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Jewellery making is an incredibly popular craft as it allows you to personalise unique pieces of jewellery precisely to your own taste. Not only is it about individualising your attire, but you can also be certain that the quality of materials used is exactly to your standards. However, a well-constructed piece of jewellery isn't just about the quality of the components used – the construction process itself is really important too!
To make your own jewellery, you must first be aware of the tools required to carry out the task. Honestly, you don't have to be the most skilled crafter to create something beautiful, that comes in practise. But you should have the confidence in knowing you're using the correct equipment for the job. This is where we're stepping in to assist, having devised a list of jewellery making tools any jewellery maker should have in their kit.
It's important to note that this list contains basic tool recommendations – on top of this selection, there's a whole host of other tools better suited to more advanced jewellery making techniques. Fundamentally, pliers and cutters are the essentials. But as there are so many variations out there, how should you know which to buy? To help you reach an understanding of what you'll need to get started on your project, whether it involves threading beads, cutting cord or looping wire, we'll explain all you need to know.
Pliers allow you to perform a multitude of jewellery making techniques, from bending wire and making loops to flattening components and stringing beads. The huge variety of pliers available to purchase is a little bewildering, but each has its own specially-built purpose to make your crafting process a little bit easier. With that in mind, our top picks are as follows …
Bent chain nose pliers have, as you'd assume, bent jaws which allow you to extend your reach within a project. These distinctive pliers are flat on the inside of the jaw and rounded on the outside, providing you with the means to hold jewellery making components without obstructing your vision, as well as enabling you to work with tighter areas and awkward angles.
Chain nose pliers are rounded and tapered on the outside of their jaws, but are flat inside. These straight pliers are extremely versatile in jewellery making as they allow you to reach smaller spaces, so are used to complete a variety of different tasks – such as firmly holding jewellery elements, opening and closing jump rings, and bending wire.
If you're working with wire or any other stringing materials that you can't knot, you'll most likely need to use crimp beads to secure a clasp. But the problem with crimping is that it doesn't provide the prettiest finish – so as we see it, you have two options here: you can either stock up on crimp covers to disguise the flattened finding, or invest in a pair of crimping pliers to produce a neater finish. These specialist pliers have specially-shaped inside jaws to create rounded shapes instead of completely squashing crimp beads, whilst providing the security you need in your jewellery piece.
Flat-nosed pliers are renowned for their strong grip, providing flat jaws to maintain a consistent tension and even pressure. These pliers are primarily used to firmly clench wire in wirework, bend wire at precise right angles, and flatten crimp beads.
Loop closing pliers are designed with a very specific task in mind: closing jewellery making elements consisting of a loop or ring. With a rounded tip as opposed to a narrow one like most other forms of pliers, this tool features grooves inside each jaw for jump rings, loops and links to snuggly sit inside, holding the component stable whilst neatly closing it.
Nylon jaw pliers particularly differ from other types of jewellery making tool as their jaws are lined with a nylon contact surface, resulting in firmer grip. Designed to make clasping wire far easier, whilst preventing distortion in texture and shape that can commonly occur with metal jaws, these pliers are predominantly used to straighten wire.
Round-nosed pliers have completely rounded tapered jaws that allow you to smoothly loop, bend and curve wire in a range of sizes. But these multi-talented pliers aren't just well suited for wirework – they're also commonly used to open and close jump rings, or loop headpins and eyepins.
Differing to other forms of pliers, step jaw pliers don't have matching jaws, but instead feature one rounded outside jaw that's flat inside and one jaw with rounded graduated steps. This specialist tool is specifically designed to create smooth wire coils and loops in three different sizes – simply hold your wire between the jaws and twist it around the step of your choice to create a precise loop.
Cutters are always a necessity in jewellery making projects – especially if you're working with wire. These handy tools allow you to create sharp, flat cuts with perfect precision so that you can produce something that looks truly professional. There are many different cutters out there available to buy, so we've singled out the three we believe are most important for the beginner jewellery maker.
Memory wire cutters are specifically built for use with memory wire. As it's notoriously difficult to work with, these cutters feature the toughest blades with a specialist rounded jaw opening for the wire to snuggly fit inside, tightly compressing to make sharp, clean cuts. If other forms of cutters are used with this hard wire, there's a high risk of damage to their jaws.
Side cutters are your basic tool for cutting soft to medium wire in jewellery making projects, featuring short, sharp jaws to provide quick and clean cuts with a neat finish. It's recommended that every jewellery maker owns a pair of these.
Snippers are designed for use with cord and thread as opposed to wire, and are extremely sharp to prevent the fraying of fibres. This essential tool features long, straight jaws to provide slick, accurate cuts in a matter of milliseconds.