Wirework 101: Getting in Shape

Wirework 101: Getting in Shape Round-Nose Pliers
Flat-Nose Pliers Design Idea A92V Earrings Design Idea BC8G Earrings The Right Pliers for the Right Application

by Sandra Lupo, Metalsmith, Jewelry Designer and Instructor and Swarovski crystal Ambassador, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Typically in a beginning earring-making class you are told that wireworking to form ear hooks and dangles includes making angles and circles. You are introduced to two tools that will make these shapes, namely round-nose and chain-nose pliers. You are shown and then asked to make a loop at the end of a length of wire. Which tool do you choose? You have a 50/50 chance you'll pick up the right tool, so you reach for it!

Round-Nose Pliers

Round-nose pliers have a singular but essential function. These pliers make circles, loops, coils, figure 8s ... anything that is round. Their two jaws are circular and graduated and allow you to make different sizes of loops wherever you place the wire within their jaws. We really can't make jewelry without them.

The thing about round-nose pliers is that they are indispensable circle makers (and I love making teeny-tiny loops with the tips) but they are not gripping tools. If you choose to grip with round-nose pliers you may see little dings on the surface of the wire. Try building a spiral within the jaws of the round-nose pliers. Every time you press down as you hold the spiral, you will have made a ding. To help prevent making the dings, form the initial circle with the round-nose but save spiral-building for a chain-nose, flat-nose or even nylon jaw pliers. For more information on non-marring pliers, view the additional resources below.

Chain-Nose Pliers

Chain-nose pliers have two jaws. On the inside, the jaws are flat and smooth. This tool can give you a good bend in the wire and make a precise and permanent angle. Its tips are pointy to allow you to pick up a link of chain. Hence, the name chain-nose pliers.

Flat-Nose Pliers

Flat-nose pliers also have two jaws that are flat and smooth. Their job is similar to chain-nose pliers but their tips are broad and are great for holding more surface area. I like to use these when forming the rounds of spirals.

Bent-Nose Pliers

Bent-nose pliers are similar to chain-nose except their tips are bent. Think of a simple looped or wrapped loop bead station. You'd like very much to "tuck" in that bit of wire to close up the loop or coils beneath the loop. You can see that the bead is very close to this area and you just might crack the bead with a steel tool. If only fingers could do the "tucking in!" The bent-nose tips will do the job your fingers can't do and you can easily access the loop or coil without touching the bead. This happens to be my "MFT," most favorite tool!
Additional Resources ...

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