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After January 15, 2006
The list below is part of my Beginning Silversmithing Class on CD.
Basic Tools and Equipment Needed for Silversmithing
These tools will be all you need to start a business and make all the Sterling Silver Jewelry that you successful.
What do I need to start Silversmithing?
Below is a list of equipment, tools, and supplies that are a "must have" for anyone beginning Silversmithing/jewelry making. This list includes only the bare necessities, and if someone does not have or cannot get, any of the below, it will make it very difficult to do a good job of Silversmithing.
I have then added a list at the end of the other tools and equipment that make it even easier to make jewelry. We will talk about these more during the class and in the last installment.
Remember--do not purchase any tool if you already have one that can do the job. If you have a question about whether the tool you already have will do the job, let me know.
Quick Check off List of Must Have Tools (You will need these, or any tool that will do the same job, to complete this course.) See below for complete descriptions and explanations of why I suggest specific tools.
1.____ $ 4.00 to $ 30.00 Chain Nose Pliers (used to be called "needle nose") with smooth jaws.
2.____ $ 4.00 to $ 30.00 Round Nose Pliers.
3.____ $ 4.00 to $ 30.00 Wire Cutters.
4.____ $ 3.00 to $ 20.00 Tweezers with insulated handles and bent nose that spring shut.
5.____ $ 4.00 to $ 30.00 Sheet Metal Shears. (Any kind of "tin snips" will do.)
6.____ $ 4.00 to $ 15.00 Bastard File.
7.____ $ 2.00 to $ 7.00 Half Round Jewelers File with handle.
8.____ $ 10.00 to $230.00 Torch.
9.____ $ 5.00 to $ 10.00 Copper Toongs
10.____ $ 1.00 to $ 2.00 Cigarette Lighter.
11.____ $ 0.20 to $ 1.00 Nudgit. (pencil with a t-pin pushed through the eraser.)
12.____ $ 4.00 to $ 16.00 Charcoal Block.
13.____ $ 6.00 to $ 20.00 Solderite Pad.
14.____ $ 1.00 to $ 5.00 Plastic Spray Bottle.
15..____ $ 1.00 to $ 5.00 Paper Towels.
Chain Nose Pliers
I suggest the 5 inch size. It is large enough to do most jobs and yet small enough to make it easy to use. They must have smooth inner jaw surfaces and the outside of the jaws should also have a smooth surface. (This will be important, because I use the outer surface of these pliers to set stones, instead of a burnisher.) Coated handles are nice, but not necessary. I absolutely do NOT recommend that you have them spring loaded. The spring only "opens" the pliers. This means that you are always working against the spring. Gravity automatically opens the pliers. You never need the spring! I will be teaching you a very easy method of Silversmithing. This method will allow you to do Silversmithing for hours every day without hurting yourself and without wearing yourself out. If your fingers hurt, Silversmithing is no fun! If pliers come with a spring, I rip them off as soon as I unpack them. You should do the same!
Round Nose Pliers
when you get these, check the ends of the round nose pliers to make sure that they come together and align at the ends. Coated handles are nice, but not necessary. I absolutely do NOT recommend that you have them spring loaded for the same reason listed above. If they have a spring, remove it.
(sometime called diagonal cutters or just diagonals) I recommend that you purchase these at Wal-Mart for about $9.00. They should be about 7 to 8 inches to make it easy for you to cut most gauges of wire. When purchasing wire cutters, everyone should hold them up to a light source and check to see if any light can be seen between the cutting surfaces while being held shut. If you can see light or they do not come together perfectly, do NOT buy them.
these must come with insulated handles, and I only suggest the bent nose. They must spring shut. You do not want to use bathroom tweezers. They will wear out your fingers! You never know how hard to squeeze them, so you are always over squeezing and wear out your fingers. Let the spring in these tweezers do you work for you. You do NOT need the straight ones. I have never found a job that straight nose tweezers can do that bent nose ones cannot do. You want the bent nose so that you do not have to bend your wrist while Silversmithing. This is very important! Remember that companies will make every tool that they can sell. They often sell tools even if there is no real use for them. Save your money. You only need one tweezers to get started.
Sheet Metal Shears
Any kind of "tin snips" will do, and you may want to check out Wal-Mart or Sears. The one in photo 5 is one that I purchased from a welding supply company in Colorado. The name of this company is General Air Supply. If you have one in your area, I highly recommend them. They are only $10.00 and will cut up to 20 gauge sheet with ease. Do not spend more than $20.00 on shears.
I really recommend buying one from the local hardware store or Wal-Mart for about $4.00. It is an 8 inch bastard file which means that it only has one row of teeth on both sides. If you can, find one that has teeth on both edges also. This file will be used to do 95% of all your filing. This is worth repeating: This file will be used to do 95% of all your filing. Just in case you missed it: This file will be use to do 95% of all your filing!!!!!!! Be sure that it has a handle on it!
Half Round Jewelers File
I buy these from a local supplier for only $1.00. I only recommend a 1/2 round file. This file will do most of the 5% of the filing that the 8 inch bastard file will not do. It is not necessary to purchase a lot of files. This file just about has every angle and curve on it that you will ever need. I especially do not recommend buying on of those sets of six or twelve jeweler's needle files. You simply will not use them and they will just get in the way. If you must buy more files to satisfy your tool craving, buy a rat tail file for making and cleaning up very small holes, and a triangle file for making fast angled cuts. With those two files, the half round file, and the 8 inch bastard file you can do 100% of all filling procedures.
If you do not have a torch, I recommend that you purchase a $10.00 propane torch from Ace Hardware. They are the worst torch to use for Silversmithing. BUT, IT IS THE BEST TORCH TO LEARN HOW TO DO SILVERSMITHING! Well, it is the worst torch except for those butane mini torches and some other propane torches.
Be sure they look like the one in the photo. Do not buy any torch other than the $10.00 torch in the photo. Do not purchase a self lighting torch or one with a hose on it. They do not give you the flame that you will need. Remember that I am going to teach you my method of Silversmithing. I use nothing but hard solder and you will need a good flame that you can control.
All teachers, especially public school teachers and college teachers will laugh at using this torch for Silversmithing. The trouble is that they forget that with their fat budgets (oh, I know, they complain about not having enough money in "their budget", but it is never "their" money! NEVER! Remember, I was a public school teacher for 13 years.), that not everyone can afford a Smith Handiheat Acetylene. If you can afford about $120.00 for this torch I do highly recommend it for Silversmithing. Then purchase a "B" tank from a local welding supplier for about $80.00. But please remember that you do not have to spend that much money.
I will teach you to use this $10.00 torch and make better jewelry with it than many, if any teachers can do with all their expensive torches. I never recommend Map gas torches or oxy-acetylene for Silversmithing. They are just too hot of flame for silver. Natural gas torches are great if you can afford one and can plumb it into your shop. Their big problem is they are not very mobile. You must use them in your shop.
I will cover all this in detail when we get to the lesson on soldering.
these are only used to take silver pieces out of the pickling solution. I know, I know, what is pickling solution? I will cover it and other chemicals in next week's lesson.
YES, I recommend a lighter to light the torches that I suggest for Silversmithing. I don't recommend it for oxy-acetylene, but I never recommend oxy-acetylene for Silversmithing. I will cover this more when we get to lighting the torch and soldering.
(pencil with a t-pin pushed through the eraser) I invented this tool and one of my students named it. I will give you detailed information on how to make your own and how to use it later.
I believe charcoal blocks are the best soldering surface for Silversmithing. As you solder, it seems to release a gas that helps surround the silver piece and keeps oxygen away from the hot metal, thus helps prevent oxidizing. It also does not absorb as much heat as most solder surfaces. There will be more on this later. (Note: be sure to wrap a wire around the block before using. Heat will crack these blocks and if not wired tightly together they will crack apart. And, if you thought Humpty Dumpty was a problem to put back together, try putting a charcoal block back together. Not only impossible, but you will get covered with black charcoal dust.)
I use these mainly to set the charcoal blocks on top of to prevent accidental burning of the counter tops. It is also recommended for using under charcoal blocks just in case they begin to burn as charcoal. I have never had this happen, but I suppose they could and then start a fire in your shop. It is worth it to me to be able to close up a classroom or my own shop and go to bed without worrying about one starting a fire.
Plastic Spray Bottle
we will use this to spray on the flux before soldering. Yes, we will spray on the flux! You will love this one!
Academy of Silversmithing and Art Metal
After January 1, 2008
Learn Wax Injecting, Spruing, Investing, Burnout, and Casting
Rember this will read like a book, but is a class! As you go through the lesson you can ask any and all questions, online or by calling me.
plus $4.00 shipping and handling.
New ! Lost Wax Casting Class On CD
I have been writting this class for over two years and I believe it is the most comprehensive resource available for learning lost wax casting. It contains 100s of photos and covers wax injecting to casting of wax objects and natural objects. If you ever wanted to set up a shop for casting this class is a must!