When just starting out on your beading journey, it can be confusing to understand the vast array of jewelry tools available. What should you buy first? What are they called? And how do you use them? We are about to uncover these mysteries and recommend the essential jewelry tools all Beaders need to get started. Here we go!
NOTE: Many jewelry tools have the same names as tools from the hardware store. While they are similar in shape, jewelry vs hardware, jewelry tools typically are smaller, more delicate and unlike hardware tools, precision-made for the fine work of jewelry making
Consider this beauty your GO-TO Tool, likely the first to reach for and the last to put down. The nose has a tapered nose that narrows to a fine tip and a smooth high polish on both the outside and inside of the jaws. Chain Nose Pliers are smooth on the inside of the nose so they don’t mark wire or findings and the handles are plastic coated for easy gripping.
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This tool is the workhorse of your jewelry toolbox. They are similar to Chain Nose Pliers but the jaws remain a consistent width and do not taper toward the tip. This wider surface makes it easier to grip findings and wire without slipping.
Truly they are a multi-purpose tool primarily for holding and gripping while you’re doing something with a different tool in your other hand. Note that some Flat Piers have a smooth surface on the inside of the jaws, while others are smooth. Depends on the surface you are gripping and whether it is a concern that the ridged jaw will leave marks.
Flat Nose Pliers are available in various jaw widths from thicker – great for sheet metal projects – to much thinner – excellent for use on small findings. Many Beaders include a variation of sizes for Flat Nose Pliers in their tool kit. When shopping for your preferred Flat Nose, ensure there is a spring mechanism that allows automatic closing while you work.
There are Beading techniques where 2 Pliers are required. You may choose to use 2 Chain Nose Pliers OR 2 Flat Nose Pliers OR 1 Chain Nose Plier & 1 Flat Plier. Following are the prime instances to use 2 sets of Pliers:
The round nose plier barrel is completely round intended for making loops and curves in wire, headpins or eyepins. The tapered barrels allow you to position your wire along the barrel to obtain the size of the desired loop.
For a larger loop, place your wire near the handles and for a smaller loop, place your wire toward the tip of the barrels.
The key to making consistently sized loops is to mark the barrels with a permanent marker so that the wire is always placed in the same position on the barrel.
If you wish to remove the markers, simply wipe the barrel with a dab of alcohol.
Making Loops of course! Simple Loops, Wrapped Loops & Curved Wire!
Wire Cutters, as their name indicates, are hand tools used to cut wire, including headpins & eyepins.
Wire cutters are indispensable to jewelry makers who work with wire. There really is no substitute. The blades of the cutters are available in different configurations, including flush cutters, bevel cutters, end cutters and all designed to cut different types and gauges of wire.
For the purposes of this article, Wire Cutters will be grouped into 3 main categories. At a later date we’ll break it down with more detail as there are substantial differences within each group.
Flush Cutters: These tools trim headpins, eyepins and beading wire, as well as fine wire used in wireworking. Flush-cutters allow a flat, even cut even in the tightest of places - hence the name. The tiny jaws camouflage their incredible accuracy and power.
Wire Cutter Plier: Although not actually a plier, this tool is often included in the plier category due to its strength and durability. While the jaws of the Wire Cutter are thicker, the cutting edges remain sharp and cut thicker wire gauges cleanly and with precision. A must have for wirework.
Memory Wire Cutters: These cutters are made specifically to easily cut hard wires such as memory wire (steel) and precious-metals. These cutters will create a straight (flat) cut, so they work wonderfully for many wireworking applications. Rubber-coated, spring-return handles are easy to use. Memory wire should only be cut using memory wire cutters as the cutting blades of other cutters will be marked with ridges and not cut cleanly on other wires.
In our next article we’ll dive deeper into the Jewelry Tool world and offer suggestions for additions to your kit that will enhance your finished projects and ease the process. Till next time!