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What You Need And Maybe Do Not Need
About jewelry tools:
The right tools are a must when it comes to jewelry making. You don't need a lot of tools, but some are a necessity. There are lots of different tools to purchase from cheap to the most expensive. Whether you shall buy the most expensive ones or not depends on the use. If you are new to jewelry making, go for the cheaper, and supplement with more expensive tools as you gain experience. You will then know more about what you really need.
Some jewelry tools you can get from a hardware store, others you can buy from jewelry suppliers on or off line. And believe me, there are tons of tools out there, so don't worry about finding what you need.
So, what do you need?
Pliers are absolutely a must have, when making jewelry. There are several types and brands to get. You can buy them one by one or in sets, especially put together for jewelry making. I prefer pliers with springs, as they spring open when I release them. This is kinder to my hands, since I don't have to open them manually. Pliers must feel comfortable, if not, you will likely not use them. So try them in your hand, if possible, before buying.
Some pliers you should absolutely have, others are not that necessary.
Chain-nose pliers :
Chain-nose pliers are one of the most popular jewelry tools. I have two and use them to open and close jump rings, bending wire, to hold or pick things up and to flatten crimps. They have a tapered, flat surface.
These looks almost like chain-nose pliers, but are bent at the tip. They can therefor get into places where other pliers can't, and are very suitable for finer works. They are also kinder to your wrists, as you can hold your wrists straight when working.
These pliers have round cone tips, and are perfect for making loops, for wire wrapping, beading and jewelry repair. They come in different sizes. The size of the loops depends on the size of the pliers.
These pliers are flat on all sides and on the tip. They are useful for bending an manipulating wire, to hold on to things and to crimp crimps. You can make clean 90' bends on wire, and also use them for opening and closing jump rings.
This is not one of the most important jewelry tools. I do not have one, and fastens my crimp beads with chain-nose pliers. Anyway, crimping pliers will squeeze the crimp into a small ball, looking a little like a small bead. You do not have to put a crimp cover over it to disguise it. Sometimes it can be difficult to get the right size of crimp cover, and they often fall off after a while. If you find that annoying, consider buying a pair of crimping pliers.
Nylon jaw pliers:
These are made to prevent nicks on wire and to straightening bent or curved wire. Not an absolute necessity, unless you need to straighten lots of wire. You can do the same job with your fingers and a piece of cloth.
These are used to cut wire, and this is one of the tools where you should think quality. When they cut, they leave one side of the wire with a flat surface, but the other one is slanted. This may be a problem if you are cutting jump rings with cutters instead of sawing. So get one that cuts as flat and neat as possible. It will save you a lot of filing.
Metal files are one of the jewelry tools that are not a must have, but are handy to have anyway. I use mine to file of sharp edges and cut ends of wire, so that they shall be comfortable to wear. If you cut your jump rings with flush cutters, but want flat surface on both ends, you can file them flat, to get a better closing.
Sometime beads have holes that are too small. A bead reamer allows you to make the hole bigger. There are several types and brands on the market as round drills and/or files. You can drill a larger hole and then smooth the hole with the files. Some beads are a little rough around the holes, and can cut the wire or thread they are strung on. With a bead reamer, you can soften the edges.
Mandrels are steel rods that comes in different sizes, and are used for making jump rings. You wrap the wire around the mandrel to get even size on all the jump rings. They are actually one of the jewelry tools that I use the most, since I always need jump rings in different sizes for my polymer clay and jewelry projects. I also use the thinnest as baking rods for my polymer clay beads
This is one of the jewelry tools that I rarely use. I bought it to saw jump rings, but found the process so hard on my hands, that I dropped it, and started to use a pair of side cutters instead. However, sawing the rings give a much nicer cut than with the cutting pliers. You get a flat surface on both ends so the rings close nicely and tight. If you will do chain mail, I recommend that you saw your rings. It is very frustrating if you lose a ring somewhere in between a complicated chain mail pattern, because it didn't close properly.
I stumbled over my hand vice by accident, once I was searching for jewelry tools. I meant to use it for fastening the wire coils so that I could saw the jump rings. It was no good for that purpose, since it was to light, but I found that I could use it to hold the mandrel while I coiled wire around it. When you coil wire, the tension increases for each round, and it can be very painful and hard to hold the starting end, while coiling. If you release it, the coil gets looser and you don't get them even sized, you also risk cuts in your fingers and that the wire hits you in the face. Fastening the beginning rounds and the mandrel in the hand vice solved that problem for me.
Anvil and hammer:
Wire work can sometimes be enhanced by hammering. You can hammer the wire plain flat with the hammer, or you can hammer patterns on the wire, by using a ball peen hammer or texture sheet for metals. Hammering makes the metal tougher and less malleable, something that can be handy with for example a wire clasp. And, needless to say, you need the anvil to hammer on.
Shaping jewelry wire into looped repetitive links can be difficult, unless you have a wire-jig. The jig allows you to coil wire around pegs so you get the same pattern on all your links. It is fabulous when you make wire clasps, since it makes the shaping of the curves in the clasp very easy. You can get wire-jigs in several sizes and materials.
There are lots of other jewelry tools to get, but they are more specified in use or not so important to have, since you can do the job with a tool you already have. Every now and then I roam around hardware stores to see if there is something that could come in handy, or can fill a need I have. I will fill you in on new stuff as I find it.
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