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Ultimate Tool List
There are many different jewelry-making styles and although each requires several tools that are similar, many techniques need specific tools. Let's look at a few options to help create your Ultimate Tool List.
First: A pair of crimping pliers, most often used by beaders, can also be used by wire wrappers to tuck the end wire in on a wrapped loop. Chain maille artists often use two pairs of wider tip chain nose pliers. One pair is sufficient for a wire wrapper, who also likes to have a pair of needle nose chain nose pliers to make tiny loops at the very ends of wire.
Secondly: Folks who do a lot of round wire designs use almost any pair of flat nose pliers, but wire wrappers who work mainly in square wire need a pair that have perfect angles (with no dips or bulges on their sides). Some people like pliers that have extra cushion on their handles; others) think the extra bulk is difficult to hold for long periods of time. Then there is the choice of longer handles. I am a firm believer that all pliers need to have a good spring hinge of some sort, so you don't have to constantly open pliers while using them.
Just about everyone can use a nice set of fine diamond files and/or an Arkenstone to remove sharp ends and burrs (then again an emery board works well too, even on metal clays), and we all need a good pair of wire cutters as well as a pair of small nippers for tight spots.
Then there are mandrels. Almost all jewelry makers need a neck mandrel, a worthwhile investment! Depending on what style of bracelet you want to make, some folks like to use a steel bracelet mandrel. Most wire wrappers don't use one, as we often incorporate beads and stones into the design (that don't do well while forging on a steel mandrel). Most of us use plastic bottles and shape by hand.
Mandrels usually require that an item be beaten on it or forged, so a mallet is necessary. I like a medium had rawhide mallet, but lots of folks like using a nylon one.
Forging is used in lots of jewelry making styles, so a basic chasing hammer and bench block should be on your list too. And if you want to get into more metal smithing, a dapping block will be useful along with a jeweler's saw and diamond blades.
A set of carat scales is indispensable if you are working with gemstones, and a ruler is a must for all of us! I prefer a plastic, transparent ruler so I can also use it for quick measurements on stones. Again, if you want to work with gemstones, a caliper is very handy. (I can't live without my digital one!) And I can't forget - a good pair of Optivisors not only helps you to see tiny details, but is also protection for your eyes.
wirejewelry has several tool sets available. As you are looking for universal but 'good' tools, on a scale of 1 to 4, 1 being best, here is my opinion on our tool sets:
We also offer a NEW "Ultimate Wire-Pliers Set" that has been built espicially for wirejewelry.com
Hopefully with this Ultimate Tool List, you will help you fill your workbench and create wire-wrapping mastepieces.
Answers contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong