When you are creating jewelry, you start with an idea, then generate a design. Do you sketch your design on paper or use one of the great drawing programs available for your computer? Once you've formed a plan, it's time to organize your supplies and begin assembly. In each of these steps, you use tools. For the idea, your creative mind is the tool. Next, you use a tool of your choice to make your idea a visual. However, with the assembly process, there are several implements you might choose. Let's talk about a few of these jewelry making tools and how to use them.
First Things First...Safety Above AllFinger guards and safety glasses may be the first safety supplies to come to mind. However, if you make jewelry at home and have small children or pets, you'll want to make sure that the tiny elements of your trade are kept secure, even while you're working. A good tool box or storage case and a safe work place with a beading mat or tray with a catch-all edge could be useful. Not only will your little ones be safe, but you won't be spending your time chasing beads and findings around on your floor or table top.
Basic ElementsWhatever materials you decide to work with, you will need the basic elements. KZ Chains and Leather offers over 140 styles of base metal chain and over 40 styles of leather, along with PVC bands and cotton cords and a multitude of findings, sliders, pendants and clasps.
A Helping HandThere will be times when you wish you had an extra hand or two. This is when a bench pin holder, a bench clamp or vice or a 'helping hands' tool attached to your work space will come in handy. The latter is usually equipped with one or two alligator clips, or the equivalent, a magnifying glass and possibly even a pinpoint light. What a great tool for close work with small findings or for soldering!
Pliers and CuttersNext in importance would be a set of pliers. There is a wide variety of sizes and styles available, depending on the kinds of jewelry you'll be making. But if you are starting with the basics, good chain nose pliers are a must. You will find them essential for holding, opening and closing jump rings, wire wrapping, fixing broken jewelry and making loops in wire and headpins. In the same basic category, if you are working with chain, you'll need a way to cut it to custom lengths. Wire cutters will give you a clean cut with little effort.
Smoothing ToolsFiles and sanding or emory sticks can be used for smoothing edges and ends of wire and metal. They can also be used to add texture to some of your jewelry elements.
Some Additional ThoughtsOther tools you might think about collecting are:
- a finely calibrated metal ruler
- an assortment of glues and adhesives for the various materials you use
- an awl and hammer, if you work with leather
- metal stamps and punches to decorate the leather
- a drill and bits if you work with stone or wood
- cleaning and polishing supplies
- soldering supplies
- jewelry making books for ideas and techniques
As your experience grows, I'll bet you develop a practice of seeing a possible tool everywhere you look. Think of all the common, everyday items you have in just your kitchen junk drawer that could be useful in your jewelry making ventures...a paper clip, a clothes pin, tweezers and duct tape, just to name a few.
When you keep all your supplies and tools organized, you can do your job so much more efficiently. I hope this article has been helpful. If you would like to share the tools you use or your ideas for items that can be used as tools, your comments below will be appreciated by us all.