Saturday, February 13, 2010

Must Have Tools for under $20

Here are some tools I just could not do without. They were my first tools and provided a good foundation to build on. Click on the pictures and it'll take you to where it is available.

First, the third hand with the tweezers. This can hold just about anything so you can solder. It keeps your hands free to hold your solder and torch. It is still something I use every day. There are more elaborate styles out there, but this one is versatile for simple projects. These tweezers are also available without the third hand and are essential. They self close (you pinch to open) so they hold things for you!

This is a charcoal block. I love to use it to solder. It doesn't get as hot as a fire brick, it controls "atmosphere" so less firescale forms and it works beautifully to melt and ball silver. I have found it to be much more useful than a firebrick. I must say, however, since they are small, I work with a firebrick underneath it, just for safety.

Until I could really saw well I found using shears to cut out my bezels was much more time efficient as well as it allowed me to be more precise. I had to file more, but in the long run, these saved me a few ruined bezel plates! These shears are SHARP! so be careful. It's hard to work with stiches in your finger!
This next one is a little cheat: it costs more than $20.00, but only a little. This was my first torch and I found it to be more than enough for soldering thinner ring shanks, balling wire, making bezels, etc. It doesn't get as hot as my acetylene torch which was great. I melted fewer thin bezel wires that way!

I found that starting small gave me confidence so that I could build on my skills and venture onto bigger and better tools.

I hope this gives you aspiring metalsmiths a little info that will give you some confidence as well as information on great startup supplies.


  1. I totally want your third hand tweezers!!!

  2. This is a great post! My little butane stares at me fondly on my shelf. It also was a great size torch to build my confidence up until it made the move to my propane/oxy torch..

  3. I love my shears, too. I have ones like this, but I prefer the ones without the finger holes because I can use my whole hand to snip with. Great post!

  4. I had to laugh because last week I cut open my finger on those very metal shears making a bezel. And indeed, it is hard to work with stiches.

  5. Thanks so much for the info. I have been wanting to learn to solder and work with metals. You gave me enough info to get started with tools!