Which pliers are best for making jewellery?

Which pliers are best for making jewellery?

Unsure which pliers to buy for jewellery making?

You really don’t need more than 3 pairs to get started. Don’t be fooled by the huge variety of pliers out there, if you learn how to use these 3 they’ll do most jobs you’ll need them for — with a bit of practice of course!

The basics

Flat nose; These pliers may be squared at the tip or can be pointed, usually called ‘snipe nose’. Both pairs are great, the squared edged ones are particularly great if you want to bend even 90 degree angles.

Round nose; These are rounded on both sides and tapered to be able to achieve different sizes of curves/loops.

Wire cutters; There’s two variations on these, ‘side cutters’ or ‘top cutters’. From experience, side cutters are best (and the most used) as they can allow you to see more clearly where you’re cutting the wire and they feel more natural to hold.

That’s it, that’s really all you need! BUT there’s a few additional pairs I’d recommend, especially for any wirework jewellery. 

Additional pliers to consider

Flat nylon jaw pliers; great for straightening out any kinks in wire you may have. Make sure you get the type where the nylon jaws can be replaced and replacements are easy to find/purchase.

Half round pliers; these are curved on one side and flat on the other. The curved side is wider than the round nose pliers and lends itself to bending wire for rings and also creating your own ear hooks. 

Buy cheap, buy twice

It’s true, there are pliers out there on the market which are very reasonably priced. These are great if you just fancy giving it a go and aren’t sure if it’s a craft you’ll continue with. 

My experience of buying cheaper pliers is that;

  1. The wire cutters don’t stay sharp for long, making cutting wire more difficult.
  2. The joints can be stiff and don’t retain the spring required for ease of use.
  3. The jaws of the pliers can be off-centre, which isn’t great for creating the shapes you want to/precision work.

In general, look out for box-joint pliers as opposed to cross-jointed ones. The way these are manufactured means they will last longer as there’s less wear on one area of the pliers. Note the differences below, one looks like a box and the other simply crosses over, like a pair of scissors. 

If you’re just starting out different coloured handles can be useful to differentiate between pliers types. But it’s becoming trickier to get good quality pliers with this feature. Get to know your pliers, use this handy guide to refer to.

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