Supplies
Local Resources for Purchasing Jewelry Making Supplies
More beading resources from the author.
- Free Bead Weaving Pattern Instructions: Beaded Peyote Stitch Triangle (Flat, Open, and Tubular)
Beaded peyote triangles are a satisfying, versatile project for any beader. This article has free pattern instructions for flat, open, and tubular peyote stitch bead woven triangles.
- Beaded Beadwoven Leaves: Stand Alone Projects, As Components, and Cuff Designs
This is an article that I wrote about beaded beadwoven leaves. It includes explanations, examples, and pattern links for stand alone projects, as components, and as graphed cuff designs.
- Right Angle Weave Beadweaving Technique: Why It's So Versatile
This is an article that I wrote about the offloom beadweaving stitch right angle weave. I explain its versatility and other aspects of the stitch. I include lots of examples, patterns, and references.