Which Wire Cutters Are Best For Me?

Mar 13, 2012

wire-jewelry
From Jennifer: A couple of summers ago, I realized that I needed to upgrade my wire jewelry making tools. I had just embarked on a series of projects using beadweaving and wire jewelry making, and as I worked, I realized that my wire cutters, in particular, were in dire need of replacement. I didn't have a lot of money to spend, but I knew that I was making an investment in my jewelry making tools by purchasing a good pair of heavy-duty wire cutters. 

Three years later, my heavy duty wire cutters are still in great shape. Spending the money on this important wire jewelry making tool was a smart investment for me, especially now that I'm finding the joy in making my own ear wires and wire jewelry clasps.

If you or someone you know isn't quite sure about what kind of wire cutters you need for a complete wire jewelry making toolbox, check out today's guest blog, written by artist Jan Atherton. Jan has a couple of great tips for buying and using your wire jewelry making tools -- especially those pricey wire cutters! Take it away, Jan!

wire-jewelry

From Jan:

When you first start beading and making wire jewelry, the choice of wire tools available can be quite overwhelming. You want to make sure that you have the proper wire jewelry making tools, but you don't want to buy tools that are expensive and unnecessary. A good basic tool kit includes a pair of round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, flush cutters and a pair of heavy duty wire cutters called flush cutters.

Shopping Tip: I always like to buy cutters where I can try them out to see how comfortable they are and how well they cut. It helps me to avoid expensive mistakes when purchasing a new pair of wire cutters!




For wire under 18 gauge, a pair of regular flush cutters will work just fine. These cutters have one flat side with a pointed tip, which allow you to get right  into tight spaces like the base of wrapped loops, and give a neat, smooth cut that requires little further finishing. For wire heavier than 18 gauge, use a set of heavy-duty wire cutters, similar to what you would use for cutting memory wire.




Memory wire is a stiff, tempered steel wire that can be very difficult to cut. For cutting memory wire, I like to use a pair of hardware store electrician's pliers with a wire cutter/stripper at one side of the jaw. There are also wire cutters just for memory wire available from many jewelry supply companies. If you make a lot of memory wire jewelry, it's worth investing in a pair of these pliers.

Artist's Tip: When using memory wire, use a cup file to smooth the ends of your memory wire before making any loops! It will give your memory wire jewelry a more professional finish and make it more comfortable to wear.



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Using the right type of wire cutter for your wire jewelry making project is important for extending the life of your jewelry tools. Check out this photo of my first pair of wire cutters, which I used to cut memory wire. Can you see the dents in the jaws made by cutting the memory wire? Using these regular flush cutters for cutting memory wire also broke the spring on these cutters!





So if you've recently invested in a new set of wire jewelry making tools (like a good pair of wire cutters), it's time to take those tools for a spin with some of the great projects in Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine! You'll always find a wonderful array of wire jewelry making projects along with the latest information on new wire jewelry making tools, findings, beads and more! Don't miss a single issue -- subscribe to Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine and find out where your creative jewelry making path will take you next.

Now it's your turn to share with us! What was the best investment you ever made when it comes to your wire jewelry making tools? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and tell us about your jewelry making tool purchase and why it was a smart buy!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

About today's guest blogger: Jan Atherton is a Scottish artist who has been transplanted to the Chicago, Illinois area. Her work evokes both the landscape colors and seasonal changes of both Scotland and Chicago. She is greatly inspired by the sparkling waters on Loch Linnhe and Lake Michigan, the sun peeking through the clouds after a storm and flaming sunsets. She started beading to add some sparkly to her embroidery projects, but she quickly fell hard for those tiny treasures. She holds a BA (Hons) from Edinburgh College of Art in Visual Communications. She is also a Certified Level 1 Precious Metal Clay Artisan and has taught PMC and beadweaving extensively throughout the Chicago area. You can see more of her work at her website and contact her for information about private classes.

 

 


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Comments

chrissi@3 wrote
on Mar 14, 2012 4:12 AM

I had some heavy duty cutters that I used for memory wire, but they weren't flush cutters and eventually as cutters do they got blunted, my son was at the time into making model railway layouts and we used to go to a lot of the shows- well cutting a long story short I got a set of diamond sharpening files(I think they are supposed to sharpen planes) which I used to sharpen my cutters, and, as a side effect they are all now flush cutters, and as the files came as a keyring type set all the grades from coarse to fine are kept together too

on Mar 14, 2012 11:17 AM

I was hoping for some brand recommendations as I do not have a place to try them out before buying. Wonderful article, I have not worked with Memory wire. I had no idea they needed a heavy-duty cutter, and probably would have ruined my regular flush cutters!

on Mar 14, 2012 12:59 PM

My crimping pliers are just the best for neatly pressing down wire ends in wrapped loops. They don't distort the wraps like using chain-nose pliers can.

JanA@8 wrote
on Mar 14, 2012 2:43 PM

Lynne,

The reason I didn't include brand recommendations is partly due to space, an also my hands are small, so what may work well for me, may not be so comfortable for you. The blue flush cutters in the article are Beadsmiths, the round nosed and chain nosed pliers are made by Euro tool. i would still visit your local bead shop, or bead shows ans try before you buy.

siragwatkins wrote
on Mar 14, 2012 5:36 PM

My best buy and favorite tool (I now have 2, one for home& one in my travel kit---but ittook almost 5 years to find the 2nd pair! I THINK JoAnn's may have them in stock) is a pair of round-nose pliers witha cutter and a round groove just behind the points for closing jump rings evenly and straightening wire.

I use them constantly, not only to make loops, but (especially) to close jump rings evenly.

The cutters are good enough for basic work, too, & sometimes I evenuse the points for holding things in tiny spaces.

siragwatkins wrote
on Mar 14, 2012 5:37 PM

My best buy and favorite tool (I now have 2, one for home& one in my travel kit---but ittook almost 5 years to find the 2nd pair! I THINK JoAnn's may have them in stock) is a pair of round-nose pliers witha cutter and a round groove just behind the points for closing jump rings evenly and straightening wire.

I use them constantly, not only to make loops, but (especially) to close jump rings evenly.

The cutters are good enough for basic work, too, & sometimes I evenuse the points for holding things in tiny spaces.

siragwatkins wrote
on Mar 14, 2012 5:39 PM

And BTW, the cheapest "school" Fiskars are great for memory wire, though of course you can't use that pair for anything else.  

Lynda Dalton wrote
on Mar 18, 2012 12:22 PM

I enjoyed the colum about wire cutters.

What brand are these and where did you buy therm?

Thanks for all the great articles!

sremmus wrote
on Mar 19, 2012 10:44 AM

Hay, great artical but I would like to know where to buy cutters like the one's

top right of the article page? They look really heavy duty.

M.S.

JanA@8 wrote
on Mar 19, 2012 3:08 PM

Lynda,

The lightweight blue handled ones I have are Beadsmith, I bought them at Ayla's Originals in Evanston, Illinois, which is the store I teach at. The Hardware store pliers came from Matty K's which is an independent local hardware store on the corner of Lawrence and Western in Chicago. Your local hardware store may have something similar. I hope this helps,

Love, Jan

JanA@8 wrote
on Mar 19, 2012 3:18 PM

M.S.

The heavy duty cutters at the top of the page are Jen's and not mine, but some hardware stores may have something similar. Hopefully Jen will see your post and will be able to give you more information.

Yaguarra wrote
on Mar 22, 2012 4:44 AM

I just love getting into my emails and finding my Beading Daily - such a rich range of informative articles and interesting stuff.  Keep up the good work!

carolee1945 wrote
on Sep 12, 2012 1:26 PM

There are so many difference prices for memory wire cutters, from $13 to $25.  Does it matter to buy the cheaper ones?

JanA@8 wrote
on Jan 24, 2013 8:39 PM

Carolee,

Sorry I didn't see your post at the time you posted it, I don't receive notifications. To answer your question, you don't have to spend a lot, the two pairs of my cutters in my photos were less than $10 each pair, and the pliers were about $18 each pair, there are more expensive ones on the market, but I have had one or two pairs go missing, and these are pretty good for the price.

I also recommend these cutters for new wire workers, if you are still enjoying wirework after a few years you can gradually upgrade as the cheaper ones wear out.