Starting fresh and needing a hand (and equipment)

Some Background

Hello everyone! My name is Sebastian. While this is my first post, I have been reading this forum for years. The Ganoksin community is by far the most knowledgeable and legitimate group of jewelers I’ve found anywhere online, and I’m glad to call myself a new member of it.

I am 25 years old and was born and raised in Colombia. I was recently lucky enough to find a way to move to Canada under unique circumstances, which however forced me to do it swiftly and arrived in September. I was also fortunate enough to end up in Montreal, somewhat close to my Fiancée, who is starting her Master’s in New Haven, CT and who I am visiting over the holidays. To my dismay, in that process I was forced to rid myself of all my belongings save for a suitcase-worth of my clothing. As you’d imagine, parting ways with every object was painful, but what was the most difficult to get through was my studio.

I unfortunately did not realize the cost of tools and studio setup (as well as just settling and getting some very basic furniture) was so very much higher in North America, and while I had a very modest budget (in dollars) for getting things going again, it was swiftly consumed by a second hand bench, a small set of files, a saw and a flex shaft.

Where I am today

I’ve been scouring eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace as well as Facebook Groups for some collection or group of second hand tools to very little success. It seems most lots of tools are being sold by intermediaries trying to make as much as possible from estates and such, with very minor discounts compared to new tool prices, especially once shipping is factored in.

And so after way too many hours without any good results, I find myself here in the early hours of NYE asking for a hand.

A small plea
If any one of you has an old box of discarded tools, or perhaps a New Year’s resolution to clean out unused or fallen-out-of-favor wares of any kind, I would be extremely appreciative if you could share a list or pictures of a piled up box, and either a price or references for me to make an offer.

I am in need of files both big and small, pliers of all kinds, bits, polishing materials, a torch and company, crucibles, sand-casting materials, rolling mill, wire plates, calipers, dividers, and the list goes on as I’m sure you’re all fondly aware.

I’m not a picky silversmith and a flexible person overall, and while I have found joy and tried to make the best out of the challenge of working with a reduced toolset, it is not sustainable in my tying to establish myself as a jeweler and make a living as one here.

As I navigate these challenging times, I must admit that the situation feels increasingly desperate. The difficulty in re-establishing my studio in Canada has been daunting, and the high costs are proving to be a significant barrier. I’m at a point where I fear I might need to consider alternative forms of employment just to make ends meet. This is disheartening, as jewelry making is not just a job for me – it’s a passion and a craft I’ve dedicated years to honing. If anyone has additional advice on getting back into the industry, finding affordable tools or even opportunities for apprenticeships or studio work, I would be immensely grateful. Your guidance could be the lifeline I need to continue pursuing my craft and avoid veering off this path that means so much to me.

I hope you all had a great holiday season and a very merry end of the year, and wish you all a wonderful 2024. Thanks for taking the time to read all this!



I’m Sebastian, newly moved from Colombia to Montreal. I had to leave all my belongings, including my jewelry studio tools. Now in Canada, I’m struggling with the high costs of setting up a new studio. Despite searching online for affordable second-hand tools, I’ve had very little success. I’m reaching out for the opportunity to purchase any old or unused tools to help re-establish myself as a jeweler in this new country. (Also, if any professional opportunities or apprenticeships come to mind, I’d be extremely eager to look into them and thankful for the direction!)

Also, does anyone know how I can change my username? I did not see a way to pick one when creating my account but would hope for something a bit more personal.

Hi Sebastian! Welcome to the forum!

As far as I know, anything that gets shipped to Canada from outside of Canada has to go through Canadian customs. That means there’s extra bureaucracy and extra costs besides the shipping costs. I’ve heard that it can be expensive.

It’s probably going to be best to find someone within Canada to source some older or unused tools.

Are there any Canadian members out there who can help Sebastian out? Even with suggestions or leads?

Wishing you the best of luck!!


Hello Jeff, hope you had a great holiday season, and thank you for taking the time to reply!

Perhaps I wasn’t too clear, my bad. I’m currently in Connecticut and will be around for a few weeks, so I’m planning to bring things back in my luggage to Canada, and moving forward I will continue to visit my partner here.

However, anything in terms of leads or tools within Canada is also very welcome!

Hope that clears things up,

Thanks for all the great work on the forum!


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Hi Sebastian,

I can imagine how difficult it was for you to leave everything behind. So if you get in touch with me privately, I can send you a flat rate box of some old/extra tools and supplies. I can mail it to your fiancee’s address in Connecticut so I can avoid international postal issues. I don’t want to post my email address to the forum, but I’m pretty sure Jeff or one of the administrators can give you my email address privately.

Best wishes,
Donna Shimazu

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Thank you so much for the offer Donna, I’ve messaged you directly on the forum.

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This is so generous of you Donna!!

I don’t have access to anyone’s email addresses, but any of us can send an individual message to another forum member by clicking on the person’s name and then on the message button.

Thanks again Donna!! You’re the best!!


Hi Christian,
in addition to jewelry sites, when looking for used jewelry tools, perhaps also look at used tools, auto body, woodworking, etc sites, etc…ie: hammers, mallets, pliers, files, punches for tool stock, clamps, vices, steel blocks, etc

also, see if there is a local Harbor Freight store near you…they have relatively inexpensive tools

if it were me, here are some tools that i would focus on getting first…as money/ incoming resources would allow

re bench:
perhaps start with a C clamp and a piece of scrap wood

for tools that cut, quality is a factor…i would focus on less options (sizes, cuts, etc), of good quality…buying online, used, you may not get sharp tools…or tools that stay sharp linger…

re files:

perhaps start with an inexpensive $10 set of needle files

hablis files, 1 cut, set of 5, is pricey at around $89, and it is a middle size, smaller than hand files…it will give you good quality flat, half round, round, triangle, square, in cut 1…which is less aggressive than cut 0, but more aggressive than cut 2…still removes metal fast, and less aggressive

re saw:
probably invest in some good 3/0 saw blades
and an economy saw frame

re drill:
you could start with a spiral hand drill, or bow drill and a $12 pack of…1mm drill bits…or an $24 economy set of sizes

you could start with using cold connections…

re torch:
to start with, you could get the small and large handheld micro butane torches to get you going with soldering/ fabrication

re finishing:
to start with, you could just get 320, 400,grit emery paper, fold it to desired firmness, or wrap around ruler, pencil, etc…as the papers wear down, you will have the finer 600, 800 grits

and perhaps…
a plastic container of sand, to impart a matte finish when agitated.
a fine bristle brass brush…used with soapy water it can impart a wonderful burnished shine
a green 3M type scrubby
some steel wool

sell simple items…to earn more tool money…

re materials:
…then, eventually prioritize buying a combination rolling mill, whip crucible, hotter torch… so you can recycle your scrap for usable material…way more economical (hard cash in hand…versus time…) and flexible…to make more items to sell

to start, you can melt scrap on a charcoal block (in a small ingot, and/ or rod-like depression…and forge down with hammers…if you sawed thin strips, you could forge down and pull thru a drawplate, for wire

if you prioritize a (round) drawplate, you can stock one gauge of larger wire, and then draw down just what you need…flexible

re: flexshaft:
personally, i would find or buy an inexpensive flexshaft, over a dremel……when resources allowed

just some thoughts



Hello Julie!

Thanks for all your advice, you put great care into your reply and I appreciate it deeply.

I will definitely look into Harbor Freight, as well as local businesses of the kind you mentioned. There are a few woodworking and framing shops nearby where I live which most likely have useful items.

I am also under-experienced with cold connections, will definitely put more time into exploring this as it seems results can be quite nice!

The idea of making a mold-like indentation on charcoal and “casting” like this in addition to hammer is also something that had not crossed my mind but seems like a great direction before I can get my hands on a rolling mill.

Once again, thanks for your thought out response, lots to ponder on…

Have a wonderful evening and 2024!


re ingot/ rod casting tools:

i forgot to mention, but just recalled, since i am looking for ingot molds…

rmeixner has success casting ingots in delft clay (petrobond is another clay)

i believe he uses a length of wooden painter stir stick or similar to create the ingot shape…i imagine a dowel or pencil would create a good rod shape…i like the idea of having an enclosed mold AND a big button sprue to pour into…!…and the ingot shapes are flexible

the closed combination mold sprues are so tiny, but i prefer the resulting surface from the smoother molds over the open molds

the open molds have a rougher surface and the top/ open surface forms a rounded surface…sanding off the surface skin can be more laborious)


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