Sunday, February 28, 2010


As you advance in your wire work you will be adding many more tools to your collection, but for beginners, these are the things that I think are basic necessities.  My first pliers set I got from a flea market and it served me well for years.  I then upgraded to a mid priced set of pliers.  I mostly look for ergonomic handles as this reduces the stress on your hands.  I would recommend starting off with an inexpensive set and use it for awhile to find out what qualities are important to you and upgrade as necessary.  Just be sure wherever you get your pliers that none of them have the gripping grooves in them, some of the hardware sets will have chain nose pliers with those grooves and they mark your wire terribly.  So look for a set specifically for jewelers and you should avoid this problem.  You can google them all day, and I hesitate to recommend one over another, but I have bought my tools from Urban Maille as Aislyn is a friend of mine, so I am linking you to her tool page.  I can say her prices are probably the lowest you will find for the brands, and that her standards are very high so I know even her cheapest tools are quality.

Round nosed pliers:
Chain nosed pliers:
Bent Nosed Pliers:
Flat Nosed Pliers

Chasing Hammer:  A new household hammer will work, I stress new because the hammering part will not be marked up thereby marking your wire.
Rubber Mallet:  Again, hardware store mallet will suffice.  However, my hubby picked up this set of mini hammer with changeable heads for me and I use it all the time!  And it's cheap!

Rawhide Hammer:  I did finally invest in one of these, but my dog got ahold of it and chewed it to shreds.  Although it is often recommended, I don't find it a necessity so it's up to you.

Anvil:  A lot of jewelers recommend a bench block, but I find my small jewelers anvil quite adequate for my purposes and cheaper as well.  Here is the one I have: 

Steel ring mandrel:  Not a necessity, again, it depends on how far you want to go with your wire work, but making simple rings is fun and expands your repertoire a little bit more.  I recommend steel as opposed to the cheaper aluminum or wooden ones, simply because you can hammer to harden your ring shanks on the steel without marking or denting it.

Tumbler with Stainless Steel Shot:  This is probably the most expensive beginner investment, but worthwhile.  It is amazing the amount of shine tumbling finished jewelry will give.  It really brings that finished piece to a whole new level.  I bought a Lortone single barrel tumbler and have used it for years with the same belt and no problems.  I do have a backup tumbler I got from HarborFreight which is cheaper but I've heard mixed reviews on it.  It is a good starter tumbler though.

I cannot stress enough about using stainless steel shot as opposed to just steel shot.  Stainless steel shot requires no upkeep, and will not rust, the steel shot is very high maintenance and will rust even with the best of care.  Oh, and I cannot forget the strainer.  I use an old tupperware strainer that is dedicated to my jewelry making, you can just dump the contents of your tumbler container right into it, rinse it and pick out your jewelry to lay it out to dry.

I will add tools to future posts for those who might want to move on in their wire working, but for now, I think this covers the basics.

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