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February 18, 2015

Should You Buy The Best Jewelry Making Tools You Can Afford?

If I told you once

It could be the golden rule of jewelry making. It's advice often given to beginners just starting out.  I read it weekly in blogs, groups and magazines.  

Buy the best tools you can afford.  

I've always been skeptical of this advice. I should tell you that I'm naturally skeptical of most advice though.  I'm pretty much one of those find it out for myself kind of people. (But at least I understand why my kids don't always listen.)

So, here I am many, many. many years into my jewelry making career (I'm trying not to overstate this to protect my youthful image - but it has been a loooong time), and I have finally taken the plunge.

(insert angels singing).  Here they are:

For those of you who can't identify the Louis Vuitton designer handbag of the jewelry making world, these beauties are a Lindstrom RX Plier and Cutter Set.  All the basics in one convenient strorage case: round nose, flat nose, chain nose and flush cutters.  Oh and they come with an extra set of 2 springs.

Here is what I've read from other jewelry makers to justify this purchase:
  • They will reduce hand strain (I'm not sure I've ever had any)
  • They fit your hand so much better 
  • They cut wire like butter
  • You won't be sorry
Here's what I've noticed about these pliers:
  • Perfectly aligned, smooth jaws and angles
  • Longer handles that truely fit my palm
  • Less wide handle stance - which require less effort to close the pliers
  • Adjustable springs that allow light, medium or hard tension on closing the jaws (or you can remove the spring entirely)
  • Smaller, smoother tips on the pliers which should give more precision
  • Shorter plier jaws
  • Less open jaws - which require less effort to close the pliers
But how do they compare, side by side, with old my old pliers? First - I want to warn you - the following pictures are graphic and not for the squeamish among you.

Also, I have lots and lots of these hobby brand pliers - I just randomly grabbed what was close by. And that's exactly the way I do it when I'm making something, so it's fair.

Back on the chain gang

First up, work horse number one - chain nose pliers.

OK - so the Lindstrom's have a more tapered tip and a slimmer profile.

A much slimmer profile.  Which means they will fit into much tighter spots to flatten the ends of wire against coils.

And the entire profile is longer and leaner.  I don't have small hands, but they are much more comfortable to hold and close.  And better balanced.  And I think they are a tad bit lighter.

I'm tempted to weigh them at the post office, but that will have to happen another day.

Around and around we go

Round nose pliers anyone?

I couldn't live without my round nose pliers.  The profile of the Lindstrom's gets so tiny.  I can't wait to try and start a spiral or a curve with these!!  I can definitely see the difference here.

And the overall profile difference is similar to the chain nose.  The handles have wider, more ergonomic grips, and a closer stance that requires less pressure on your hands to close them.

The world is flat

My pessimism is fading.  I am halfway to being a true believer.  Flat nosed pliers fall more into the specialty category for me than daily use.  I would consider bent nose pliers my third most important - but they didn't ask me so you get what you get and you don't get upset.

Ack!  This comparison is frightening.  Look at those petite little loves on the left and those nasty jaws on the right.  I feel like I'm comparing a puppy with the junk yard dog.  I mean, they all need love, but which one do you want to take home and cuddle with?

The side view does nothing to change my attitude.  The slimmer jaws of the Lindstroms are obviously going to fit in more places, they will make tight square bends (I think) and by now, I think we've established the handle design is superior - period.

I've told you a million times

It's not over until it's over.  Nope, I haven't bent a single piece of wire yet.  

I've just compared the feel of the tools, closed my eyes and felt the difference in weight, grip, comfort, adjusted the tension on the Lindstroms to feel the difference. 

And yes - they feel incredible. Amazing!! 

They look sexy. I feel like I can make anything better already.

And I already wish I had invested in these years ago. 

BUT - I will know for sure, and I will tell you for sure when I try them.  But, you've got to admit - it looks very promising.  And I still need to look at and use the flush cutters.

Stay tuned.  More tomorrow!
And here's the link to my first project with my new Lindstrom tools - a free tutorial to make hook and eye clasps.


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  1. I have not went as far as purchasing top of the line but I did purchase some quality tools from RioGrande and I prefer them over the cheap ones I've worked with for years.

    1. I guess I felt after waiting this long I could go big... but doing the side by side comparison has really made me want to take a second look at the various tools I have and give a more fair assessment of them and decide what tools are reasonable in each price range. I'm sure everyone can't afford to go from craft cheapies to top of the line over night the way I did here.

  2. That’s what I’ve always heard and believed. When I compare tools, I can usually see and feel the difference. Then the decision is about whether the cost is worth it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more aware of the aches and pains that come from repetitive motion. So I put the Lindstroms you bought on my retirement bucket list because I knew I couldn’t justify the purchase afterward. And I haven’t regretted buying them. Then I asked a wire whisperer friend about a good jeweler’s hammer and she told me about Fretz tools. I thought that I could easily find a used one to try. Wrong. But when you hammer with one, you realize that they deserve their reputation. So for the tools that you really use a lot, choose carefully and I think it will show up in the quality of your work and the pleasure you get in making it!

  3. I have plier envy! I have always wanted some Lindstroms but could never justify the cost. Perhaps I should just dive in and bugger the expense!

  4. They look mighty promising. I plan to make a few things tonight to test them out. You can be sure that I'll let you know how they work out!

  5. Thanks for sharing this information about wire jewelry . I am new for wire jewelry. How are made of wire jewelry. I'd like to know about it. And your blog has helped me a lot to learn about it.

  6. Could not find a way to comment on your cellini spiral page. So I'll try here. Your spiral is very nice, but could be more interesting if you added two rows of size 15 seed beads in the center and used just one row of the white.
    Also, could you elaborate in your blog about how you are cataloging your beads?? Would love help with that.