Thursday, 22 May 2008

Basic Tool Kit

This is for the girls from my Thursday night class at Spice Art Studios! We use a fair few different tools during our weekly sessions, and it's difficult sometimes to give lots of up-to-date information about the best places I've found to buy tools and findings etc (i.e. information about what I've found this particular week!) when what everyone really wants to do is play with beads, so I thought that I'd keep this post updated with new sources of tools. I won't put prices as they are bound to change over time, but I will only put links to sites that I know are reliable and offer good value.

The main tools that I use during the wirework classes are (clockwise from the top in the picture above):

Round nosed pliers - used to make loops and bends in wire and to help open jump rings.

Nylon-jaw pliers (two pairs of these shown) - ideal for holding your wire without scratching it. I use these for holding coils as I'm forming them, for straightening kinks out of wire and for helping to flatten down small loops. They come in different sizes. The nylon pads do wear out over time (as you can see from the purple pair!) but it is possible to buy replacement pads.

Flush cutters (2 pairs shown) - These are sometimes called side cutters. I find flush cutters the best for giving a close cut as possible. They are usually the first tool to wear out. The exception to this are my lovely Lindstrom cutters that I bought from Cookson Gold which are engineering grade cutters and so sharp! They have a lifetime guarantee, but you do pay for the privilege.

Crimping pliers (2 pairs shown) - used for closing crimp beads when working with beadalon. I prefer the black nosed pair of pliers shown in the picture as these have a wider working area, but they are also more expensive. I have recently found a good site for them - The other type can be found at PJ Beads.

Flat nosed pliers - very good for gripping your work and findings, these are useful for helping to open and close jump rings and also for squashing closed necklace endings such as box crimps.

If I haven't mentioned a specific supplier for the tools listed above, than they can be found at the following suppliers. A couple of reliable retailers that I use stock tool sets that contain most of these tools plus a couple more. Jules Gems supply several different kits (in different colours!) at a good price, and the Nottingham Bead Shop and JillyBeads also do reasonably priced sets. The Nottingham Bead Shop in particular have a wide range of tools in 2 main price ranges - hobby and professional. PJ Beads (previously known as PJ minerals) also stock a good range.

These are by no means the only UK tools suppliers, but hopefully this will give you a good start in helping to build up your own basic tool kit!

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