Choosing and Using a Hole Punch for Jewelry Making

Jul 10, 2013

If you had told me two years ago that I'd be so smitten with my hole punches, I would never have believed you. But it's true: after dabbling in a bit of jewelry-making with metals, I've found that I love using my hole punches for so many reasons!

I used my hole punch pliers to turn these brass pendants into connectors by adding extra holes.
I was always intimidated by the idea of punching a hole in a piece of metal. I remember watching my grandfather, and expert machinist, at work in his basement workshop with his tools, and just feeling captivated by the way he knew how to use them to create beautiful furniture and how to repair just about anything. When I'm working with my hole punches in a jewelry-making project, I feel a little bit of that connection with him again and can almost imagine what he would say if he saw me cutting, punching, and drilling into metal to make jewelry.

When I was first learning about using metals in jewelry-making, I was taught to use an awl and a hammer to punch a hole in a piece of metal. But since I was never entirely comfortable with that technique, I was absolutely thrilled to see a line of affordable, easy-to-use metal punches hit the shelves of craft supply stores and bead shops.

Types of Metal Punches for Jewelry-making


Screw Punch: A screw punch, like the name implies, requires that you turn a small screw in order to create a hole in a piece of metal. These handy little punches can be used with softer metals, between 18 and 24 gauge in thickness. I used mine to punch through a pair of pennies for earrings, but remember that using the punch on thicker metals like that will wear it out sooner.

Using a screw punch requires some strength in your fingers when punching holes in thicker metals, but the reach is a little more than if you were using a pair of hole punch pliers, making it a good choice if you're trying to create holes on a larger or thicker piece of metal.

Hole Punch Pliers: These pliers are probably the most accessible way to punch holes in metal for jewelry-making, and can be found in pretty much every jewelry supply catalog and even in most good local bead shops. Using a hole punching pliers is easy with soft metals up to 18 gauge thickness -- just position the punch where you want the hole and gently squeeze the handles. Done!

While you can't reach as far in towards the center of a piece of metal using a pair of hole punch pliers, I think they're easier to use than the screw punch, and because they're pliers, I can store them easily with the rest of my jewelry-making tools. (My screw punch seems to travel quite a bit throughout the house when I'm not paying attention.)

Other Uses for Hole Punch Pliers

Some hole punching pliers can be used in a pinch to make a hole in a piece of leather or even shrink plastic. Check on the back side for any little "bumps" of material created when you made the hole that need to be cut or filed. Remember that using your hole punch pliers for materials other than metal may wear out the punches faster, so look for other ways to create holes in leather, suede, or shrink plastic if you can.

Ready to get a little creative with your hole punch? Check out some of the great ideas in the videos now available on Craft Daily! For the price of just one online class somewhere else, you can have access to dozens of great beading and jewelry-making videos, including favorites like Beads, Baubles, & Jewels, Wire Essentials with Denise Peck, and Stamped Metal Jewelry with Lisa Niven Kelly. You can stream these videos on your favorite desktop or laptop computer, bookmark parts that you want to review, and enjoy the convenience of video learning in your own home when it's most convenient for you. Subscribe to Craft Daily and discover more great jewelry-making tips and advice from the pros!

Do you have a great tip for using a metal hole punch? Share it here and leave a comment on the Beading Daily blog!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

sewlady5 wrote
on Jul 13, 2013 9:32 AM

How can using the punch for materials "other than metal" cause them to wear out sooner?  It would seem to me that metal would cause more wear than leather - suede - shrink plastic?

LynzyS wrote
on Jul 15, 2013 8:35 AM

I read recently (I think it was in Helen Drigg's Cool Tools column) that if you use a metal hole punch on sheet scraps you can then ball up the punched out metal and they'll all be the same size!