Jewelry-Making Tools 101: Ultimate, FREE Guide to Over 125 Tools
It's easy to find sage advice about the jewelry-making tools in the world. "Buy the best tools you can afford" is a popular directive, and rightly so–it is better to spend $20 on a tool once than to spend $5 on that same tool every time you have to replace it, which could be pretty often, to say nothing of the cost of the quality of work that will come from it.
Don’t know the difference between a bench block, a mandrel and an anvil? We’ll clue you in. When do you use a ball peen hammer, a planishing hammer, and a chasing hammer? We’ll let you know – and tell you why one pro calls a well-formed planishing hammer his favorite jewelry tool of all. Want to know what chain nose pliers and round nose pliers look like, or what kinds of other jewelry pliers are available? We’ll show you. Why is a pin vise or a tube cutter a handy thing to have? We’ll explain that and much more.
"Take care of your jewelry-making tools and they'll take care of you" is another good one; keeping sharp tools sharp, metal tools rust-free, and all tools handy and organized is good advice and common sense.
"Know your tools" has been good advice for me, though some that came a little too late as I heard it only after ruining my favorite jewelry tool ever (RIP, beloved wire cutters). It's important to know what your jewelry-making tools are intended for—what their limits are, what their strengths are, and how to use them properly. I think it was Einstein who said, "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." No matter how good your cutters are, they won't cut memory wire unless they are memory-wire cutters. Again, lesson learned (painfully).
Our latest free eBook, The Illustrated Guide to Jewelry Making Tools, is designed to make you familiar with every jewelry-making tool we could think of (over 125 tools in 30 categories), and because it's always nice to have a personal recommendation from a respected person-in-the-know, we provided comments and advice from jewelry artists and metal-smithing experts about their favorite jewelry tools for sawing/cutting, forming, soldering, and finishing metalwork. You'll learn all about various kinds of pliers, saws, files, mandrels, hammers, and more—even beading tools and specialty tools for beyond-basics jewelry techniques like wax carving, stone setting, cabochon cutting, metal clay, stone faceting and carving, and casting.
What’s Inside the Ultimate Jewelry-Making Tools Guide?
Jewelry Forming Tools
Jewelry Pliers, Hammers, Mandrels, Stakes, Anvils, Dapping, Punching, Compression, Clamps, and Vises
A ball peen hammer is an all-purpose hammer with one round and one half-domed face … A chasing hammer has one flat face for striking other tools or planishing metal, and one round face for forming and riveting … A planishing hammer has flat or convex faces to smooth metal that has been worked by other hammers or to harden metal … A bench block is a common jewelry anvil … A mandrel is a specialized jewelry anvil. Sizes and shapes vary from a ring mandrel to a mandrel for neckpieces, bezels, or a bracelet mandrel … A rolling mill is used to change the thickness of metal sheet or ingots by compression… A dapping block is used to form domes or half rounds … Jewelry pliers are carefully selected to perform specific tasks, e.g., flat nose pliers are for angular bends, and for drawing or pulling … Pliers, vises and ring clamps give you strength and accuracy, and save your hands.
Jewelry Cutting Tools
Saw Frames, Saw Blades, Files, Gravers, Stamps, Drill Bits and Burs
The process of forming often starts with cutting a shape from a sheet of metal. For very thin metal, this may be done with snips; however, snips can curl, twist, and deform the sheet. Most often cutting is done with a jeweler’s saw and blades. Simple holes are cut in metal with drill bits, by hand, or with a motorized tool. Depressions in the surface of metal are cut with burs or with gravers. Stamping cuts the surface—typically in a decorative pattern—unlike a punch, which merely moves the metal. Metal files are the first step in finishing metal, and come in a range of shapes and “cuts” from coarse to fine … Needle files are used for small components and delicate work. Cylindrical rotary files on a shaft can be used in a flex shaft motorized handpiece. Find all you need to know about jewelry cutting tools.
Soldering Jewelry Tools
Torches and Soldering Aids
A jeweler’s torch, just like any torch, is a device that mixes fuel (natural gas, propane, acetylene) with air/oxygen to produce intense heat. It is possible to fabricate jewelry using only cold connections such as rivets. However, almost all jewelers use some kind of torch for soldering, texturing (such as granulation and reticulation), and coloring metal. Torches are also used to heat metal for casting.
Jewelry Finishing Tools
Hand and Motorized Finishing
The final step in jewelry making is finishing. Finishing may include texturing a surface as well as polishing. Finishing may be done by hand, with sanding and polishing sticks, with a flexible shaft motor tool, or with a dedicated polishing machine. Finishing also uses compounds. Bobbing compound or tripoli is used after filing and sanding for marks left by those tools. Jeweler’s rouge is for final finishing. Different colors of rouge are used for different metals: red for gold, silver, brass, copper; green for white gold, platinum, or nickel; black for silver; yellow for platinum or stainless steel; and white for niobium or titanium.
Casting, Wax Carving, Metal Clay, Stone Setting, Cabochon Cutting, Faceting, Gem Carving, and Beading
Discover all the specialty jewelry making tools you will need for casting your own waxes, using metal clays, setting gems into your jewelry, cabochon cutting and faceting gems, and even beading.
Bonus Jewelry Tool Project
Custom Jeweler’s Saw Grip
Unfortunately, our most basic and most personal tool leaves much to be desired in terms of ergonomics. The problems are many. An easy way to reduce hand stress is to reduce grasping power, so making the frame handle larger and custom fitted achieves this. With a little bit of polymer clay, you can mold the handle of your jeweler’s saw to custom fit your hand. When the clay cools, you’ll have a saw frame that is much better balanced and fits your hand perfectly.
You’ll find this illustrated eBook a valuable reference if you’re just venturing into jewelry metalsmithing, and full of interesting comments from established jewelers even if you’re one yourself. From tips for setting up your jeweler’s bench to selecting top of the line jewelry-making tools for forming, cutting, soldering, and finishing, this jewelry equipment guide has you covered. Discover fully described jewelry tool categories with detailed photos and expert advice. Learn what jewelry tools the professionals have chosen to use and why.
From jeweler’s saws to files and much more in between, this free eBook has everything you need to know about jewelry-making tools and supplies. What are you waiting for? It's fabulously informative and helpful—and it's free! Download your Illustrated Guide to Jewelry Making Tools now!