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Gradually I’m going to be adding these Must-Have Tools for DIY lists for my DIY Resources page, and the first one I’d like to share is this one. I’ve been making a number of jewelry projects lately, both for my WeHeartThis guest posts and for my own blog (like the Free People Wrapped Quartz Bangles, Anthropologie Beaded Tassel Necklace, and the 80’s-Style Acrylic Triangle Rhinestone Earrings). For these and all the other projects I’ve been making since I started crafting jewelry many, many years ago, I find myself reaching for the same tools repeatedly. Here is my recommended list of really great tools for DIY Jewelry Projects:

1. Chain Nose Pliers with Side Cutter

A MUST when working with wire, chain, or even soft metal sheet (to be used in a pinch!), wire-cutters are an essential tool to jewelry-making. Mine do double-duty with their half-round (also called “chain nose”) ends, for when I need to use them to grip, and not cut, things.

2. Round Nose Pliers

For making loops in headpins and eyepins you need a perfectly-round pair of pliers. I put off buying these for a long time, reasoning that I already had a pair of half-round pliers: wouldn’t they do? (And I always wondered why the loops in my jewelry were so lopsided and squashed-looking.) If you need to string anything on a headpin or eyepin, and connect it to anything – get these pliers, you’ll thank yourself for them!

3. Jump Ring Tool

Where would I be without my jump ring tool? This saves me so much time and fiddling with two sets of pliers (though low-gauge jump rings or steel cable chain will require the double set for torque).

4. Beacon Dazzle-Tac Jewelry Glue

I prefer this over any other jewelry adhesive out there – and was so thrilled to have discovered this a few years ago. Technically it’s a flexible adhesive, but is far stronger than the ubiquitous E6000, and much more spreadable and viscous, with a slightly longer drying time. I haven’t had a tube’s contents dry out after opening and using it once (unlike E6000, which, no matter how tightly I close the cap, dries out completely within a couple uses). Even in projects where it’s recommended to use G-S Hypo Cement, I use DazzleTac instead, since I find cryanoacrylates (like Hypo Cement or Crazy Glue), tend to dry very brittle, chalky, and eventually crack. My hands-down MUST-HAVE adhesive for any metal-metal, metal-plastic, plastic-plastic project!

5. Loctite Vinyl, Fabric and Plastic Repair Adhesive

For mixed-media jewelry projects, or projects involving leather, suede, or vinyl, LocTite cannot be beat. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it holds super-well on all projects requiring a flexible adhesive. I also use this on foam and fabric pieces, though if trying to adhere metal or plastic items to foam or fabric, I will use DazzleTac.

6. Sunshine Polishing Cloths

An excellent tarnish remover for a variety of materials, these can make anything I’ve worked on look brand-new again! They work on all precious metals, brass, copper, chrome, wood, ceramic, hard plastic and glass.

7. Mod Podge Gloss Finish

When sealing my mixed-media or painted projects, I tend to use this formulation of Mod Podge over any other: it imparts a glossy, finished look to every piece. I also have recently discovered Mod Podge Dimensional Magic, which is even thicker and glossier, and does not require multiple coats. My new love!

8. Curved Nail Scissors

Though scissors are a tool that of course is necessary to many projects, I find myself using these tiny, sharp, curved nail scissors the most. They get into small areas easily, are razor-sharp, and the pointed ends are great for piercing materials. (Make sure you find the kind where the center screw is a real screw and not just a rivet so you can re-tighten them over time!)

9. Dritz Fray Check

Necessary for daubing on the ends of silk thread, cord, rope, or other stringing materials to prevent fraying. If you’re working with synthetic stringing materials, you can also heat-seal raw ends by holding near an open flame.

10. Multisizer Ring Tool

This is a lifesaver when it comes to creating rings and sizing them properly. If you make a lot of rings (in different sizes), I’d also recommend a mandrel to help size your finished creations accurately.

11. Gauge Chart for Jump Rings

This is very helpful when determining the design of a piece, or labeling jump rings I have floating around. Click here to download and print the chart actual size.

12. Small Plastic Sealable Bags

I use these for sorting and keeping beads and findings separate from one another. So much better and more affordable than Ziplock!


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