Essential Tools That Every Jewelry Maker Needs
Jewelry making is an ancient craft that remains popular to this day. Once a job for very specialized and mentored individuals, nearly anyone can become a lapidary today! This art can serve as a fun, engaging hobby to do alone or with friends. It’s also a fantastic way to make special, meaningful gifts for your loved ones. You can even hone your skills and make jewelry making a full-blown career.
Regardless of the path you choose, becoming a lapidary is highly rewarding, both personally and potentially financially. However, before you start crafting necklaces, rings, and bracelets, you’ll need the proper gear. Some of these items you may already own, while others are specific to the jewelry-making process. Use this helpful list of the essential tools that every jewelry maker needs as you prepare to take up this unique craft.
Pliers, Pliers, Pliers
Wire wrapping is a huge aspect of jewelry making, and as such, the importance of owning quality pliers is impossible to understate. In fact, most lapidaries own three variations of pliers and sometimes more! Each type of plier suits different, specific functions, and you’ll definitely use each one throughout your jewelry-making endeavors.
Flat Nose Pliers
Flat nose pliers are the most popular lapidary tools, thanks to their effectiveness and versatility. Their main functions include finishing wire-wrapped ends, opening jump rings, and many other wire-wrapping-related tasks. You’ll want a flat nose plier that sports a smooth surface between the jaws to avoid crimps and scuffs. We also recommend getting at least two flat nose pliers to clamp multiple sections of your wire—this also prevents metal crimps.
Nylon-tipped pliers are essential for any aspiring and professional lapidary, but they’re especially valuable for beginners. When you first start wire-wrapping, you’ll make mistakes—kinks in your metal are the most common ones. You can reduce this issue with practice, but nylon-tipped pliers make rectifying kinks far easier. Simply clamp or hold an end of your wire and run the rest through your pliers. The nylon tip will effectively remove issues, helping reduce your waste and, in turn, saving you a bunch of money.
Round Nose Pliers
Round nose pliers are practically as important as flat nose pliers but mainly serve one function: making smooth loops and hoops. Use a round nose plier anytime you are creating bends, rings, clasps, loops, or hoops with metal wire. We recommend getting two of these pliers to ensure you always have one handy.
The most crucial lapidary tools following the three variations of pliers are cutters. Every jewelry maker should have two types of cutters in their toolbox. These items, as their name suggests, accurately and easily cut wires without causing significant damage.
Standard Wire Cutters
Since these tools are highly versatile, you’ll use a standard wire cutter for nearly all of your work. They’re excellent for cutting thicker metal materials, especially precious metals. What characteristics make for a quality wire cutter?
The blade material is very important—the harder the material, the better for stronger metals. Softer blade materials are ideal for thin wires. Secondly, a long handle makes cutting less labor intensive and can help you save stamina when making jewelry. Lastly, consider the cutter’s cutting capacity, which refers to the size of wire that it’s capable of cutting through without causing crimps or other damages.
Flush cutters are arguably more useful than standard wire cutters for one reason: their design doesn’t leave behind loose ends! Why aren’t they as popular as standard wire cutters? The major setback of flush cutters is their cutting capacity.
Flush cutters have multiple gauges, so cutting wires too thick for the cutters can actually cause significant damage to both your tool and jewelry. Still, if you’re working with material that requires specialized equipment, it doesn’t hurt to have one of these guys in your lapidary collection.
Now, let’s dive into one of the unique, more lapidary-specific tools that every jewelry maker should own. A jeweler’s saw allows you to create small, intricate designs or accurately cut precious metals. Most of these saws allow for multiple blade sizes, giving you an all-in-one device for sensitive work. We highly recommend that you run your blade through some lubricant before operating. This practice ensures the blade remains sharp and effective. It also reduces the chance of bouncing, which could result in an injury.
Wires technically count as materials rather than actual “tools,” but knowing which ones are essential is important for this craft. First and foremost, you must understand the differences between base and precious metals.
Base metals commonly used in jewelry include nickel-silver, copper, brass, and steel. They’re affordable and typically easy to wrap. Precious metals are the opposite—they’re more expensive and rare, and certain ones require more delicate, specialized wire wrapping processes. Precious metal examples include gold, platinum, palladium, and silver.
Now, let’s explore the essential wire sizes you’ll need for jewelry making:
24-Gauge Wire: This size is ideal for larger beads that require more strength and stability.
26-Gauge Wire: This wire size is the most common size and fits most beads. It’s easy to cut, but its thin size still provides enough strength for most applications.
28- and 30-Gauge Wire: These wires are essential when using precious beads or beads with smaller holes. 28- and 30-gauge wires are not very strong and make for poor bracelet materials.
Wax Carving Pen
Wax carving is a vital process for creating complex designs. Lapidaries and hobbyists use wax casts to sculpt finished jewelry products accurately. As a lapidary, you’ll want a wax carving pen to assist you when working with wax. A carving pen gives you control when shaping wax molds. These tools are so dependable that even dentists use them for creating teeth molds!
This list of essential tools can better prepare you for an enjoyable experience or a successful career while making jewelry. Every jewelry maker needs exceptional equipment to improve their craft—Cutting Edge Supply has an impressive collection of quality lapidary tools and resources for all your specific needs. Order your equipment today!