Jewellery Making Tools
Basic and Must-Have Tools for Making Beautiful Handmade Jewellery
If you are new to jewellery making you might be a little overwhelmed by the amount of different tools and gadgets there are on the market. As a crafter and jewellery maker I have worked with a variety of tools and gadgets to help me make gorgeous jewellery. These are my favourites to use - and a few that are extremely high on my wish list - for my own jewellery making projects that include wire work, beading and kumihimo among others.
A Basic Tool Kit
As tools can be quite expensive individually, it can work out more economical to buy a basic kit that will provide you with everything you need to get started. A good basic kit should include the following:
Clippers/Snips - For cutting wire and findings to size
Round Nose Pliers - For making your own findings, beginning a curl in wire, shaping wire, and lots of fiddly little tasks
Flat Nose Pliers - For holding small items, continuing a wire curl into an open or closed spiral, opening and closing findings
That's it - those are the three basic tools you will need to begin, but most starter kits offer many more things besides, including a selection of findings. Findings are the foundations of your jewellery, they hold it all together and can add to the design.
A Few Basic Starter Kits for Jewellery Makers
This is nice as it has the three basic tools, plus a few extras like a bead scoop and tweezers. It comes in a nice carry case, ideal for making jewellery on the go, especially as it comes with a handy snap shut box to keep some beads and findings in.
Basic Findings Basic
Basic findings include:
Head Pins and Eye Pins - great for making earrings or joining beads together rosary style, attaching charms or dangles of beads to chain plus they can be adapted to many more uses
Jump Rings - Great for making chain maille, and joining things together
Lobster or Bolt Clasps - Those little clasps that fasten a necklace or bracelet, plus they can be used to add charms
Crimp Beads - These tiny cylindrical metal beads are incredibly fiddly, but they hold bead work together and are deceptively secure when closed correctly
Crimp Bead Covers - Little metal beads that cover the crimp beads and give a professional finish. They come in a few styles, but personally I prefer the C shape ones that press closed to form a round bead.
Beading Thread - Lots of different types of thread, from cotton to nylon fishing wire. I recommend experimenting with a few different types, plus you will find particular kinds of thread are more suited to different projects. For example the thicker nylon type of wire is great for building structure, and is great if you are beading something that needs to hold a 3D shape. On the other hand cotton threads offer more fluidity and movement and is great for necklace or bracelet projects that you want to be flexible.
While this starter kit doesn't come in a handy carry case, it does offer a lot of extras including findings, beads and beading thread. This is the kind of starter kit I went with as it meant I could get stuck in straight away.
Once the Jewellery Making Bug Bites...
Once you start making jewellery you can get addicted - fast. There is nothing quite like seeing a beautiful piece of jewellery being formed by your own hands, not to mention the sheer joy at hand crafting jewellery as gifts for friends and family. You can't quite beat hand crafted jewellery for personal sentiment, and being able to say 'I made that'.
You will quickly find yourself progressing and wanting new tools to help you produce different designs. So for the intermediate jewellery designer I recommend the following:
Crimp Bead Pliers - This tool is specifically designed to close those tiny crimp beads, they are a two stage tool. Create a crease in the bead with one section, then move along and fold the crimp in half with the next section.
Ring Mandrel - Essential for creating different sized rings. You can get by with a marker pen, but if you want to sell your jewellery or make rings as gifts it adds a professional touch to make the ring in the perfect size.
A great price for a must have tool if you want to make rings
Thread Heaven - A waxy substance that conditions your cotton beading threads, preventing snagging and making them easier to thread.
Chasing Hammer and Steel Block - Great for hammering wire shapes flat, plus it hardens the wire making it harder to pull out of shape accidentally.
Great for giving your wire work a different look. Purchase along with a steel block.
Polymer Clay - Think of it as play dough for adults, this stuff hardens in the oven and can be used to make pendants, beads, ornaments... You are only limited by your imagination. Something I like to do with polymer clay is called Mokume Gane - where you can make blocks containing unique blends of colour and pattern, you then take thin slices off this block to decorate your polymer clay projects.
Wire Gizmo - This little contraption makes coils or springs out of your wire, allowing to create very different looks. It is really easy to use, and saves you from the strain of having to create spring like coils by hand.
A neat tool for creating springs and coils, really easy to set up and use. I recommend buying a clamp if not included.
Kumihimo Disk - This incredibly cheap and simple looking disc allows you to braid ribbon or cord to make gorgeous bracelets or necklaces. It is really easy to get to grips with, and once you have learnt the technique it is quite relaxing and can be done in front of the t.v. like knitting or crochet.
Once you start braiding with this little disc, you won't want to stop. A really cheap hobby with impressive results.
Wire Jig - This is a wonderful, inexpensive tool that helps you create shapes out of wire, and then repeat it over and over. Fit the pins into the base, and wrap the wire around. There is usually a guide enclosed to get you started, and many other designs online that you can recreate. This is brilliant for creating links or unusual shaped findings that are identical.
This amazing tool is so simple to use and can create identical links time after time. Hammer the links with the chasing hammer for added strength.
My Wish List
Tools I will be trying in the future
There are so many jewellery making tools and techniques I want to try in the future. Here are just a few:
You can use a Viking Knit tool to weave craft wire into beautiful lengths of chain perfect for bracelets and necklaces
Silver Art Clay
This is a step up from polymer clay, this clay is in fact a pliable silver that sets when fired. A kit would come with a gas torch for firing the silver, and brushes specifically designed to make your finished piece sparkle.
A Dremel Multi Tool
For engraving, drilling, polishing. Just imaging making jewellery out of objects like shells you find on the beach... Or engraving that hand made gift with a personal message. Yes this is definitely on my wish list!