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Otto Frei's Basic Jewelers Kit of tools


For newbys and starters in this trade of ours,

Each day I read my Orchid Digest and I have been impressed by the
advert from Otto Frei, they are offering a Basic Jewelers Kit of
tools for 240 dollars. This tool kit will enable anyone with the
want to create jewelery and fine objects, to do so.

I would have loved to have been able to buy such a set when I was
starting back in 1961. After 48 years in this trade as a goldsmith I
would say that the tools, as shown in this set are my most important
tools, used daily. I can work for days only using hand tools without
using a machine, after all our trade is a handcraft trade. Sure CNC
machines have their place and I am sure that those who have health
problems may find mechanised piercing saws helpful, but I ask all who
are starting to try and master the art of hand saw piercing, as it
will help you through your career. As you progress and hopefully make
some money, then I would suggest you buy some larger equipment, a
Durston Mill and a drawbench perhaps.

Over the years my workshop has grown as I have added tools to make my
life easier, but to be honest most of these were bought to save
paying taxes on profits. I could make most of my smaller pieces just
using a basic tool kit like the one from Otto Frei. I must add that I
live and work in the UK and have no connection what so ever with Otto
Frei. I have never even dealt with them but am quite jealous of the
jeweller’s equipment available to you USA jewellers from their likes.
If anyone is interested my book “The Work of a Master Goldsmith;A
Unique Collection” is now available in the USA, although I must
appologies for the fact that the USA booksellers are not giving
decent discounts like the UK sellers. They may change their prices if
people show an interest. Also if any of you have bought a copy from
Amazon, please post a customer review, a couple of UK buyers have
done so already and I must admit their comments boost my confidence.
It took me over a year to prepare the book and get it published in
the first place and these comments make it seem worthwhile.

Peace and good health to all
James Miller FIPG

After 48 years in this trade as a goldsmith I would say that the
tools, as shown in this set are my most important tools, used

Thanks, James. We had a tour by CCA students, led by the department
head (Marylin DaSilva…) I was showing some fabulous things I have
to ooohs and aaahs, and I said, “Hammers, saws, files and pliers,
that’s what almost everything is made with…” Maryilin sat there
with a big, “Thanks for driving that home” grin on her face. Tools
are cool, but it’s people who make things…


If you want to see an amazing display of craftsmanship and design
without the fancy tools, try to see the Afghan Gold exhibit at the
Metropolitan Museum in New York. These splendid artifacts and
ornaments were excavated from sites in Afghanistan along the fabled
Silk Road from Europe to the Far East. Fortunately, after they were
dug up, they were carefully packed and hidden away, thus escaping the
destruction wrought by the Taliban and the bombings in the recent
wars there. Now brought to light and placed on exhibit, these
treasures, some over two thousand years old, reveal the incredible
skill and ingenuity of the goldsmiths that created them.

It just goes to show you: A set of basic tools; enough time, talent,
creative drive and a place to work, are all a beginning craftsman
needs as he learns to perfect his skills. And if those basic tools
are used correctly and maintained, they will probably last a


and I said, "Hammers, saws, files and pliers, that's what almost
everything is made with..... 

John, thanks for echoing this perception and sentiment here. My
students must think I am a broken record, repeating this mantra over
and over. Eventually they do get it, that finely crafted jewelry is
all about basic tools and fundamental skills, and patience and

Michael David Sturlin


Michael David Sturlin:

I recently had the opportunity to take his Crocheted Chain class at
the Metal Clay World Conference, and I can not say enough about this
class and this man.

He is a born teacher with a quiet, gentle demeanor, and the time
spent in his presence was a sheer joy.

He is so right about the use of simple well made tools in order to
be able to craft a well made piece. The tools that were supplied with
this class were simple, and well made. Easy to use, and the chain
that resulted from the technique taught was amazing. Practice and
patience are all that is necessary to craft this stunning chain. I
can not wait to make this chain in gold.

To anyone on the list who has a chance to take his classes anywhere,
anytime, I would sincerely suggest they make the effort, they will
never regret it.

Adriana G. West