Always wanted to make jewellery but don’t know where to start? In this week's video I’m going to be talking about what tools and equipment you need to get you started on your jewellery making journey.
Let’s start with the tools you need. There are some basic tools that everyone needs and then there are some additional extra tools that make life easier and give you a more professional finish.
There are three basic tools that everyone needs when they first start making jewellery.
You will need two pairs of chain nose pliers.
When purchasing chain nose pliers there are three things to look for:
You can also buy bent nose pliers and flat nose pliers which can be helpful, but for your first ones, I’d stick with the straight chain nose pliers.
The same goes for round nose pliers. You want nice fine points and comfortable handles. You also want to choose a metal that isn’t slippery. While I love these Chroma pliers (on the right), I do find the jaws to be a little slippery. Pliers with longer jaws are also more useful than little stubby ones. This gives you more flexibility in the size loop that you can make with them.
Comfort is not quite as important with flush cutters as you don’t use them for long periods of time. What you’re looking for in a pair of flush cutters are fine tips. The ones I have here in front of me vary in terms of tip size.
The Plato flush cutters are great for general use and getting into the tiny places you need to, they are very comfortable however they don’t last very long. They aren’t expensive to purchase so I trade that off against the ease of use.
The Chroma flush cutters don’t have very fine tips but they are very strong and can cut heavier wire more easily.
The same goes for the other pair, although they have finer tips than the Chroma pliers. These ones aren’t in very good condition as they are very old. They sit on my hook but don’t get used very often.
You will also need a 30cm (12”) ruler.
Those are the very basic tools you need, however I’m going to discuss some extras that make your life much easier.
The additional tools that you might need really depends on the type of jewellery you want to make. For example, if you want to string necklaces it would be useful to own a bead design board but if you just want to make earrings, you don’t need one.
I’ll talk through some of the additional tools and then you can decide what you require.
If you’re designing a necklace, a bead design board is invaluable. It stops the beads running all over the place and allows you to move things around easily. It also allows you to store your project in its design stage. I don’t know about you, but I tend to start things and then put them away for another day. If that’s you, you will want several of these. I have different sizes. I also have one for making bracelets.
What are crimping pliers and what are they used for? When you string beads onto wire, you need some way of stopping the beads falling off. Enter the crimp.
A crimp is a special tiny bead designed to be squashed. Once squashed, the crimp bead holds the wire and stops everything coming undone.
I have two pairs of crimping pliers here. Of course, you know that I love my Magical Crimping tool. This tool makes your crimp bead look like a small round metal bead so you don’t need to use a crimp cover.
These Xuron crimping pliers are used to squeeze the crimp, then fold it in half.
Some might put crimping pliers in the must have category.
When I published my 3 ways to crimp video way back, I got feedback that I had demonstrated crimping without folding the crimp over. When you’re a beginner jewellery maker, folding the crimp can be quite challenging, so in my opinion it’s OK to just squeeze the crimp, and not fold it.
Of course, if you use the Magical Crimping tool, you will never have to fold a crimp bead anyway.
I should probably have put these on the essential list. The only reason I didn’t is because you can use a bead in place of a bead stopper but, for me, this is a tool I can’t live without.
Basically, it’s a large spring with a handle on each end. You open it up and put your wire inside and it stops the beads falling off.
I’ve included the 1 step looper here because everyone loves it and covets it. Honestly, when I was beginning to make jewellery, I was the same. I saved up for it and it changed my life. Here’s a video about how the 1-Step Looper changed my life and how to use it. What it does is makes the loop and cuts the wire all in one step.
Does it take the place of your round nose pliers? No. You will still need round nose pliers to make wire wrapped loops and sometimes, your 1 step looper just can’t get into those little nooks and crannies like the round nose pliers do.
If you want to use memory wire to make bracelets, earrings or even necklaces, you will need something to cut the wire with. Memory wire is much harder than standard wire and, if you use your flush cutters on it, they will be damaged. If you don’t have memory wire cutters, you can use an old pair of flush cutters, however, they will eventually become dull or have little chinks out of the jaws.
That's all the tools I’m going to talk about today. There are others but they really depend on what type of work you’re doing.
Let’s now talk about the supplies you need to get you started. Now, obviously this also depends on what you want to make. For example, if all you want to make is stretch bracelets, then you will probably only need elastic, a needle, scissors and a bead stopper. If this is your jam, then check out this video so you will know how to tie the knot that won't come undone.
However, what I’m talking about here is the supplies needed to make a variety of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc.
Findings is the term used for all the extra pieces you need to make jewellery. It includes jump rings, clasps, headpins, crimp beads, crimp covers, etc. So let’s talk about what findings you will need to get you started.
Jump rings are rings made of wire. They can either have a split so you can open them, or they can be soldered shut. As a general rule, you will need some 4mm and 6mm unsoldered round jump rings in an 18 or 20 gauge wire, in the colour of your choice. You don’t always know what gauge the jump rings are but look for sturdier wire.
Here's a link to a video which talks all about jump rings.
Clasp are pretty obvious. They also come in all shapes and sizes. My advice would be to go with a general clasp like this 12mm lobster claw clasp. Later on, you can move into using all kinds of clasps.
We already touched on crimp beads. They are tiny, usually 1.5-2mm, and they are designed to be squashed. They come in a variety of metals.
Headpins are really the backbone of jewellery making in my opinion. You thread beads onto headpins to make dangles. For example, if you’re making a pair of earrings like this, just thread the beads onto the headpin and make a loop at the top to attach the earwire and you’re done.
Eyepins are generally used to make connectors. You thread the beads on and make a loop in the other end. I don’t use eyepins much, simply because I make my own loops. If you’re not feeling confident making loops, then you can absolutely start with an eyepin.
I’ve included bead caps because they give your work a professional finish. These also come in all shapes and sizes. Bead caps cup the bead and add a little bit of something extra to your work. Maybe I should have included them in the beads section.
I’ve added chain here because I use it a lot but I think it’s an option. You don’t need it. When I’m making a necklace, for example, I often use chain instead of making the beads go all the way around to the back. This cuts down on the number of beads and components you will need.
In jewellery making wire is used a lot. Specialised wire is used as a stringing material, and to make components.
Wire comes in many shapes and sizes. The best wire to begin with is a 20 gauge and a 26 gauge half hard wire. Half hard wire is a medium temper – temper refers to the hardness. Don’t worry about using gold or silver filled, sterling silver, etc. Just get the silver plated kind. The Beadsmith German Style Wire we sell is plated copper and it works very well.
If you can only get one, buy 20 gauge. The 26 gauge can come later.
Tiger tail is a very strong beading wire which is used to string necklaces and bracelets. It’s made up of miniature braided stainless steel cable covered with nylon. It’s very strong so it shouldn’t break. Because it’s so strong, you don’t need to use a needle to thread your beads onto it. You will learn more about how to use tiger tail by watching this video on how to string a necklace.
Memory wire is made from hard stainless steel wire so that it holds its shape. You know that I love memory wire and have used it many times for necklaces, earrings and mostly bracelets. Here’s a nice basic bracelet tutorial.
Technically this is not wire but it’s included here because it’s stringing material. I get lots of questions about the elastic I use for my stretch bracelets. Generally I used between a 0.6mm and a 1mm elastic. If you want to make stretch bracelets, you need to watch this video all about how to tie the ultimate knot. Always remember to pre-stretch your elastic before using it.
I imagine that you already know there are millions of beads out there to choose from. They come in glass, acrylic, metal, wood, stone and even lava. You can get overwhelmed by beads and carried away buying them – look at me – I bought the whole store! As far as size is concerned, they generally come in 2mm increments. What I mean by that is that they come in 4mm, 6mm, 8mm, etc. I would start by buying smaller amounts of the beads you like to see if they translate well into the jewellery you want to make.
Of course there are also seed beads. I use seed beads to accent my jewellery but some people use them to make the entire design. This is generally done with a needle and thread (called Fireline) and is a whole different skill. I have done bead weaving but I find it too time consuming. If you’re interested in learning bead weaving, I highly recommend Jill Wiseman’s channel.
Here's a link to the earrings I showed in the video.
Now we’ve talked about all the tools and supplies, let’s talk about where to start.
Personally, if I was starting out making jewellery, I’d start making earrings. Earrings are super quick and easy to make. In fact, I recently did a video showing 8 pairs of earrings made in less than 5 minutes each. Earrings are also great for learning techniques.
Once you’ve mastered earrings, you can move onto string necklaces and then bracelets.
Here’s a condensed list of the absolute must have tools and supplies:
Here's a link to the Mermaid Earrings Tutorial.
Here's a link to the Spring Memory Wire Bracelet Tutorial.
I hope you found this in depth look at the tools and supplies you will need to get started in your jewellery making journey. If you did, remember to share it with others so they can also have fun making their own jewellery.
If you like my blog be sure to click on the RECOMMENDED button and SHARE it with your friends! It’s the best way for my blog to grow. I would love for you to be part of my family so sign up to receive my emails. Every time I post a blog, I will send you an update email.Also, follow me on Facebook HERE, Instagram HERE and Pinterest HERE.
Come by and say Hey!
July 13, 2023