When I first got started with this little adventure called jewelry making, I thought the only tools I needed were cutting tools, round nose pliers and chain nose pliers. Ha – shows what I knew! Now there are so many must have wire working tools on the market, I just don’t even know where to begin.
Round Nose and Chain Nose Pliers
The most basic- and arguably most important- wire working tools that you will need are a pair of round nose pliers and a pair of chain nose pliers. The round nose pliers are used primary for making for making loops. For example, if you are making earrings and would like to dangle a bead from a connector or other finding, you can use your round nose pliers to make a pretty, uniform looking loop above the bead. In Karla Schafer’s project to the right, “Sassy Saucer Earrings,” you can see an example of this technique.
Chain nose pliers are used to perfect, as well as open and close the rosary loops made with round nose pliers. By the way, a rosary loop is a loop that is cut when it reaches the wire instead of wrapped around it. You can watch our KarlaKam Drop Beading Video to see how to use your round nose and chain nose pliers to create, open and shut loops in wire.
One Step Looper
In the last year or so, BeadSmith has introduced the 1-Step Looper. If you are a person who likes to make your own beaded chain or even just makes a lot of rosary loops for drop beaded earrings, this tool is a life saver and you will not know how you ever lived without it. You put a piece of wire into an opening, press down and it creates a loop and even trims your excess wire. How wonderful is that?! If you would like to see this innovative tool in action, check out our KarlaKam, Using the 1-Step Looper.
Wire Looping Pliers
Another good tool to have on hand for making loops is the Wire Looping Pliers. One jaw on this set of pliers has 3 different sizes to help you create different sized loops; the other jaw is curved. The construction of this set of pliers allows you to insert a piece of wire at the desired size, press the curved upper jaw down, rotate the tool slightly and – voila! – quickly and easily create a simple loop. Before we had memory wire pliers, I used this tool religiously to finish memory wire instead of using the glue-on caps. If you would like to see a video demonstration of how to use Wire Looping Pliers, check out Kelly’s Pompeii Bracelet Video.
Jump Ring Maker
While jump rings are fairly inexpensive and easy to obtain, you may find that every once in a while, your design calls for a color of jump rings you don’t have: pink, red, turquoise or even black. Or you may want to learn the art of chain maille and want to save money by making your own components. If you are using a lot of jump rings or just want to create your own fun and uniquely colored artistic wire jump rings, invest in a jump ring maker. The small size allows you to create jump rings from 4 to 8mm; the larger size makes 10 to 16mm rings. Why limit yourself to the ready-made jump rings you have on hand when you can use a simple tool to create jump rings out of virtually any wire available? Imagine the versatility of color, gauge and size you will have at your finger tips if you purchase a jump ring maker and invest just a little time and practice learning to use it. You can save money, too, by purchasing a variety of wires and creating your own jump rings instead of purchasing them already made. If you could use a video demonstration of how to use a jump ring maker, check out this KarlaKam instructional video, How to Use an EZ Jump Ring Maker.
The Coiling Gizmo and Thing-a-ma-jig
Things like a jig, a coiling gizmo, or a spiral maker will bring whimsy and fun to your jewelry designs. These tools allow you to create decorative pieces and are great wire working tools, even for beginners. These tools, like the jump ring maker, also work well with artistic wire because you can pick interesting colors in your favorite size wire and incorporate color into your designs in a really fun way. The Coiling Gizmo is particularly fun and creates beaded coil beads that make great focals. It is also relatively inexpensive, retailing at around $8.99. To use the coiling gizmo, you first clamp the gizmo itself to a block of wood, your table or another stable work surface to hold it steady. Then, you load your wire onto the provided cranks (sometimes referred to as “mandrels”) and wrap the wire around them so it stays in place. You then load the mandrel into the gizmo, start to crank it and watch your coil form! Once you have a coil, the possibilities are endless. You can cut it into smaller pieces and use them as cool, one-of-a-kind jewelry spacers. Or, you can slide your coil unto a second piece of wire and use your gizmo again to create a unique looking spiral bead, like shown in the photo to the right. We have an instructional video if you would like to see how to use this tool.
A Deluxe Jig (or thing-a-ma-jig) is very useful for creating elaborate loops and swirls for jewelry. Want to loop around several times and then create a cool spiral? You can create “S” clasps, swirly hearts, cool teardrops, etc. If you can draw it, you can create it with wire using the Deluxe Jig. The jib is a rectangle piece of metal with holes in it. It comes with different pegs which the user can connect to different holes. You then wrap the wire around the pegs. You can use the patterns which come with the jig or you can come up with your own! We are hoping to create an instructional video for this tool in the near future.
Artistic Wire Brand Wire Crochet Tool
If you like to make beautiful crochet necklaces out of small gauge wire, this tool will help you out. It comes with a large needle to hold onto and a small crochet hook. You can use it to make various patterns of crochet work. One of our earliest KarlaKams demonstrates how to make a crochet necklace.
I am not an expert at working with wire by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love to play and learn new things about my favorite hobby. If you have some tips and tricks of the trade you would like to share, please do so! Have a favorite wire working tool or technique? Let us know!