Jewelry Making Quick Tip: How to Use Wire Cutters

Using Wire Cutters

Have you ever had the problem that your cuts are always pointy?

You’re not alone because I get this question a lot.

The answer is so simple.

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Where to Get Tools for Making Jewelry

Where to get tools for making jewelry

I often get different jewelry making questions.  (Feel free to contact me to ask me a question!)

Today I got this question:

“I’d like to know where I can find jewelry making tools.”

Answer:

If you’re just getting started making jewelry, first think about the budget you have to spend on tools.  What tools you can start with really vary based on the amount of money you can/want to spend.

When you are just very first getting started it probably makes sense to not spend a ton of money on tools unless you’re really sure it’s something you’re going to keep doing.  Jewelry making tools can get really expensive.  You don’t have to start out buying expensive tools right away.

On top of that, sometimes you don’t really know what tools you’ll use the most.  There are different tools for different types of jewelry making and you’ll probably find that there are certain tools you’ll use the most.

After you’ve been making jewelry for a little while and figure out which tools you’ll actually use the most you can upgrade those tools to the nicer, more expensive versions.

For example, when I first started making wire jewelry I got a beginner set of pliers and wire cutters.  As I’ve learned which tools I use the most (and frankly, as I’ve worn them out) I’ve replaced those specific tools with better quality tools.

(Once you have quality tools they will last you a long time!)

3 Basic Wire Wrapping Tools

If you’re making a lot of wire jewelry, I recommend these 3 basic tools that you’ll use over and over again:  wire cutters, round nose pliers and chain nose pliers.

I also have an article I wrote about making jewelry on a shoestring budget that gives you options for switching out tools for items you may have around your house.

Having said that, I’m going to give you a bunch of options and hopefully at least one of them will work for you.

Where to get tools for making jewelry

Where to get tools for making jewelry:

1.  Your toolbox.

When I got started to begin with I found tools in my dad’s toolbox that worked for some things.

This is not a long term solution if you’re going to be making a lot of jewelry, but if you’re just curious to get started it’s a start.

Steer clear of tools that are serrated or have teeth on them because they’ll leave marks on your wire.

2.  Barrow them.

If you’re just getting started, ask a friend to use hers.  Then you can find out what tools you’ll really use the most and then invest in those.

3.  Buy them at craft stores.

I quickly found that I needed tools not from my dad’s toolbox (see #1) and needed to get a set.  My first set came from A.C. Moore.

And better yet, you can use the coupons that stores like Michael’s, Joann’s or A.C. Moore have online to get 40% or more off a set of tools.  They also sell individual tools so you can pick and choose.

If you don’t have these stores nearby, you can check out their online stores as well and get the same deals most of the time.

4.  Jewelry supply stores.

I purchased the tools I use every day now at Rio Grande.  (I don’t see the set that I purchased on their website right now.)

Here are some options of jewelry supply stores:

Rio Grande

Fire Mountain Gems

Art Beads

Happy Mango Beads has a selection of inexpensive tools.

Basically anywhere you find jewelry making supplies like beads, that store will probably also sell tools.

5.  Amazon

And, of course, like everything else, you can find tools for making jewelry on Amazon.

{That’s an affiliate link for Amazon.  If you make a purchase, I get a tiny percentage of it.  You won’t pay more for using it!}

You can also find them in places like garage sales or sometimes on Craigslist or eBay someone will be selling a lot of jewelry making supplies that they’re no longer using and you can get a good deal on tools.

Have a question for me?  Contact me here.

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Jewelry Making Tool Organization

Jewelry Making Tool Organization

I never really thought too much about organizing my tools in a way that worked for me.  I basically kept them all in a big basket and would grab what I needed out of the basket whenever I was making jewelry.

Then I started to accumulate more and more tools.  I had old ones that I don’t use along with the new ones I use constantly.  I was always digging around.

Then I found this acrylic tool holder.

Jewelry Making Tool Organization

To be honest, I didn’t think it would make that big of a difference.  I figured that I would basically do what I did before, but instead of digging around a basket they would be neatly hanging on this tool organizer.

I was wrong!  This has helped so significantly in my work flow.  I have all of my most used tools right at my fingertips at any time.  I can move it around easily to wherever I’m working.  When I’m making my ETC TV videos, I have everything right there.  I don’t have to stop what I’m doing because I suddenly need to grab a tool I forgot to grab.

At first I tried putting a lot more tools on this thing.  It didn’t work as well.  Now I have the tools that I use most often and it works great!

I got mine at Fire Mountain Gems, but I think these are pretty common at most jewelry supply stores.

How do you organize your jewelry making tools?

ECT TV Episode 17: Wire Workshop

Wire workshopLately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about using wire in jewelry making.  So this episode of ECT TV is all about wire.

This is an overview of using wire, so if you still have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Wire Workshop

Wire SafetyWire Safety

#1  Safety Glasses

Your eyes are a very valuable asset and you don’t want to loose them when it’s so simple to protect them.  Wear glasses, safety glass or jewelry making gear with protective eye wear built in.  That way when you cut a piece of wire and it goes flying it won’t end up in your eyes.

#2  Anti-fatigue gloves

These are great when you’re doing small repetitive movements like jewelry making or really making anything and of course typing.  Wear these and you can save yourself a lot of pain later.

I use knitting gloves.  You probably won’t find these in the jewelry making section, but in the knitting/crochet section of a craft store.

#3  Flying wire

Wire is springy and goes where it wants to.  Try to cover the top of wire when you cut it to minimize how far it flies.  Take the time to pick up wire when it flies because it could end up in someone’s barefoot later (I know too well.)

Wire can also break when you pull on it.  For example, when I make rings I pull very hard.  The wire could break and then you could even end up with a tool in your eye.  So be very aware and careful.

Wire WorkWire Temper (Hardness)

Temper is the hardness of wire and is described in terms of dead soft, half hard or hard (or full hard).

#1  Dead Soft

Is very malleable and is very easy to bend.  On the other hand, it does not hold it’s shape well and cannot be used to make anything structural.

#2  Hard or Full Hard

Is not very malleable, but it holds its shape well.  It’s brittle and can break.

#3  Half Hard

This is the middle and can be used for wrapping and structural work.  It’s a great place to start if you’re a beginner.  You can use different gauges of half hard wire for different things.

Doodle Wire NecklaceWire Gauge

Wire comes in gauges from 10 to 28.  The lower the number, the thicker the wire.  So that gauge 10 is very thick and 28 is thin.

Choose the wire gauge based on the project and what it’s use will be.  I use 20 gauge wire for many things, such as making earring wires and for most of my wire wrapping and to make wire wrapped rings.  I use 18 or 16 gauge for more structural things like the necklace above.  For adding beads to a wire structure you would use 24 gauge wire.

Something to note, gauge is not standard worldwide, but it’s really not so different that you’ll notice too much of a difference.

wire shapeWire Shape

There are 3 basic shapes: round, half round and square.

#1 Round

Round is the most versatile and most useful.  You can use it for basically anything.  I use round mostly all the time.

#2 Square

Square wire can be used for basically anything you use round wire for plus it’s really great for bundling wires.

#3 Half Round

Half round wire is great for ring shanks and for binding bundles.

Wire Work ToolsTools to Use to Make Wire Jewelry

I have my three basic favorite tools.  If you’re just starting and have a limited budget.

Those three tools are:

  • Wire Cutters
  • Round Nose Pliers; and
  • Chain Nose Pliers.

And you’ll really need a second pair of pliers as well for wrapping, which I suggest Bent Nose Pliers.

Read more about the 3 basic tools you need to start wire wrapping here.  Plus some basic wire wrapping techniques.

My additional 2 favorite tools are:  Bent Nose Pliers and Nylon Jawed Pliers.  Read more about 2 more tools you need for wire wrapping here.

Plus, you might want to add a few more pliers like Square nose pliers and long needle nose pliers.

How to Use HammersHammers

In addition to the 3 tools I noted above, I would also add a rawhide, nylon or plastic hammer and steel block in order to harden your wire.  (See more about hardening below).

There are lots of different hammers, but I’ll show you 2.

HOw to use a Chasing HammerChasing Hammer

The chasing hammer has 2 sides.  The bigger, wider end and the smaller ball end.  You can use this hammer to put marks in your wire.  You can use the larger side to carefully harden your wire designs with minimal marks (although I would suggest you use a nylon hammer instead).  The round side is great for making cool marks in your jewelry like I did for these Hammered Wire Earrings.

Hammered Wire Earrings TutorialWhen creating a hammered look in your designs, you can actually use any hammer you have around.

You can also shape and bend sheet metal with this hammer.

How to use a Nylon HammerNylon, Plastic or Rawhide Hammers

These hammers are used to harden wire and wire worked designs without marring the wire.

Hammered Wire Earrings TutorialI use this when making earring wires or any other wire creations that I want the shape to stay sturdy.

Hammers for wire wrappingSteel Blocks/Anvils

You’ll also need a steel block or an anvil to hammer on.  You can find these where jewelry supplies are sold and in different sizes.  I got a tiny one with one of my hammers which would be okay to start with.

Hardening Your Wire

There are four basic ways to harden your wire.

#1  Work Hardening

As you work with wire it will harden just by you working with it.  Usually you’ll need to harden it more, but it does harden up as you work it.

#2  Nylon Jawed Pliers

Pulling wire through nylon jawed pliers will harden it (and straighten it!)  You don’t want to do this to the point that you cannot work with it, though.

#3  Hammer

Hammering your wire will harden it.  You can use nylon or rawhide hammers to harden wire without changing it’s shape or use a chasing hammer to flatten the wire.

#4  Tumbler

You can put your finished pieces in a tumbler.  Be careful not to put any stones or beads that could be scratched or damaged in the tumbler.

Memory Wire

Just a quick little note about memory wire.  I don’t use it and I don’t know much about it, but it is not for wire wrapping.  It’s very hard and it’s great for making those fun wrap bracelets, but don’t use your expensive wire cutters to cut it because it will ding them and mar them.

Note:  I mentioned in my video that I’m working on a new free eCourse for my newsletter subscribers.  It’s not quite ready yet, but hopefully in the next week it will be!

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I hope you learned something from this wire overview.  If you’re ready to get started with some simple wraps and make some jewelry from wire, I recommend checking out Wire Wrapping for Beginners

Hammers for Jewelry Making

How to Use HammersHammers are a tool that I know I didn’t start out using, but slowly added over time.  However, hammering is important to harden the wire so that your designs are sturdy.

I’ll show you 2 hammers today.

HOw to use a Chasing HammerChasing Hammer

The chasing hammer has 2 sides.  The bigger, wider end and the smaller ball end.  You can use this hammer to put marks in your wire.  You can use the larger side to harden your wire designs while flattening the wire.

The round side is great for making cool marks in your jewelry like I did for these Hammered Wire Earrings.

Hammered Wire Earrings TutorialWhen creating a hammered look in your designs, you can actually use any hammer you have around.

You can also shape and bend sheet metal with this hammer.

How to use a Nylon HammerNylon or Rawhide Hammers

These hammers are used to harden wire and wire worked designs without marring or flattening the wire.

Hammered Wire Earrings TutorialI use this when making earring wires or any other wire creations that I want the shape to stay sturdy.

How to use jewelry hammersSteel Blocks/Anvils

You’ll also need a steel block or an anvil to hammer on.  You can find these where jewelry supplies are sold and in different sizes.

I hope you’re ready to do some hammering now!