The 6 Wirework Tools You Need

I was straightening up my studio the other day and chuckled to myself about the random and sundry tools I own. Micro-crimping pliers and split-ring pliers. Tile cutters and PVC cutters. Eyelet setters and snap setters. Soldering irons and woodburning irons. MAP-gas torches and cooking torches. Paper punches and leather punches. Makita drills and Dremel drills. And don't even get me started and the huge list of different scissors, screwdrivers, and measuring devices!

When going through all my stuff, I ran across the  wireworking tools with which I started my jewelry-making odyssey. I realize that these six tools are still the ones I use for the majority of my wireworked projects. It's nice to have all the other stuff to round out the group, but it's really just these six that any new wireworker would need:

Chain-nose pliers

I consider these pliers, which have flat jaws that taper to a point, the true workhorses of wireworking. You can make bends, tuck ends, and pull wire out of tight places with this solid tool. Some people like the wider-pointed flat-nose pliers, but for fine jewelry making, I love the pointy guy.


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Round-nose pliers

The best way to turn a clean loop is with this tool that has rounded jaws that taper to a point. The nice thing about this tapered-jaw version is that you can make different-sized loops, depending on where along the jaws you make your loop.

Flush cutters

Flush cutters have fine blades that make a straight, or flush, cut at the end of the wire as long as you point the flat side of the blade toward the work. The beauty of a jeweler's flush cutters like this one is that super-pointy tip; it makes it possible to make a neat cut in tight places.


Wire-straightening pliers

This really is a must-have tool that many new jewelry makers forget about. To use the tool, which has a flat plastic jaws, you pull bent wire through closed jaws and ta-daa! Straight wire. The beauty about this one is that once you've bunged up the jaws, you can just switch up the plastic part–you don't have to buy entirely new pliers.

Chasing hammer

Chasing hammers have a flat side for flattening and hardening and a curved side for doming and texturing. Oh, I just love multi-use tools like this! The perfect hammer to have on hand for just about everything (but hammering nails into your wall; you want to keep the head mar-free!).



Steel block

You'll need a clean flat piece of steel to use that chasing hammer on. I've been using an antique iron for years. You'll want to keep the surface of your block mar-free, unlike mine (one of my students went nuts on it with a steel nail and made holes in it. I can have it polished, though . . . just need to get around to that!).

Do you have these six wirework tools? If not, I know you'll get as good use of them as I have, so head out and buy the best versions you can afford. If you do have them, you'll want to use them! They're all you need to make the 70 gorgeous projects (yes, 70!) in Easy Wire 2011, a brand-new compilation of some of the very nicest wireworked projects around.

Happy beading-

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