Furnishing Your Workbench with Jewelry-Making Tools and Supplies


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Jewelers need a wide array of specialized equipment for use in stone setting, forging, and other processes. A jeweler’s toolset can range from the straightforward mandrel to the highly sophisticated computer.

The most critical jewelry-making tools consist of essential hand tools, though a torch set for soldering and a saw for cutting metal can be helpful additions to any studio. This chapter delves into the fundamentals and specialized equipment that every jeweler’s workshop needs to function optimally.

Investing in studio essentials like a sturdy workbench and high-quality drill bits should be fun and fruitful. Keep in mind the needs of your jewelry business and the tasks at hand as you lay out your new studio. Your creative working space, choice of great jewelry-making supplies, and equipment set the tone for productivity and innovation.

Furnishing The Studio with Jewelry-Making Tools

While some jewelers may prefer a piecemeal approach, others may treat the studio’s furnishing and jewelry-making tools as a living space. Make sure you have the best tools and equipment you can afford, regardless of your goals or budget.

In this part, we’ll go over the fundamentals of setting up a functional studio space. Specialized tools and equipment for enameling and casting can always be added.

Focusing on the Workbench

You can buy a variety of preassembled workbenches designed for jewelers on the market (or not) for your jewelry-making tools. Quality workbenches are not hard to come by; one can purchase a used one or convert a sturdy desk or table.

Most basic jeweler’s benches have a hole in the middle for a bench pin, some other holes for ring mandrels, and some drawers for storing various tools.

There are numerous choices available when searching for a suitable jeweler’s bench. For convenience, choose a model with a detachable sweeps catch. Consider the premium version if you’re serious about making jewelry a hobby or a profession. They’re built to last for years, have detachable armrests, and are generally more sturdy than regular chairs.

Should You Try a Watchmarker’s Bench?

Watchmaker’s benches typically lack armrests, mandrel holes, and a cutout for a bench pin, but they have many more drawers. As a result, they may be more practical for storing equipment if that’s all you have room for. Fixing a bench pin requires some adjustments. Antique shops and auctions are good places to find high-quality workbenches for watchmakers, typesetters, and jewelers.

The Bench Pin

A jeweler’s bench is equipped with a bench pin, a wedge-shaped block of wood. One of the most common types can be clamped onto a work surface. Bench pins that have already been manufactured are typically relatively cheap. For example, you could get one that’s already been shaped like a V.

A simple and inexpensive jeweler’s studio workbench can be made by clamping a bench pin in the middle of a sturdy wooden table. Next, create a sweep catch by stapling canvas or suede to the underside of the table. Then, if you’re sitting down, you can prevent tools or other loose items from falling to the floor by pulling the fabric onto your lap.

Hand Tools for Jewelry-Making

Metals can be held, shaped, and cut with hand tools. Purchase the highest quality hand tools your budget will allow whenever possible. You don’t have to buy the most expensive brand or model, but you should look for tools manufactured with care.

Investing in high-quality equipment is a great way to enhance your jewelry-making time. In particular, hand tools will be the most frequently used tools in your studio, so it’s essential to invest in high-quality options.

Shears, Scissors, Nippers, and Pliers

As a versatile tool, pliers come in various sizes and forms. Pliers come in various shapes and sizes, but the four most common are the round nose, flat nose, chain nose, and bent nose. Pliers with parallel action compress in two directions simultaneously, providing a solid grip on whatever you’re trying to hold.

Nylon jaw pliers are another valuable tool for holding objects without damaging them. Some pliers are designed for specific purposes, such as pushing or lifting prongs, removing or setting stones, holding rings, or working with wire. As you learn about the tools’ many applications, you might find yourself stocking up on many pliers.

Hears and snips cut metal using a cross action. Then, they can cut small squares of sheet solder or thin metal sheets using templates.

An acceptable substitute is a pair of gardening shears or pruning shears. Nippers and cutters of the flush-cut variety, which sever wire without leaving a pinched end, are the most common. Bevel-style cutters excel at making clean cuts in heavy-gauge wire and in short amounts of time.

Setting Tools

In most cases, the functions of jewelry-making tools are used to categorize them. For example, faceted gemstones, semi-precious cabochon stones, and beads can all be et in various metal holding devices, such as prongs, bezels, and pins, which belong to the more complex tool group known as jeweler’s tools.

After the stone is set in a bezel, the metal around its lip can be smoothed using a burnishing tool, a polished steel tool available in both straight and slightly curved varieties.

Using a rocking motion, metal is rolled around the stone’s rim with a bezel roller. A wooden grip is typically attached to this steel implement. Another tool commonly used to secure stones in their bezels is a bezel pusher, which is made of polished steel and has a wooden handle.

DIYing any of these three tools is not only possible but also cheap. Jewelers frequently improvise new tools from scraps of tool steel, such as broken files or burrs, or adapt existing ones to perform a specific task.

Hammers for Jewelry-Making

Jewelers rely heavily on their hammers, among many other meaningful jewelry-making tools. Similar in utility to pliers, they are used to manipulate metal quickly and forcefully.

A wide range of hammer sizes, shapes, and weights is available, but the three most common are described here. Hammers designed for striking metal, such as those used by master silver and goldsmiths, should never be used with any other tool.

They should be stored either on a wall or individually to prevent damage to the ends, and they should be kept free of scratches, dents, and imperfections. More sophisticated silversmith and goldsmith tools include hammers designed for specific tasks like raising, creasing, planishing, and embossing.

These hammers shape thin metal into rounded objects like bowls and cups. They are typically well-balanced and have highly polished surfaces for easy handling. Riveting and watchmaker’s hammers are other types of tapping tiny objects or getting into tight spots. Rawhide mallets are essential for any studio jeweler because they can move metal without damaging its finish, unlike steel hammers. So, for example, you can use it to size rings and bend metals without worrying about damaging them.

Files are employed to cut a large amount of metal in one stroke. Therefore, it’s best to use the largest file size allowed by the program. Files can be found in various sizes and cuts, but the most common types are flat, half-round, and full-round. The range of file numbers is from 0 (coarse cut) to 6. (excellent cut).

Tiny needle files are essentially miniature versions of standard file cabinets. They share the same grading system and can be found in many different forms and cutting depths. Needle files come in a wide variety of shapes.

Typically, needle files are offered in sets that include the most common forms used in the jewelry industry. For example, when working with delicate surfaces, use an escapement file, while a riffler file can be twisted to access tight spaces.

You should keep your files in separate, non-touching drawers. They will lose their sharpness if they constantly rub up against one another. Also, never drag the tool backward across the surface while filing; this will wear down your files and not have the desired effect.

To clean the teeth of your files, use a brush with brass bristles. In addition, keep your files always dry because they quickly rust when exposed to moisture. Finally, although most jewelers don’t do it, you can set your files in handles.

Forming Tools

Metal is bent and shaped using forming tools, another class of jewelry-making tools. Polished tool-grade steel is the material of choice for most of these instruments, though brass, wooden, and other variants exist. Forming blocks, also known as dapping blocks, are the most basic shaping tools.

Dapping punches are used to hammer or push metal into the corresponding cavities in the tops of these blocks, resulting in the desired shapes. In contrast to the straight, flat surfaces produced by the dapping block, the grooved, bent, or tube-like profiles of the forming block result from a deliberate process.

A disc-cutting tool is an essential part of any jeweler’s arsenal. Metal sheets are easily cut into discs of uniform size and precision.

Put the cutting punch into the desired hole, and then insert the metal sheet. Use a heavy mallet to strike the tool quickly, and it will produce small, round discs of varying sizes. Discs make a formidable combination when combined with the dapping block and punches.

Domes are a standard resist shape when working with metal.

They work in tandem with hammers to form the desired form. For example, spoons can be made with an egg-shaped dome, while bowls can be made with a round dome. Chasing tools, lettering stamps, and hand stamps are some examples of additional forming tools.

Holding Tools

Jewelry can be held securely while being worked on with tools in a mini clamp or a hand vice. Alternatively, you can use a ring clamp, typically made of wood, with leather jaws holding your work firmly when a wedge is inserted. To begin, you’ll need a set of wooden ring clamps. Use them to keep rings steady while you set stones or your work steady while you polish. There is a common term for these holding devices: setting tools.


Metal can be formed into sharp angles using square mandrels. Mandrels for rings are used to give them uniform shapes and sizes. A jeweler will use a rawhide mallet and a ring mandrel to increase the size of a ring by a quarter or a half size. If you need to size up a ring by more than a full size, you will need to solder the band together.