January 1, 2014

5 Wire Jewelry Making Tools

5 tools every wire wrap jewelry maker needs: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Making wire wrap jewelry doesn't require a lot of tools, but some are essential to good results.

Here's my list of must-have tools for a beginner or even an experienced jewelry maker working with wire.

This is my first post in a series that I hope will help new jewelry makers get off on the right foot.

1.  Wire Flush Cutters

This is obvious.  You can't make jewelry with wire if you don't have some way to cut the wire.  But, there's more to it than that.

Flush cutters are designed to trim the wire with a straight edge on one side instead of an angled edge.  This will leave your cuts neat and prevent rough edges that can scrape skin or catch on clothes.  Double flush cutters are more expensive, but will leave a straight 90 degree edge on both sides of the wire.  Nice, but not critical, so buy according to your budget.

The wire cutters you choose will depend on the thickness of wire you plan to work with.  Many of the nippers or super flush cutters only work with thinner wires - 20 gauge and higher (i.e. thinner).  If you use them with too thick a wire, you risk leaving a permanent dent in the cutting blade.

I started with wire cutters that were part of a set of jewelry making tools just like these - and I still use many of these tools today.

I don't think you need to start with a fancy set of tools, but your wire cutter is one tool that I would try to spend more on.

Both flush cutters I currently use are from Xuron. 

The Xuron Maxi-Shear Flush Cutter cutters can cut up to 14g wire.

 The Xuron Micro-Shear Flush Cutter are for thinner wires, up to 20g.

2. Round Nose Pliers

Round nose pliers are used to make loops, shape wire and tuck wire ends into tight places.  Typical round nose pliers have two graduated barrels.

Try to find pliers with barrels that are smooth, perfectly round and end in a fine point.

I like ones that have a silver finish, so I can use sharpie to mark the spots I use most and have consistent sized loops.

3. Chain Nose Pliers

Chain nose pliers are the work horse pliers.  You will use them to grip wire in a variety of situations.  

I like ones that have smooth jaws - teeth will mar the wire when you grip it.

4.  Bent Nose Pliers

Bent nose pliers are exactly what they sound like.  Pliers with a bent end.  

Some people might not think these are a necessity, and I lived for many years just fine without them, but my jewelry making life changed dramatically for the better when I got a pair. 

These pliers help you grasp wire in tight places and at a different angle than you could ever do with the chain or round nose.  They are more comfortable to use than chain nose pliers.

They are perfect for tucking in the ends of wrapped loops.

5. A Good Ruler

In most jewelry sets, there are additional pliers, but I don't think you need more than the 3 I listed to get started.

What you really need, is a metal ruler to consistently measure your wire, beads, etc.

I love, love, love, and could not live without a 12-Inch stainless steel cork backed ruler like the one pictured.

It has inches and centimeter marks.  The metal edge will not get distorted, the measurement marks are easy to read and they won't rub off.

Additional Thoughts

Remember, this list is what I consider the essentials for wire jewelry making.  

There are many other tools that will make your jewelry making faster and more consistent, but learning how to use the basic tools will make you appreciate the more specialized tools that are available.

There are lots of brands and price points for jewelry making tools.  I recently ordered some Wubbers specialty pliers - which I would consider mid-priced tools - and I will let you know if I think they are worth it.

Top end tool brands are Swanstrom and Lindstrom - they cost a pretty penny, but I have heard they are worth it.  I can only hope to be able to tell you that is true someday. I finally bought a pair, so check here for a side by side compairison with my old tools - Should you Buy the Best Jewelry Making Tools You can Afford?

Wondering what tools you should invest in after you have the basics?  Check out 4 Cool Tools for Wire Workers and Jewelry Makers.

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