What tools, materials and supplies should I get for starting out especially for Chasing and Repouss?
If you had a $1,000 to spend, to start up your studio, what would you buy?
How to utilize a floor lamp to mount a flex shaft.
Recommendations on setting up a vent system
How do I inexpensively start up my jewelry practice?
Setting up a Jewelry Studio and Jewelry Business
Where to Source Cheap or Free Tools for the Shop
Any Thoughts On A Basic Shopping List For Setting Up A Jewelry Studio?
What should I watch and read to get started making jewelry?
Rio Grande Basic Soldering Set-up for Jewelry
information on tanks, hoses, flash back arrestors, safety, regulators you name it, its there!
Flex Shafts, Dremels and Drilling Tools
Basic shopping list (wire, sheet goods, etc.) for a startup jeweler
On Pickle, Acid, Crock Pots and Baking Soda
Questions & Answers: Hydraulic Press.
Recipes for flux, pickle, to remove broken drill bits, to remove copper flashing.
discusses setting up a soldering area and torches
list of different tools, Harbor Freight starter tools, Micro-Mark tools, DIY tools, etc.
Theres a ton of information on my website. Just browse around and you might find the answer to your question.
I want to learn all I can about jewelry making especially chasing and repouss. What affordable tools do you recommend?
Tools: Hmmm. well, of course, there isHarbor Freight. They have very inexpensive tools that are either for the jeweler or can be adapted. I started with mostly their tools.
If you want to do chasing and repouss, youll needa torch for annealing. You can start with asmall portable systemlike this fromBernzomatic.Dont buy propane gas for it use Mapp gas instead it burns hotter.Youll need a striker to light it too and the gas tank which you should buy locally as I dont think they ship the little tanks. Please check out mytechniques page especially the page titled:Soldering. I discuss some of the tools and materials used to solder. BTW,never use a lighter or a barbecue lighter for your torch too dangerous.
You can make all of your own chasing and repouss tools. I assume youve seen my video and looked at mywebpage?
On hammers: achasing hammerwill serve many different needs. I use mine for small scale forging as well as chasing and repouss and a bunch of other stuff.
Youll need a few pliers: round nose and flat nose, at least.Rio Grandehas many tools. You can also watch ebay and check with places like Craigs List.
For a pitch pot Ive used a small metal baking dish, a dog dish, the top to a large candy can (round). You can use a wheelbarrow tire as a base to hold the pot. The pitch, you can make it but, I wouldnt. Its not cheap but, will last forever. I like red German pitch. Check outOtto Freifor that and other tools.Pepe brandmakes a lot of inexpensive, quality tools. Id give their site a look over.
Pickle potsare about $5.00 US at the junk store. Buy a ceramic-lined crockpot. I also buy my pyrex bowls there for quenching and neutralizing the pickle. Make your ownpickleandfluxwith inexpensive products.
Check out:Cheap Thrills in the Tool Shopby Charles Lewton Brain. Actually, Id just google him he is a wealth of information. Also:Ganoksinfor advice and ideas on all things jewelry related.
Youll need a jewelers saw frame and some saw blades.As a newbie, Id buy by the gross. Start with maybe a 2/0 or 3/0 a pretty useful size for general use.
Youll need a file or two:A half round file is great as it has two different shapes: round and flat. Maybe buy one standard size 1/2 round and 1 needle file 1/2 round. That said, I would also get a round needle file great for enlarging drill bit holes and other uses.
Get some goodwire cutters: my favorites PowerMax.They last forever and cut up to 8 gauge.
Always lubricate your toolslike saw blades, drill bits (not files), other types of bits, they last a lot longer.
A piece of advice:buy only what you need. Figure out what you want to do, buy the bare minimum, make do, make it yourself, scavenge, beg and borrow. I spent maybe $200.00 US a year on tools, in the beginning. Doing things like making my own hammers a large nail (sanded smooth and polished round the edges a bit) hammered through a small hole in a rod makes a nice, small hammer, or try a carriage bolt.
Get a used Dremel or get an inexpensive flex shaft fromHarbor Freight(Ive had a few of mine for about 8-10 years. Do you have a metal recycler in town? If so, get on over there. Lots of usable metal to make anvils, hammers, etc. Do you have a Maker community? An arts center? Visit local jewelers, get into that community theres lot of trade and back and forth sharing available there.
Materials like metal: the recycler in your neighborhood. Your local dump. Theres tons of copper wire, aluminum, steel, brass, etc there. Great material to make beautiful art with. Junk stores also have a lot of metal in them: an old copper planter, cut up and reused as sheet metal, tin, steel, etc. Old irons in a vise make great anvils. Check outMetalliferous(many types of metal) andOnline Metals.(also, many types of metal).Back to Table of Contents
Heres a quick question If you were starting out in your studio and had $1000 to spend on tools, what would you purchase?
I have a question and answer page that covers some of theanswers to that HUGE question you asked.Of course, you read the Answer to Question 1, above?
There are so many issues that will determine what that 1000.00 buys. Do you want to pattern metal? Etch, solder, saw, forge, chase, enamel, rivet, crimp, use a hydraulic press, bead, work with glass beads, electroform, cut waxes, do casting, etc.?So much depends on what YOU want/like to do.
I would start out bybuying just what I needed to complete one project.If you find a project where you need a new hammer, buy the hammer. Go slow anddont buy tools you dont know what to do with(like I did). I hope this helps.
BTW: a saw, a hammer, a small piece of wood and a flex shaft are a good place to start.Order aRio Grande catalogand drool on it.I used to write up imaginary shopping lists and then order the bare minimum of what I wanted. Today, after moving my studio from one place to the other (for the past month),Im aghast at how much money Ive spent over the years. If I could go backwards, Id buy way, way less stuff. Good luck with the tools!Back to Table of Contents
Several months ago I was at Goodwill on the clearance day and spent $1.50 for a heavy base brass floor lamp. The arms are segmented with swivel hinges so it goes where you want and gets out of the way when not in use. I used plastic covered 12 gauge wire and wrapped my Foredom to the arm and if I need additional light it can also be used. The arms are heavy enough and long enough to add additional machines if I necessary, plus the lamp adjusts in height.
Thank you for your great idea Sharon! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your floor lamp idea.
(its silly but, has some good ideas!) One of my flex shafts hangs off of a long paint roller too!
I have my workshop set up in my basement and have most things, but I dont have a vent system. What you recommend I do to set one up?
There are several types of ventilation that jewelers need: one is for dust and particles and the other is for fumes from soldering, pickle and other chemicals and causes of harmful fumes.
With particulate collection, you can use something like theDura Bull Ductlesssystem at Rio Grande. You have to buy the filters. You can also set up a particulate/dust catchment system similar to what woodworkers use. Others hook up a shop vac. Always be aware of what kind of particles you have and how you are venting them. You dont want a system that sucks up particulates, like copper particles, that dumps them on the ground. Copper can be hazardous to marine life.
For fume collection, you want to place the fan behind the soldering/work area. I like my fan low because the fumes dont go across my face they are sucked out, away from my face. The system at Chimera is behind and on the soldering areas table. So, avoid systems that are over your soldering area as they will be drawn up and into your breathing zone.
Rio Grande carries aBenchtop Fume Extractorthat moves the air away from you when soldering. I have not tried this system. There is also theHakko system.
How to Make a Powerful Fume Extractor for less than $30
A Different Approach to Dust Collection
Heres avideoand aweb pagelink, of mine, on the ventilation that I have for fumes. This kind of setup might work for you as you can snake the hose out of a basement window or into a dryer vent you can get a T fitting (if you have one of either in the basement).
In the jewelry studio, that my friend Sugar and I set up at, the fan is outside the shop. Heres an image of the setup.
We pieced together various ducting and used a found metal hood that looks like it was a gutter at one time. I found it at our local metal recyclers. Ariel, our fabulous handyman, took out the window pane, replaced it with plexiglass and cut a hole for the ducting to fit into. Works well!
How do I inexpensively start up my jewelry practice?
With the tool thing: I always recommend buying tools as the need comes up. Also, buy the best tools that you can afford as you will probably have them for your whole life. If you are trying to create a design and you cant figure out how to do it, with what youve got, perhaps then is the time to shop. That said, one of the skills of a jeweler (or artist) is to be a creative problem solver. When designing, that is my main focus. I ask myself: How to get this to work, how to fix that, how to compensate for this, etc. The same applies to tools.
How do you create what you want when you dont have the right tool? What can you use instead? Is there another craft, skill, practice that has a similar tool? Jewelry tools are often a lot more expensive than other tools. I use many tools from the woodworking industry, plumbers, aircraft makers, etc.
Use a stainless steel coffee mug as a bracelet mandrel or a soup can with the soup in it.
Make tools from nails and a dowel. Some tools made this way are: small burnishers, scribes, punches, etc.
Use dowels as mandrels for making jump rings
Make a sandbag from clean sand and an old pair of blue jeans
Use pieces of scrap wood for forming metal: draw plates, swage blocks, drilling/hammering block
Alter old hammers as patterning tools.
Plumb bobs, nail sets and other conical, everyday tools are great for tube riveting
PVC has many uses bracelet mandrels, ring mandrels
Make tiny hammers from chopsticks and nails
Turn steel stock into chasing tools, hammers, stakes
Old irons (without steam vents) make good anvils when held in a vise. Actually, any flat piece of steel will do.
Click to zoom. Some cheap, homemade tools.
There are so many ways to create tools. Im going to write a book! Charles Lewton Brain has written one called:Cheap Thrills in the Tool Shop. Lots of ideas there many involve some specialized skills though and also a bit of time. Hope this helps to get you fired up. I am always making new tools usually with what I can scavenge, beg or borrow. Its all part of the game. Have fun.Back to Table of Contents
I am a single mom looking to start an at home business. What tools would you recommend to start? Is there any particular recommendations you have for starting a business?
Business Advice (with Tool Suggestions Further On)
I think the first thing to consider is: what type of jewelry are you making? Is it soldered? Beaded? Using stones? What are you good at? What do you love making?
Ask yourself: What type of business do I want? Am I selling retail or wholesale?
What price point would I need to charge to: a. make a living or b. get by or c. make enough to buy more material or d. get rich (good luck with that one). How much will it cost you (including overhead, time and materials, travel, tools, disposables) After determining your price range, decide on where your market is and who your competitors are. Look at peoples shops, stores, galleries. Check out prices. Check out sales techniques. Learn about marketing. Learn about sales.
Being a business owner, especially in the beginning, is tiring but exhilarating. It takes time and persistence. It also takes a pretty clear vision of what you want, what you represent and what your product is. Its not just jewelry its (fill in the blank) jewelry.
Tell people why they NEED your jewelry
As far as starting the business: are you already a jeweler? If not, you need to learn how to make jewelry before you start selling it. If you are, then you can start by putting together pieces and visiting galleries call first. You can also apply to craft shows. Youll need a booth or someway to attractively and invitingly display your work. Many artists travel, several times a year to shows outside their area. How will you do this or will you concentrate only on shows near you? See
A website and/or blog are also a very good idea. Try a Craftsy store but, be prepared to work hard at promoting your work. There are other online places to sell your work research these. Get your work out there and keep producing new, interesting, thought-provoking, beautiful art. Post to Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
Get your name out there. Be creative about it. There are a zillion jewelers in the world. Why should people buy your work? Find an angle. Advertise.
Design an inventory system to keep track of each piece, what gallery has it, when it went in, sold or got returned. Almost all galleries and shops, these days, will only do consignment. Which means, no money until it sells.
Learn to photograph your work. Create professional looking photos. These
images will be your works spokesperson
so, they should be amazing! You can also hire a photographer.
Set up an accounting system. Apply for a resale license, if you are selling directly. Get a business license if your area requires one. Learn about taxation in your area and selling inter-state and country if that is your plan. Research shipping rates.
Set up a daily plan. Plan to work at least one hour a day (preferably a lot more) where you focus all your energy in creating your business. Ideally, most of your free time will go into creating your business. Study, research, organize, read or listen (my personal favorite while working or in the car) to business/marketing/sales books, watch videos.
Break your plan up into little bites: what can I accomplish today. A chart that lists your final goals at one end (sort of like a family tree) and shows all the steps (branches) you need to take to achieve those goals. As you learn, add or subtract items from the chart. Be prepared to fail often. Get up and start again. Keep focused on your goal and let nothing stop you from realizing it. You deserve it if you work at it. As an example, I work 10 hours a day, usually 7 days a week just to keep things moving along. That time doesnt include all the things that Id like to do!
Get up earlier than the kids or stay up after they are in bed and work or both! Finding time will be one of your biggest challenges. Get a cleaning person.
Consider having your work cast or learn how to do it yourself. Casting allows you to produce many pieces, in less time, for more money. If you have a great design, that people like, you might consider this. Research casting, talk to places that do casting, take classes, read etc. There are a lot of resources out there.
If I were setting up a new studio (which I have several times) Id buy thebest quality tools that I could afford.The cheap ones are that: cheap! That said, the Harbor Freight flex shaft works fine. Ive had several for over 7 years now. But, I upgraded the foot pedal. Heres a link to:Flex shafts, Dremels and Drilling Tools. Crock pots from the junk store are great pickle pots. Making your own pearl vises from clothespins or hammers from nails and dowels, is not only frugal but rewarding. So, consider making your own, alternative sourcing and read up on everything before purchasing. Probably, most of all:understand what a tool is for and how you will use it. It is very common to purchase tools that you think you need and you dont!If you arent saying: wow, sure wish I had a ___________ now, you probably dont need it.
are another way to set up a studio but, they dont always include what youll need or what youll want.
: on bottom left, click type to see what they have on offer.
also has a great selection of hard to find and specialty files as well as standard files.
A few notes on files: The lower the number, the rougher the cut. You generally want at least two cuts either a medium cut and a fine or a rough cut and a medium or rough and fine. Ideally, you will have three cuts of every file but, that gets very, very expensive! So, start by looking at what you are doing and think: do I need to remove lots of material or do I just need to refine edges?
Escapement files: half round, flat, square, triangular (aka: 3 square) and round ideally a rough cut 0 and a medium cut 2. You can buy in sets. These files are smaller than needle files.
Habilis Files: one of my favorites. It is sized between a needle file and full sized files.
Full Sized files: medium and fine flat. one double cut, one single cut
Ring file youll probably want a rough (0 2) and a medium (3-4) or a fine (5-8) (Swiss grading system). Ring files are used for filing the insides of rings (as well as other uses). They are 1/2 round and larger than Needle, Escapement or Habilis files.
Joint files (if doing hinges or stone setting)
or Barrette escapement file in 2 and 5 cuts or other mixture of fine and rough (5 being finer than 2). Barrettes only have one cutting edge. They are good for filing tight spots where you dont want to remove metal from surrounding areas.
used for stone setting, hinge creation and other uses. They only have teeth on their rounded edges so are great for cutting channels and grooves.
Flat pliers 2 pairs is best. Used for moving metal, opening and closing jump rings, holding material while sanding a zillion uses.
Round nose pliers making rounded shapes in metal, making a small number of jump rings, curling wire and metal, many, many uses.
Chain nose pliers used in prong setting also many other uses.
1/2 round pliers used to creating interior bends and flattening exterior surfaces. A variety of shapes and sizes.
Digital calipers imperative for accurate measurement
Ruler with millimeters start working in millimeters if you arent already. Its a system of 10. 10 millimeters make a centimeter. Thats basically all youll need to know. Smaller increments, easier to add, subtract, multiply and divide than fractions. Most suppliers and jewelers use the metric system for its simplicity.
Center finder useful for centering discs for making domed beads and other uses.
Dividers imperative for accurate measurement. Measurement is transferred from a ruler to the dividers. Dividers can then be used to scribe straight, parallel lines, checks distance, make circles, many uses.
Ring many shapes. Used to form rings shapes and other forging/forming.
Bracelet larger than a ring mandrel. Usually comes in round or oval. A baseball bat can be cut up and used as a mandrel as can an axe handel.
Bezel these are small mandrels used to make differently shaped bezels. They are also useful for forming small shapes. They come in a pretty wide variety of shapes.
Mandrel Holders youll need one of these to hold the mandrels. An alternative holding system involves drilling holes in a board to the size of the mandrels far end. The board is then secured to your bench. See this article at
used for forming metal, squaring metal, flattening metal a variety of uses.
a small scrap piece of wood is great for drilling on. You can also use it to hold bits, sanding disc mandrels. I also use it for supporting prongs while stone setting.
Probably the most used tool. I have several. Their uses are many and there is a large number of tools that have been created to run off of them like Wolfs Belt Sander, Jump Ring Cutters, Engravers, etc. Having a good foot pedal gives you more control. Consider investing in a decent one if yours doesnt have one. My favorite is the Lucas Pedal. You can also use a dremel but, the wider body makes it less intuitive and comfortable to use.
all part of the usefulness of this rotary tool.
Silicone points and discs for removing scratches, refining, polishing, etc.
Sanding discs same as silicone points much speedier than hand sanding.
Drill bits we are always drilling holes in metal for one reason or another.
Quick release handpiece (I love having one but, not imperative) makes getting your bits in and out of your handpiece much quicker. You need bits that fit the size of your handpiece. Mine uses bits with 3/32 shanks. I hate using the chuck key with the standard handpiece. But, others like it.
Cotton and felt buffs load with a little rouge or a more aggressive compound and polish/finish away. Dont mix compounds on the same buff.
Rouge a polishing compound that polishes metal after it has been well sanded.
imperative if you are over 40. But, recommended for everyone. There is so much you cant see but, think you can. To test this: photograph your work and zoom in on it. You will be shocked.
Camera Use for that wow, did I miss stuff moment. Great for stonesetting.
we must saw metal so, we have this fabulous saw and little teeny blades. Blades come in a variety of sizes which are based on the size and number of teeth. Normally, jewelers use sizes from 1 8/0. 1 being the roughest and 8/0 being the finest. 8/0 (prounounced eight-aught) is usually used for piercing out patterns in metal.
Harbor Freight 4 6. 5 vise: Item 61551.
Grits: 320, 400, 500 or 600, 800, 1000
cement board or other fireproof surface
Solder in: Hard, Medium, Easy, Extra Easy
Bench that is at least 34 high you want a desk that is higher than normal. Most work is done at about chest height. There is a book called:
which has great examples of bench setups and bench pin adaptations.
Adjustable, comfortable chair some work is done in a higher on the desk (like drilling) and some, like sawing or chasing and repousse, require a low position relative to the desk. So, having an adjustable chair is the answer.
Bench pin This is where a lot of your work will take place: sawing, drilling, filing, shaping, sanding, etc. Dont be afraid to customize your pin with grooves for wire and tubing, slots to pierce delicate pieces, etc.
Good lighting daylight colored bulbs (in the blue range)
for holding rings, objects, stone setting
Center Punch to make divots for drill bits to rest in. If you dont have a dent, the drill bit can (and usually does) skitter across the metal marring it.
This is an overall clamping system. I find it invaluable for all types of work. There are many attachments that one can purchase like soldering setups, bench pins, etc.
Bezel Pusher used for bezel setting, prong setting
Jett Sett a thermoplastic used for a variety of things: tool making, jaw protecting, holding work, etc.
Setting Burs High Speed Steel HSS is recommended because of its long life. Always use your burs with a lubricant. I recommend using a liquid lubricant like Liquid Bur Life or 3-In-One Oil. Used for cutting seats for faceted stones
Round Burs High Speed Steel used for cutting seats for faceted stones, azures, cleaning burs, etc.
this is used to cut large pieces of metal. If you dont do that, you dont need it.
will cut up to 20g metal (even though they recommend 26g or less but, personal experience has shown they will cut 24, 22 and 20 0 its up to you.) You can use them to cut smaller pieces of metal and wire but, they will leave an uneven, rough edge which will need to be flattened and smoothed. I also use mine to cut solder.
These are more like clippers. Generally used to cut wire.
a clamp to hold tubing and wire while cutting. The cheaper cutters leave too much wiggle room for the blade to move in, resulting in uneven tubing and wire cuts.
I know this list seems overwhelming. You can acquire just a few tools as you need them. I listed these because, to me, they are essential. This is a partial list. There are many more tools that seem to attach themselves as you grow in the craft. You can buy second hand, adapt, go to junk stores, borrow, join a makerspace, a studio, any place you can borrow tools. There are many options.
Please dont let it discourage you. Everything looks overwhelming when viewed in its totality but, if you break everything down into small pieces, its amazing how much you can get done. I like the analogy of cleaning: you dont clean a big mess, all at once, you start in one spot, clean that, move to the next spot, clean, repeat
Where to Source Cheap or Free Tools for the Shop
Maybe you could recommend me where I could get some tools that I may need . making jewelry is my hobby, I work with individuals who suffer if disabilities. Such as autism and down syndrome.
Harbor Freight has inexpensive tools. I also like making my own and visiting resale shops for odds and ends. They usually have some funky hammers, old files and a crock pot or two. Dentists will sometimes give you their old dental tools. Scrap metal yards, hardware stores, ebay, Craigs list, are a few I can think of. Do you have a Facebook, Instagram or other type of social media site? You can always ask the public. Im always looking for donations for Chimera. I ask everyone I know. You never know when someone is quitting the business or tired of this tool or that. Good luck on your quest. If I hear of anything interesting, Ill let you know. P.S.: See the question above for specifics.
My question is how do you afford all the tools? I am just getting started and I want good tools but, holy smokes, they are expensive. Any advice and suppliers youd recommend would be appreciated.
First off, Ive been accumulating mine for over 20 years. Ive slowly built up my tool hoard. So, I say: add tools slowly and as needed. Determine if you will use the tool often and if it will advance your skills and range. Know all about the tool before you buy it maybe take a class that utilizes the tool. That way, you will know what you do and dont want/need.
Sometimes, when you need an expensive specialty tool, you can use anothers. Find a local, friendly jeweler and trade something for the use of the tool. Check in with jewelry classes, makerspaces, metal shops. You dont have to own them all! Check Craigs list, ebay, the newspaper. Ive gotten tools as donations, by trade, at jewelers-going-out-of-business sales, by making my own, etc. I also save up for a few good tools like I did with my miter cutting vise. The cheap ones are terrible. So, I put a little aside each week until I could afford it.
Remember to buy what you NEED. I always knew when I needed a new tool I would think: Boy, wish I had a tool that. Then, Id go looking for it. I used to peruse the Rio Grande catalog and make fantasy shopping lists. They often totaled in the thousands but, Id actually spend 100.00. Sometimes we make do with the not-so-great-but-good-enough tools.
The well rounded jeweler thinks out of the box, is a problem solver AND can make and design tools or find a way to work around their limitations. We are creative after all! We sometimes forget this and just buy. One of my favorite examples of working around, not having a tool I wanted, was my pitch pot. I couldnt afford the 35.00 (or something like that) Rio wanted so, I bought some pitch, melted it into a conical tin lid and set it in a toy truck tire. I used it for many, many years until I started teaching the technique.
Another idea is to send your silver and gold scrap in and get credit at Rio Grande or other Jewelry Suppliers, that also takes refining. You can save up your metal, refine it and then splurge on that pricey, beautiful tool!
If you ever think you cant make beautiful jewelry without good tools, check out the tools that the people in this book use and what beautiful work they produce!Legacy: Jewelry Techniques of West Africa. Humbling and so very impressive.Back to Table of Contents
I am a newbie jeweler (well, newbie smith, I have been makin
25 Piece Doming Block and Punch Set
T4J Solid Steel Dapping or Doming Block 27 Holes 5 X 25
Forming Tools Equipment