So, you're ready to start making but you're wondering, exactly what do you need to make jewelry? Before you go investing in all your jewelry equipment, ask yourself a few questions to get a better idea about what it is you'd like to make. There is a world full of jewelry making tools, but this list will help break down the basics of necessary jewelry equipment.
Note: The following list is geared toward what you'll need for beginning wire-wrapping techniques, but keep your eyes peeled for other posts that address beadwork and metal smithing.
1. Flat nose pliers
Likely these will be your go-to staple. They'll assist you in opening jump rings, finishing wire-wrapped ends, and a multitude of other things you've yet to imagine! If your budget allows, you may want to consider two pairs of these so that you can grasp anything knowing that you won't leave a crimp in your metal. Be sure to look for ones that have a smooth surface between the jaws!
2. Round nose pliers
These will help you in your wirework with making loops and hoops, bends, clasps and jump rings. For anything that you'd like to have a nice smooth curve, these will be your best friend.
3. Nylon tipped pliers
When beginning wire wrapping it can take a bit to get a hang of the way to bend the wire and it can be easy to get kinks in your material. Some of those can be near impossible to remove without these. Simply grab one end of the wire, grip tightly with your pliers and pull your wire through. Voila, a piece of wire that is useable again!
As you can see mine have been through the ringer and I've altered them so one side is leather. Feel free to use leather on both sides of your flat nose pliers if you prefer.
4. Wire cutters
If you can, invest in a good pair of these. I promise it'll pay off in the end. There are a lot of cheap ones out there and they can wear out pretty quickly, especially when trying to cut thicker wire. Swanstrom and Lindstrom both make great pairs that you'll have for years. This is a piece of jewelry equipment I've found them to be well worth the investment.
5. Toenail clippers
If you're cutting think wire, toenail clippers can be a great substitute for your wire cutters. With a price tag of about $3, they'll be easy to replace if they wear out. They can get in very close to your work so you don't have rough stray ends.
6. Practice material
If you are just beginning, I highly recommend investing in a less expensive material than what you set out to use. If your end goal is to use silver or gold fill, copper wire or other base metal wire works great to help you get a feel for things without wasting your money on valuable metals.
The most basic piece of jewelry equipment would be a standard ruler and likely it's something that you already have. I prefer a graphing ruler because being able to see through it helps me visualize a little better.
8. Your imagination
Lots of times you can utilize things you already have to assist in your designs. Need to make a circle? Look for the perfect silhouette in your pantry or dish ware. Use a baseball bat instead of a mandrel or a sharpie to mark your metal so it will rub off easily as opposed to cutting first. As you learn more, you'll be able to find jewelry making tools everywhere you look. Remember, learning to use new tools can be tricky, so embrace the mistakes, they are an important part of learning!