Behind the Scenes: Tools of the Trade
To do any job properly, you need the right tools. A jeweler's hammer is not the same as a blacksmith's hammer or a carpenter's hammer, for example. Even within the jewelry industry, different tools are used for different types of jewelry making. Today, I'm taking you behind the scenes of Buckaroo Bling to show you the tools I use in my studio.
Here at Buckaroo Bling, I - the Chief Wire Wrangler - use a few limited jewelry making techniques, so my assortment of tools isn't that large. All the more complicated equipment is missing from my tool stash because I work from my home, and the rental and residential area ordinances prohibit me from using anything that could be seen as dangerous (say, a torch, electroplating solution containing cyanide, metal oxidizing solutions, etc.). Wanting to be a law abiding citizen and a good neighbor, I decided to limit my jewelry making, for the time being, only to wire wrapping, pearl knotting, metal stamping, and wire knitting - all of them techniques that don't use any of the "dangerous" tools or chemicals.
But, wait! Why are there so many hammers in your tool box, you may ask. The reason is that different hammers are used for different purposes. For example, the big dead-blow hammer is used for flattening wire, and its head is made from nylon instead of steel because steel hammer head would mar other, softer metals such as copper and sterling silver. Now, the other hammers are purposely made out of steel because they are used to texture metal, or in a technique called chasing. The same goes for pliers. I have needle nose pliers, round nose pliers, and flat nose pliers. Each type of pliers has a different purpose in the wire wrapping process.
Looking at the picture above, some of you may recognize the ring mandrel and wonder why on earth I'd have one if I don't make rings. The truth is, ring mandrel is a very useful tool for making wire loops of consistent size. I wouldn't be able to make Boot Bling accessories, hoop earrings, or any loop or hoop jewelry elements in my designs without this handy tool.
Traditional jewelry making tools aren't the only ones in my tool box. As most of my designs include leather components, I also had to invest in a small number of tools traditionally used in leather working, such as a separate mallet, a pair of leather scissors, a leather punch, rivet setter, and a special leather working mat. Now, looking at this, my leather worker friends are secretly snickering because they know how much more work and how many more tools go into producing their detailed designs. That's why I'm not claiming to be a leather worker by any means. I'm just a jewelry maker who likes using leather in her designs.
I haven't even shown you here the funny looking needles and silk thread used for pearl knotting, or my bamboo knitting needles used for wire knitting, but I hope I've given you at least some idea of what tools are used in products you see in my online shop. So, the next time someone tells you jewelry making is easy and you hardly need any special equipment to do it, don't believe them. The truth is, each trade and each occupation uses a different set of tools, and just because we're not familiar with them, we shouldn't think that they aren't important or that they're easy to use. What tools do you use in your daily work? Drop me a note in the comments below.
Want to see what the tools I showed you can make with the help of two skilled hands? Check out these photos, then click the orange button below.
Dreamer Bracelets Stacking Bracelets Boot Bling