Basic Equipment Guide & Example Shopping Lists

Click here to view the pdf version of this resource.

This guide is provided for students to use as a starter list for building their own toolboxes for home workshops. It may not include every item, and is designed with simplicity in mind, not to provide details of every item that a student could ever need. If an essential item is missing, please feel free to contact me to present your ideas or ask any questions about this resource!

A number of items may be of benefit to you as you become more experienced, or want to do some work at home. You may also find small paintbrushes, plastic pots, dishes, scissors and many other small household items are very useful.

IF IN ANY DOUBT, SEEK ADVICE FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS!

Please note that this is not a guide on how to use equipment - for that, we recommend that you should attend a class or workshop with an appropriately trained/qualified instructor.

A list has been provided below of the basic items you may wish to consider purchasing. Many of these items are available from our online store, or from our store at Unit 5, Southlands Business Centre, Ormesby Road, Middlesbrough, TS3 0HB, so please feel free to purchase these from us!

Basic Workshop Equipment

Bezel Rocker OR Pusher (or both)

These are for setting stones - get the type you are more comfortable with (both types are usually available in classes for you to have a go). Expect to pay about £3.00-4.00 for one of either. Good for setting stones at home!

The quality can vary widely depending where you get one from, and how much it costs. Bear in mind that a poor quality rocker/pusher won't have a good face (the side you push the silver with) and *will* leave marks on your work that must then be filed out! It is worth the extra cost of getting one from a supplier with a reputation for selling quality tools.

image of a bezel rocker
image of a bezel pusher

Files

Can be economy ones starting from £3.00-5.00) or you can go for quality ones like those found in our web shop, including a good budget starter set or our higher quality file packs in Cut 2 (good to start with) or Cut 4 (much finer). If buying a cheap set, try to ensure it is not too coarse or it will just leave nasty scratches on the silver. You want to aim for a minimum of Cut 2 files.

It is worth stressing that you get what you pay for, and if you are intending on making lots of jewellery then a good quality file pack will be well worth the investment! There's a reasonable budget set of files available from the likes of DIY stores such as Focus or B&Q which costs about £3.99 - good as a starter set, although check the files before buying to make sure they're not too coarse as it's a definite game of pot luck to ensure you get a decent set.

DO NOT get yourself one of the cheap (less than £3.00) file sets that are floating about - they are generally far too coarse for what you'll need, and will only create deeper marks in your work!

You can also get handles for needle files if you find them uncomfortable to use, which will add a more ergonomic shape for not much extra outlay.

image of a set of files
image of a set of files

Piercing Saw Piercing Saw & Blades

A piercing saw should cost in the region of £5.00-15.00 for an adjustable one, or £5.00 for a non-adjustable. Aim for saw blades between 1 - 3/0 (8/0 is the finest available, and 5 is the coarsest), which should cost about £2.00-3.00 per dozen blades. You can make a bench peg to use it with out of some scrap timber, and get a G-clamp from your local hardware store. Alternatively, you can buy a ready-made one like this for £5.50.

Piercing Saws are available in a number of different formats, starting from a basic fixed frame and extending to adjustable frames either with or without blade tensioners.

Quality definitely counts with Piercing Saws, as poor quality frames can twist or flex more than is useful when working with them. Lower quality frames also don't hold the blades as cleanly or straight as the better versions.

There are also 'fashion' models available, featuring lighter weight frames and various colours and designs, although they also tend to have a substantially higher price tag associated with them.

image of a piercing saw and blades

Plier Set

A reasonable quality plier set will cost between £20-30.00, depending where you buy it and how many pliers are in it. Cheap pliers are available, but DON'T buy anything with teeth (those serrated edges inside the jaws) - it will ruin your jewellery!

There are different types of pliers available, including flat-, snipe- and round-nosed pliers forming the basic sets, with additional types that are useful depending on what you need them for. The end profiles are shown in the image below.

Plier profiles
image of a plier set

Ring Clamp

You may or may not need one of these - if you are comfortable without, then don t buy one! Prices range from about £3.50 upward, they are basically all the same so don t pay £5.00 or more for one!

You can pick these up in a variety of flavours, including a side wing-nut or a wedge to close the clamp and secure your work. There's also a bottom wing-nut version for holding a ring from inside the band.

Good places to find ring clamps are the likes of our web store, where we sell them for around £4.00 each, along with a variety of other low-cost tools.

image of a ring clamp

Engineer's Scriber

A simple scriber is basically a length of steel rod with a sharpened end, and is used for marking lines and areas on metal. This is very useful, and can be used in place of a pencil, or to score thin metal before bending.

You can find scribers in the web shop.

image of a scriber

Engineer's Square

An Engineer's Square is excellent for getting right angles correctly marked, and are invaluable for drawing them on metal! Although not an essential bit of kit, at the low prices offered by some suppliers it's well worth getting one if you're buying from them anyway.

image of an engineers square

Pin Vice

A pin vice is a single or double ended chuck that can be used to mount work in for holding while doing something with it, or to put drill bits into and used for hand drilling. These are a useful bit of kit, and are cheaply available from our web store, it's well worth getting one if you're buying other things anyway.

image of a pin vice

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You may also want to invest in...

Rawhide Mallet

For forming rings with a Ring Triblet. Expect to pay between £12-25.00, depending on size.

You need to consider the weight of mallet that you are comfortable with, bearing in mind that for larger/heavier jobs, you may need a larger mallet! Many go for the smallest as a starter mallet, and then add to their collection as needed.

Why not take a look and see what's in stock in our web shop?

image of a rawhide mallet

Ring Triblet (Mandrel)

For forming rings with a Rawhide Mallet. These vary in price, expect to pay between £10 and £30.00 for a plain steel one without markings. Triblets with calibration lines and ring sizes will often be £35+.

Triblets with calibration lines are not as good for general use as an unmarked triblet, as using it as a normal triblet will leave marks on the inside of your work! It's best to go for an unmarked triblet first, and consider purchasing a calibrated version for measuring ring sizes at a later date.

You can purchase a Ring Triblet (Mandrel) from our web shop.

image of a Ring Triblet
closer image of marked and unmarked triblets showing sizing markings on marked variety

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If you want to do soldering at home, you will need...

Soldering Blocks

Available in several varieties, either in a Calcium Silicate (white) or Vermiculite (brown) base. Many are listed under brand names such as our own product, Micablox. These cost around £3.50-7.00 each - get two or buy a larger one and cut it in half if you're only doing small projects! These are the fireproof blocks to solder with - always put something non-flammable down underneath to prevent damage from dropping hot silver etc.

You can buy Soldering Blocks in our web shop.

image of soldering blocks

Gas Torch

Torches like those used in my classes are available from the web shop at a very good price, and that includes a small gas canister. Additional canisters can be bought for around £3.50-£4.00 each. Finer flame torches range from around £20.00 (or £6.00 for a 'cooks' torch that isn't as fine) all the way up to £100s.

image of a Gas Torch
image of finer Gas Torches

Brass Tweezers

These should only cost about £2-3.00 and are essential for using with safety pickle. Try to get the variety with the sharp, pointy tips - very useful for handling small pieces of solder, or picking small pieces of work out of the pickle/water.

image of Brass Tweezers

Insulated Steel Tweezers

These will cost about £3-4.00, and are essential for soldering, holding pieces etc. You may wish to invest in several sets, depending on the type of work you are intending to do. They come with straight or curved tips - the preference is entirely yours!

image of Insulated Steel Tweezers

Solder

About £10.00 for a 60cm length. Use hard solder if you only buy one type.

image of Solder

Safety Pickle

About £8.00-£12.00 per kilogram. Always use a ceramic dish and mark safely - store in a marked glass bottle when not in use!

image of Safety Pickle

Borax Cone & Dish

ESSENTIAL for soldering. Borax cones typically cost about £2-3.00, and will need to be replaced when you have worn them down (should last YEARS with a small home workshop) and the dish should cost about £3.50 - and shouldn't wear down before the cone! You can buy borax powder as a substitute, but it will likely work out much more expensive!

image of Borax Cone and Dish

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Example Shopping Lists (Starting Out)

The lists below are built on the assumption that you are attending a class, and have access to other equipment even if it does not belong to you - it is not recommended to start out in Silversmithing and Jewellery Making without guided learning due to the costs involved! If you are new to the craft but are not currently enrolled on a class, why not take a look at our workshops or see classes on in the North East.

Although the target prices have been exceeded once or twice, they are more guidelines to give you an idea of the sort of tools and equipment you could aim for with a given budget - and it also makes a useful birthday/christmas/mother/fathers day present list!

Item Suggested Supplier Price
Up to £15
A4/A5 Pad of Drawing Paper Stationery Supplier £1.00
Files Teesside Silversmith £6.00
Pencil Stationery Supplier £0.50
Small Sealable Container Supermarket £1.00
Steel Rule (15 or 30cm) Teesside Silversmith £3.50
Total £12.00
 
Up to £35 (ish) (As above, plus...)
Bench Peg Teesside Silversmith £5.50
Bezel Rocker or Teesside Silversmith £3.00
Pusher Teesside Silversmith £3.00
G-Clamp Local Hardware Store £5.50
Ring Clamp Teesside Silversmith £4.00
Small Scriber Teesside Silversmith £3.00
Small Toolbox Local Hardware Store £5.00
Total £38.00
 
Up to £60 (As above, plus...)
Pliers Set Teesside Silversmith £20.00
Total £58.00
 
Up to £85 (ish) (As above, plus...)
Rawhide Mallet Teesside Silversmith £16.00
Ring Mandrel Teesside Silversmith £12.00
Total £86.00
 
Up to £125 (As above, plus...)
Jeweller's Shears Teesside Silversmith £12.00
Ring Triblet (replace one above with this) Teesside Silversmith £30.00
Total £124.00
 
Up to £175 (As above, plus...)
1200 Grit Emery Paper Teesside Silversmith £0.75
Borax Cone Teesside Silversmith £2.60
Borax Dish Teesside Silversmith £3.00
Brass Tweezers Teesside Silversmith £3.00
Ceramic Pickle Dish Supermarket £3.00
Gas Torch Teesside Silversmith £13.50
Hard Silver Solder Teesside Silversmith £6.00
Insulated Tweezers Teesside Silversmith £3.50
Pack of Paintbrushes for use with Borax Supermarket £2.00
Plastic Water Dish Supermarket £2.00
Safety Pickle Teesside Silversmith £2.49
Soldering Blocks (x2) Teesside Silversmith £6.00
Total £171.84

Please note: prices correct at time of publication (25th January 2012).

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