12 Essential Metalsmithing Tools
Wondering what to get yourself for Christmas? If you're a jewelry maker and/or metalsmith, wonder no more. I've put together a little list of essential metalsmithing tools (in no particular order). I'm not sponsored by any of these brands, or suppliers, and you can find some of these products in different places (and for different prices) than what I've listed here:
Diagonal Cutter: This diagonal cutter, made by Tooltron, will give you a true flush cut and, unlike other flush cutters, will slice right through heavy wire like butter. I've used it on 16 gauge dark annealed steel wire, no problem. The best part is the low price. When these wear out, I give them to Wife Whisperer for his shop, and get myself a new pair. Tooltron sells them but you can also get them through Hobby Lobby and use their virtual coupon to make them even more economical. Nothing wrong with that!
Rubber Deadblow Hammer: I find my rubber deadblow hammer so much better than a rawhide mallet. I like the weight of it. Trusty Cook makes a nice 8oz slimline but if you're looking for another weight, or a different type of hammer, they have a large selection...and they're quality. Whack away.
Pepe Superior Ring Bender: I don't know how I lived so long without this tool. I have weak thumb on the left side which was making it really hard to do those ring band bends by hand...no more. This tool is a thumb saver. I have the Delrin dies and love them for non-marring bending. I see Pepe now has a set of Delrin posts to go with the dies.
Ceramic Tumbling Media: When I tumble, this is what I use. I like the 3/8" by 3/8" SF triangles. Silverswartz sells this media on ebay for the super cheap price of 3lbs for $11. That's the smallest amount you can buy from him but it should last you almost forever.
Revere Pliers: There are a lot of plier choices out there but I've had my Reveres for many years and still love them. Quality tools make a difference and if you're using a cheap set of pliers, you're going to find your work so much easier, and more enjoyable, with these. You're welcome.
Dual Size Round Nose Plier: These weren't all that easy to find but I was glad when I did find them. They're a great go to for making various sizes of loops and jump rings and are large enough at the base to get a good sized loop. Two different size barrels make them very handy, indeed.
Otto Tech Citri Pickle: I can't say enough good things about this pickle. It can be used hot or cold but I find it's better hot. I keep a good scoopful in my pickle pot and replenish it pretty frequently and it doesn't take long at all for my pieces to come out nice and shiny. There is no smell. Let me say that again: no smell! You don't have to worry about what tweezers or tools you're sticking in there to fetch things out because your silver won't get plated. It's less toxic and easier to neutralize and dispose of than regular pickle. If you don't know what I'm talking about at this point, that's ok. But, if you do know...then you know how great this sounds. It is!
Bench Top Fume Extractor: This is the big dog. It's not cheap but it is oh, so worth it. If you don't have a vent hood in your studio, you really need some sort of fume extractor. Soldering and heating up metal causes all kinds of bad fumes, with bad particulates. This extractor will suck all of that out of the air for you...and not just spit it out the back, but filter it with charcoal and hepa. It's made by Sentry Air Systems, in Texas (don't all good things come from Texas? *wink*). I have the Winged Sentry 200, and I love it. If you call them to inquire, tell them you make jewelry and mention my name. I don't get anything for recommending them but they like knowing when they're working with metalsmiths and I lived in the same town their business is in. So, there you go.
Green Lion Saw Frame: The best saw frame. 'Nuff said.
Lineco Micro Spatula: Aren't we always looking for that perfect stone setting tool I'm going to do you a big favor, here, and divulge my super secret, super great stone setting tool. This micro spat is particularly good for getting into tight spaces like closely set bezels. You can find them on Amazon or at Dick Blick.
Beeswax Thread Conditioner: I've heard some say that you don't need lubrication when sawing but I don't find that to be the case. There are lots of fancy lubricators out there but one of the cheapest I've found is for sewing. Wax thread conditioners work very well for sawing. The wax is inside a plastic case with slots that you can simply run your sawblade through. Way less messy than some other methods, and really portable. Also, cheap. We like that. Hobby Lobby sells 5 spools for $2.99.
Sanding blocks: How can I get through this post without mentioning Harbor Freight Tools? I can't. They sell one of my favorite things of all time: fine grit foam sanding blocks. On their site they're called aluminum oxide sanding sponges. Whatever. Get the fine grit. They are my best friend when taking down a rough edge on metal. And, they're cheap. (Now you know something about me). They sell in packs of 10 for $5.99. I cut them in half with an exacto blade so they aren't so bulky. Now they're even cheaper. You're welcome, again.
There you have it. If you've been good, tell Santa you want everything on this list. If you've been bad, maybe limit it to just one or two things. I hope you have a very merry Christmas and let's all look forward to a happier and healthier 2021!