Sunday, December 2, 2007

Six Most Useful Jewelry Making Tools

By on Sunday, December 02, 2007 2 Comments

Newly hooked on beading, many beginners rush out and buy the first tools they come across. Some fall victim to shoddy tools or tool sets consisting of tools they will never use. Worse, some of these cheap sets actually contain chain nose pliers with teeth - these are the hardware store variety and will mar the delicate wires you will be using.

So here is a round-up of the top six tools the Beading Gem found most useful. I use them all the time. The first three are absolutely essential and are recommended for those starting out who either don't want to shell out too much initially or are unsure if they will continue with the craft. But once you are certain you like making jewelry forever, then by all means invest in the next three.

1. CHAIN NOSE PLIERS
These are used to do flat crimping, their tapered jaws allow access to narrow spots. Also useful to hold the jewelry piece when doing wire-turning. They must NOT contain teeth. If you cannot get one, you can try wrapping the jaws of a regular chain nose with some tape but I would not recommend this other than as a very short term measure.
 

2. ROUND NOSE PLIERS
These are used to make wire loops. The size of the loops depends on the position along the tapered jaws when turning the wire. Your loops will not work out if you try and make do with just chain nose pliers - I did that when I first started and learnt the hard way. For consistent loop sizes, either mark your pliers with a marker pen or put a little piece of tape at the spot you want.

3. FLUSH CUTTER
Sometimes called nippers, these cutters allow you to cut thin wire or thread as close as possible. Electricians use this tool so check electrical supply stores if you are not near a craft or jewelry making shop. To save money for the first little while, you can substitute with a toenail clipper which does the same thing for most situations but it's curved cutting edges are trickier to manage. You'll not regret buying a flush cutter. Do not use this cutter on memory wire - just use regular wire cutters instead.

4. CRIMPING PLIERS
These are alternatives to making flat crimps with chain nose pliers. This is a two-step operation These pliers first apply the crimp tube to the beading wires and then reform it into a rounded tube again. Just to be sure, reposition the pliers again and redo the reforming step a second time, or if you're paranoid like me, a third time.

For a visual tutorial on crimping using specialised pliers like this one and the flat crimping method, check out Karla Kam's video " How to Crimp".

5. NYLON JAWED PLIERS

No one is perfect. Wire doesn't always bend to your will. Straighten it again by gripping one end of the wire and stroking the rest of it a few times between the soft jaws of these pliers. A real wire saver when you are working with more expensive metals like sterling silver and gold.

6. SPLIT RING PLIERS
Split rings (looks like key rings except way smaller) are much more secure than just a plain jump ring which can accidentally open. However, trying to open split rings ruins your nails and could expose your children to cuss words they shouldn't hear. These pliers do a wonderful job of keeping the beginning of a split ring open whilst you slide something on it. Just apply the hook end in between the double ring to start.

OTHER USEFUL TOOLS

BAIL FORMING PLIERS
These come in a variety of sizes.  Highly recommended for making ear wires, clasps and all sorts of wire designs.

How to Use Bail Forming Pliers Tutorials

CHASING HAMMER AND ANVIL
The completely flat side of the hammer head is ideal for flattening wires against an anvil or metal block. If you know a machinist, a scrap block of metal will do! The process also hardens the wire making it "remember" its shape. I like the look of hammered metal especially copper but if you'd rather not see the marks, hammer the item flat between pieces of thick cloth like denim.  If you want to just harden wire not flatten it, use a nylon hammer.

Hammers and Steel Blocks for Jewelry Making

METAL FILES
Small metal files from the hardware store will help you remove the sharp edges to freshly cut wire. The burs must be removed if you are making ear wires yourself as these are threaded through pierced ear holes. You can also use a nifty little tool call a cup bur where you twirl the cut end of your wire in a tiny cup filer.

How to Debur Ear Wires

BENT NOSE PLIERS
These are like regular chain nose pliers except they are bent. They are useful in situations where the closing action needed is awkward for your wrist. They are also handy as a second pair of chain nose pliers. Chain maille artisans like using this with a pair of broad nose pliers.

Chain Maille Jewelry Making Tips

PIN VISES
These are small pen-like vises that grip two wires so you can twist them together creating prettier wires. See this tutorial.

How to Twist Wire using Pin Vises

WIRE COILERS
There are all sorts on the market as well as simple things at home that you can use.  My favorites include knitting needles and the Artistic Wire Coiler (now available from Beadsmith)

4 Ways to Make Short Wire Coils

Definitely some gift ideas here either for yourself or a budding jewelry maker you know!'

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON TOOLS.
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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

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2 comments:

  1. Hi,

    I found you via youtube and yes I bought a chain nose plier that had teeth. Definitely need to invest in proper tools. Thanks for the excellent info. I have bookmarked your website. Great stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great post. I learned lots of useful information. I will returning to the post and blog as well. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

 

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