Basic jewellery tools

Basic jewellery tools

Basic jewellery making pliersI’ve put together a list of some basic tools which my jewellery students tend to find most useful. They are also ones that I use constantly on a daily basis. Getting a basic jewellery tool setup needn’t be expensive and you can make a huge amount of jewellery with a small range of handtools. You will be adding to these as you go, it’s like anything else – there’s always a handy tool that makes a particular job easier!

My husband bought me a lot of my initial tools, for birthdays and Christmas, so I started out with a good range – most of which I still have and use today.

But for now, let’s start with the basics:

Basic jewellery making sawsA good saw will hold a straight line
It will keep a tight grip on the blade so that you’re not constantly having to re-tighten it
The shorter the saws usually nice and rigid
Longer saw frames are available and some of them have a lattice work in their construction to make them light but stiff – for accurate cutting of silver and gold sheet
Basic jewellery making filesThese are another tool that you will use constantly and getting a good quality set will last a lot longer.

Use larger files for shifting excess silver quickly
Use needle files for more delicate work. Sutton Tools has a great range of files sets – from budget file sets (which are good value for the money) through to the premium Vallorbe needle files. I have had some Vallorbe files for some time and their quality is excellent.

Jewellery hammers are lighter than your usual DIY hammers, although those can be used too – especially a ball pein hammer. They help you texture, bend, spread metal and flatten curves that are too curvy!

Ball Pein – Great general use hammer. The ball can be used for creating a textured surface or splaying rivets.
Cross Pein – This is a general use hammer and a budget one doesn’t cost much.

Sandpaper

Invaluable stuff which helps remove tool marks and scratches. Have a range of grits from really rough 180 grit through to 1200 grit for finishing off. These can be glued to wood to make them more file like, or you can just wrap them around dowel sticks or other thin, square profiled wood and change the paper easily when it loses its edge.

Metal polish

Autosol is a great polish that I’ve used for years but there are a load of others out there that will work.

Conclusion:

It’s actually quite hard paring down the list to start with. It largely depends on what you want to start making. If you are making earrings with a lot of wire work, then pliers may be the main focus.
If you are working with sheet silver to make pendants then a saw, files and hammers may be the key tools to start with.

A vice, peg or other means of holding pieces will also be invaluable but then you’ll something for it to attach to, and so the list grows. It may seem like a lot of kit that you have to gather but the more tools you have the wider your range of work and the less strain on your hands and other body parts!

Pliers are pretty universal in that you’ll use them constantly. It’s the same with files.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9Auuaj2OQw

2016-10-13T18:43:55+00:00 April 27th, 2015|Learning, Tools|

About the Author:

Jo Dix is a jewellery designer/maker who runs a shop and studio in Cumbria, UK. Jo runs workshops and jewellery making courses from her studio as well as The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, Cumbria. Commissions in silver and gold are regularly done, even long-distance bespoke work is taken on.