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Choosing The Right Pliers For The Job
Custom Jewelry Supply
Editor's Note: I consider myself extremely lucky to have found this
article. Mary had previously published this article on another online
magazine Home Business Success Tips.
Rena Klingenberg, the editor of Home Business Success Tips, graciouosly
received Mary's permission for us to reprint the article. Rena will
also be a guest author on the marketing page this month.
kind of jewelry pliers do you use? If you're like me, you probably began
your wire-working career with a starter set that you got at the craft store,
or that came with a kit.
Now you've decided you're
ready to upgrade to a better set of tools. You've paged through the catalogs
and found a mind-boggling selection of all types of jewelry pliers.
Let's see . . . bent nose, chain
nose, round nose, flat nose . . . what's the difference?
This article explains the
different types of pliers, and how to go about choosing the right tools for
what you want to do.
Types of Jewelry Pliers
First, the basics. There are
four main types of pliers, each designed for specific uses:
Flat nose - Broad, flat jaws used for gripping and holding wire and creating
angular bends. Also great for opening and closing jump rings.
Round nose - Smooth, round jaws used for making loops and round bends in
Chain nose - Pointed flat nose pliers, used for gripping and tucking in wire
ends, and getting into tight places.
Bent chain nose - Chain nose pliers with a 45 degree bend for getting into
tight places. Can also be used for picking up small parts, and opening and
closing jump rings.
Which Pliers for the Job?
Now that you know the basic
types of pliers, you need to make some choices depending on the type of work
you want to do with them. Here's a checklist to help you decide which pliers
are best for the task at hand:
1) Tip size - For very
delicate work with finer wire, slimmer pliers with a fine tip will work the
best. For heavier wire, you'll want wider, heavier jaws. Make sure to
observe the tolerances of the pliers that you are using - don't use a fine
tipped pliers on heavy wire or you'll damage the tips.
2) Tension springs - Some
pliers have a spring to keep the jaws apart, while others have a single or
double leaf spring, or no spring at all. These tension springs cut down on
fatigue if you use your pliers a lot. Pliers without springs cause you to
open and close the pliers manually, which may cause hand strain. If your
hands tire easily or you do a lot of plier work, get jewelry pliers with
3) Jaw length - Short jaw
pliers are thicker and stronger. They are designed to work with the tip for
fine work, and can bend heavier materials. Long jaw pliers have less taper
per millimeter than short jaw pliers, and have a greater reach to make a
longer bend. They have longer handles for better balance and greater
leverage. Because of the length, the tips are not as strong as the short jaw
pliers, and can be damaged more easily.
4) Metal - There are two types
of metal pliers:
a) Stainless steel is rust resistant. It is a tough metal that gives
reasonable life and is a good value for the money. The jaws can nick with
use, so they may require some maintenance.
b) Hardened tool steel is the hardest, strongest, longest lasting material.
The jaws are tough and resist nicking with normal use. The downside is that
it has a tendency to rust in humid environments, so it should be treated
periodically with Cosmoline or WD-40 to coat the metal.
5) Feel - The final
determination of whether pliers will work for you is how they feel in your
hand. They have to fit well so you have complete control of them. You can
have the best pliers made, but if they don't feel good in your hand, you
won't be happy with them - and you may wind up with an injury.
How to Prepare
No matter which jewelry pliers
you purchase, the first thing you want to do when you get them is to check
the edges. Most pliers need to be filed before use to remove sharp edges
that can mar the wire. For example, a flat nose plier has 6 surfaces - the
tips on each jaw, and four edges. Check to see if these edges are sharp, and
if they are, take a file and file them down. This will save you a lot of
headaches later because you won't have to polish out tool marks on your
finished jewelry piece.
Your Jewelry Pliers for Use
There are hundreds of kinds of
jewelry pliers on the market. In addition to the four basic types discussed
here, there are all sorts of speciality pliers, each made to do a specific
job. In future articles, we'll identify some of these and their uses.
Plier photos courtesy of Eurotool.
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