Let’s look at the type that I’ve done more work with and that is wire working. I would recommend before investing into the tools and wire that you take a class from your local craft, hobby or beading store. This will give you the chance to really get your hands ‘dirty’ before putting out the money in the right tools and wire.
Wire working tool are some of the same ones that are used in every type of jewelry making; however there are a few specialty tools for working with heavy gauge wire and to make things like jump rings, connectors and findings. Here are some of the more common essential wire working tools. In future posts, I’ll be listing some specialty wire working tools and techniques.
Bent Nose Pliers: Use these to shape or straighten wire and to hold it in place while using other tools. I keep a pair of both large and small sizes to fit most projects. Inspect your pliers before purchase and avoid any with notches on the inside as that can scratch wire. Over time, your pliers will start to show wear and tear; to keep them around longer I wrap blue painters tape around the jaws to keep from marring the wire.
Round Nose Pliers: These are perfect for curving wire or making hooks and loops, which can be used as findings or for attachment pieces. Again here I have several different sizes ranging from small, medium and large depending on the design, stones and project.
Chain Nose Pliers: These pliers a are square on the outside, flat on the inside, with a tapered nose to reach small places. These are excellent for making angles in wire.
Wire Cutters: These are used to cut normal wire such as gold, sterling, and artistic wire. Do not confuse them with the specialty memory wire cutters that are only used to cut memory wire. The sharper the cutter, the better, as it will last longer.
Jeweler’s Files: These come in sets with several sizes and shapes which are used to smooth off the metal. Wooden handles make it more comfortable to hold than all metal files; but is not necessary. Whatever your choice, make sure to get a variety of sizes and shapes to fit any project.
Bench Block: This is one of my favorite wire working tools; it is used to flatten wire and metal. It gives you a nice, sturdy, solid surface to work from.
Chasing Hammer: This round tipped hammer is used with the bench block to hammer wire flat. You can also use it in more advanced techniques to give a more hammered or textured look to your wire or metals.
Thing-a-ma-jig Wire Jig: For making just about any loop, curve, link, or design, a wire jig makes it easy. If you can draw or move a string in any shape, then you can do the same thing with wire in a jig.