When I first started beading, I am afraid to admit, I didn’t invest in any kind of beading tools. I just used common household tools to get the job done. Now that I have been beading for a while, I know how important my specialized tools are. I thought I would pass along what I have learned about what to use and when for those of you who are still digging around in the garage looking for that specific cutting device or pair of pliers.
1. Nipper Tool - This is probably the most important tool you will ever own. It is a cutting tool that has an angled blade which enables you to get in between beads for a tight, close cut. This tool works best on beading wire and wire that is 20 gauge or softer.
2. Memory Wire Shears - Even if you don’t ever want to work with memory wire, this is a must have item. While your Nipper tool is great for softer wires, its edges can quickly become dulled when used on heavier gauges of wire as well as plated chain; memory wire shears are the perfect solution to the dulling blade problem.
3. Round Nose Pliers - If you ever intend to work with wire at all—whether it be making simple drop beaded earrings or creating stunning wire wrapped work around a pendant – round nose pliers are a necessity.
I personally prefer the Beadsmith “La Femme” Ergo Pliers, Round Nose Pliers because the handles are curved and have a great grip. This helps reduce fatigue and makes wire wrapping much more comfortable.
4. Chain Nose Pliers -These are great for a variety of things: opening jump rings, closing crimp covers, straightening wire loops, making right angle bends in wire, flat crimping, and so on. The best tip I can give about chain nose pliers, though, is this: You will probably actually want to keep two pair handy for opening and closing jump rings; if you try to use a pair of chain nose pliers and a pair of round nose pliers to do the job, your wire will probably get a little dented.
Again, I prefer the Beadsmith Ergo Pliers, Chain Nose With Cutter for the level of comfort the handles provide.
5. Tweezers - I know this may sound like a strange one, but you will be surprised how much you will use and need tweezers in your beadwork. They are a great and inexpensive alternative to Split Ring Pliers. In addition, tweezers can be used when you are weaving if you get tangled or need to undo your work. Bent nose tweezers are particularly great for flat back designs as well as getting into tight spaces when needed.
You will discover what brand of tool you like best as your skill level improves (and through a little buying trial and error), but having your top five tools always handy will make accomplishing your projects much easier—not to mention making your beadwork even more beautiful!
Shanna Steele, Auntie’s Beads Designer