I am often asked about what tools I favour. This blog will specifically discuss pliers. There are TONS of different specialty pliers out there and over the years, I have decided:
1. What my favourtie "go to" pliers are
2. What my cool time saving but not entirely crucial pliers are
3. What I can cheap out on... And what I will spend good money on
MY BASIC PLIER KIT:
Almost all jewelry pliers lack teeth. This is so that they don't mark up the metal. My chain nose pliers (tapered, flat jaw) are good for many uses. I have two pairs, one to hold a piece of metal, and the other to manipulate it. (Such as opening and closing a jumpring).
My round nose have two tapered, cylindrical jaws and are used mainly for wire wrapping and forming small curved shapes. I also use them for making a quick wire coil in order to flush cut jumprings with my saw frame.
Half round pliers which have a straight, blunt jaw and a mismatching rounded jaw are strong and are excellent for making larger, heavier round shapes without marking the metal. I often use them for forming large rings for chain and rings for the finger.
I would consider these tools "base grade". I have found that they are easily replaceable and if I buy the less expensive varieties, I don't really notice any sort of hinderance to my work. However...
*** Big Splurge*** ... My flush cutters for cutting wire. I spent $100+ on these and I am VERY careful with them. They cut with extreme precision and if you are committed to jewelery making, you will want a quailty flush cutter. Goldsmiths, beaders, wire wrappers, everyone in-between and everyone I forgot to mention will really appreciate a good flush cutter.
"ADVANCED" PLIER KIT:
To compliment my basic set, I have another well-used set of pliers. Nylon jaw pliers are lined with soft plastic nylon and can be used to straighten wire without marking it, but sometimes I use them to carefully press a stone into a setting if it seems to be a bit of a tight fit.
Next are bow closing pliers. I use them to close the gap on a particularly heavy and stubborn ring shank in order to solder it shut.
Prong setting pliers are for... prong setting, obviously, but I have actually used them before on bezels and some applications where it is awkward to get a pair of chain nose pliers in to do the job properly.
Looping pliers are for forming medium sized rings easily, often without the aid of a bezel mandrel afterwards. Also... And really more importantly, they are my secret weapon for perfect ear wire formation.
Parallel pliers!! Sort of boring initially but just trust me... A VERY good addition to your plier family. They are very strong and they close "in parallel" and I can hopefully explain that by saying that there is an equal amount of pressure applied throughout the whole jaw of the plier which makes them:
1. Very "grippy"... a strong tool
2. Able to sort of "even out" sheet metal for many applications... hard to explain I apologize!!
Lastly, I love my mini round nose pliers. Just so good for making the tiniest wire wraps ever.
I consider this last bunch here to be "specialty" pliers. They will cost you more money but if you are committed to your art, you will agree with me that they are a very welcome and time saving addition to your bench.
That's it! please share your favourite pliers. I am always increasing my hand tool inventory, what works best for you?