When I first started, I picked up a set of basic tools from one of our local craft stores. They were honestly a great and inexpensive way to start the learning process! Over time, I’ve replaced them with upgrades… some expensive upgrades, others, not so much. I’ll share with you the ones I use the most of, and the ones I have for those random moments.
These two tools are the ones I use for 96% of my creations. The cutters are Lindstrom RX8141 Flush Cutters (small head) and slice through copper like butter. My pieces are smaller in nature so I don’t need the larger head cutters. I need to be sure these will dig into where I need to go in order to snip those wires. Lindstrom has a lifetime warranty (naturally, as long as you use these as intended), and there are places here in the US you can send them to for maintenance so the warranty stays intact.
The other are baby Wubbers round nose pliers. I chose the “baby” variety because they are smaller for my hands. I have little hands, so a good grip has to be key for me. I use these especially when making “swirls and curls” because I’ve found I can use the rounded edges to help guide wires through without getting an angle crimp in it from flat pliers. This allows the swirls to have a more natural flow. Any visually seen grasping spots can be buffed out and what you have left is a good natural swirl. Besides, those tips can reach into some tight little spots!
Next up are a pair I bought to do my chainmaille projects. They were purchased from The Ring Lord and are slightly modified. I added the grip on the handles for comfort. I have found I grab these a LOT with my pendant work as well. The reason being is they have such a wide, flat head, they can help straighten out some of the weaves as I start bending them around. They’re also great for holding several wires at a time when I’m trying to get a bunch pulled through an area all at once.
While I don’t chainmaille much anymore, I always find myself pulling these pliers out. The only thing I would recommend is to file down the side edges from the sharp angle it currently has. This will help reduce the marring of the wire.
Ahhhh my Xuron’s. Another set I purchased for both chainmaille and pendants. The pliers are lightweight, comfortable in the grip (one is modified from chainmaille use days and I just never took off the vet tape – it makes a great cushion!), and the heads on these are so narrow they can get into some tight areas to capture the wires coming through! I have both a shorter and longer head flat nose. Xuron’s are not expensive at all and they make excellent, and durable, tools – made in the USA and their customer service is outstanding.
Of these two, the Xuron 475 is the one I use the most. It’s simply called a “short nose pliers” – it is not only short, but very narrow! Xuron 485FN is the longer, and it’s just a standard flat nose plier. It is still narrow, but not as narrow as the 475.
For my hammered work, I have my most expensive pieces of equipment. No, I’m just kidding LOL! I went to Harbor Freight and use their 15 pound anvil and a small ball peen hammer. The one side hammers flat, the other creates those lovely little dings that give the metal texture! These two pieces are used, abused and I love them!
A special “shout out” goes to my little file. It is seriously tiny – all of 5-1/2″ long. This one came in a cheap kit… I think from Harbor Freight as well come to think of it. The reason I like this specific one is because it has the MOST finest sides. Of the three sides, one has a slight abrasion that will do well getting burrs and general cleanup. The other two sides are so super fine, when you’re done filing, the metal has a shine! Not quite as shiny as being burnished, but it’s pretty darn close.
Finally, there is one last tool I use. This one is something I picked up in my early days from the craft store. It’s a simple two sized bail pliers. See where I even marked the grasp for the 3 & 5mm sizes? I knew I wouldn’t remember 😉
These are made by Beadalon. While I use them for helping me roll a bail from time to time, I find myself using them mostly now for rolling out some copper rings for pendants that have no bails. I use the rings to attach the pendants to the necklace.
There you have it! My “go to” set of tools that I grab and use the most. I have a handful of others, but most are for random and special use, so nothing truly worth mentioning here… at least today 🙂
Enjoy your Memorial Day – and take a moment of silence for our fallen soldiers.