Build out your workbench step by step…
In the second installment of this beginners’ blog series, we help you identify the basic metal working hand tools you’ll need to make precious metal jewellery pieces with a professional finish.
Hammers, pliers, punches and mandrels…
The list of metal jewellery forming tools is almost endless. As a beginner, you should invest in some reliable metal working tools that will last and help you improve upon your metal forming techniques. Here are 12 of the best metal working tools for beginners:
1. Flat Nosed Pliers
A fundamental tool for those working and shaping precious metals. Flat nosed pliers feature two flat jaws that will help you take a firm grip on the piece of metal you’re working with, and form angular bends when required.
2. Round Nosed Pliers
Round nosed pliers have two round jaws and are a vital jewellery making tool when working with wire. Making light work of bending wire and creating loops, these pliers are an essential jewellery forming tool when you’re introduced to wire work.
3. Parallel Pliers
Parallel pliers feature a box joint, always keeping the jaws of the pliers parallel to one another. These pliers are ideal for straightening sheet metal or holding bullion securely in place while applying pressure when needed because they are not sprung, and will stay firmly in place as required.
4. Side Cutters
Essential for a neat, clean cut – side cutters are essentially pliers with a sharp cutting edge. Excellent for cutting through metal wire, side cutters are available in a range of sizes to facilitate clean cutting across a number of materials at varying thicknesses.
5. Bench Vice
Working with precious metal requires both strength and a tight grip, which is why tools to shape metal are essential. A bench vice is a great investment for beginner jewellers looking to improve on the accuracy of their metal shaping work. When securely fastened to your workbench, the vice can help you keep a tight grip on tools, and your work, helping you reduce the risk of scratches in your metal work.
6. Nylon Headed Hammer
Helping you to form metal bullion without marking it. A nylon headed hammer features two identical faces which can be replaced as they wear down over time, and is a vital jewellery forming tool not only for shaping metal but truing metal pieces too.
7. Jobbing Hammer
Also known as a ball-pein hammer, the general jobbing hammer has a rounded head and a flat head. The rounded head makes for an excellent texturising tool while the flat end of the hammer can be used with doming tools to create curves in your pieces.
8. Raising Hammer
The raising hammer is the ideal metal working hand tool for creating distinctive angular shapes. With two rectangular heads, it will stretch and shape metal sheet into a 3D object. Choose the raising hammer for a versatile metal working tool that can be used across many projects.
A jeweller’s anvil will help you create accurate contours in metal sheet. The steel anvil will have a square taper at one end and a rounded taper at the other. When the metal is supported and struck against the anvil, shaping precious metal is simple. Anvils are available in a number of sizes, but a small bench anvil is a great starting point for most metal shaping projects.
10. Flat Plate
A polished steel block designed to provide you with a flush surface for flattening metal sheet accurately. Use the flat plate to ensure your reshaped bullion is flush and flat.
11. Ring Mandrel
A ring mandrel or triblet is a long tapered steel shaper that helps you manipulate metal sheet into rings. Remember to secure your mandrel in a vice before use for the most accurate shape and size possible.
12. Pin Vice
Use the pin vice for small, delicate pieces of metal. The pin vice is, quite simply, a miniature vice, and has small jaws on the end of a stem which can be securely tightened with a wing nut.
Working towards your first precious metal jewellery pieces and need more advice on jewellery making tools for beginners? Read our complete Beginners’ Guide to Jewellery Making Tools to make sure your workspace has all of the metal working tools and equipment you need.