Every new jeweller is in equal parts excited and overwhelmed at the prospect of filling their first tool box. There are so many tools available that it can be hard to know where to start. Here is our list of essential tools and equipment to get you started. Some tools are really specialist - some you may already have at home, each has their own use and place on your workbench.
piercing saw / saw blades / bench peg
One of the most used tools on the workbench. A traditional German style saw frame works beautifully in partnership with a bench peg to cut all manner of sheet and metal stock neatly and with minimal clean up. Saw blades come in variety of grades from 8/0 for fine and delicate work to grade 4 for thick and chunky cutting. In the jewellery school we find grade 0/2 or grade 0 to be the most popular and the most versatile.
jewellers snips or shears
Scissors for metal - a sharp pair of snips are useful for cutting sheet metals and rough shapes.
Flush or side cutters will snip through most gauges of wire cleanly and quickly
A handheld, butane, chef style torch is ideal for beginners. Look for something with an easy ignition system and a steady, controllable flame.
flux and brush
Our choice of flux is a traditional borax cone and dish. Easy to use,
heatproof work surface
Keep the heat where you want it. Have a large heatproof surface underneath your soldering blocks to keep your workbench flame free. We like a 12"x12" flame proof board but kiln or fire bricks work well too.
Control the heat while soldering. Honey comb blocks are good for beginners as they allow the heat to circulate and dissipate. You can use soldering pins stuck in the holes to support you work. Charcoal blocks are also popular - if messy. They reflect the heat back and help to build up the temperature.
steel tweezers / brass tweezers / plastic tweezers
Reverse action steel tweezers are perfect for prodding and picking up hot metal, but don't use them in your pickle pot. A pair of fine brass tweezers are very helpful for picking up and moving tiny pallions of solder. Finally a pair of plastic tweezers or copper tongs are ideal for taking pieces in and out of your pickle.
An acid bath, submerge your freshly soldered silver in it and it will erode away the surface oxides and discolouration caused by soldering. We like to use a low strength pickle based on citric acid. A warm salt and vinegar solution also works well but the smell is not for everyone.
A very handy little tool for making movements and adjustments while soldering. Titanium is a popular choice but steel works well too. Make sure it has a heatproof handle.
Available in variety of shapes, a ring mandrel is used to shape and size your metal into rings.
As above but larger
doming or dapping block and punches
Shaping tools for making more three dimensional designs, cups and domes.
rawhide, plastic or rubber mallet
A hammer or mallet that is softer than silver will allow you to shape and form the metal without marring it.
Round nose, flat nose, chain nose etc are all very useful in manipulating and shaping wire, sheet and metal stock
> MEASURING & MARKING
steel ruler or vernier gauge
Accuracy is important. Work in millimetres if you can.
A fine pointed tool will let you scratch or scribe you measurements and designs into the surface of the metal.
a pair of dividers are really useful for measuring and transferring spans and distances
a ring sizer for measuring fingers, a bangle sizer for wrists
for making accurate straight lines and 90 degree angles
hammers are wonderful for giving metal a quick and textural finish. A variety of different faced hammers (old and new) will allow you to create a range of surfaces
if you have a rotary tool or pendant motor burs can be used to grind and etch into the surface of the metal
a simple way to add letters, numbers and motifs to a flat metal surface
A solid steel or cast iron surface will give a crisper finish to you stamping and texturing. Clamp style bench pegs often come with a built in anvil.
To start with a half round 6 inch files in 2nd cut finish - and a