Jewelry-Making Tools: Using the Right Pliers at the Right Time

Admit it, you do it too. Once in awhile, when you're in a hurry or distracted or whatever, you'll make a loop with chain-nose pliers instead of round-nose pliers, or coil a wire spiral with round-nose pliers instead of flat-nose pliers. Horrors!

Yes, occasionally I do it, and it's not the end of the world–it's just not using those tools to the best of their ability. Misusing jewelry tools or using the wrong tool for an activity could also damage your jewelry-making materials. But you might be thinking, "Pliers are pliers–they all look almost the same, so they could all do almost the same things, right?" Not quite.

The Well-Stocked Jewelry-Making Tool Box

Whether you do wire jewelry-making, stringing, metalwork, or all of those and more, here are the basic pliers you need to have in your jewelry-making tool box–and details about their intended uses from Jennifer VanBenschoten, editor of JMD's sister site, Beading Daily.

Round-nose pliers: These pliers have tapered jaws that are perfectly round and smooth. Your round-nose pliers are used for making loops in wire. Be careful when using them for other wire wrapping tasks, as the jaws can leave marks and dings in your precious metal wire.
Chain-nose pliers: These pliers have tapered jaws with rounded outsides and flat insides. They are particularly useful for manipulating wire and other jewelry-making items like jump rings and sometimes crimp beads. (Chain nose pliers are also your best bet for wiggling that beading needle through a tight spot!)
Flat-nose pliers: These pliers have slightly tapered jaws that are wide and flat on both outside and inside. If you need to get a grip (on your wire) when making spirals and other wire shapes, these are the best tools for the job. Use them with a pair of chain-nose pliers for opening and closing jump rings.
Flat round-nose pliers: Jen's personal favorite tool for wire wrapping, beading and jewelry-making, these pliers have one jaw that looks like it came from a pair of round-nose pliers and one jaw that looks like it came from a pair of flat-nose pliers. The added bonus with some of these pliers is that they have notches marked along the flat-nose jaw for consistently-sized loops. These are Jen's go-to pliers for jewelry-making and wire wrapping tasks because they don't usually leave any dents in my precious metal wire!
Wire straighteners: To get crazy wire curls under control when you're pulling wire off a spool, run it through these nylon-jaw pliers a few times. And if you make a mistake when you're bending and shaping your wire, you can easily smooth out a kink in your wire by pinching and pulling the wire straight with these handy pliers.
Flush cutters: Flush cutters are used for cutting wire. You can use flush cutters to cut either flat ends or angled ends on your wire. To cut a flat end, insert the wire into the cutters through the flat side. To get an angled cut on your wire, insert the wire through the concave side of the cutters.

Practice using your jewelry tools the right way with projects and tutorials found in instructional issues of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. Back issues are on sale now in the Jewelry Making Daily Shop, and with convenient digital back issues, you can stock up without cluttering up your workbench!

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