Choosing Pliers
by Judy Larson
I have been a "tool junkie" ever since I can remember-over 60 years. Wonderful memories were created on trips to the hardware store with my Dad. He could always justify a new tool. Since I loved "helping" in his wood shop, I learned that skill, which has transferred over to my jewelry making hobby. I still love walking down the tool aisles of home improvement stores and often come home with new "treasures."

When making jewelry, we are always told to purchase the best tools you can afford. That is not always necessarily true. I own inexpensive dime store tools as well as high-end name brand ones. They each have their uses and I would not be without them. The ones I use most often are always on my desktop. Other specialty tools are stored in clear shoe boxes in a cabinet next to my desk so I can find them easily.

When most people start their jewelry making journey, they start with wire and wire weaving. A simple set of tools will suffice for a while. Wirework has been likened to the gateway to sheet metal and torches. If/When that happens, then a better variety of pliers and higher end tools are the next step. And then life throws in the challenges of advancing age, and different types of tools may be needed. Ah, the joys of the "rusted" years!

When you first start to work with wire, etc., you really are not sure if you will like it and continue. It is hard to justify spending a great deal on a set of tools.

wirejewelry.com offers their own brand of basic tool sets that will take care of your needs. These sets are so good that you may not feel the need to use any other tools, but may just want to try out a new brand.
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers
Things to consider:

Price

Low end hobby store pliers are just that-low end and not meant to last so the price per use could end up being pretty high. Instead of my better, more expensive tools, I use the hobby store pink handle pair, left in the photo, to hold wire when making balled head pins using a torch. The inside surface of the jaws is not smooth like higher end pliers, so they hold wire securely. The surface inside lower end flat nose pliers jaws (not shown) makes it easier to secure soldered jump rings when making them into ovals. The black surface on the tips of the round nose pliers, second from the left, is not smooth, making it easier to hold a wire end to start a spiral coil. Smooth surfaces on higher end tools, the two on the right, are less likely to mar metal.
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers
Handle Length

The length of the handle should fit your hand as well as the project being worked on. The jaws of the same type of plier may be similar in size, but the handles different in length. Longer handles can translate to less hand strain when manipulating wire and metal.
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers
Handle Width

The thicker the handle, the less hand strain caused when working on a project for long periods with the tool. It takes more work to hold a thinner/smaller handle.
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers
Jaw Spring Back

Most pliers will have some sort of double leaf spring, first photo, which does make it easier on your hand when repeatedly having to open and close the plier jaws. However, continually having to hold pliers closed can cause hand fatigue quickly. Lindstrom created a line of pliers with an adjustable Bio-Spring (second photo) that helps with this problem.
Most specialty pliers do not have a spring to automatically open the jaws.
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers
Health

Padded handles, ergonomic grips, and pliers that fit your hand are essential if you are serious about wire and metal work. What works for someone else may not work for you. Yes, there will be a bit of trial and error until you find the best tool for you at the time. Remember, as the years go on, your needs will change. Always be open to new things.

No matter what pliers you use, continually be aware of muscle strain when working. Repetitive motions can cause physical damage. It is a good idea to step away from your work every 30 minutes or so and stretch to relieve muscle tension. Years from now, your body will thank you for that habit.
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers
Judy Larson's Choosing Pliers - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, Tools, choosing pliers

Materials

No materials listed

Tools

WireJewelry - Ultimate Wire-Pliers Jewelry Pliers with Case, Set of 5
G15-20
  • G15-20
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $170.72
  • Gold Club Price: $128.04
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LINDSTROM EX KIT- 4PC
PLR-7000EX
  • PLR-7000EX
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $232.95
  • Gold Club Price: $174.71
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Lindstrom RX Ergonomic Chain Nose Pliers
G2-7890RX
  • G2-7890RX
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $71.57
  • Gold Club Price: $53.68
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Dual Size Round Nose Plier
G2-719
  • G2-719
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $34.95
  • Gold Club Price: $26.21
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6 Step Barrel Plier - Pack of 1
G2-503
  • G2-503
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $18.95
  • Gold Club Price: $14.21
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Classic Wubbers Chain Nose Pliers
G2-1234
  • G2-1234
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $27.97
  • Gold Club Price: $20.98
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  • Category: Tools
  • Technique(s): Tools