Tool advice

Especially from those who teach adult ed. classes on metalworking, I
am seeking advice on where to buy the most affordable yet decent
round-nose (or rosary) pliers, flat-jaw pliers, and jewelers’ files.
Most of my students will not go into jewelrymaking, but I’d like to
order, for example, round-nose pliers that won’t snap the first time
they form a wire coil with them. The less expensive pliers seem to
come mainly from Pakistan (as did the ones in which one nose snapped
off). Are ones from China any better? The files seem to come in
sets containing more files than I myself ever use and are often too
tiny. I have been ordering from Rio Grande, which is OK, but I would
prefer to order a few individual tools rather than the interminable
sets. Any advice? Judy Bjorkman @JLBjorkman

I found quality pliers (Eurotool ergonomic from Germany) at . I tend to go through pliers rather quickly (I’m
hard on my tools).

Elizabeth Schechter
Silverhorn Designs
6400 Baltimore National Pike
Suite #170-A, #445
Baltimore, MD 21228

Judy Bjorkman, three good places you might not think to look are Ace
Hardware, Sears Robuck and Pep Boys auto supply. I have bought tools
from all three places. As far as I know Sears still has its lifetime
warrenty on name brand hand tools, you might check on that. Pep Boys
and Ace both carry good brands of tools and then some cheaper brands
that are easy to modify with grinding/welding. I made my first pair of
ring bending pliers that way, by grinding until I got what I wanted then polishing. Geo

Judy, I have a friend/instructor of Wire Jewelry Arts. He owns
personally pliers of high quality, and then those he considers work

Work horses are purchased from Harbor Freight for as low as $1.00
per. To make these useful he grinds and polishes them to suit the
needs of the particular task. His statement is "I prefer snapping the
$1.00 ones to the $25.00 ones.

I have taken his advice and when in the class I take at my local
Community College, make use of the grinders in the wood shop to tailor
and polish them as needed.

Harbor Freight if not in your local area has an online Web Site you
can access and subscribe to for sales.

Some of the cheaper in cost, not necessarily in quality are from the
US Pittsburgh is a name I see on the packages.

When Harbor Freight has them in a closeout bin, it is like Christmas.


Judy, I know how you feel. When I taught I scrounged for tools
everywhere and came up with a pretty fair selection. But it was a
neverending chore to replace what was broken, bent, and useless. I’m
slow, but one day it dawned on me that I hadn’t taught the kids how
to use the tools and which ones were used for what. Amazing results.
Hope this helps you a little.

Dear Judy You might try harbor frieght tool at 1-800-423-6567 or at
the inevitable also try Bourget at
1-800-828-3024 and …habor sells sets of
everything but the prices are so low that you can buy the set for the
same or less then a single item from Rio…Bourget has sales and has
somethings for less then rio or Gorbet ect HTH

For files (flats, etc.) I get mine from a store in Willard, Utah
called Smith & Edwards. They are a surplus store with about everything
you might need. I try to stop every time I am in the area. The town is
small enough and the store is big enough I think if you address it as
such they will get you mail. Oh yes, the price. I think I paid about
$1.00 each for them. Don in Idaho Falls USA.

G’day; I don’t think the series of jeweller’s tools made by
Pastorini in Italy can be bettered. These are properly hardened and
tempered, and take a brilliant polish - I keep all my jewellery pliers
highly polished which not only gives better results on the workpiece,
but considerably retards rusting. These pliers all have box joints,
rather than the more usual and cheaper half lap joints. Box jointed
pliers have little or no tendency to loosen with usage; I’ve had a
set of Pastorini light-weight pliers for well over 25 years and there
is still no ‘play’ at the joints.

If you buy or have box jointed pliers, take a couple of moments to
gaze at them and ponder upon how those with large jaws could have
gone through that little slot! Unfortunately I can’t tell you where
to get Pastorini tools - it’s too long ago. Most of the jeweller’s
suppliers have a range of good quality tools, and that includes files.
Cheers –
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

Hello - I have used both the pakistani and the chinese pliers and
probably be perfect for students they are ridiculously cheap ,I think
under 2dollars per pair and are very well made .
Scott Empey - Prism Designs

 Some of the cheaper in cost, not necessarily in quality are from
the US Pittsburgh is a name I see on the packages. 

chuckle. Most of those tools with names like “pittsburgh”, and
“Chicago electric”, another harbor freight common name, are actually
Chinese made products. They choose an american sounding name so it
will sell better here.

Another source for those cheap pliers, sometimes, is Sears. I’ve
found them there, too, for a buck a pair.

Peter Rowe

Hi Judy! Borget Bros. in Santa Monica, CA (800-828-3024 has some pretty decent box-joint pliers for $6.95
each. They’ve got round, chain nose, flat nose and side cutters. I
used to buy these for my students when I was teaching. I kept a bunch
of them and they’re holding up quite well!

For inexpensive needle files, try Harbor Freight
( They’ve got 12pc. sets for around $2 or $3.
At that price, who cares if you use them all? Of course, they are far
from “precision”, but, good for general work.

Marlo M.
Seattle, WA


This is rather old news, possibly you are no longer looking for cheap
beginners’ tools, but I am trying to catch up on my email – I have
bought a number of Chinese pliers very cheap. They typically come
with rough, grooved rather than smooth jaws, but I have at them with
grinding wheels, flexshaft, files, emery paper, etc., and polish them
up. They are so cheap that you don’t really need to worry if a set
breaks unless you are worried about the time you have in them. I
have not, however, had any break, nor do they look like they are
going to. Maybe the students would thus get some experience in tool
fabrication. If they polished a set of steel jaws, working in
precious metals would ever after seem a breeze. There is also some
challenge in trying to keep the jaws parallel and get them to close
tightly when empty. A whole set of these should be under $10 at the
local Big Lots or similar store.

When I was setting up my jeweler’s bench several years ago I had a
great time searching out tools I could use at the local flea markets.
I see that I have (never noticed before) a Lindstrom set of round
nose pliers which came from a flea market and a big flat nosed set
from Klein Tools, Chicago, also. The used tools bin at the pawn shop
might be another source. Maybe some students would enjoy finding a
set of tools.

HTH someone,