When you are first beginning to work with jewelry you will need only a few tools and pieces of equipment. Buy tools only as you need them. There is no need to acquire the full range when you are beginning.
Although it is possible to work in the kitchen, you should, if possible, try to have a special working area that can be either closed off or secured in some way, because some of the tools and pickles you will use could be dangerous in the wrong hands.
There is no need to buy a sophisticated work bench. An old table will suffice, as long as it is reasonably sturdy and does not wobble. Make sure that the table is a comfortable height. When you are working your elbows should be able to rest easily on the surface of the table, but try to keep your back straight while you work.
The wooden bench pin, which is the central working point, can be attached to the table with a C-clamp. Try to arrange the bench and working area so that the tools you use most often - pliers, snips and jeweler's saw, for example - are easily accessible. A hook or rack near to the bench pin is a neat and convenient method of keeping them near at hand.
A small vise, which has numerous uses, can be screwed to the edge of the table.
Make sure that you work under a good light. An adjustable table lamp is ideal, because the light can be directed to shine onto your work so that no shadows are cast. Bear in mind that when you are soldering and annealing you need to be able to turn off the light, so make sure that the switch is within easy reach. protect the area of your bench or table that you use for soldering with a metal plate of some kind - an old roasting pan would be ideal-and stand the soldering block or charcoal block on the metal so that the surface of the bench is not damaged by the flame of the torch.
Small soldering jobs can be done with a portable gas cylinder torch, but for everyday use, you will probably find a blow torch that uses propane gas and your own breath more than adequate.
Most polishing can be done by hand, especially at first. If and when you do acquire a polishing motor, make sure that it has its own housing or that it has an integral dust extraction system. The dust created by polishing is dirty and gets everywhere.
The following tools and equipment are those you will need to get started.
Jeweler's saw This is the first tool to buy and the one you will keep forever.
Buy the best you can afford. Blades, which are available in packs of 12, range in grade from 4/0, through 0, down to 0/6. To begin with, buy grade 1, 0 or 0/1.
It is possible to buy a packet of 8 or 10 useful shapes. If you are buying individual tools, choose a flat, an oval, a half-round, and a triangular file to begin with.
Large flat file
This tool is essential for removing lumps of excess solder, for straightening edges, and for generally cleaning up your work. Make sure that it is not too coarse.
Large half-round file Use this for cleaning up the inside surfaces of rings and inside curves.
Ball pien hammer A general-purpose hammer has dozens of uses.
Round-nosed pliers these essential pliers are needed for bending curves, circles, and wire.
Flat-nosed pliers these are used for holding, bending, and forming. Buy two different sized pairs and make sure they are comfortable in your hand.
Half-round pliers these are useful for bending metal without marking the outside curve.
Serrated-edge pliers although they will leave a mark when they are used for gripping metal, they are essential for pulling wire straight or through a draw plate.
Ring mandrel This tapered steel rod is used for shaping rings after soldering.
Wooden mallet Use this to shape and flatten silver. It will not leave marks on the metal.
Soldering torch Make sure that there is somewhere near the soldering area to keep the torch and that when it is in use the flame is always directed toward the soldering block.
Charcoal block Items that are to be soldered are placed on the block.
Borax dish and cone Flux is produced by rubbing the borax cone in a little water in the dish.
Binding wire Before soldering, hold two pieces of metal firmly together with wire. Always remove the wire before pickling.
Insulated tweezers Use tweezers to hold pieces for soldering or the solder itself when stick solder is being used.
Small vise Once it is firmly attached to the work bench, a vise will have dozens of uses, including holding formers, bending right angles, holding metal steady while it is being filed, and holding draw plates.
Snips These are essential for cutting binding wire, pillions of solder, wire and even small pieces of metal.
Wet and dry sandpapers Keep a good selection in stock, beginning with grade 240 and working through grades 400 and 600 down to grade 1200.
Safety pickle, alum, or sulfuric pickle A pickle of some kind is needed to clean metal after soldering. Liquid metal cleaner Ideal for polishing when the piece has been finished.
Leather or felt stick The final stage in polishing is buffing on a stick.
Water Wherever you work, make sure that you have easy access to running water.