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Top Tools for Jewelry Making
Tools for Jewelry-Making and How to Use Them
I will recommend tools for several different jewelry making techniques which will include: Beading and metalsmithing. See my soft soldering lens for suggested tools and supplies for soft soldering, How to Create Soldered Glass Art Jewelry. I'll also discuss how to use these tools for those who are just starting in jewelry making and need a little help getting started.
As with any craft, having the right tools makes a big difference in what can be done and how easily it can be done. Frustration is the number one product of faulty low quality tools. I found this out when I tried to learn watercolor painting using cheap brushes, paper and paint. I got so frustrated that I stopped and didn't return to painting until years later when I took a workshop where they stressed using quality materials and tools. Now I love watercolor painting. The same is true for jewelry making. If you can afford good quality tools, then do so. Having a few good quality tools is better than having a bench full of low quality tools that are hard to work with.
Photo by Gayle Dowell
My Picks for Beading Tools
For the art of beaded jewelry, it takes only a few tools. Many jewelry makers get started making beaded jewelry. Many of the tools that are used for beaded jewelry are used for other more complicated jewelry making techniques. So no matter where a jewelry maker goes in their craft, many of these tools will still be very useful. The most used tools for beaded jewelry would have to be a set of pliers. Purchasing a good quality set is your best bet.
I would recommend staying away from the micro-mini tools as they can be harder to hold, and if you do a lot of work, these can get tiring to use.
Best Jewelry Pliers
The best types of pliers to get are the non-serrated, smooth jawed pliers. Serrated pliers will mar your metal.
I love my bent nose pliers for making wrapped loops and for opening jump rings. The shape of these pliers makes it easy to see what I'm doing and how the wire is wrapping. These are the first pliers I grab for these tasks. Wubbers are a great quality brand of pliers and they make a wide variety.
Beading Plier Tutorials
Here are some of the top videos explaining how to use the different beading pliers available.
Best Metalsmithing Tools
With metalsmithing, the pliers from the beading section will also be helpful in metalsmithing. There are some tools that you can make yourself that can be just as good as those you can purchase, such as sanding and polishing sticks. I've found that emery boards for manicuring nails to be very effective in sanding metal up to the polishing stage, especially the ones that have different grits to use in steps to get nails to shine. But there are some tools that I would buy for quality. The following list are those that I would be sure to purchase the best I could afford.
Soldering or Brazing Torches
When soldering or brazing, a torch will be a good investment. If you are a beginner and not sure about using a torch, I would start with a small butane kitchen torch. These torches can do a lot of small projects and are easy to use. Graduating to a larger more powerful torch will be easier as you will be familiar with soldering and more confident in using a larger torch. I still use my butane torch for my small projects because it is so handy and easy to use. Be sure to become familiar with the safety issues of using a torch of any kind.
I've seen some jewelers use two butane torches on larger projects that require more heat. Although this requires both hands holding a torch and will limit what can be done on a piece, it is an alternative to purchasing a larger torch.
How-to Videos on Using a Butane Torch for Jewelry Making
Good quality hammers are a great investment. Sadly, I bought a set of hammers off e-bay that looked good, but after using them a few times, the heads started to loosen. Now they sit in my tool drawer and I opted to invest in a few quality hammers that I now use almost exclusively. It is important when purchasing a good hammer to consider the weight. Select a weight that is comfortable...heavy enough to get the job done, but light enough not to tire the arm.
For top quality hammers, look at Rio Grande's selection.
How to Videos on Using Jewelry Making Hammers
If you have tools that you would recommend for jewelry making, please leave a comment. I would love for this lens to be a discussion about the pros and cons of tools, so that we all can benefit from what others have found useful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!