Even though I'm not primarily a wire work person, like most beadweavers, I need a good set of jewelry making pliers in my beading tool kit for those times when I need to attach jump rings and findings or make a set of wrapped loops. I bought my first wire jewelry making book and kit back in 1998, and I eventually "outgrew" the set of jewelry making pliers that came with it. They were great for a beginner just starting out, but as my skills improved, I realized that I needed to start investing in a good, high-quality set of jewelry making pliers to include in my beading tools.
When I got my copy of Rachel Nelson-Smith's book Seed Bead Fusion, I realized that I was going to need some new beading tools. I was working my way through four of her kits, all of which involved wire work, and I wanted to do justice to her beautiful designs. The first thing I purchased was a good nylon jaw wire straightener, and the other tool that I added to my collection of beading tools was this pair of looping pliers.
I've seen these called by other names (flat round nose pliers and combination pliers) but whatever you call them, they are extremely handy to have around. These looping pliers came very highly recommended from a friend who does a lot of wire wrapping, and after using them a couple of times, I could see why. The chain nose (or flat) jaw of the pliers has several notches in it that allow you to create consistently sized loops. That might not seem important, but when you're making jump rings or trying to make sure that the wrapped loops you make for your earring components are the same size, this feature is invaluable. I used to mark my pliers with a black magic marker, but this wasn't an ideal solution: the marker would eventually wear off, usually before I was finished working, and very often the marker would rub off onto the wire that I was working with.
When I make my wrapped loops, I used to use two separate pairs of pliers: a round nose pair for making the loop and a flat nose pair that I would use to hold the loop as I twisted and secured the wire. (That's how I learned to make wrapped loops back when I was just a baby beader.) With the looping pliers, I only needed one pair! Using the looping pliers made it easier (and faster) to make my wrapped loops – instead of putting down and picking up various pairs of pliers, I only had to use one pair. No more looking around to find the second pair of pliers that I couldn't find three seconds after I put them down on my work table.
Another unexpected benefit of using (and loving) these jewelry making pliers is that I can take them with me when I travel to bead at a class or with friends. Instead of packing two pairs of pliers (round nose and chain nose or flat nose), I just pack my looping pliers and I'm ready for anything. Now that I've also moved into the exciting world of Viking knit and making my own chains for my beaded necklaces and bracelets, I find myself using these pliers more and more. They are perfect for grasping the ends of my wire when I pull my Viking knit chains through the draw plate, and I can use them to maneuver my wire through tight spaces while I'm working.
As with any jewelry making tools, pliers or beading tools, you should always buy the highest quality you can afford. Admittedly, these weren't the highest quality – they cost around $20 from an online beading tool supply company – but so far, they have held up to two years of heavy use, and I hope to get at least a few more years out of them before they need to be replaced.
What's the one beading tool that you can't live without? Is it your favorite pair of pliers? Maybe it's a favorite work surface or your favorite scissors. Whatever it is, share your favorite beading tool with us!