Wire wrapping is an important art in jewelry making. It involves bending, twisting, manipulating, and forming jewelry wire into different intricate shapes and patterns.
Jewelers use jewelry wire to wrap around crystals, shells, and gemstones to make beautiful pendants for necklaces and other ornaments.
To form and shape jewelry wire like a pro, you need a collection of wire wrapping tools. Among them is an essential set wire wrapping pliers.
I know you are reading this article because you are probably contemplating getting into wire wrapping but don’t know the tools you need. Don’t fret – in this post, I share the essential types of jewelry pliers you need for your wire wrapping craft. These jewelry pliers are for both beginners and experienced jewelry makers. They should have a permanent place in your wire wrapping toolkit.
1. Chain nose pliers
Chain nose pliers have tapered flat-facing jaws that are rounded on the outside. They are a must-have for all jewelry wire work including bending and manipulating wires. Chain nose pliers are also useful for opening and closing jump rings.
The flat jaws of chain nose pliers grip wires without leaving marks on the surface. On the other hand, the pointed tips enable you to access wires in tiny openings. These jewelry pliers are the best for pulling wires around pendants when wire wrapping or weaving.
However, you can consider nylon pliers if you are working with a very delicate wire that will show the slightest marks.
Lastly, most chain nose pliers have round jaws on the outside. The outside curvature is very useful for making nice and smooth wire loops. If your chain nose pliers are rounded on the outside, you can use them as round nose pliers before you get a proper tool.
Chain nose pliers either have straight or bent jaws. Bent jaws are suitable for manipulating wire in tight spaces while straight jaws are for general purpose wire wrapping.
2. Round nose pliers
Round nose pliers are not your ordinary pliers. As the name goes, they are jewelry pliers with round jaws for forming perfect circular loops with wire. The jaws taper from the base to the tip to provide a range of diameters.
Round nose pliers are useful in wire wrapping pliers for making circular loops and rings for attaching jump rings and chains.
Although you can use chain nose pliers to make round loops on a wire, they don’t make perfect circular holes like round nose pliers.
Round nose pliers come in various jaw configurations including fully round jaws, round and flat jaws, and half-round and flat jaws.
3. Nylon pliers
Most of the time, chain nose pliers are all you will need to grip, pull, and manipulate jewelry wires. However, when the wire is so fragile and delicate you need a softer grip. This is where nylon jaw pliers come in handy.
Nylon jaws are pliers with nylon cover on the jaws. They are great for manipulating delicate wires and most importantly straightening wires. They are a must-have for wire wrapping because sometimes you will want to smoothen unwanted bends in the wire before forming it to your desired shape.
4. Flush cutters
Flush cutters are a type of wire cutters for cutting thin wires cleanly and smoothly. They cut various gauges of jewelry wires and do not dangerous sharp ends. You can use flush cutter pliers in your wire wrapping projects to cut small gauge wires to length.
What makes good pair of flush cut pliers?
A good pair of flush cutting pliers has a hardened cutting edge for slicing through different types of jewelry wires without getting notched. Typically, you will encounter various types of jewelry wires, mostly nonferrous metals like copper, brass, silver, and gold. Their sizes range from 14 and 28 AWG.
The jaws of good flush cutting pliers are tapered and slightly angled for tight cuts. The pliers are also slim and lightweight to minimize fatigue in the hand.
Perhaps you are wondering why you can’t use regular side cutters to cut jewelry wire. The answer is simple. Side cutters or diagonal cutters cut wires at an angle, leaving sharp nasty ends. In contrast, flush cut pliers cut straight through wires leaving flat edges.
In jewelry making, sharp wire ends are unacceptable because they can catch clothes or prick the skin. The only option is a tool such as flush cut pliers that will cut wire without leaving sharp edges.
Another advantage of flush cutters over diagonal cutters is that they are slim, lightweight, and extremely sharp for making precise straight cuts through small jewelry wires. They are also the best for cutting electronics wires. Dykes are for cutting heavy-duty wires.
5. Tweezer nose pliers
Tweezer nose pliers are like chain nose pliers with ultra-thin jaws. They have fine tiny tips that easily get into very tight spaces to manipulate wires. Tweezer nose pliers are wonderful for wire weaving and anything that is too small for chain nose pliers such as undoing knots in pearl knotting.
6. Bailing making pliers
Bail making pliers are a type of wire wrapping pliers for making perfect circles. Unlike round nose pliers that have conical jaws, bailing pliers have cylindrical jaws. One of the jaws could be a straight shaft or both with cylindrical sections of stepped sizes.
Stepped bail making pliers are handy for making smooth accurate wire loops and bails of different sizes. They will always come in handy when you want to make bigger curves than you can get with round nose pliers.
Bail pliers are also useful for making spiral bails, jump rings, and other fancy curves. They are also sturdy enough for bending thick gauge wires.
If your bail making pliers have a straight shaft, you could put a nylon sleeve around it to protect wires from being dented or marred. The sleeve also provides extra friction for gripping and turning wire, especially when making spiral bails.
Well, there you have it. Round nose pliers, flush cutters, nylon pliers, tweezer nose pliers, chain nose pliers, and bail making pliers are the pliers you need to start wire wrapping. With them, only your imagination can limit the shapes and patterns you can make for your jewelry craft. These tools make handmade wire wrapped jewelry look uniform and professional. Not to mention they make wire jewelry making a breeze.
How to use bail making pliers video
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know the types of pliers you need to start wire wrapping, I know the next question is what wire sizes do you need? Generally, jewelry wires range from 14 GA to 28 GA. 14 – 20 GA half hard wire is for general wire wrapping and 24 – 28 GA dead soft wire for weaving.