Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's Tool Time Again!

Here is my contribution to our ongoing posts on our five favourite tools. It was difficult to narrow my favourites down to just five (I do love my tools!). If asked tomorrow, I might choose differently (decisiveness is not one of my character traits), but as of today, these are my top five:

My ring clamp-

I love my new ring clamp!

I love my new ring clamp!

This is one of many tools that I put off buying for a long time. It was something I didn’t think I really needed. Was I wrong! I bought this little gizmo a month ago, and now I don’t know how I ever managed without it. It makes holding small objects like rings and pieces of sheet so much easier and less painful for my beat up middle-aged wrists and hands. I can hold things in it while polishing with my dremel wannabe (which, by the way did not make my top 5 list – see below), thereby saying goodbye to burned fingers.

Size 6/0 blades and my saw-

Sawing is much more fun with my new #6 blades!

Sawing is much more fun with my new 6/0 blades!

Someone on the Aspiring Metalsmith Team mentioned using smaller blades to help prevent breaking them while sawing. I had been using 1/0 and 2/0 blades (the smaller the number the bigger the teeth), so I ordered some 6/0 blades to try. They are now my go-to blades. I can saw thin sheet or thick sheet with them and now rarely break a blade. I enjoyed using my saw before, but now even more so!

Digital calipers-

I couldn't be without my digital calipers.  I keep finding new uses for them!

I couldn't be without my digital calipers. I keep finding new uses for them!

These are amazing. So easy to use, and so easy on my middle-aged eyes. They are so much easier to use than my old brass ones. I not only use them for measuring sheet and wire, but beads and stones, and even for measuring the thickness of packages for estimating postage!

Ergonomic Pliers-

Invest in a good pair of pliers.  It is worth every penny.

Invest in a good pair of pliers. It is worth every penny.

My new pliers, on left, are amazing. Old pliers, on right, are not. The difference between the two is incredible. The new pliers are far more comfortable, and I can use them for extended periods without my wrist and hand becoming sore.

Plastic Mallet-

So useful and so easy on metal.

So useful and so easy on metal.

Also a new toy, I mean tool, and one which I don’t know how I did without. Great for work hardening metal without marking it, enlarging rings, and so on. The bright yellow colour brightens up my bench and makes it easier to find amongst the mess, too!

And finally one tool that is NOT a favourite. In fact it is my least favourite tool.

My dremel wannabe-

Save your money.  Buy a flex shaft.

Save your money. Buy a flex shaft.

My dremel wannabe and I are not usually on speaking terms. In fact, we are in the midst of a trial separation. I’m on the prowl for a hot new flexshaft. When I find the right one, I’ll be filing for a divorce.

What are are your favourite tools?


  1. "I'll be filing for a divorce" totally make me snicker, I felt the same way about mine :D I desperately want a plastic mallet, is it better than the stupid bouncy rubber one I have now? GREAT post Julie, thanks so much for sharing!!

  2. PS I use 6/0 on just about everything too, I guess it's theoretically slower on thicker metals but evens out if it helps you cut down on broken blades and it doesn't give you that awful tooth-pulling sensation at all!

  3. I'm a 6/0 person myself :) I swap out for easy designs, but the small blades so much more smoothly. Love the post, Julie! Get a flex, you will NEVER regret a penny!

  4. I have 3/0 blades right now, but I want to try the 6/0s...

    I also want a plastic mallet, BAD!

    Cool tools!

  5. Clarity, I have a stupid bouncy rubber one too, and yes, the plastic one is so much better.

  6. thank you for sharing!! :D

    I used to work with 3/0, then I tried 6/0 wooooow!
    I looove them!

  7. wonderful suggestion about the blades. I must try smaller ones.

    I am excited that my digital calipers are coming in the mail today! woo hoo! I can't wait!

  8. I stole my husband's digital caliper. He never used it, anyway!

    The hammer that I use is plastic on one side, rubber on the other, so it covers all my needs. I can't remember where it came from, though... But it covers all my bases!