Equipment – lets get started


Jewellery simply defined, is anything worn for adornment, serving no actual purpose other than making you look and feel good.

Sooo…, what do you want to make first? A ring, pendant, earrings, broach, chain, a hair piece, something to hold clothing together? What about objects instead of jewellery? And what materials do you want to make it out of? Gold, silver, copper, brass, pewter, iron, plastic, leather, found objects…? How far would you like to go in making jewellery? Do you want to specialise in an area like chain making or will you be happy just glueing shells to broach pins? Do you want to make or do you want to assemble? Do you want to make money?

I ask a lot of questions but, the things you want to make, the materials you want to make them out of, your level of commitment and the direction you want to take will to some extent determine your tool requirements. You don’t have to commit to a complete set of tools or even need all that might be used by the working jeweller, but some decisions need to be made early, based on that direction you want to take. For example, the use of the precious metals (and even brass, iron, aluminium) will require a different heat source to that of pewter. You won’t need a heat source if you chemically weld, that is to say – glue, your pieces together (although you may need one if you make a mistake and need to pull it apart). Heavy working tools, like hammers and anvils, won’t be required if you are going to piece together components. Surprisingly sophisticated items of jewellery can be made with a small and simple set of tools. It is amazing what a hammer can produce when used by a master beater ūüėČ (I shouldn’t have done that).

I will make lists that are appropriate for the different styles of jewellery and the materials you may use. To start off, because I am one, will be the metal workers list, the tools that will be required by those using the traditional metals of the jeweller i.e. gold and silver along with copper, brass and monel, for that is what I know best. Also, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean nasty, for your jewellery or your tools. Some of these tools can be sought at a good hardware supply store, often cheaper than the specialist suppliers sell them for. ¬†They may not be made in Germany, Japan or the United States, but they will suffer the abuse a hobbyist is likely to give them. For some tools, it is just not worth the extra expense, and I will point that out as the need arises.

The Metal Workers Tools

(too come Рa link will open in a separate window with images, descriptions, pricing, sources and detailed usage for the associated tool)

(ess.) = essential, (hr) = highly recommended

Saws Р70-90mm piercing or jewellers/jewelers saw (ess.), and associated blades, maybe #1 and 1/0, certainly 2/0, and for thinner material or fine detail 4/0 or finer. Hacksaw and coping saw. For jewellers saw blades, the larger the number, the finer the blade. 2/0 is the standard for cutting thicker pieces of metal, 4/0 is for small and fine detail. Use what is comfortable.

Files (ess.) – 150mm flat file, 150mm half round file, set of needle files, flat bastard or mill file.

Emery paper¬†(ess.) – basically sand paper, at least a few sheets each of 400, 600, 800, 1000 grit emery paper – or carborundum or wet’n’dry paper. The lower the number the courser the paper. Grades up to 5000 are usually readily available and when used that fine will almost give a polish to the metal. Also, a couple of sticks measuring 300mm long x 20mm wide x 6-8mm thick. These are used to wrap your sand paper around and work in much the same way as a file.

Pliers (ess.) Рsmooth jaws on all. 2 x flat/flat, 1 x flat/half round, 1 x round/round, 1 x flat needle nosed, 1 x round needle nose. Box joint pliers are stronger than lap joint. If only working in silver, copper, brass and pewter, or wire work, lap joint will be all you need.

Hammers (ess.) Рball peen, wedge or cross peen, soft head (hard rubber, plastic or hide).

Measuring Devices (ess.) – steel rulers (150mm for general, 300mm if making bangles, 600mm if making chains), vernier callipers (need to be able to measure to at least 0.1mm), spring gauge (the jewellers measuring device), dividers (for marking), set square

Mandrels – ring mandrel (hr), link mandrels. Mandrels are forms, usually round and tapering (cone shaped) to wrap your metal around and form the inside shape of rings, links, bangles, etc. They can be anything, screwdrivers, nails, drill bits, wooden rods and any shape to suit your requirements. The typical jewellers mandrels are made of steel and are available in many sizes and many shapes. The ring mandrel is a long tapered steel stick with markings on it to gauge the size of rings, for new rings and for ring resizing.

Gas Torches¬†(ess.) – (melting, soldering, annealing devices) – This will depend on your style of jewellery and the materials you use. Consider it essential. There are many varieties from the simple “Primus” style torches that run off a small handheld bottle or big versions connected by hose, to versions that run off compressed air, oxygen and LPG or acetylene, ending with oxy/hydrogen units. They can cost as little as $20 for a kit to many thousands for the hydrogen units. There are also laser welders, electric arc welders and soldering irons. For some processes, a kiln might be the heat source you require.

Soldering Sundries¬†(ess.) – heat resistant mat (fire bricks can be used), tweezers (heat resistant, titanium, spring…), binding wire, trivets,¬†plaster of paris, porcelain dish and small natural fibre paint brush, borax cone or powder, squeeze bottle with water, jewellers pickle in a wide glass jar (sulphuric acid or for safety, use sodium bisulphate), water in a wide glass jar, washing soda in a wide glass jar.

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