Learning to Speak the Language – Part 3: Tools of the Trade

Back in October, we published our second post in our Learn the Language series, and it was all about bead styles and shapes. Then the holiday season hit, and we got quite busy (woo hoo!) so we didn’t get the chance to shower you with great facts and helpful tips about jewelry-making terminology. But fear not — we’re back in the blogging game, and this week we’ll be talking about jewelry-making tools, so get ready to start making a list of cool tools you’ll want to add to your stash!

The Basics for Stringing and Wire Work
The following tools are what we consider to be the absolute essentials when it comes to jewelry-making. They’ll get you where you need to go when it comes to basic stringing projects, as well as creating earrings and wirework necklaces or bracelets — and beyond! Most, if not all, of these tools can be found for under $15, and they are well worth the moderate investment.

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Chain Nose Pliers
These are a crucial, all-purpose pair of jewelry pliers. It’s best to purchase a pair of chain nose pliers meant for jewelry-making as opposed to those meant for household projects because 1) the jaws are smaller, making them easier to use for fine work and 2) the inside of the jaws are smooth, unlike most pliers one can find in a hardware store. Smooth jaws won’t scrape beads or mar soft wire, such as sterling silver and gold-filled.
Uses: wrapping wire, holding onto small components, tucking wire ends in.

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Round Nose Pliers
These are what we consider to be our primary “loop-makers,” although you can also use them to hold jewelry pieces in place and keep an already-existing loop round. They are ideal for creating loops on headpins or eyepins, one of the most important steps in making earrings and other wire jewelry.
Uses: creating wire loops, rounding out an existing loop that’s been smushed, holding components

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Flush Cutters
When beading, you should always have a pair of flush cutters handy for two reasons: one, scissors won’t work for cutting stiff wire, or even beading cord made with flexible wires (such as SoftFlex or Beadalon), and two, any time you cut wire, the part you leave behind should have a blunt (flush) tip, not a sharp tip that can scrape your skin, catch your hair, or snag fabric.
Uses: cutting Craft Wire, sterling wire, gold-filled wire, woven beading wire (SoftFlex, Beadalon, etc.)

Photo courtesy of The Bead Smith.

Crimping Pliers
When it comes to finishing off a project using SoftFlex/Beadalon, nothing beats the strength and security you will achieve by using crimping pliers with your crimp beads! Crimping pliers have a unique set of jaws with two notches, each very crucial to the crimping process. (Simply do a search on Pinterest for “crimping pliers” and numerous how-to videos will pop up.) Crimping just takes a little bit of practice — you’ll be making secure necklaces & bracelets in no time!
Uses: attaching/anchoring crimp beads to Softflex or Beadalon beading cord.

That’s all for this week, but stay tuned for Part 4: Specialty Tools of the Trade!

All photos courtesy of The Bead Smith.