Saturday, June 1, 2013

Wire Work: Tools of the Trade and Tips

by Staci L. Smith

Here are some of my go-to tools for wire work, how I use them and where you can get them.  There are some tips thrown in there too, about good wire working- you should always work for quality first, pretty second.  I like that rule, because I usually get to keep my first try at something, since it may have a spot that is not secure enough, or not finished enough on the back, ect ect......
First tool I couldn't live without is my flush cutters. 
 I use Lindstrom.  I have never tried another brand, and I don't need to, I love these.  They should only be used to cut up to 20 gauge (I think) or you could mar them.  I use them up to about 16 on copper, since it cuts softer.  I have generic hardware store cutters for heavier gauge wires and brass.
Second Tool(s) I could not live without are my round nose pliers and chain nose pliers.
I use the cheapies for these, and have for years and years, but it is killing my hands and wrists, so soon, I will have to get something more ergonomic.  However, like I said, these worked fine for me for a looooooong time.  Never broke either.
I use the round nose for loops and swirls, and the chain nose to wrap wire around, and tuck the ends in tightly.  No one wants to wear something with a pokey wire on it.  This leads me to my next can't live without tool..................
My needle files.
Needle files are perfect when you are using a thicker gauge wire, and can't quite tuck the end under.  They are small and fine and can file the end of the wire, so it is not sharp. 
They also make these, which I use when I make my "s" claps, since I cut all the wire at once, then I round the ends, then I shape it.
To work harden my wire, like when making clasps, or larger elements that I don't want coming out of shape, I use a steel bench block and a chasing hammer.
Now, a chasing hammer will flatten your wire while hardening it, so if you don't want that to happen you can use a rawhide mallet.
When all is said and done, the most important part (to me) is antiquing my work.  I use liver of sulfur and polish cloths for this.
These are my favorite polish pads, hands down, for silver and copper.  They are not cheap, but they work wonders.

That is about it.  You can start with much less, and work with much fancier tools as well, but these are the basics.

I linked to many different shops as well, so that you can maybe be introduced to new suppliers.  The web is at your finger tips, so shop around for best prices and shipping deals! 

What wire work tool is your absolute favorite?

6 comments:

Jeni Gray said...

Thank you SO much for this terrific post! Very helpful! :)

freshbakeddesigns said...

Great post, Staci! Tools can be so confusing for newbies in jewelry making. While not a tool in the traditional sense, I would also like to suggest adding 0000 steel wool to the list. Oxidizing wire work is such a great look and a good scrubbing with the steel wool is a way to define the beauty of the nooks and crannies.

freshbakeddesigns said...

Great post, Staci! Tools can be so confusing for newbies in jewelry making. While not a tool in the traditional sense, I would also like to suggest adding 0000 steel wool to the list. Oxidizing wire work is such a great look and a good scrubbing with the steel wool is a way to define the beauty of the nooks and crannies.

LisaS said...

The only thing I would add is a mandrel. -love to make jump rings ;)

So when is the boot camp reveal date?

Kathy Lindemer said...

Thank you for the great tips! Now I know what to add to my purchase list.

TJewellicious by tanti said...

thank you for share....great post! :)

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