Handmade Jewelry Tools

Back in the day, jewelry making and metalsmithing were much more tied together than they are now. That's because folks were practical metalsmiths first, and jewelry makers second. So at that time, acquiring tools for jewelry making wasn't difficult - if a metalsmith decided they needed a tool for a specific jewelry need, they could just make one with the skills and supplies they already had.

Nowadays it's a little bit different. The ready availability in catalogs and on the Internet of jewelry-making tools and supplies to anyone means that one can become a very talented jewelry artist without ever really needing to master the art of metalsmithing.

In a lot of ways that's a good thing, as it opens up the field to the many creative folks who might not have the space or budget for a metalworking setup in their home or studio. On the other hand, it can be very useful for jewelry makers to be able to make their own tools. No matter how many premade tools are out there, if you make jewelry long enough (especially if you're into chasing or repuossage like I am), you're eventually going to run into a need for some specific shape, pattern, or thickness of punch that nobody seems to make. Plus, making them can be a lot cheaper than buying them.

handmade jewelry tools

When I was first learning to make jewelry, my teacher insisted that I learn how to make my own punches. The set pictured here I made from steel rod stock (mostly square, since it's often easier to hold when doing delicate work) by heating and forging the ends into various shapes and patterns. I use them all the time, and I've never needed to buy one.

And you don't even need to be a metalsmith to make your own tools. Sometimes you just need something for a specific task that doesn't exist. When I first started making filigree, I realized I needed a tool to help me make the exact same shape of wire over and over again, and that I needed to be able to change from one design to another easily. The answer? Slices of thick dowel with pins set in them to form a template for each wire design, mounted on a handle that I can remove and reattach to each different template quickly and easily. Perfect!

So next time you need a tool for jewelry-making, instead of spending time poring through catalogs or the Internet, take a look around your studio. You can probably find something right there that will be just what you need.

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