One of the most common questions I get from readers is, “What kind of tools do I need if I want to get started making wire wrapped jewelry?” I know it can be extremely overwhelming, and there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to jewelry pliers and tools. But the good news is, you really only need 3 tools to be able to get started making wire jewelry and performing all the basic wire wrapping techniques!
In this video, I show you those three essential wire wrapping tools, and give you some tips for things to look for when you’re choosing your pliers and cutters.
Click here to learn more about my >> Wire Wrapping for Beginners << online course!
These three essential wire wrapping tools mentioned in the video are: round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, and flush cutters. These tools can be purchased together as a set*, or they can be purchased individually. They can also be used for basic beading (stringing beads) as well as basic wire wrapping! *Please note that sets will often have a 4th set of pliers, usually another pair of chain nose or bent chain nose pliers – it comes in handy to have a second pair of chain nose pliers for opening and closing jump rings.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your tools when you’re just starting out, especially if you don’t think you’ll be using your tools a whole lot. Just keep in mind the less expensive ones tend to wear out more quickly and may not be as comfortable to hold. You can always upgrade later if you find your tools are wearing out too quickly or you are using them frequently and finding them too uncomfortable to use so often. I will provide several options below:
Essential Wire Wrapping Tools for Beginners
Round Nose Pliers
Round nose pliers have tapered cone-shaped jaws and are used for forming loops and making curves in wire. These pliers are essential for any wire wrapping techniques, basic and advanced, such as: wrapped loops, rosary chains, making eyepins, ear wires, and wrapping headpins and briolettes to make dangles, etc. You will want to choose a pair of round nose pliers that fits comfortably in your hand to avoid hand and wrist pain from prolonged use.
If you have large hands, choose a pair of round nose pliers with longer handles, and vice versa if you have smaller hands. Also consider getting a pair that has soft cushioned handles instead of hard rubber or plastic handles. When I choose a pair of round nose pliers, I also look for ones that have a nice long jaw that are quite fine at the tip so I can get more variety in the size of loops I can make with this one tool.
Chain Nose Pliers
Chain nose pliers have tapered ends that are flat and smooth on the inside edges. It is important NOT to use pliers that have ridges in them, as these will leave marks on and damage your wire as you work. Chain nose pliers are necessary for basic jewelry making techniques such as bending wire, opening and closing jump rings, flattening crimp beads, tucking wrapped wire ends in, straightening kinks in wire, and so many more. Chain nose pliers should not be used for making loops.
As with the round nose pliers, it’s important to choose a pair of chain nose pliers that will fit comfortably in your hand, so take into consideration the length of the handles as well as the material the handles are made of. I also like to choose a pair of chain nose pliers that are nice and fine at the tip so I can use them in tight spaces (such as tucking in ends of wire after completing a wire wrapped loop).
Flush cutters are a wire cutting tool that leaves the cut end of the wire almost perfectly flat. Other types of cutters leave a ‘bur’ on the end of the wire on both sides of the cut, and they also don’t allow you to get right up close to the work to cut exactly where you want to cut. Using flush cutters minimizes the steps required to get nicely finished wire wraps and neat ends on your beaded jewelry. If you haven’t been using flush cutters, I promise you’ll notice a HUGE difference in the process and I bet you’ll even come back to thank me :)
When choosing a pair of flush cutters, I recommend looking for a pair with a finely pointed tip like the ones in the image below (on the right) so you can clip right up next to the wire after wrapping.
*NOTE*: It’s extremely important not to use your nice flush cutters on memory wire, as this will damage your tool! Also, try to preserve the fine tips of your flush cutters by using them only for clipping wire in tight spaces. Any other cuts you make try to use the middle or back of the cutter jaw.
Regular wire cutters vs. flush cutters
What’s the difference between regular wire cutters and flush cutters? As you can see from the image below, the regular wire cutters are quite clunky – not ideal for fine wire work and you can probably see how the smaller, pointed tips of the flush cutters on the right are more suited for making precision cuts in tight spaces.
As mentioned above, regular wire cutters cut in a way that leaves a bur on both sides of the wire, compared to the way flush cutters cut. Flush cutters leave one side of the wire with a flat cut, which is ideal in many jewelry making techniques. See the image below for comparison:
Those are the three essential wire wrapping tools for beginners! I hope you found this helpful in helping you figure out what you need to get started making wire wrapped jewelry!
Don’t forget to check out my online workshop – you can enroll in a FREE TRIAL by following this link >> Wire Wrapping for Beginners <<