Basic Jewelers Tools

Let's discuss the basic jewelers tools you will need to get started.

These tools will be your essential basic tools for your beginner's beading kit.

There are just three tools you will need to get the job done.

  • Chain Nose Pliers
  • Round Nose Pliers
  • Wire Cutters

There are other tools, but we are talking basics only. The other tools are basically combinations of these three or a different style of tool that does relatively the same thing.

We will look at all these tools and other helpful jewelers tools when you are ready to move beyond the basics but for now lets just focus on the basics to get you started. 

Any way you look at it, these three basic jewelers tools are all you need to get you started.

If at any time you begin to feel overwhelmed then just remember to breath and take it one step at a time.

That's the best method of learning all this new information, one bite, one step at a time and that's our objective, teaching you step by step in a simple format.

Beading Tip

Stay on track.

Let this evolve step by step.

The reward in the end will be clarity and the ability to consume the mass of information you are delving into.

Ready to move on?

Let's cover each of the three tools, what each tool looks like and the use and purpose of each one.

Let's start with the most used tool...

Chain Nose Pliers

The chain nose pliers will be your main 'go to' tool, the first you reach for and last to put down.  This will be your most used basic jewelers tool in your starter beading kit.

It will be like a second set of hands as you progress through learning the beading techniques and will become the foundation of all your tools.

Having a few on hand will more than likely become your normal.

It is very important that you do not mix the chain nose pliers up the other pliers.  There is another pair of pliers called 'flat nose pliers'. [picture coming soon]

Do not confuse the two.

Looking at closer detail you will see that the chain nose pliers have a tapered nose that narrows to a fine tip.

This is necessary for some of the fine detail work you will be doing. You will realize this as you move into actually making jewelry and begin using this handy tool.  It will be addressed then, for now just focus on the tools.

The chain nose pliers also resembles an ordinary pair of household pliers but please for your own sake learn the difference.

These do not come from the tool section of a hardware store.

These pliers are jeweler's tools and can be found in the beading aisles of your local craft hobby store.

Beading Tip:

Running your finger along the inside of the nose of the chain nose pliers you should feel a smooth, polished like surface.

If there are teeth or it feels rough to the touch, this will be in direct contact of your materials and may mare your jewelry.

All of these pliers, with the exception of the cutters, have a high polished finish on the tips.

The chain nose beading tool has a smooth high polish finish on both the outside of the nose as well as the inside.

The chain nose is used for many purposes. The main purpose will be to compress a crimp bead in your beginning projects which we will talk more on when we begin discussing the two basic beading techniques.

Our next basic jewelers tool is the...

Wire Cutters

The wire cutters are used to cut the stringing materials for your beading projects.

Wire cutters may be addressed by a variety of names; nippers, side cutters or flush cutters based on the type of cut you want to achieve.

They are available in a variety of strengths when cutting the different thicknesses of wire you will eventually be using in your jewelry making.    

Let's make the distinction.

Stringing necklaces and bracelets uses a light weight flexible beading wire where as materials used in creating earrings uses a stiffer gauged wire.

The thicker the gauge of wire, the stronger the wire cutter needed.

Pay attention to the difference of the strength of your tool.

Caution should be used here, it is important to have the right cutter for the right job. We will discuss more differences between the different wire cutters as we move on to more projects.

If a cut is made on heavier gauged wire using a cutter intended for lightweight flexible stringing wire you run the risk of damaging your tool. So exercise caution at all times.

Pictured here is an example of what can happen when not using the right tool for the right job.

Lesson learned.

Beading Safety Tip:

Wire cutters are sharp tools and will cut flesh if not used properly. Please use extreme caution and always, always make sure you are using the right tool for the right job. Thank you for your attention to this detail, we now return you to your regular programming. 

The last of the 3 basic jewelers tools is the...

Round Nose Pliers

The third and final basic jewelers tool to complete our beginner's tool kit is the round nose pliers.

The round nose pliers have a strong resemblance to the chain nose pliers but they are quite different.

Make a special note here, they are so similar that they are constantly confused.

The difference?

The round nose pliers nose is completely round intended make loops, circles, curves and soft edges when using sculpting wire.

Take a close look at each picture to compare the round nose pliers vs. the chain nose pliers.

round nose pliers

chain nose jeweler tool

chain nose pliers

Do you see the difference?

The round nose pliers are used to create loops, either a single loop or wrapped loop, with the head or eye pins used in making earrings or charms.

The tapered jaw allows for creating variegated sizes in loops depending on what your project or design calls for. We will look more at these variegated sizes as we move into more projects that will require making loops.

Make the distinction between these tools now.

As you do a task take your time and pay attention to which tool you are picking up.

Beading Tip:

If the handles of your pliers are the same color, then color code them.

This is a great excuse to use some of the fun duck tape that is available on the market.

I can't stress enough the importance of using the right tool for the right job.

top page basic jewelers tools

Let's Recap...

Basic Jewelers Tools

Chain Nose Pliers...

...used for compressing crimp beads and holding objects like a second hand.

Wire Cutters...

...also called nippers, side cutters or flush cutters, are used for cutting wire and other stringing materials.

Round Nose Pliers...

...are used for creating loops with head pins or eye pins to create drops, charms and earrings.

These three basic jewelers tools should be found in any beginner's beading tool kit. All of these tools can be found at any local hobby craft store or an on-line source that carries beading supplies.

The cost is relatively affordable for mid-grade tools, which is where I recommend you begin.

I find beadsmith tools are a nice brand of hand tools. They may run you between $8 to $12 range depending as to where you purchase them, which is very affordable for as much as you will be using these three basic jewelers tools.

There are higher grade tools available, but my recommendation for beginners is to get your bearings before you invest too much money up front. Make sure you are going to enjoy this.

Once you are comfortable using the tools and have mastered the basic techniques...then you might consider investing in the high end tools.

Just my 2 cents.

I still use these three basic jewelers tools that I started with and they have gotten a lot of wear over the years with teaching classes and my own I feel I get my monies worth.

Now let's talk about one more tool you will need for your starter's kit.

Beading Mat and Beading Board

There two additional tools you will use with each project...

A beading mat is used to provide a cushioned work space to prevent your materials from rolling onto the floor.

Beading mats can be anything from a dish towel, hand towel or a scrap piece of fabric from your home.

Or you can use these pre-cut mats shown here that my son was using for one of his projects.

These mats can be found in the beading supplies aisles of hobby craft stores and are made of either felt or fleece.

I have tried several over the years and find that I prefer the fleece. I keep several on hand to use as I conduct beading classes. These fleece type mats wash up very nice as well, that is when washing is necessary. They don't tend to get dirty very often.

I also find that these fleece mats hold up very well over the years also. The felt tend to begin peeling after several uses. 

But reality is any cushioned surface will do the job.

One additional tool I want to introduce to you...the 'bead board'.

The bead board is a pre-formed plastic rectangular board with grooved channels to help you lay out your patterns and small compartments that allow you to hold your jewelry making supplies.

The molded plastic gently holds its shape when lifted from your beading area for easy storage for those in-process projects.

So you see the bead board serves multiple purposes; a cushioned work space, storage for unfinished projects, measuring your stringing materials and laying out your patterns.

It is a handy tool to have available for your projects and very reasonably priced around $5 or so, based on the size and features of the board.

That takes care of the tools, now...

Where Do I Buy Basic Beading Tools?

If you would like to purchase these jewelers tools that we just discussed here are some suggestions of where to buy basic beading tools? 

Let's Move to the 2 Basic Beading Techniques

Now that you are aware of the 3 basic tools let's unveil the 2 simple techniques that takes you from beading nothing to beading something.

These two topics...

  • the basic jewelers tools
  • the basic beading techniques

...combined with the jewelry making supplies will make your project list and your creativity a bottomless source for creations.

Once the basics are understood there is no limit as to what you can do.

Let's continue on where we will discuss and break down the essential materials needed for creating the countless beading projects that will begin flowing from you as you learn

...basic beading techniques.

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