One of the most overwhelming parts of learning a new craft like jewelry making is knowing what supplies you need to get started. For stringing beads, bead weaving, or wire work, tools like wire cutters and several shapes of pliers are helpful to have on hand.
Most can be purchased at craft stores, online retailers, or even hardware stores. But before you spend your paycheck on your new hobby, gauge the necessity of each tool before you buy.
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Wire cutters are a must-have tool for a jewelry makers kit. They allow you to cut headpins, eye pins, and stringing wire. But actually, you may not need to purchase this tool, as most homes have one in their toolbox. Check the garage or shed first to see if your husband, father, or another family member has a pair lying around before you make a purchase.
Note: To cut memory wire, you'll need memory wire cutters instead of regular wire cutters. Using regular cutters for this type of wire will dent your cutting edge, making it useless.
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Round Nose Pliers
Round nose pliers are not usually found in Dad's toolbox, as these particular pliers are used only for jewelry making. The round edges are perfect for creating simple loops and other rounded wire elements. The jaws of round nose pliers taper towards the point, which allows you to position your wire along the jaw to get the exact size loop you want. For a large loop, place your wire closer to the handles; for a smaller loop, place it towards the tip. To make consistently-sized loops for a particular project, mark the pliers with a permanent marker. This way, you place your wire in the same location every time. When you're done, simply clean the pliers with alcohol to remove the mark.
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Chain Nose Pliers
You might be fooled into using the common needle-nose pliers in place of chain-nose pliers. And in some instances, they may work just fine. However, the flat-jawed chain nose pliers contain a flat surface (as opposed to the needle nose's serrated surface), perfect for gripping jewelry wire without leaving marks or ridges. Chain nose pliers also have shorter jaws than the traditional needle nose variety, making them easier to work with. Chain nose pliers can be used for opening and closing jump rings, as they taper towards the tip and can be easily manipulated into small spaces.
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Flat Nose Pliers
While flat nose pliers are not an essential item in the jewelry maker's toolbox, the non-tapered tip and wide surface area make it easier to grip jewelry wire. If you chose to forego the purchase of this item, you will still need two sets of pliers, however—one to shape the wire and one to hold the other end during manipulation. Two sets of flat-nose pliers or a pair of chain-nose pliers and a pair of flat-nose pliers work well for this purpose.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Some jewelry makers use flat nose or chain nose pliers to smash a crimp bead into position on projects where the wire shows in between beaded segments. Yet, this is not a recommended protocol, as smashing the metal creates an unsightly sharp edge that can cut delicate skin. Enter—the crimping tool, or crimping pliers, with special notches in the jaws used to slightly flatten and round a crimp bead onto the wire. You can use one notch to crimp, and then use a larger notch near the end of the pliers to shape the bead into a round. You can also use this tool to secure a clasp at the end of a project.
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If you have it in your budget and you plan on stringing beads, you may want to add bead stoppers to your kitty. These simple gadgets can save you tons of time by keeping beads in place on the wire. To do so, squeeze the loops on either end of the stopper to spread the springs apart. Then, insert your bead wire and release the loops. This will prevent your beads from sliding off of one end of the project as you work on the other.