As a teacher, I just can't rave enough about this combo tool set from Fire Mountain Gems. Finally, finally, someone has thought of everything a traveling student (or instructor) needs in a metals class and has brought it together in one affordable, interchangeable set.
This tool combo is so easy to use, because the main clamp has a large, round, plastic grip you can tighten easily by hand. As you can see in Photo 1, it's a snap to switch from the bench pin to the bracelet mandrel shown in Photo 2 -- simply loosen the clamp and insert the mandrel's metal tang, then clamp it down tightly and you are good to go. The ring mandrel shown in Photo 3 is inserted into a round opening and held steady with it's own clamp, and is easily removed when you are finished forming on it.
My favorite feature of this combo is that the clamp opens wide enough to fit on thick or thin table edges (like the kind found in convention center spaces) and it is strong enough to take a beating when hammering on the ring or bracelet mandrel, without falling off the table edge or sliding around.
Another awesome feature is the hard steel bench block surface, which is large enough to hammer texture on. A standard flat bench pin, ring mandrel and bracelet mandrel provide everything you'll need to make any kind of metal jewelry. Just add a hammer and some pliers and you've got a perfect bench set up that you can use anywhere, anytime. I love this tool set!
~ Helen Driggs, Metalsmith/Studio Jeweler
Author of The Jewelry Maker's Field Guide, magazine columnist for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and MJSA Journal, and on-screen instructor featured in 7 metalworking videos. Follow her on Twitter @fabricationista, read her blog: materialsmithing.wordpress.com and see her work in progress on Instagram: hdriggs_fabricationista