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 pack of smooth finish needle files are a good choice.
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
hand polishing with a rouge powder and a damp cloth or
a steel burnisher rubbed over the surface of the silver will compress and burnish to a high shine
use with water and soap to bring up texture and shine
already impregnated with a polishing compound these cloths are great for a final finish
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
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
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
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.
thick and fire proof, with at least one pocket
solid toes and thick sole to protect from both directions
make sure long hair is always tied safely away from tools and flames
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
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.