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Tools and $$$

I took your collective good advice and enrolled at a local college in a
Metals & Jewelry class. So far I’m getting a pretty good overview of many
aspects of the trade. My interests are mainly as a hobbyist since I am
retired. However, I need your thoughts on how to wisely invest limited
funds in tools and equipment.

I will it seems, need some multifunctional pieces of equipment such as a
soldering torch, flex shaft unit and assorted hand tools. To get started
I guees I need a “starter set” ? It is hard to keep the horse ahead of
the cart as I haven’t thoroughly determined the skills I want to develop.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this self inflicted crisis?

Thanks Bob B

I too am going through this self-inflicted crisis–look at the
articles at the Ganoksin webpage–they come up with some really
great ideas for cheap shop tricks that work well–just so you
don’t have to go so deeply into your pockets. Also, keep your eye
out for anyone who is selling their jeweler’s tools–you can pick
up some real bargains that way. One good investment, though, is
Tim McCreight’s Complete Metalsmiothing. He has some good ideas
as far as thrifty mandrels, annealing pans, etc.

Hi Bob,

All I can say is, “Get used to it!” :slight_smile: I don’t know if you can ever
achieve the point where you have all the tools (and books) you want, or
think you need. It’s like a sickness… the more you have, the more you
can do, the more you can do, the more you want.

I occasionally remind myself that native American silversmiths were doing
great work, around the turn of the century, with little more than a few
files, a hammer, a couple nails, charcoal, etc. This helps quell the
"gottahavits", and make me think about how I can improvise and economize.

Some tool suppliers (like Rio Grande) have starter kits available. If you
have absolutely nothing, that might be the way to go… you could probably
save a few dollars. Otherwise, its an ongoing process of buying a tool
here and there, as funds and opportunity present themselves.

Since you’re retired, you probably have time to make a lot of your own
tools. John Burgess, who is on this list, from down in New Zealand, seems
to have made almost all the tools in his studio! For me, tool making is
time consuming… when my jewelry making time is already streched too thin.

Charles Lewton-Brain, who is a master goldsmith also on this list, has a
book “Cheap Thrills in the Toolshop”, which is chocked full of homemade and
improvised tools and solutions to problems. Might be worth checking out,

Bottom line? You’ve got to have a torch, pickle pot (crock pot), a saw,
bench pin, files, a selection of sandpaper, and a way to polish metal.
Anything else is a bonus!

Good luck and above all, have fun,

Dave Sebaste

A torch (aceteline) can be purchased for about $60.00, you’ll
have to buy a tank locally . . . in my area it’s about $80.00
(first fill and tank) refills are about $12.00.

Flex Shaft . . . you can buy a drummel tool (I don’t remember
what it’s called at the SEARS stores) which will do many of the
same things as the more expensive Flex Shaft will do. Just make
sure you get one with multiple speeds - I can easily control mine
with my thumb while doing whatever.

Files and pliars . . . these can also be purchased at Sears
(Craftsman tools carry a life time guarantee.) I bought needle
files for $19.95 (various shapes - six in a pack) which I’m still
using. pliars - you need flat nose, round nose, chain, and
something that cuts . . . again, I found a set of these for
around $30.00 at Sears - again the Craftsman tools are
guaranteed for life!) I’ve had two pair of these break, I
returned them to the store and they gave me new ones (better than
what I had before, because they were out of the ones I

Punchs, check with local hardware stores. I’ve used nail sets
as stamps (various sizes of "o"s. Screwdrivers can be used as
stamps to make stars (various sizes) also for ||/ patterns.

I am being forced to purchase a buffer. I originally bought a
bench grinder (from Sears) $60.00 or so bucks . . . but find that
the metal guards are in my way . . . I know of no way to remove
them - they seem to be part of the motor housing.

Jump Rings. . . I use nails of various sizes and/or screws of
various sizes. I’ve even found oval metal rails (from file
holders) to form 3/4 inch oval jump rings. Wooden dowels can
also be used, but it has been suggested that one cover the dowel
with wax paper so that removing the wire (after wrapping it
around the dowel) is easier.

Check re-sale shops or thrift stores for inexpensive “crock
pots” to be used for pickle. I bought one for $4.00 U.S and have
been using it for several years. Instead of Sparex, one can use
a well known “swimming pool acid” (sorry, the name escapes me at
the moment.) which is relatively inexpensive.

Drill bits, can be found by checking precision drill
manufacturers (these usually supply your local machine shops.)

Personally, I think that Rio is VERY expensive. The "student"
kit they sell contains many usefull tools, but you don’t need
some of what you will get.

Have fun!

I recomend a Presto-Lite torch setup. With it you can do jewelry work and
small scale holloware. Add a flexshaft or Dremal for small grinding and
drilling and a jeweler’s brass brush for burnishing/polishing. You’ll get
it all together eventualy. Marilyn Smith

Bob Regarding your questions about what tools and where to get them. Do not
get a starter set up kit!!! They will include items that you do not
need ( sandpaper, sponges, safty glasses, hammer) and can find much cheaper
at K-Mart or Wal-Mart. As to what type you will need that depends upon what
you will be doing. It is almost a given that you will need a flex shaft and
various hand tools. These can sometimes be found at jewelry stores that
are going out of business. I have just about 3 of everything and still find
that I always need that one tool that I didn’t buy . But that’s the way it
is with tools. You never have enough. Look in pawn shops and watch the
paper for stores going out of business for a few weeks before buying new
tools from a supplier. If you have no luck that way bargan shop the major
supply companies. You can get them to come down on the price some, if you
argue with them. If you find an item for less somewhere else most companies
will usually match it. Also some will let you put together your own kit and
knock 10 to 15 % off the price. Happy hunting RED

I would be interested in finding out if any of the 600-odd members of
Orchid have a spare Presto-Lite Torch with a couple of tips that they would
like to sell at a fair price. Contact me at @Marshall_Jones or on the


I would be interested in finding out if any of the 600-odd members of
Orchid have a spare Presto-Lite Torch with a couple of tips that they would
like to sell at a fair price.  Contact me at or on the

Hi Marshall, I got a presto lite for sale.

Jim, @Zimmerman