Saturday, 9 June 2012

New tools

I'm feeling an odd mixture of excited and sad today. My new tools have arrived, which makes me excited, but that means retiring my old cutters and that make me sad.

Like a lot of people, when I first started making jewellery I “borrowed” a pair of wire cutters and a pair of pliers from a standard tool kit. These are fine to use while you are just starting out, a cheep way to take that first step. But once you know that this is something you want to do, they just don't do the job. This is especially true if you want to do wire work. Standard pliers will scratch and mark your wire, the cutters will not give a nice flush cut. As for turning a neat loop or starting a spiral without round nosed pilers, it's just impossible.

So I started out on what has become an obsession for pliers. My first buy was a pair of round nose and some proper flat nosed pliers. Next came my first love. My flush cutters. At just under £10 I thought them to be quite expensive. Nicely weighted with cushioned handles that fit in my hand perfectly. And they had cool purple and green stripy handles! Best of all they cut, at least to one side of the blades, with a reasonably flush face.

They have seen a LOT of use, those cutters. Their flush cutting ability is no longer up to my standard of wirework, resulting in a lot of filing of wire ends. But I was loyal to my first cutters. This spring however, I started to notice that they just weren't slicing through the wire as easily as before. And then, horror of horrors, a chip! Right near the tip of the cutters where they get the most use! I was devastated.

Time to finally upgrade.

I found a set of Xuron tools – flush cutters, round nosed pliers and flat nosed pliers – in a little tool roll that seamed to be perfect. After reading a lot of reviews for them and other makes I decided to take the plunge.

My new pliers in their tool roll
And they are wonderful! The flush cutters are so very sharp and the cut they make so very smooth – on BOTH sides of the cutting blades. And they have a lovely point perfect for getting into tight little coils of wire where an end can be nicely hidden. The flat nosed pliers are equally wonderful, very narrow, just perfect for tucking in ends or encouraging weaving to go where I want it to. The round nosed pliers are taking a bit more getting used to. Their point is much finer than my old ones and so fantastic for starting spirals, but they don't get as wide at the base as my other sets so aren't as useful for turning different sized loops or making cones. 

From left to right, flat nosed pliers, flush cutters and round nosed pliers
 As for the old cutters. I'm keeping hold of them. It might be sentimental, but it just would be the same to look into my tool kit and not see their stripy handles!

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