Expensive workshops


Tell me is it not real jewelry if you do not have a 1 million dollar
fabricating set up?

LOL you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a professional

The more money you spend the faster you can make.

Jewellers I know have the deepest pockets and shortest arm of any
trade I know.

A good soldering torch is a must.

So are files.

So are mandrils.

So are hammers, 1 planishing and one leather will do.

Some basic pliers yes.

After that who knows, hardware stores are good.

I think a workshop could be set up for less than a set of quality
golf clubs, my putter cost $150

and there are 10 other clubs and shoes and bag and club fees and
green fees etc.

What about fishing, my first workshop cost less than my boat and

I built my benches a tenth of the price of buying a jewellery bench.

Pickle pot $300 forget it baby bottle warmer $70 or a croc pot maybe

Ultrasonic no, detergent and warm water with a scrubout brush.

So Orchidians how much and what tool list can we post for newbies.

Think the least amount of tool money to make a piece of quality.

Come on Charles and Leonid and Gerry and Jo and Agnes etc. What did
you have when you started? Was the quality worse or only more time

Tool companies are into selling tools. And yes if I had the money I
would buy one of everything.

Xtines Jewels

What did you have when you started? Was the quality worse or only
more time consuming? 

The only thing that a goldsmith had to buy, when I started, was saw

Everything else was self-made. Things like flexshaft were shared.
Shop would have one flexshaft for 6 to 8 goldsmiths. Established
goldsmiths could afford to buy export tools, beginners would have to
do with what they can make themselves. If I could go back in time, I
would not change a thing. Learning to adapt, to use what one has is
the best training one can hope for.

Leonid Surpin

My first jewelry workshop. That is thinking way back. I had a door
on 2 File cabinets for bench. 

Liberty Torch. Don’t know if it’s made anymore, refillable propane
Good Swiss or German Files. Size 2 & 4
Good needle files. Size 4 & 6
Good quality pliers, round nose, flat nose, chain nose
Saw frames: 3". And 5" throats
Saw blades. # 2
Refrigerator motor for buffing. Along with, compounds and bufs.

I would still have most of this, but my house burnt down and the
water damage killed my files. But my pliers survived.

I even taught with my limited tools. I have added many new tools
over the years.

Jennifer Friedman

One of the very best jewelers I ever worked with, Seng Au could make
just about anything with two files, a charcoal block and a pair of

I started out with saw frame, a clamp on bench pin, three pair of
pliers, a pair of wire cutters, a set of needle files, a few gravers,
some stakes, a couple of hammers, a plumbers propane torch, a
soldering block, pumice pan a plating rectifier, polishing motor that
adapted to a flex shaft and a tree stump.

Now our studio has many more tools, but not so many as you would
think by some folks standards. We just got a microscope this year and
do not have a laser. Our draw bench is at least 100 years old.

I look at my friends who are my age and they have new cars, fancy
houses, and lots of stuff in those houses. I think…“Hey! I’ve
worked hard all of my life. Where’s my stuff?” Then I go into our
studio and look around and say “Oh yeah…tools.” Have fun and make
lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

LOL you don't need to spend a lot of money to have a professional

So true, Richard!

When I see someone with a whole bunch of specialized tools like
setting jigs, drill press setups for drilling anniversary bands (that
they didn’t design and make themselves) five hundred wax carving
tools, etc, I always wonder why. Are they just a tool junkie, or are
they trying to replace skill with tooling? Unfortunately, it’s
sometimes the latter. You can easily tell by looking at their work.

Tooling very rarely makes up for a lack of skill with any degree of
success. CAD work can demonstrate this better than just about
anything. Someone that knows what they’re doing can do some pretty
amazing stuff that you would never know was computer designed and
generated. Someone buys it thinking they can sit down, read a bit and
change the jewelry world in a year, well, most of us have seen the
resulting, uh, results.

Someone on Orchid a few years ago said something along the lines
that she viewed her tools as her jewelry. “A jewelers jewelry” she
said, I think. I LOVE that! Can’t remember who, but she deserves full
credit. Noel, maybe? Jo?

I use pretty minimal tooling, although I am a confirmed tool junkie.
For wax, I use a reamer, a mold knife, three or so different gravers,
a couple of different files and a wax pen. That’s usually all I ever
need. Most really good carvers use the same basic tools. Kate Wolf
has a set of wax tools that’s really cool, though. One of the guys
that works for me has the full set, but talking about it the other
day, we agreed that except for very unusual carving, there are really
only three or four that get used much. Still kinda cool to have. I
want one.

Your list Richard, pretty well sums up the decently equipped shop
for a newbie or hobbyist, as well as many professionals. A truly
skilled and talented gold / silversmith can do unbelievable work with
minimal tools. Look at some of the native American jewelry for
example. They often use literally nothing more than ground down
nails, a chunk of railroad track, files, propane plumbing torches and
hammers. They can create some of the most astounding things with
those simple, hand made and rudimentary tools though. What craftsmen
from centuries ago were able to create with what was available just
flat blows me away.

So now I got to get back to my custom bench so I can use my micro
motor to cut some seats while looking through my microscope and then
use my power hone to sharpen some gravers for my Lindsay Airgraver to
raise a few beads. Hope I don’t have to use the laser on this job

Who says you don’t need LOTS of toys? Er, uh, toolse?

Dave Phelps

I started with a pair of vice grip pliers a vice a propane plumbers
torch and a Jewelers saw. worked with that rig on my kitchen table
for a couple of years. now I have a 1200 sq ft work shop. and am
semi retired or as I say. you never retire from what you love to

Keep making jewelry and learning new things and you will never grow
old in the mind. The body may slow down but the mind is ever
thinking of new thingsso every day is a new experience. Love the
journey and my work and life… We all share a unique field and life
works that very few in the world can have. Few enjoy what they do
for a living… Keep making art and jewelry for it is in our hearts
and souls…

I always wonder why. Are they just a tool junkie, or are they
trying toreplace skill with tooling? Unfortunately, it's sometimes
the latter. You can easily tell by looking at their work. 

I guess this thread is useful for some of the newbies. I always
marvel at college graduates with $20,000 worth of new equipment they
don’t actually know how to use.

Ok - only Grobet files. Like David, I use about 6 tools for waxwork
just about all the time. I use chain nose pliers, two sizes ofround
nose when needed and cutters. In a drawer I have lineman’s pliers
when I need to really crunch something. Especially useful is a
snub-nosed pair that were ancient when I bought them 40 years ago.
Oh, and bow closing pliers are real handy.

Chasing hammers are really too lightweight for general jewelry work.
I have a ball pein I bought at the hardware store - 6-8 ounces, I
don’t know. And a big one that’s aminiature sledge hammer, when
needed. That and a leather mallet about does it.

Now, there are some things that really make life easier that expand
the list. Ring stretchers and shrinkers. The “ring bending machine”
is indispensable once you have one. I live by my rolling mill. I
have a full set of round burs up to 15mm or something that’s real
handy. The tubing ~filing~ jig is pretty useless but the cutting jig
is handy. And good layout tools are essential. I’m the original tool
junkie - I use 10% of them all the time, another 20% occasionally,
and the rest I either just have or use once every ten years. Hand
vises are useful, as are pin vises. I have 20-some gravers but use
4-5mostly. Some are liners which is mostly archaic in today’s
jewelry. Millgrain, setting tools.

I started out with tools you could carry in a small toolbox, but
that doesn’t mean we ALWAYS have to slum it, either.

Jo-Ann here. I agree with my husband except on one point. Most
college students I know right now are carrying 20K in debt. They
only dream of a shop full of tools. For me, I still use a hammer
that was my grandfather’s (appx 100 years old) and some other
hammers that were handed down to us by other goldsmiths who are now
retired or moved onto the next world. In moving our shop in January
I began to realize just how much tooling & equipment we have. I told
our oldest godson & nephew at the end of the day, “All this just to
make those bands on your finger (-:”

I agree that as a newbie, and even as a more seasoned practitioner,
you need to pinch your pennies, avoid debt, pack your lunch, make
your own coffee, only buy the tools and equipment that you need to
make money or complete the task, keep your inventory very low and
think long and hard about big purchases.

That said, there are some great, time saving, work improving tools
that are wonderful to have at hand, yet they may be considered luxury
items when you are starting out and even later in your career. I have
always tried to buy myself one of those luxury items at the end of
each year just because I love tools, I save for it and look forward
to it all year. The anticipation is almost as much fun as getting the
tool. At this point in my life I’ve been at this for 35 years and
will do it another 40 if I’m lucky, so for me buying tools to do what
I love seems like money well spent.


Workshops neednt be expensive, tho I bought my Durston new for the
full price.

Other tools and equipment have come my way through s/hand tool sales
and tool dealers.

the best was a call from a fellow smith who I helped out a few yrs

He said another was retiring, all the good stuff was gone and only
the heavy old rubbish was left.

I called the seller and went to view.

It was the complete birmingham jewellery set up for the 1889
Hazelwood and Dent drop stamp.

all the blanking tools the fly presses the dies the bolsters
catalogues and price lists!!.

That was in 1987. I just had to have it all as I had seen them
working in Sheffield and B’ham.

With needless to say no idea what I was going to do with it all!!.

We dida deal on it on the basis that I would never scrap it and pay
him scrap price plus 10%. as no one lese wanted the 10 tons of old

That lot opened the door to a range of products I could make, not
possibe by any other way.

From simple buttons to plaques to buckles to coins to medals,
brooches cuff links and pendants.

What I did was to make it fully portable so I could go to an event
and mint a coin or plaque FOR the EVENT at the EVENT.

Since then Ive added another 2 drop stamps and a 25 ton blanking
press and a 250 ton coining press.

Ive been collecting old minting dies since then and have some

The rest is history.


And, you have acquired several great pieces of history.

Next time I visit UK I hope to be allowed to see your historic

Blessings, Mary

for me buying tools to do what I love seems like money well spent. 

too true.

Lets just face some facts,

  1. We are all addicted to producing beauty in various media,

  2. if you hand make with simple tools or have an expensive well
    equipped workshop there should be no difference in quality,

  3. re-read 2 and

  4. Always ask. There have been some really questions posted here.
    What you get is 6 or so replies

from understanding experts. Never limit your craft because you think
it is a dumb question.

Be brave ask that dumb question there are probably a 100 wanting to
ask the same question.

  1. We were all Newbies once.

  2. When the enraptured client walks away and you are proud of your
    work and count the cash and every one is smiling it is a good day.

Xtines Jewels


We have had some great posts on this. I think we can conclude that
although slower, simple tools and

hand making can produce excellent quality.

Newbies train the family.

Training the family.

Give the family jewellery for presents and ask for tools on your

I have found that $10 worth of metal and a $5 gemstone saves me
money at Xmas.

Still those little treasures sure make life better on the bench, I
love my Pepe metal bender.

2 santas ago.

Get the drift. What do I want for birthdays and Xmas jewellery

There is such a great price range in jewellery stuff from a couple
of dollars up.

All gift givers can afford the gift and you get good stuff for your

Be it some high grade sandpaper or a laser welder (then I will
believe in santa, again).

Makes it easy for the family. They can afford it AND THEY KNOW YOU

Because the stuff you get is so cool you can get the family to
combine on an expensive treat

such as A grade parallel pliers. They can save money and you get some
cool tool you really want.

It is also really cool in your workshop to use a tool given from the

Although I think I am damaged from 10,000 plays of the wiggles “hot
potato” I can still use my metal bender and think. “What can I get
out of the kids next Xmas?” LOL

Any Newbies getting married? Put the bridal list in the jewellery
tool supplier, gem dealer and metal merchant.

You do not need 20 toasters. Remember the posts on cooking with your
torch etc.

Think 2 benches and a workshop and gems and metal.

And every one at the wedding is a potential customer!

Get a few champagnes into them at the reception and show them THE

And the bridesmaids’ jewellery and you will have demonstrated your
skills to the nearest and dearest and richest.

Xtines Jewels