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May 21, 2015

4 Cool Tools for Wire Workers and Jewelry Makers

Climbing the Ladder

Some time ago, I wrote about what I thought were the 5 essential tools you need to make wire jewelry. Those are truly what I think you need to get started. It's your initial investment in learning how to make wire jewelry.

But the reality is - you will only get so far with those basic tools. And you'll get so much more enjoyment from making jewelry if you slowly invest in a few more that will help you make things faster and better.  That's what this post is about - the tools you should consider buying next and why they are important.

Step Wire Looping Plier

I loooove my step making pliers and I have them with several different size barrels (or steps).  The pair that I use the most are the Beadsmith Wire Multi-step Plier 5, 7,10mm

I find that the middle barrel is perfect to make french earwires and that is what I use them most for. 

But they've come in handy for many other wire projects too.  I use them to make hook and eye clasps, to make these heart shape wire frames and also to make chain links like these horseshoe and teardrop link chains. Anytime I need consistent size and shape wire, this is the plier I reach for.

I also have the next larger step plier, the Three Step Wire Looping Round Nose Pliers 13mm, 16mm, 20mm which comes in handy for larger shape frames or hoop earrings.

A similar tool is bail making pliers.  It has one round barrel of a different size on each side.  It can be convenient for making coils for jump rings since the barrel is consistently sized the entire length. 

Cup Burr

The Cup Burr Wire Rounder tool is not very exciting to use or look at, but it makes up all that in how useful it is.

You use it to round the cut end of wire - mostly for smoothing the end of earwires or posts.  I have a simple one on a wooden dowel and I also have the one pictured.  I prefer the one pictured since it has two different sizes of cups and as a bonus it is also a pin vise - which you can use to twist wire.

You can also do this with a foam core emory board nail file, but I still like the convenience of a cup burr.

Jump Ring Opening and Closing Tool

I went for what seems like an eternity without one of these Jump Ring Open/Close Tools - and I regret every minute of it!  These jump ring tools are inexpensive and for the number of jump rings you open and close when making jewelry, I think they are essential in the convenience they provide.

To properly open a jump ring to the side takes two pliers, one positioned on each side of the ring - this ring replaces one of the pliers.

Slip the ring on your non-dominant hand halfway down your middle or index finger with the grooves that best fit the jump ring wire you are using facing up - and you won't need to bother picking up, positioning and putting down that second plier all the time.  Just insert the jump ring in the groove with the opening positioned above the ring and use a plier on the other side to twist open and then position the jump ring. Use the same process to close the ring.  

It's so much easier since you don't need to keep picking up and putting down an extra tool - the tool is always there on your finger waiting to be used.

Nylon Jaw Pliers

I'm not sure what I thought  Nylon Jaw Pliers were for when I bought them, but I know I didn't really use them right away.

Now, every time I pick up a piece of wire, I use them to draw the wire through and straighten out any kinks or curves.  I used to do the same thing with a polishing cloth, but it got harder on my fingers as I started using thicker wire. You could probably also use them to hold your wire when you don't want to risk getting marks on it.

 I also have a wooden ring clamp that I use for a similar purpose - straightening and holding wire. I guess I like having both - but I use the plier for much thicker wire than I use the ring clamp for.

OK - so that's my second installment of Cool Tools for Wire Workers.  I think most jewelry makers (not just wire jewelry makers) need a few of these tools.  Even people who string and bead weave use jump rings and earwires, so these tools would really help any jewelry maker.


  1. darlanunn48@yahoo.caMay 07, 2017

    Hi, I was really excited about making some wire jewelry but i really don't know what tools I really need and where I should purchase them? I have been researching online but now I am even more confused than before! Just like to make some rings and things!

    Hope you can help!! Thank you for any advice!

    Sincerely, Darla Nunn

  2. My question isn't for those tools because I've saved and bought most of them.
    You said once you use oval jump rings. Do you make them, if you do could you say how?

    1. I don't usually make jump rings. They are so inexpensive to buy, it hardly seems worth the trouble. I have purchased basic oval jump rings at fire mountain gems and fancy ones from Nunn Design.