Tools are a super important part of being a Metalsmith/Silversmith. Without the right tools making jewelry can be exponentially more difficult, but there are so many tools out there. How do you know what is the right set of tools for you? Of course, much of it depends on what you are trying to do and accomplish. Below I've listed a set of tools that I think all beginners should start out with. For some of the items, I've provided specific examples
I order a lot of my tools and supplies from Rio Grande. They have a huge selection, and everything is good quality. Purchasing items from Amazon or Etsy is doable, but I haven't been overly impressed with the quality. Not to mention you often have to use separate sellers just to get everything you need.
If convenience is your goal, I highly recommend this already assembled kit that Otto Frei puts together: http://www.ottofrei.com/Otto-Frei-Simple-Jewelers-Kit . You might still want to buy a couple things that are on my list below (soldering set up, flex shaft, #0 Handfile, etc), but it is a great kit without a lot of unnecessary extras for a good price. Check out their other kits here: http://www.ottofrei.com/jewelry-tools-equipment/bench-tools/jewelry-tool-kits
I've broken my recommendations down into sections below so you can adjust depending on what techniques you want to focus on.
Workstation (Table, Bench, plank of wood... etc)
Saw Frame (4" depth)
Saw Blades (2/0 size is a good general size, but you will want to adjust to the gauge of metal you are using - GUIDE)
Cut Lube or Beeswax
Flat Nose Pliers
Needle Noe Pliers
Round Nose Pliers
Flush Cutting Snips
Needle Files #2 (various shapes - round, triangle, flat, barrette, etc)
Large HandFile #0 and #2 (flat and/or half round)
Sandpaper (180, 220, 320, 400, 500, 600 grits)
Steel Wool (super fine 00, 000, or 0000)
Rawhide or Neoprene Mallet
Metal Shears or scissors
Steel Block or anvil with flat surface
Dremel or Flex Shaft - I've never used a dremel, but I've heard they are usable....That said a flexshaft is a very handy precision tool to have. I recommend this one it comes with a variety of wheels, buffs, discs, etc to try.
Set of small Drill Bits that are compatible with your flexshaft/dremel
Solder - hard, med, easy (sheet, wire, or chip. Any is fine)
Sparex #2 or other type of pickling solution
Small Crock Pot to heat pickling solution
Flux - I recommend Grifflux #1
Tripod w screen (optional but super helpful)
Torch - I recommend the smith torch for larger applications (cuffs, large rings, etc). If you are going to stay pretty small the little torch will be all you need. I have not used any of the butane torches on the market...)
Gas - Depends on the torch you select, but keep in mind you will need tanks of gas (acetylene, oxygen, and or propane). If you live in the Kansas City area, I recommend Hohenschild. I've been using them forever and they are easy to work with and very helpful.
Bezel - 28 ga Fine Silver Bezel (various heights and types)
Stamps - Various Designs and Shapes made from Hardened Steel
Hopefully this helps filter through all the options a bit and get you started. Don't hesitate to comment below or email me with questions.
xo - Kelly