Tools of the Jewelry Trade(Part 2): What I use to make Valerie Tyler Designs

I forgot in the last post to show the raw material I often start a piece from. Here’s a shot of the sterling silver sheet that I usually place my design on and then saw to get my piece. It’s a long shot from the finished product isn’t it?


Raw sterling sheet 

Next are the steps I’m not as fond of. Not that they are tremendously difficult, but they are time-consuming, and sometimes it wears on my patience. When I get to the point where I’m almost finished with a design I’m too excited to get to the final product! First I have to file away rough edges, and fix any errors I may have made while sawing. I have an entire set of files that come in various shapes and sizes such as round square, or flat(known as an equalling file). They’re nice when I want to file something like a curved edge or a small hole and I can choose a specific file for the task. The photo shows a piece I am working on now, and a few of the files.



Then, comes sanding, and more sanding, and….well, more sanding. Sanding helps to take out all the rough knicks and scratches that may be in metal. This is also the stage where I may use a a steel brush to give a brushed finish to a piece instead of a shiny finish. If I want to give something a shiny finish I put a buffing attachment on my dremel, add a little rouge and polish away (This step is not pictured, and again it’s one that can take some time)


Sanding a piece, adding a brushed finish

Sometimes instead of a shiny or brushed finished I like to give my metal some texture. One way to do this is by using a ball peen hammer and a steel block. Here’s a photo of a different piece I am working on and texturizing. There’s other methods and different types of textures that can be applied to metals as well using different types of hammers and tools. I recently bought a set of letter stamps that I can’t wait to use.


Steel block and ball peen hammer 

Lastly, there’s finishing touches, which more people may be familiar with. Pliers such as round-nose, chain nose and flat nose as well as cutters are essential for tasks such as forming wire into jumprings, ear wires, and chain. Pictured are my basic tools from Rio made in Germany. For really high end tools, look into getting a set of Lindstroms. I also use a variety of wire gauges such as 20 ga. to 26ga. (typically I use soft of half hard wire). Making the findings to go with jewelry may also be the first step in a the jewelery making process.

Rio cutters, chain-nose pliers and 20 gauge wire

6 Responses

  1. beautiful designs, love to see metal working,

  2. Me too…I am pretty sure I’ve never seen a sterling silver sheet! Wow..that must have cost a pretty penny!! I enjoy your blog and all your writings…you are quite a writer you know! I s’pose somewhere I missed that it’s your background but if not…you’ve got the talent!!

    I love Art Addict!! (errrr… that was a fist in air rut roh type of thing!)


  3. i was wandering where do you purchase your metal sheets. Im interested in making metal jewellery but would like a reliable supplier.

  4. Check out Rio Grande. Of course, always shop around for the best price, since metals are usually based on fluctuating market prices.

  5. Your jewellery making articles are superb and most interesting

  6. Interesting to read about metal working. Thanks for sharing!

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