top of page

Tools List - Beginning Metalsmithing

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

Bench jeweler at work
Bench jeweler at work

In general, I buy most of my tools and supplies from RioGrande. Otto Frei and Contenti are great alternatives as well. Links I provide are just an example of what I use after trial and error but feel free to experiment.

General Bench Tools: a basic list of hand tools to get you started

Magnifying visor: to work under magnification. Optivisor with a couple of lens options works great for most of my work. Beware: Amazon sells similar LOOKING visors but they’re CRAP. Donegan is the original and their glass optics are great. Haven’t tried their acrylic lens option but they’re less expensive.

Pliers: after using lots of kinds of pliers for metalsmithing, I find these to be my go-to’s. I prefer parallel action to regular pliers when available because of less surface damage to pieces and they hold pieces securely in almost any situation with less pressure.

Bail Making pliers - (replaces round nose pliers)

Ring clamp, parallel: sooooo much better than a traditional ring clamp and very cheap.

Saw frame: many choices here and this is one of those tools you just have to feel to know which one you like. I have tried a traditional, wholly adjustable frame style and didn’t like it much, others love them. I’ve never needed the adjustability. I like Green Lion:, or PotterUSA (almost always out of stock).

Saw blades: get both 2/0 and 3/0 sizes to start. You will break many blades when you're learning so buy several dozen of each size. You can buy an assortment of sizes also, but buy extra 2/0 and 3/0. Don’t buy the cheapest ones, buy Hercules or Rio’s LaserGold, for example.

Hammers: there are two categories of hammers. Hammers for hitting other steel tools and hammers for hitting your precious metal work pieces, NOT to be confused! You'll need both kinds.

Goldsmith/Cross Peen hammer for general purpose work piece hitting -

Bench block: Steel, 4 x 4 inch is a good size to start. Get an old mouse pad to put under it to dampen the sound.

Bench pin: type depends on your work area, might be a good idea to get a clamp on to start. Ultimately, I recommend a GRS system.

Sand paper: this stuff rocks! Can be used wet or dry and it lasts a long time, has more consistent grain size (better results).

Scribe: any will do, they're cheap

Dividers: don’t go cheap here. I recommend Starrett.

Caliper, digital preferred

Metal ruler, metric

Needle files: don’t go cheap on files. After expensive trial and error, I recommend two sets of these, one set in cut 2 (coarse) and one set in cut 4 (finer).

Precision files: again, don’t go cheap. I’d recommend starting with the following shapes:

Barrett - 4” Cut 0, Cut 2, and Cut 4.

Half round - 4” Cut 2 to start,

Download a copy of this list here:

Tool List - Beginning Metalsmithing
Download PDF • 78KB



bottom of page