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Topic: Metalsmithing tools, what to buy and where to buy it?  (Read 1235 times)
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craftylittlemonkey
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« on: March 25, 2010 05:23:26 PM »

I've been itching to try out metalsmithing but where oh where do you get your supplies when you're starting out with a new craft and know virtually nothing about it?
Ornamentea is offering a big new selection of tools etc but I don't know what's what. Anyone have an idea of the value presented here, is this a good deal, is it quality stuff?
http://www.ornamentea.com/Tools.htm

Or any hints on where to pick things up? There are just so many places to order from, I'm lost in a sea of options. Thanks for any help you can give! Mucas gracias friendly crafters Kiss!
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skye691
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2010 12:50:40 AM »

the things that were recommended to me, and that I've found to be the most useful:

1. A good bastard file. You will make mistakes when you cut, you will need to file.
2. A good set of needle files. (see above.)
3. A jeweler's saw frame (at least 3" depth) and a selection of saw blades- trust me, get plenty of practice holding and cutting with your saw.
4. Saw blades- Buy a lot of blades (seriously, start with at least a dozen. Size 2 is a good size to start with, they don't break as easily.)
5. Bench pin- I realllllly like the ones with the built in anvil, it's super convenient.
6. Ring clamp- wooden, won't mar the metal. Nice things to have around!
7. A dremel and a cordless drill (or just a dremel with plenty of drill bits) - one of the drill bit indexes with a huge assortment of drill bits is nice to have, too.
8. Appropriate safety wear- meaning goggles, leather gloves, face masks and ear plugs. Take care of your body!
9. A large assortment of sandpaper grits (50-800 grit was what was recommended to me. I usually use 200-800)
10. Metal sheers, for cutting solder.
11. Silver solder (hard solder was what was recommended to me, and it is really good for beginners.)
12. Flux and pickle and a dedicated pickle crock pot(if you're gonna solder metal, it's pretty damn important to do it right.)
13. A torch. You can use one of the little brulee torches. Also appropriate tools for protecting your work surface from the heat. Alternately, learn to rivet. They're pretty fun and make a really nice look.
14. Scribe- for marking your metal. Sharpies are nice for making removable marks as well.
15. Chasing hammer- it's a really good all purpose hammer, I use mine more than anything else.

One thing I really want to recommend is that you pick up some cheap metals like copper and brass and work with them for a while until you get comfortable. When I was taking classes, 12g was what we ended up starting out with- yeah, it's thick... but it makes for excellent practice.

I found that you can get a lot of supplies for this sort of work at www.riogrande.com, as well as hardware supply stores- needle files, larger grit sandpaper, dremel, scribe, sharpies, drill, and safety wear are all really easy to find at just about any hardware store.

Bench pins, saws, solder, hammer, clamps, etc all would come from a jeweler's supply store-
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craftylittlemonkey
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2010 12:21:49 PM »

Thanks for your excellent answer, I'll check out the site you linked for sure. I just wish I knew which jeweler's supply store to go to for the rest... there are so darn many, it's baffling.
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skye691
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2010 11:23:22 PM »

It's all pretty crazy- I was just utterly baffled when I went to go shopping for supplies, but Rio Grande is an excellent source, Fire Mountain can be pretty solid too- they're starting to carry a lot of the basics, and are pretty reliable. Etsy occasionally has some nice specialty stuff. Other than that, I usually hit up our local rock shop Smiley I've seen things on Amazon, too. They're nice if you know exactly what you want.

If you have any rock shops in your area, or jewelers supply stores (though, those are more often in bigger metropolitan areas), they can usually hook you up. If they offer any metals classes through a local college, I've found that instructors are often pretty happy to talk to you if you send them an email.

If there's anything else I can help you with, definitely feel free to toss me a message, and I will do my level best. Smiley
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booglass
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2010 01:05:04 PM »

I buy from Rio Grande, Otto Frei, Contenti, Fire Mountain Gems, Lonnie's and the occasional ebay buyer.  I compare prices and go with who is cheapest. 

But several of my supplies are McGyver-ed pieces from the hardware store.   
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craftylittlemonkey
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2010 02:51:50 PM »

Thanks for the info guys. I'm living in the middle of nowhere right now so internet shopping is it for me (I also can only get dial up out here so researching is a bit impossible). I just don't know how you can tell quality online, it's scary to think of investing in tools without having heard from a reliable source that they're good! I have tons of rocks and gems, I need tools and metal which I know next to nothing about. I've done a fair amount of library reading so I have an idea of what I want to make and how to make it though so that's a good start at least!
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