Monday, March 23, 2009

Handy Tools For Wire Wrappers--Part II

Thank you to those who responded to Handy Tools For Wire Wrappers--Part I, I didn't realize there are acutally some jewelry makers reading my blog! In today's post I'll be talking about essential wire wrapping tools.The pictures above shows you my everyday tools.They are not the only ones I use, but are what I can't work without.When I travel, I usually bring these six pliers with me.Sometimes when I think about it, it just doesn't make sense why I use these tools,but I guess after you've been working on wire for a while, you develop your own habits and also your likings for tools, and maybe it doesn't need to make any sense :)
If you are an advanced jewelry maker, you probably noticed most of my tools really aren't fancy.I need to upgrade my pliers because I'm still using the first pairs when I started selling jewelry. I will be upgrading my pliers to either Lindstrom or Swanstrom this year, which cost abour $40-50 per pair.I suppose I should feel a little embarrased about using cheap tools, but all I'm hoping to demonstrate here is that you can still make decent jewelry without expensive tools.

I'm going to go through all tools,starting with the most basic ones.The picture below shows two pairs of round nose pliers.The one in pink is actually a pair of cheap "3-in-1" pliers which combines round nose pliers, flat nose pliers, and cutters, but the cutters are dull so I only use the tip, where you use to make round loops. Rond nose pliers make beautiful loops on a wire, but they don't make sharp angles.Plus you are more likely to mar the wire when you work with round nose pliers.

The following picture shows three pairs of pliers: chain nose pliers(front), flat nose pliers(middle), and bent nose pliers(back).These pliers serve the similar functions: making straight/sharp angles on the wire, and holding the wire without marring it too much.These are also the pliers I use to "tuck in" the end of the wire(e.g. on my wire wrapped rings) for a smooth finish. If you have limited budget, there is no need to buy all three of them.Bent nose pliers or chain nose pliers alone will suffice.

Here comes one of my favorite tools -- nylon jaw pliers.These are the only pliers that are guaranteed not to mar the wire.I use them mostly for straightening the wire.They also have a firm grip so you can use them to hold beads.To straighten the wire, hold one end with bent/flat/chain nose pliers, and then run these nylon jaw pliers through the whole length of wire with some pressure.The surface of the nylon jaw should be smooth when it's new, but mine are totally abused and worn out ...

Another one of my favorite tools--wire looping pliers.Their function is very similar to round nose pliers, but the cool thing is you can make loops of consistent sizes with these. I have wrapped one side of the pliers (where it's supposed to be concave) with some masking tape to prevent them from marring my wire.
The last pliers I'll be talking about are side cutters.You can get economy side cutters for just a few bucks, but the two cutters I'm showing you are made by Lindstrom(these are the first pliers of mine that have been upgraded).The larger one (HS 8152) is their "ultra flush" cutters, and the small one is micro flush cutters.The micro gets into the smallest corner and is perfect for presicion jobs. The ultra flush will cut thicker wire, and because it makes flush cuts,you can make perfect jump rings without having to file them.
Ok.Here comes a few extra things that are great to have. The first item is a polishing cloth. Before working, I run my wire through the polishing cloth when it's a little tarnished. I also use it to clean finished jewelry.

Ultra fine steel wool(grade 0000) also cleans tarnished wire and can be used to partially polish oxidized jewelry.It can be purchased at any hardware store.
Here's something fun to finish this long post -- table top trash cans.They are only about 3" tall and have two openings of different sizes.If you chew gum then you may have recognized the shape of these cans :) Oh yeah, they are Eclipse gum containers that I loooove so much and have to use them to store my sterling silver scrap.

To summarize, start with
-round nose pliers(don't get those 3-in-1 pliers!)
-chain nose or bent nose pliers
-side cutters
and then, if you have more money, you can get
-flat nose pliers
-nylon jaw pliers
and then, when you start to become more advanced, or picky about your jewelry, you should get
-wire looping pliers
-and maybe upgrade your cutters :)
-polishing clothes makes your jewelry more shiny
-steel wool cleans oxidized jewelry
-table top trash cans are cute and handy, but you need to chew a lot of gums to get one :)


Follow The Red Brick Road... said...

Great post, love those trash cans, lol!

by Patricia Wood said...

Love this post, thank you for sharing:)

tstreasures said...

Great info, even for jewelry designers. Thanks.

ZaftigDelights said...

Great article!!

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