Daily Wire Tip: Wire Jewelry Tool Care

By on May 11, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip


I’m just getting started in wire jewelry and have a selection of beautiful new (and expensive) tools.  Can you give me some tips for keeping my tools in prime condition?


What a great ‘first-time’ question! Yes, it doesn’t matter how much your jewelry making pliers cost, they are the means to your end and need to be properly cared for. There are several ways to do just this:

1. Make sure the wire you are using a specific tool on is not too large or heavy for it, as I have seen many different pair of flat nose, round nose and chain nose pliers destroyed by having been forced to perform a technique they were not designed to do. For example, if a pair of needle nose round or chain pliers are used on a heavy wire, their tips will never line up again, as their joint has been bent and their symmetry compromised.

2. The same goes for wire cutters and the temper or hardness of a wire; if a material such as steel or memory wire is cut with your good cutters (whose blades are not meant for such brutality) you will find small divots in their jaws, where the overly hard wire has destroyed the blade. Choose a heavy-duty pair of cutters to cut heavy wire.

3. Rust is the main culprit to watch out for as we use metal tools, and in most parts of the world humidity is a factor. Be sure to keep your tools dry and when storing them in a toolbox, add a silicon gel pac (saved from the many items we purchase today from shoes to computers).

4. Try to keep your tools clean, meaning not left on the floor or a carpet, as small fibers can become caught in their joints, and will eventually make them more difficult to use as fibers and dust will ‘clog up the gears’ so to speak.

5. Some folks like to coat their metal tools with WD-40 or another lubricant, however this will also spread to your hands, wire, etc. (so I choose not to).

6. Do not use your jewelry making pliers for anything except making jewelry! (This means not letting family members use them for other chores.) All in all, using common sense will help to keep your tools in great working order. Choose the right tool for the right job/wire size, hardness, and you will enjoy using them for a very long time!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    May 11, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Item #6 is especially important. My husband grabbed a couple of my Swanstrom pliers from my tool rack to use on a project and ruined them. Needless to say, he had to pay for replacing them and he definately now knows better than to touch any of my tools.

    I am also guilty of Item #2…sigh. I messed up my good cutters using them on cutting copper wire. It took tiny nicks out of the cutting surface on the cutters. So, I now have cutters for the good wire, the other wires and even an older pair for memory wire.

    • avatar

      Genevieve Greene

      May 29, 2012 at 7:23 am

      My husband loves my memory wire cutters! After I wrecked my regular cutters on my first pack of memory wire, I found the fine print on the package which informed me there was such a thing as memory wire cutters. Then the hubby asked to borrow them to cut a cable and told his friend it cuts ‘like butter’. I hide my tools now! Lol. He would replace them though, if he spoilt them.

  2. avatar

    Freddie Phillips

    May 11, 2010 at 11:55 am

    A set of cheap regular tools is also a must, these save your tools for jewelry making, but are on hand for all the other uses you need tools, like getting the top off your jewelry glue etc.

  3. avatar


    May 13, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Also, replace tools as they become worn and inaccurate. I am definately an advocate for the right tool for the right job and that includes in the best working order.

  4. avatar


    February 7, 2012 at 7:06 am

    So throwing my pliers across the room when I’m mad is probably not a good idea =D

    Just wanted to add your most expensive tools are your hands and eyes. Don’t strain your eyes, remember Glasses, Optivisors, and your eye doc are your friends. For your hands take breaks…stretch…listen to them if they are feeling achy….evaluate the achy feeling. Is it because you are not holding your tools properly, working too long, or is it because you need better tools suited for your hands?

    If you can’t see what you are doing and your hands are tired and achy you too will throw your pliers across the room!!

    • avatar


      February 12, 2012 at 10:39 am


  5. avatar


    February 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I work with a lot of copper wire, and I seem to dull the very tips of the wire cutters I like. When that happens, I then mark them and use them for cutting heavier wire. Another great use for a dull pair of wire cutters, is to cut plastic wire ties. We use them to fasten our grid wall together, the grid wall to the pavilion, the lights, etc. We are switching to using more Velcro strips for those we take apart.

  6. avatar

    elizabeth g. shelton

    February 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Hey, Dale, thanks for all the great and helpful daily tips.
    These are especially helpful in caring for our valuable tools.
    regards, elizabeth

  7. avatar


    August 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I’m confused. :0? So are you saying that if I use cooper wire that it will ruin my cutters? I use a lot of copper wire & artistic wire, because I need to practice more before I graduate to sterling wire.

    • avatar


      August 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

      Hi Willow, I’m guessing that Mary (above) probably used her cutters on some large-gauge electrical copper wire. I did the same thing – cutting small copper wire was ok, and then I tried to tackle some 12-gauge. Oops.

      That pair still cuts, but it doesn’t give the nice flush cut anymore. In my experience, the smaller gauges didn’t marr the cutters, but I have heard it recommended to save one cutter for your best wire (gold filled or silver), and then your next-best cutters are for base metal wire.

  8. avatar


    December 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Guilty as charged for the cutters…. but for #5 I find that rubbing a little Cut Lube (used for files/drill bits) into the joint works wonders. Since it’s not a liquid, it’s not messy. Rubbing a little on the joint areas (both sides) and then opening and closing the pliers/cutters several times works the lubricant in. I’ve also used it on mandrels for coiling… it helps to slide the coils off effortlessly.

    For those pliers that have a little rust on them, I’ve also used Sewing Machine Oil (just a tiny drop goes a very long way). It seems to “lift” the rust and any dust and is easily wiped off with a lint-free cloth.

  9. avatar


    December 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    I have a set of diamond sharpening files so if my cutters need it I sharpen them- but they end up as flush cutters as the sharpening flattens the flattest side as for using fine pliers with heavy wire is there a way of knowing which pliers are best with which wire without ruining them- a table of sizes to pliers as I should think other than cutting memory wire or very thick wire with the wrong cutters I should think that would be one of the commonest mistakes any beginner makes

  10. avatar


    January 14, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I love bead weaving and making wire jewelry! However, as I get older, my arthritis is becoming more and more of a problem. Are there tools for wire working that are better for arthritic hands? Is there a trick for gripping a needle that is easier for my knobby digits? Thanks -