Beginner Tool Kit Suggestions

We get a lot of questions about what tools to buy when people are starting to make jewelry so we decided to put together a basic list of things that are helpful for any home studio.  Don't forget that Metalwerx has plenty of tools to use and share during classes.  However, when you're ready to make an investment, here are some of our recommendations.

As you continue to learn new skills, you will probably find there are more wonderful tools you want to purchase so you can do more in your studio.  We suggest purchasing items once you know you like them—you don’t have to get everything all at once.  Make informed investments so that your tools don’t collect dust. When you have questions or are ready to get in a new tool, we’re happy to help make recommendations…because we love tools too!

Quality vs Cost:

There is a wide range of quality and cost when purchasing tools.  What you choose will really depend on your budget.  When possible, buy once and buy well.  Item numbers provided are mostly mid-range in quality.  In general, tools made in Switzerland, France, and Germany are high quality and dependable.  The USA also has some great brand names (Swanstrom is fantastic!).  There are plenty of exceptions to this generalization, and we have found many high quality tools made around the world.  The key is -- Don’t forget that you get what you pay for. If something is very cheap, it may not be well made.

Starter Tool Kit Contents:

All item numbers provided are from Rio Grande.  They are our primary supplier for classes and workshops.  Rio Grande carries a wide range of tools so it's the company to which we refer our students. Please feel free to use any supplier. We have included a broader list of resources at the end of this page.

Saw frame:

  • 4” throat, Item #110-042 = $16.75
  • At Metalwerx, we use Herkules White Label which are about $3.95/dozen. 
  • Laser Gold are a little more durable, but cost $4.75/dozen. 
  • 2/0 is a good general use and appropriate for 16 - 18 gauge metal
  • 3/0 and 4/0 are better for smaller gauges 20 and above

Saw blade/bur lubricant:

  • Beeswax works well, but the brand that is commonly sold is called Bur-life: 117-003 = $5.50

Bench pin:

  • Economy: Item # 110-010 = $8.95
  • Mid-range, has a small anvil surface: Item #110-014 = $16.95

Files: 

#2 cut is good to start off with, but if you can afford more than one file, #4 is finer and will save time sanding. Grobet and Frederich Dick are high quality brands.

Hand files:
  • Barrette file: #114-717 = $27.25
  • Half round ring file: #114-705 = $32.75
Set of 6 Needle files:
  • #3 cut is not too aggressive, but not too fine—a happy medium.
  • 6 ¼” long is preferable. # 114-794 = $54

Hammers

  • Riveting: #112-195 = $9.95
  • Planishing: #112-402 = $34.95
  • Weighted Rawhide Mallet: #112-208 = $31.95
  • Ball Peen: used or available at most hardware stores

Steel Bench Block:

  • 4” x 4” #112-069 = $29
  • An anvil is great.  A used railroad tie can be polished into an anvil shape.  These can be pricey, but a bench block is a great starter.

Brass Brush:

  • #113-172 = $9.25

Pliers

  • Round Nose and flat-nose are probably the most helpful.  Swanstrom and Lindstrom are the best brands available, but here is a helpful, economical set of 4: #111-140 = $32.00
  • But we prefer the cutters: Wire Snips (or Cutters): #111-273 = $13.50

Burnisher:

  • #113-029 = $8.95

Clamp-on Vise

  • or larger vises are available at most hardware stores.
  • Here is a mini one just for reference: #113-133 = $16.50

Flex shaft:

  • This is also available in parts if you don’t want to purchase the entire kit. #117-534 = $219

Resources

Please visit our Materials, Services, & Suppliers page for more information. Rio Grande carries tools, equipment, metal—just about everything and was used for the item #’s referenced above. Here are some other great suppliers: 

Tools: (And some metal)

Silver or other precious metals: