Want to try your hand at jewelry making? The sheer volume of tools and supplies available for the craft can be overwhelming when you’re starting out. I’ve been creating jewelry since childhood, and I’m still constantly learning about new techniques and equipment to expand my skill set.
The following seven tools offer a great jumping off point for the novice or mid-level jewelry designer.
1) Round nose pliers
This pair of pliers forms loops from wire such as brass, copper, silver, and gold. It’s often used for wire wrapping projects and turning beads into charms that dangle.
Tip: You can start out with cheap pairs of pliers. If your jewelry making becomes a long-term habit or career, you’ll want to gradually replace them, investing in ergonomic pliers that fit comfortably in your hands and reduce cramping.
2) Chain nose pliers (pictured left)
Probably the most versatile tool in your kit, chain nose pliers are great for sharply bending wire at different angles (they also help with loop making). They can open and close jump rings, which are essential for jewelry projects; bend thinner brass, copper, and silver metal sheets; crimp beads on stringing wire; and offer a sold grip when you need it.
3) Jeweler’s saw
Once you get the hang of this tool, you’ll find it’s a workbench staple.
Use a jeweler’s saw with caution and while wearing goggles, as its blades are seriously sharp, and metal has a habit of flying in the most unexpected of directions when cut or snipped. Don’t attempt to handle this saw without professional training. Classes at your local community college or art center can more safely instruct on how to wield one than a book or video.
A jeweler’s saw enables you to pierce metal sheet and cut it into intricate designs and patterns. It cuts through thicker gauge wires and chain, too, as well as metal tubing.
Tip: Safety goggles are recommended in any situation where unpredictable pieces of metal are involved. The next three tools in particular fall into this category.
4) Wire cutters
When using wire on a spool rather than pre-cut pieces of it, there’s greater flexibility to customize projects.
To get wire into the lengths you need, you’ll use wire cutters, which come in different varieties. Some make a crisper, flush cut, and others produce wire ends with an angle. The type of cutter required also depends on the thickness of the wire.
Usually made of steel, anvils are available in all shapes and sizes. This is the surface on which you’ll shape and pattern metal wire and sheet with a hammer, which additionally makes jewelry parts sturdier for wear.
Start with a small or medium anvil, and place it on a rubber block or secure it with screws so it doesn’t slip around your desk.
A ball-peen hammer features one flat face and one rounded face on its head. Striking it against metal on an anvil can create interesting texture, make the metal harder and more durable, and shape it into different forms. More advanced techniques include use with punches and rounding rivets, which can join together multiple pieces of metal without heat.
7) Bench pin
A bench pin is secured to one’s workbench with a vice. It provides a solid foundation for sawing or filing metal.
Have fun, be safe, and tell us: What inspires you to create jewelry?