Toolbox Essentials

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.


> CUTTING

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.

wire cutters

Flush or side cutters will snip through most gauges of wire cleanly and quickly

try our 'Just Add Patience' saw piercing kit...



> SOLDERING

torch

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.

soldering blocks

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.

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.

soldering pick

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.

try our 'Feel The Heat' soldering kit...



> SHAPING

ring mandrel

Available in variety of shapes, a ring mandrel is used to shape and size your metal into rings.

bangle mandrel

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.

shaping pliers

Round nose, flat nose, chain nose etc are all very useful in manipulating and shaping wire, sheet and metal stock

try our 'Ring Leader' ring making kit...

or our 'Squeezy Does It' pliers kit...



> MEASURING & MARKING

steel ruler or vernier gauge

Accuracy is important. Work in millimetres if you can.

scribe

A fine pointed tool will let you scratch or scribe you measurements and designs into the surface of the metal.

dividers

a pair of dividers are really useful for measuring and transferring spans and distances

sizers

a ring sizer for measuring fingers, a bangle sizer for wrists

engineers square

for making accurate straight lines and 90 degree angles

try our 'Measure Twice' measuring kit...



> TEXTURING

hammers

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

burs

if you have a rotary tool or pendant motor burs can be used to grind and etch into the surface of the metal

stamps

a simple way to add letters, numbers and motifs to a flat metal surface

anvil

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.

try our 'All My Favourites' hammer kit...



> FINISHING

files

To start with a half round 6 inch files in 2nd cut finish - and a pack of smooth finish needle files are a good choice.

emery paper

a selection of grades of emery paper to get a nice finish. Three of four grades is a good place to start. The higher the number, the finer the paper. We recommend 600, 800, 1200 and 1600 to begin with

abrasive blocks and sticks

finer than emery paper these buffing sticks and blocks give a shiny polished finish - but won't remove scratches

polishing compound

hand polishing with a rouge powder and a damp cloth or

burnisher

a steel burnisher rubbed over the surface of the silver will compress and burnish to a high shine

brass brush

use with water and soap to bring up texture and shine

polishing cloths

already impregnated with a polishing compound these cloths are great for a final finish

try our 'Shiny Shiny' polishing kit...



>MAKING HOLES

hole punch pliers

if you don't have a drill these are great. They will only make one size hole but clip neatly ad quickly through sheet metal

centre punch

vital for drilling, use a centre punch and hammer to make a dent to stop your drill bit skidding over the surface of your metal

hand drill

slow and steady but effective. Make sure your metal is held securely so you have both hands free to control the drill

rotary tool or pendant motor

this versatile tool is useful for drilling and grinding, sanding, polishing and stone setting

wooden block

if you are using a hand drill or pendant motor, make sure you have a block of scrap wood to drill into. We use the half circle cut aways from our work benches.



>STAYING SAFE

apron

thick and fire proof, with at least one pocket

solid shoes

solid toes and thick sole to protect from both directions

hair ties

make sure long hair is always tied safely away from tools and flames

eye protection

safety glass or goggles

first aid kit

plasters, antiseptic wipes, eye washes and burn cream are all very useful

fire extinguisher or blanket

place this by your soldering area or exit and make sure you know how it works before you need it


Our 'I'm just getting Started' beginners kit and our 'I Want It All' makers kit are both great places to start your tool collection.


As your ideas and your skills grow you'll add to your tools collection and it will become tailored to the type of jewellery you make. Every jewellers collection is different but we all love our tools just the same.

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