Daily Wire Tip August 4: Lindstrom or Swanstrom Pliers?

By on August 3, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
August 4, 2011

Question:

Dale, I’ve read your posts and articles about tools and have a question. I noticed you recommend the Swanstrom brand of pliers and am wondering what the difference and benefits are as opposed to Lindstrom. My husband bought me an entire set of Lindstrom pliers for Christmas one year and I love them. Are Swanstrom pliers better quality/comfort-wise than Lindstrom?

-Traci in Palmer, Alaska

Answer:

Hi Traci, tools really are a personal preference, depending on the style of wire jewelry you want to make. I know a lot of folks who have only used Lindstrom tools for creating wire jewelry using mostly round wire in a variety of gauges. These same people have tried Swanstrom when making wire pieces using square and half round wire and now own both brands! They still prefer Lindstrom for their round wire but enjoy the benefits and ease of using Swanstrom for square wire designs.

The reason is that when you most often use square and half-round wire, you need a perfect pair of flat nose pliers. In my opinion, flat nose pliers need to have very smooth jaws, and need to be perfectly flat and square, as well as have a gentle graduation from about 1mm to 3mm as the jaw forms from the tip toward the handle. The width across the tip of flat nose pliers should be no wider than 3mm. When making a hook at the end of a piece of either square or half-round wire (that is meant to begin a wrap across a square wire bundle of 2 or more wires) the hook needs to be as close to the size of the width of the bundle as possible. In this way, the hook will not slip when beginning the wrap. When wrap wire is bent over the jaw of flat nose pliers, it should be perfectly straight, and not have even the subtlest hint of a curve. This feature will also help a single or segments of wraps slip while you are working, or after the project is done. If you look at the sides of both brand named flat nose pliers, you will notice that the Swanstrom flats are perfectly square, smooth and flat while the Lindstrom flats have a duck shaped jaw with a divot in the side.


Lindstrom Flat Nose Pliers

Now although both brands of tools are a bit pricey, I firmly believe that having one good pair of flat nose pliers is imperative to executing great traditional wire jewelry techniques (using a majority of square and half-round wire). As a wire jewelry instructor for more than 16 years, I have seen many students struggle in my classroom with what I would consider the wrong tool for the job. It doesn’t matter how expensive the tool is, but it must do what you choose it to do! I then loaned these students what I consider a good tool for the job and the difference was amazing!


Dale’s frequently-used flat nose pliers (Swanstrom pair is in the middle)

As you can see in the photo, I personally use a LOT of different pliers, including 5 different flat nose styles. Traci, I do appreciate your question and I guess my summary would be to use whichever brand that suits you, for the specific job at hand!

How about my fellow wire jewelry artists? Will you share your favorite tool with us, and why it’s your favorite? (This could be fun-Thanks!!)

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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11 Comments

  1. avatar

    Mary

    August 4, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Like Dale, I have a variety of different pliers and such on my work bench. Everything from flats to bent nose and I use them each for different things in both round and square wire.

    But I am a diehard Swanstrom fan and my first major investment years ago was in a set of these pliers. I love those pliers. So imagine my heartache when “someone” borrowed my flats during a class and took them home.

    Tools are a personal thing. Brands and choices differ from person to person. But, for a true pair of square flat is the Swanstrom for sure.

    Scrimshaw Mary

  2. avatar

    Jane Elizabeth

    August 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Hey Traci! I agree that flat nose pliers especially in working with square wire needs to be square and precise. I use Revere tools (made in Germany) and wouldn’t trade them for the world. I also agree you should try different brands if your not happy with your present pair, be open to new products but more importantly stick with what feels right in your hand!

  3. avatar

    Disenos Del Corazon

    August 4, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I just purchased two pairs of Wubbers for creating wrapped loops and let me tell you, I LOVE them. I have also used them for making jump rings and each one is perfect. No more variation in loop size in my jewelry!

  4. avatar

    Mint Schlief

    August 4, 2011 at 11:17 am

    What a great question Traci…and what a great answer Dale!! When I was first learning to wrap, Lindstrom tools were recommended and I bought a nice set. As I progressed with my skills and started making more complex pieces that may have a bundle of 12 or more wires, I found that I could not exert the necessary pressure for wrapping so many wires (especially when wrapping with square wire!). I actually broke 2 pairs of flat nose pliers in the joint before Dale introduced me to Swanstrom. I still use my Lindstom for more delicate work. Another great feature of Swanstrom is their tools with longer handles for larger hands. It really helps when I have the rare opportunity of spending a whole weekend working on projects!

  5. avatar

    Nan

    August 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I love my Swanstrom pliers. I got 3 pair in a kit and use them almost exclusively. The flat nose on the pair I have are perfect for wrapping!

  6. avatar

    Traci

    August 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Dale,

    Thank you SOOO much! I had that aha moment while reading your response. This is why my wraps ALWAYS slip! You Rock Dale!
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      August 5, 2011 at 2:41 am

      :) No problem Traci, happy to turn on the light bulb!

  7. avatar

    Cis

    August 8, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I have a full set of each; the RX group from Lindstrom and the Swanstrom from WS.com. Both are outstanding tools and it is entirely a matter of personal preference because they are of equal quality. Use what feels best in your hand and accomplishes your objective. Each are definately worth what they cost, in fact, they are a real value.

  8. avatar

    Traci

    September 13, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks so much for all the comments and info! As soon as I can afford it I’m buying some Swanstrom pliers. :)

  9. avatar

    Patricia

    October 26, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Dale, is there a brand of excellent pliers (particularly flat nose) for those of us with small hands, for whom a 6″-6 1/2′ handle just gets in the way?

  10. avatar

    Dawn

    April 23, 2016 at 1:40 am

    I now have trigger thumb from making pendants. I hope a good set of tools will make some difference.Has anyone ever had that problem?I think eventually it will lock up and I’ll have to have surgery..But I love wrapping my stones.

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