The most common question I get asked when someone gets the jewelry making fever is “what tools and equipment do I need to set up a studio and how much does it cost?” Prices have changed in the 10+ years I have gone through quite a few tools in those years so I have a few opinions on a few things. I am someone who LOVES tools and will buy them just to try them out; but I am also someone who likes simplicity and efficiency so some tools haven’t been worth what I paid for them and are now sitting in a drawer waiting for their next life.
I started small in my front room and bought tools as I could and have been blessed to be able to build up to my 500 square foot studio I have now. A few years ago I figured out a basic setup for a friend that I set up a studio for and it came to around $2000 with out the buffer and ventilation. This is my “basic” list of things I can’t live without and my most used tools. They are in no particular order and most are specific to jewelry making so you can’t just run down the street to Home Depot to pick them up unfortunately. The catalogs I order from the most are RioGrande.com, Indian Jewelers Supply ijs.com, and OttoFrei.com. Also, keep your eye out for used tools in your local classifieds or local rock shops.
I have *starred tools that I highly recommend you spend a little more money on because they are worth it and I put a + sign next to non-jewelry specific tools you may already have or can get easily at hardware stores.
+sturdy bench/*jewelers bench
+good lighting/*bench lamp
metal cutters (for cutting sheet metal)heavy cutters for heavy bands
*flat nose pliers - multiple pairs
cross lock tweezers - multiple pairs
+lazy susan (under soldering block)
tripod with screen
needle nose pliers - multiple pairs
+acetylene tank, +hoses, +gauge, and *handle with a *0 (zero) and *1 tip (I recommend buying them all together)
*PROPER VENTILATION (PLEASE do not solder in your living space where your furnace can circulate the fumes and chemicals all through your house. Your health, your family, and your brain cells will thank me later! And NO, opening up a window is not considered proper ventilation!) (I can email you a photo of my setup if you need an idea of what it should look like)
*0 (zero) cut half round ring files
+large bastard files
deep throat saw frame
*ball peen hammer
+small claw hammer
standard jewelers gauge (ruler for ring and bracelet sizes)
*+drill with flex shaft
black polishing wheels
+3M wheel - brushed finish
muslin wheels (Fine and Mirror finish)
silica free brown compound for Fine wheel (step 1)
Zam - for mirror finish wheel (step 2)
inside ring polisher
*buffing machine (I prefer the 2 stage with ventilation, your health and brain cells will thank you for this too!)
Great sound system to crank your music or audiobooks that get the creative juices flowing!
Things I use all the time but not necessary to get started:
crucible with handle
*punch and die set
If you have any questions about any of these please contact me for further explanation or if you need help setting up shop!
Your studio should be a happy, bright, inspiring space that you will want to spend hours in! Treat it like such by bringing in things that spark your creativity and help you focus on your vision!
I would love to see pictures of your studio space, you can email me photos, tag me on FB or Pinterest or invite me over!
Happy creating! <3B.
Silversmith and teacher of refined jewelry arts, basically that means I am obsessed with metal and passionate about teaching!