Repetitive strain injury is not new.  An Italian physician first documented the medical condition in 1700 covering different occupations including musicians and clerks.  The painful condition arises when actions are carried out in awkward positions.

So I was intrigued when Prima Bead, a division of Cousin Beads, sent me the 6- piece Precision Comfort Tool Set for review.  The nicely zippered case contained 3 ergonomically designed versions of the most popular jewelry tools as well as a jump ring opener, bead reamer and bead sizer.  A pretty nifty collection at a very competitive price.

As you can see, the pliers have a distinct bend to the handles.  In terms of size, the pliers were average as you can see in the comparison picture below of the ergonomic round nose pliers and two of my own.

Where these ergonomic pliers really shine is when you use them.  With regular pliers, our wrists have to turn inwards such that there is a "dog leg" forming with the hand and the wrist. You can see a lot of the red pliers because my hand is turned much more towards the camera.

Regular Chain Nose Pliers
With the ergonomic round nose pliers, the bend in the handles essentially kept my hand and wrist in a straighter line. I could still form the eye pin with ease.  The difference may be subtle but it does help reduce fatigue and strain especially if you make a lot of jewelry.

There really wasn't much difference with the ergonomic chain nose pliers compared to my favorite pair in terms of size.  But I found the spring leaf action a bit stiffer in the former.

The wire cutting tool is a flush cutter.  Not as dainty as the pair I have on the left which gets into tight spaces but it performed like my regular flush cutter.  As cutting wire sometimes doesn't involve turning in the wrist, the ergonomic shape was not as advantageous as for the chain and round nose pliers.

The jump ring opener is a really handy tool because it saves having to hold a second tool while opening a jump ring. This allows some fingers to hold the work in progress. I really liked this one as it had different sized slots and seems a lot more comfortable than the one I already have.  I could easily open up to 18G rings.  The ring itself should fit most people. You can wear it on whichever finger or thumb works for you. 

The bead reamer is another handy tool to enlarge the bead holes if they are not large enough especially pearls which are notoriously small holed.  If you are  using it on pearls, be sure to dip the pearl in some water periodically during the reaming to contain the dust.  Remember to bore in from both sides of the hole.  I remember one glass bead cracking at a past workshop because of too much reaming so be careful!

Reaming a round pearl
I can easily tell the 4, 6, 8 and 10 mm sized beads apart. Throw in a 5mm or include much larger sizers, and I am less sure.  So the bead sizer ruler is a handy tool.  As you can see below, the ruler sits perfectly on this 8 mm bead - you can see the hole just peeking out.

I noticed beads are not very uniform so if size is critical to a particular design, it might pay to check with the bead sizer. For example, the  10 mm hematite bead below was slightly smaller than stated  - it slipped right through the 10 mm hole!

The bead reamer and sizer aren't used that often so there is no reason why you cannot customize the nifty carrying case so you can take your tools with you anywhere! I substituted with my nylon jawed pliers and a bur cup!

Customized case
The tool set at US$25 is certainly not top of the line but it is still remarkably good value for the money. It's perfect for someone just starting out.  Jewelry makers who already have issues with their wrists and hands or those who suffer from workload fatigue will find the ergonomic set useful.  The other tools are also handy to have.


Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips