Forming Tools Equipment for Jewellery Making

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Forming metal is an essential part of jewellery making, and as a process the level of skill involved is often overlooked.  Forming refers to any process that maneuvers metal into the desired shape or design. Unlike many other skills in jewellery making forming is more a combination of a range of techniques that change an objects shape, rather than one particular process.

Under the heading of forming are processes such as bending, chasing, repousse, sinking, hammering, using stamps/dies and forging.  These processes will affect the pieces shape, thickness and often the texture of the metal being worked on.

The range offorming toolsavailable is as wide and varied as the different processes contained within the skill.  The key forming tools available are:

The simplemalletallows the craftsman to apply direct force without stretching or damaging the metal.  The head of the mallet is softer that the metal so not to mark the surface.

MandrelsorTribletsare used for forming shapes, and are most associated with rings or bangles.  Mandrels are available in a variety size and shapes, and in both steel & wood.

Hammerscan complete a variety of jobs from stretching the metal, polish/smoothing or adding texture. Jobbing hammers are ideal for general use and metal forming. The planishing hammer is used for smoothing, shaping and polishing metal.  Riveting hammers are designed with a small head for detailed rivet work. Raising, bossing and chasing hammers are used in the different stages of forming.

Doming blocks & punchesare the ideal way of shaping metal and making domed, shaped pieces or hollow beads. Pieces of circular metal/discs are place over the hollows of a doming block, and then using punches and a hammer the metal is formed into a shape.

Steel blocksprovide the ideal flat surface for working, flattening sheet or wire or to support work as it is raised or forged, riveted or textured.

Rather like doming blocks,Swage blockshelp form metal into tubes, curves and channels.  Different blocks will allow different shapes and sizes to be formed.

Thesebagsprovided support whilst you work and form your piece. They help keep your work firm and in place whilst working.

Pliershave a multitude of uses but they are the most basic tool for holding/gripping, forming and shaping wire.  Having a basic selection of needle nose, round nose, flat nose, half round and a pair of parallel action pliers, will give the jeweller the flexibility to complete most jobs.

Often used by silversmiths, the metal is placed over the stakes (usually clamped independently into a vice) and hammered to achieve the shape required. Various shapes can be achieved by using differentstakes.

Filesare essential for removing excess material, and fine tuning and shaping your piece.  The different sizes available allow the jeweller to work large areas or at a more intricate level. To start with buy a selection of shapes containing round, square, triangular, half round and warding.  Plus consider the cut ranging from 0 the coarsest, to 6 the finest.

Draw platesare most commonly used to reduce the size or change shape of wire. Each plate has a series of holes through which the wire is passed through, this then changes the size of the wire. The holes in the plate are of decreasing size allowing you to continue draw down the wire to the required size.

These larger machines often seen in jewellers workshops are ideal to reduce the thickness of sheet, or help decorate sheet. If used with Square and D shape sectionsrolling millscan be used to form or shape wire.

This selection of forming tools & equipment allow jewellers, and metalsmiths to create any number of shapes, textures and patterns.  As with all jewellery projects the range offorming toolsjewellers have will start with the basic i.e. pliers, hammer and perhaps a doming set, and then expand as their projects demand.

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Filed Under:Jewellery TipsTagged With:hand toolsjewellery makingJewellery Tipsjewellery toolspliersrolling millsworkshop essentials

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