Wire Tools for Beginners
by Jennifer VanBenschoten
My first experiences with making wire jewelry were almost 20 years ago when I bought a complete kit at one of my favorite bookstores. The kit came with 3 spools of wire in various metals and gauges, a wonderful book about wire jewelry making, and a set of jewelry making pliers: your standard round nose, chain nose, and flat nose pliers. Two friends and I sat together one rainy Sunday afternoon and taught ourselves how to make spiral links, Egyption spiral bracelets, and all sorts of other fun wire shapes.

Fast forward to today, and now I have a huge collection of wire jewelry tools including bracelet mandrels, ring mandrels, jigs, and fancy mandrel pliers for making shapes out of wire. But if you're serious about getting started with making wire jewelry, there are a few good tools you should think about purchasing. Having a complete tool box handy opens up all sorts of opportunities for learning how to make wire jewelry! Check out my list:
Instructions
Combination pliers. I don't know why it took me so long to get my first pair of combination pliers, but once I did, I found that I use them all the time. These don't necessarily replace your standard round nose pliers and chain nose pliers, but they definitely help me save time when making lots and lots of wrapped loops or simple loops. The combination pliers have one jaw from a round nose pliers and one jaw from a chain nose pliers. Even better, my pair has 3 notches in the chain nose pliers jaw that let me make consistently sized perfect loops, every time!
Jennifer VanBenschoten's Wire Tools for Beginners - , Tool Tips, , combination pliers
Nylon jaw wire straighteners. If you're looking to conserve wire and save time and money, get yourself a pair of nylon jaw wire straighteners. Not only can you use these to tame curvy wire right off the spool, you can also use them to straighten out any kinky mistakes that you make while making wire jewelry. I wear out the jaws on my wire straighteners pretty quickly, and some places sell replacement jaws so that you don't have to buy a whole new pliers every time.
Jennifer VanBenschoten's Wire Tools for Beginners - , Tool Tips, , nylon jaw pliers
Metal files. When you start making earrings, cuff bracelets, and punching holes in flattened wire, you're going to end up with some sharp wire ends that need to be filed down. You can use sandpaper to file down your wire (depending on what type of wire you're using), but I splurged on an inexpensive set of metal files. They were worth every penny! You'll want to make sure you have a way to smooth out the sharp ends of your wire jewelry pieces, particularly if you plan on selling your finished jewelry.
Jennifer VanBenschoten's Wire Tools for Beginners - , Tool Tips, , metal needle files
Heavy duty flush cutter. I bought my first heavy duty flush cutters about 10 years ago, and they have held up very well over time. I use these things to cut everything from fine gauge wire for wire weaving all the way on up to 10 gauge copper wire for wire cuff bracelets and jewelry components. Check your flush cutters periodically for nicks in the cutting surface - that's your indicator that it's time to buy a new pair of flush cutters.
Jennifer VanBenschoten's Wire Tools for Beginners - , Tool Tips, , flush cutters
Steel bench block. I love the look of hammered wire, so I spent a little bit of money on a good steel bench block. There's something so satisfying about being able to hammer out a piece of beautiful copper, sterling silver, or brass wire into an organic flat shape. They make great jewelry making components!
Ball peen hammer. And on that note...if you're going to start hammering wire into all kinds of fun flat shapes, you're going to need a good jewelry hammer. You can start with an inexpensive ball peen hammer that has a flat side and a round side on the head. The flat side can be used for flattening wire, and the round side can be used for adding that "hammered" texture to your wire jewelry projects.
Rubber mallet. Once I started making lots of wire rings, I found that I could adjust the size easily by using my rubber mallet to gently pound the ring band on my ring mandrel. Another good use for a rubber mallet is for strengthening any wire jewelry findings you make out of dead soft wire - just place them on your bench block and give them a pounding with the rubber mallet to harden the wire and help your jewelry findings keep their shape.
Bent nose pliers or jump ring opener. I didn't even think about learning chain maille techniques until I had a jump ring opener. You can either get a pair of curved nose pliers (very handy for getting into tight angles) or a simple ring-type jump ring opener. I love the ring type jump ring opener for when I'm doing chain maille or assembling a complex piece of wire jewelry because I can just keep it on my finger and open and close the jump rings with just a flick of my wrist!
Hole punch pliers. Once you get started hammering away at your wire, you'll find that there are many delightful possibilities that open up when you can punch little holes in your wire! To that end, I can highly recommend getting a pair of sturdy hole punching pliers. I've had my pair for nearly a decade, and they are still holding up well.

What do you think? Are there any tools that you absolutely needed when you were getting started with wire jewelry?
Jennifer VanBenschoten's Wire Tools for Beginners - , Tool Tips, , hole punch pliers

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Tools

Ultimate wire-pliers Set
G15-20
  • G15-20
  • Lesson Quantity:
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $170.72
  • Gold Club Price: $128.04
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Steel and Rubber Bench Block 4x4 Inches
G17-44
  • G17-44
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  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $29.97
  • Gold Club Price: $22.48
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C.H.P Milano Angled Flush Cutter, 5-1/4 Inches
PLR-489.00
  • PLR-489.00
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  • Price: $19.97
  • Gold Club Price: $14.98
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C.H.P Milano Italian Flush Cutter, 5 1/2 Inches
PLR-487.00
  • PLR-487.00
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  • Price: $14.95
  • Gold Club Price: $11.21
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C.H.P Milano Small Sprue Cutter, 6-1/4 Inches, Flush Cut
PLR-488.00
  • PLR-488.00
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  • Price: $22.97
  • Gold Club Price: $17.23
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Power Max Cutter, Full Flush, 6-1/2 Inches
PLR-791.00
  • PLR-791.00
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  • Price: $40.97
  • Gold Club Price: $30.73
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Euro Punch Plier 1.50mm
PLR-133.70
  • PLR-133.70
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  • Price: $14.97
  • Gold Club Price: $11.23
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2 Ounce Rubber Head Hammer
G3-19
  • G3-19
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  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $2.97
  • Gold Club Price: $2.23
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10 Piece Diamond Needle Files - 140mm X 3mm
G14-8
  • G14-8
  • Lesson Quantity:
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $13.57
  • Gold Club Price: $10.18
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5 1/2 Inch Nylon Flat Jaw Pliers with Replacement Jaws
G2-1
  • G2-1
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  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $9.97
  • Gold Club Price: $7.48
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  • Category: Tool Tips
  • Technique(s): Tools