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Choosing Jewellery Pliers

One of the most important tools you can get for jewellery making is pliers. There are so many different kinds that when you are starting out it can be quite confusing choosing the right type. Using the right tool for the right job can really improve your jewellery making whilst cutting down on the time it takes to create your jewellery item in the process. The different plier types may look similar when you are starting out but you’ll soon find that they all have their own unique characteristics.

There are 4 basic types of pliers that are the most commonly used tools for jewellery making and these are side cutters, round nosed pliers, chain nosed pliers and flat nose pliers.

Round Nose PliersRound Nose Pliers

Side Cutters
Side cutters have sharp jaws that can come in a variety of shapes; these are used for cutting soft wires, threads or metal sheets. The shape of the cutters affect how the cut face will appear; general side cutters will leave the cut edge smooth and even.

Round Nosed Pliers
Round nose pliers have rounded jaws and are used to hold, shape and bend jewellery wire. They are used for creating loops, curves, circles and coils and are essential when making such items as earrings and adding bead charms to a bracelet amongst other things. The jaws of the pliers are tapered so this enables you to make a variety of different sized loops and gives a very professional finish to you jewellery. They can be purchased individually or as part of a set.

Chain Nose PliersFlat Nose Pliers

Chain Nosed Pliers
These are essential in any jewellery maker’s toolbox and are used for almost all aspects of jewellery making. They can be used for bending, holding, turning the wire and also opening and closing jump rings and crimping. Their small ends enable them to get into small spaces and grip the jewellery well.

Flat Nosed Pliers
Flat nose pliers have a slim flat service. They can be used for bending wire and also straightening any bends or kinks out of the wire. They can also be used for opening and closing jump rings and also for crimping crimp beads.

Specialist Pliers

Crimpring PliersRosary Pliers

Crimping Pliers
Crimping pliers are used to crush a metal crimp onto the wire to hold a bead or clasp into place. Although a chain nose pliers can be used for this a crimping pliers gives a much neater finish to you jewellery.

Round Nose Rosary Pliers
Rosary pliers are a combination of round nose pliers and side cutters. The round nose is used for making loops and curves and the side cutter is used for cutting wire or cord.

Plier’s Construction

Box Joint PliersLap Joint Pliers

Box Joint Versus Lap Joint Pliers
Most pliers are constructed with either box joints or lap joints to hinge and fasten the two halves of the pliers together. You will usually find that lesser quality budget pliers use a lap joint because their cheaper and easier to manufacture. Box joint pliers will always outlast and outperform lap joint pliers and are therefore a far superior type of pliers to choose for your jewellery making. Box joint pliers should retain precise alignment and experience no looseness or side play always open and close smoothly due to their joint construction. Lap joint pliers on the other hand tend to wear very quickly which will result in the pliers becoming loose and wobbly over time.

Spring Tension Pliers
When you close your pliers to pick something up or snip some wire with your cutters, if your pliers aren’t spring loaded they will stay shut once you release the tension. Some pliers have a single or double spring others have no spring at all to keep the jaws apart which means that you manually have to open and close the pliers. It’s worthy getting pliers with a single or double spring if you can afford them as they will help your hands from tiring so easily.

Pliers are generally either made of stainless steel or hardened and tempered carbon steel. Stainless steel pliers have the benefit of never rusting, will have a good life span but aren’t as hard wearing as hardened steel, so will wear over time. Hardened and tempered carbon steel pliers are extremely tough and hard wearing but they do have a tendency to rust, so need to be oiled regularly.

Pliers can come with a range of handles including foam grip, PVC and ergonomically designed handles. A PVC grip is generally harder wearing than a foam grip but not as comfortable to use for long periods of time. Ergonomically designed pliers will cost more but if you’re doing repetitive work for long periods its well worth investing in a pair as they are more comfortable to use and less fatiguing.

Pliers come in sizes ranging from miniature to Heavy Weight; miniature pliers are great for travelling with or occasional use, but not really suitable for prolonged use. Most jewellery making tasks can be successfully accomplished with light weight or medium weight pliers. Heavy weight pliers as the name suggests are more suitable for heavy duty work and are suitable for working with memory wire.

Author: Crystal and Glass Beads


  1. That was helpful. Thank you!. But pls, what kind of plier can one use to make jumprings and what kind and type of wire is the best for jumprings? Thanks again.

    • Hi Temmy
      Generally you would use round nose pliers and bend the wire around them to form a circular shape. If you are using wire to form jump rings the metal would need to be soft enough to bend but then it needs to stay in shape once the ring is formed unless you intend to solder the ring shut.

  2. Thank you, great information on selecting tools.

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