Welcome Back to the Metalsmithing at Home Basic  Tools Series.

Today we are going to discuss the second task on our list, Moving the Metal.

In the the Intro, we defined Metalsmithing as it pertains to the Jeweler’s Life and the making of Metal Jewelry.

We talked about the correlation between the tools  we need  and the Tasks required to accomplish the desired results and bring you project to life. 

Metalsmithing Tasks

To Work with Metal you will need a way to :

  • Cut the Metal – Sheet, Wire, Rod 
  • Move the Metal – Flatten, Harden, Straighten
  • Form the Metal – Shape, Roll, Remove, Refine 
  • Connect the Metal – Solder, Fuse, Cold Connections, etc. 
  • Polish and Finish The Work

Key Concepts

Familiarize yourself with these Key Concepts. You will hear these terms over and over again along your journey.

Gauge – refers to the thickness of the metal sheet or wire. As a rule of thumb, when referring to the Gauge of a metal, the lower the number, the thicker the metal. Therefore, an 8 gauge wire is much thicker than a 20 gauge wire. 

Temper refers to the elasticity and hardness of a metal. The most common tempers of jewelry metals are:

  • Dead Soft
  • Soft
  • Half Hard 
  • Hard

In the Metalsmithing at Home – Basic Cutting Tools, we discussed the First Task – Cutting the Metal and the Tools needed for specific Metal types and Gauges. 

In Metalsmithing at Home – Basic Forming Tools Part 1, we talked about tools and techniques used to Move Metal – Flatten, Harden, Straighten etc. and begin to form our projects. 

Metal Forming Part 2 

Today we are going to focus on more intensive tools and techniques to Form the Metal – Shape, Roll, Remove, Refine etc. into beautiful jewelry components and designs. 

Shaping and Forming Tools

Jewelry Pliers

This is a huge category of tools with many many specialized types of pliers. 

But as with our other tool categories there are some basic Pliers that you will need and use much more than the rest. 

Chain Nose Pliers – are flat on the inside and round on the outside. They are a very versatile tool, most commonly used for gripping and manipulating wire, head pins and eye pins, as well as opening and closing jump rings and earring. (Shown 2nd from right.)

Flat Nose Pliers  – are flat on both the inside and the outside of the pliers. They are are designed for making sharp bends and right angles in wire. Flat nose pliers can also grip flat objects and work well for straightening bent wire. You can also use them to easily open jump rings and chain links. (Shown above on far left.)

Round Nose Pliers – are a specialized pliers characterized by their rounded, tapering jaws.  They are most commonly used for creating loops and cones from wire. (Shown in Center above.)

Bent Nose and Precision Tipped are other types of Chain Nose Pliers. 

A few Specialty Pliers of Note:  (from Left to Right)

  • Half Round Flat Nose –  used for bending thicker materials.
  • Wrap and Tap Pliers – Shaping Rings or making loops in many sizes with shanks, wire and sheet metal without distorting patterned half round wire.
  • Multi-step Looping Pliers – Have 6 various size round barrels for making different size loops or Jump rings. 
  • One-Step Loopers – Great for making the same size loops on eye pins or beaded links, especially when you have many to do. 

Mandrels Revisited

We talked a little about Mandrels in Part 1 of Forming Tools as they relate to use with Metal and Non-metal Hammers. 

Mandrels are used to form Rings, Bracelets and a variety of shaped Components.

Some are tapered and cone shaped such as those on the left and some are stepped like the others shown here. 

The plastic mandrels above are stepped and feature a variety of shapes including Oval, Square and Triangular. 

Coiling Gizmo or Winder
Wire Jig

A few Specialty Mandrel Tools in the Mandrel Family include:

  • The Coiling Gizmo used to make long coils of wire to use as Coils or cut into Jump rings. 
  • The Wire Jig which has a variety of peg Mandrels and is used to make complex wire components. 

Tools for Removing and Refining Metal

So far we have been talking about tools used to form wire shapes for the most part, but you can also use many of your Pliers to help form shapes from small pieces of sheet metal as well.

Many times as a Jeweler, you will need to remove metal in the Metal Forming process. 

Tools you can use to Remove Metal in the shaping and forming tasks are Files, Grinding Tools and Burs.


The short story…

Files are used to slowly shave away metal a little at a time. 

Grinding Tools – grind away unwanted metal from your work much faster but with less precision. 

Burs – Some have teeth and remove metal in a “chewing” action similar to sawing. Others are diamond tipped and remove metal as in a grinding action.

The Grinding Tools and Burs above are used with a Rotary Tool or Flex Shaft System. 

Dremel 4000 with Flex Shaft Accessory
Foredom Flex Shaft System

There are many specialized Files Grinding Tools and Burs on the Market. 

My advice is to slowly build your toolbox as you build your skill level. 

These tools are also a huge part of the the Finishing process in Jewelry Design. 

This brings us to the end of the Metal Forming portion of Metalsmithing at Home Basic Tools.

Referring back to our Basic Tasks List, we are about to wrap this series up. 

Metalsmithing Tasks

To Work with Metal you will need a way to :

  • Cut the Metal – Sheet, Wire, Rod 
  • Move the Metal – Flatten, Harden, Straighten
  • Form the Metal – Shape, Roll, Remove, Refine 
  • Connect the Metal – Solder, Fuse, Cold Connections, etc. 
  • Polish and Finish The Work

The Soldering Series covers soldering connections and I will be posting a short article soon to introduce Fusing and Cold Connections. 

Afterwards, look for the Final post in the Series on Finishing and Polishing. We will discuss a few basic tools and supplies needed to get our work ready to wear ro sell.  

I hope you find this series helpful and are getting your basics together for new Metal Jewelry Tutorials coming soon to The Alluring Bead Boutique. 

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