Tool Time Tuesday – Top Ten Metalsmithing Tools

Well, I know it is Wednesday, but the roofers are still at it. Luckily, they are almost done. The weather has set them back a little bit. I have not been able to get in to film yet. And then to add to everything, I am the featured artist this month at a local studio and have had to concentrate on actually making something to put into the gallery of the studio. I have determined that I need three more of me.

So for this edition of Tool Time Tuesday, I am re-sharing a post that I did for a while back.


As a jewelry artist, and more especially as a teacher, I am often asked which tools I feel are necessary to be successful in metalsmithing or jewelry making. The answer to this really depends on the techniques you are using. I also thought it would be interesting to see what other metalsmiths felt were their top 10 tools. Obviously there is a lot of overlap and their answers reflected their expertise level as well.

When I was coming up with “My Top Ten” I created the list based on someone who is just beginning and does not have any tools yet but would like to get started. I will give you my Top Ten and then I will also share with you the “big hitters” from my colleagues.

  1. Pliers: Round Nose, Chain Nose, Flat nose. Okay, I know that is three, but I cannot make my jewelry without them.
  2. A really good pair of cutters. I actually have multiple pair that I use depending on the thickness of the wire I am cutting.
  3. A good pair of hand shears or my guillotine shear. You want to have a good way to cut bigger pieces of metal and sheet.
  4. Good files: Some files can get really pricey, but I believe they are worth every penny. Of course, I also have quite a few inexpensive files that i cannot live without.
  5. Flexshaft or drill press: These tools are indispensable in my studio. They will do everything from drilling a hole to buffing and polishing. If I had to pick just one, go with the flexshaft.
  6. Jewelers saw and LOTS of saw blades.
  7. Torch and basic soldering set up. Okay, again, this one is more than one tool and warrants its own list. But I cannot make the type of jewelry I do without it.
  8. Hammers: At a minimum I need my raw hide mallet, planishing hammer and riveting hammer. The rest are just icing on the cake.
  9. Bench pin/Anvil combo: Some people will have just a bench block they can hammer on. This tool combines a bench block with a bench pin. The bench pin is necessary for sawing and piercing for me.
  10. Sharpies: I gave this last one a lot of thought. I use sharpies for everything from marking cutting lines and designs, measurement lines, and even as a resist when etching.

I believe that with the items in my list I would be able to be very successful with jewelry making. So what other tools made the “Top Ten” for other metalsmiths?

  • Rolling Mill
  • Hydraulic Press
  • Polishing Machine
  • Mandrels (ring and bracelet)
  • Optivisor
  • Good set of lights
  • Calipers

And then, of course, there are those tools that go without saying:

  • My 10 fingers – Can’t do a thing with out them
  • My eyes
  • My creative brain
  • A good dose of caffeine
  • Good music

Do you use any of these tools? What are Your favorites?

6 thoughts on “Tool Time Tuesday – Top Ten Metalsmithing Tools

  1. Joyce Lucht

    When I took classes from you back in the day, we used good, handheld butane torches for our soldering. They worked great for our small projects.


  2. Skye

    I am the new jewelry artist you speak of, and this list is fantastic! I am limited on budget, and I really want to get the main tools that I have to have to create, as I go, and learn, I will continue to add to my collection. Working on getting the flex shaft tool now. 🙂

    Thank you again for the information.


    1. Melissa Muir Post author

      Thank you Skye. Please let me know if you have any questions. I can sometimes help you get really good tools at a better price, not always, but I will do my best. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *