Welcome to my comprehensive list of all the things you'll need to learn metalsmithing! I've compiled this detailed list with all of the most essential tools, along with some of my favorites. A complete setup with everything you need for bench work and soldering will run you around $600 - $700, but you can always start small and build up over time. You can invest in a jewelry kit and a soldering kit to make shopping simple, or browse my links to the individual items. I also recommend keeping an eye out for estate sales near you or check the jewelry tool groups online such as the Jewelry Tool Garage Sale or Silvera Jewelry School Tool Marketplace.
I've listed as many items as I can to my Amazon Storefront for the best prices and ease of shopping.
I do suggest you make an account at Rio Grande which is the go-to jewelry supplier for most jewelers and where you should buy your metal from. The current metal market price is always displayed in the top left corner.
I also recommend purchasing from Otto Frei, a jewelry supplier in Oakland, CA. Their site is easier to navigate than Rio's, and you can ask questions in the chat box or call the counter for help. And it's always great to support a small business over Amazon if possible!
And another site to check out for tools and also lots of online classes is the Silvera Jewelry School, out of Berkeley, CA. Joe Silvera also has a great beginners book and DVD about soldering. Support a small business!
*Please note that items may become unavailable over time. I'll do my best to keep the list updated.
For a work surface you can easily use any tabletop you have that you are able to clamp a bench pin to for sawing. It is ideal to have your bench pin fall at chest level, which often requires you to raise the table up on risers.
Amazon: Table Risers
- Use these to raise up any table so that the bench pin falls at chest height (if possible). You'll also use these if you do any in-person markets so your tables are higher up for better viewing.
Amazon: Bench Pin
- A bench pin is essential for sawing and other tasks like drilling. This clamps onto a tabletop. There will be metal filing dust that you can catch on your lap with what's called a catch apron.
Otto Frei: Catch Apron
- It's not at all necessary to spend money on this, but I put it here to show what a catch apron is. It is simply something under your bench pin to catch all of the metal shavings so that you can collect them and melt for later use or send to a refinery for money. You could simply place a cardboard box with low walls on your lap to do this.
Hannah Beatrice Quinn: Horse Hair Brush
- I am completely obsessed with these brushes from Hanna Beatrice Quinn and find the to be excellent for sweeping my catch drawer or bench surface clean.
Amazon: Bench Top Organizer
- This is a great option to keep your tools organized on your table, if that's something you're looking for, but not necessary.
Otto Frei: Bench Top Organizer
- This is less expensive than the Amazon one and just as nice, but check the price on shipping.
Otto Frei: Mini Workbench
- I absolutely recommend getting one of these as your first workbench! It's nice and small but has everything you need. Can be moved on and off a kitchen table to save space. When sawing I take the catch drawer out and put it on my lap to catch shavings otherwise the saw hits the drawer. But a bench pin on your kitchen table works great too.
Amazon: Jewelers Workbench
- A professional bench isn't necessary to begin with, but worth saving up for if you want to be a metalsmith full time! This is a great price for a bench.
Otto Frei: Workbenches
- Otto Frei has a great selection of benches to choose from. Watch for closeout sales.
Rio Grande: Workbenches
- Some more bench options.
Rio Grande: Workbench Accessory Apron
- I highly recommend getting one of these to organize tools if you purchase a jeweler's workbench or can attach it to the table you're using.
Beginner's Tools / Bench
I advise you to look at the kits first and compare them to the cost of buying everything independently. A bare minimum setup will cost about $600 - $700. Start only with the essentials and work your way up from there.
Silvera Jewelry: Complete Jewelry Kit (without soldering)
- I highly recommend starting with this kit. It will make your life easier! Add what you need from here.
Amazon: KN95 Masks
- Wear a mask when sanding, grinding, or polishing your work.
Amazon: Jeweler's Saw
- Use this for sawing out sheet metal and many other tasks. This comes with a set of saw blades. I use #3/0 blades the most.
Rio Grande: Saw Blades
- Buy additional saw blades from here when needed.
Amazon: Pepetools Lubricant
- Run your saw blade or burrs over the wax to lubricate it for easier sawing.
Rio Grande: BurLife Stick Lubricant
- This also comes in bench attachments which make it more easily accessible for running a saw blade over.
Amazon: Beeswax Bar
- This is an alternative wax to use. It's nice that it's all natural and it doesn't risk getting stuck inside a tube like the others.
Rio Grande: Half-Round File
- A half-round file is well worth the investment. Shaping metal is a breeze when you have a good file! This is the most affordable one I've found. Select the cut #2.
Amazon: Sandpaper Variety Pack
- Many steps in jewelry making require sanding. You can also buy wooden paint stirrers and staple sandpaper around them to make sanding sticks.
Amazon: Jewelry Pliers
- Essential pliers and cutters.
Amazon: Flat Nose Pliers
- These are great for twisting earring posts to work harden them or straighten them.
Amazon: Chasing Hammer
- This is my go-to jewelry hammer. You can get additional hammers as you go along.
Amazon: Steel Ring Mandrel
- If you plan to make rings then you'll want to invest in a steel ring mandrel, which is better for hammering than the lightweight ones.
Amazon: Ring Clamp
- This is used for setting stones in rings and earrings with posts.
Amazon: Straight Bezel Pusher
- This is my go-to bezel pusher. Gently sand down the four corners to prevent making marks in your metal.
Amazon: Bezel Roller
- I personally don't like this bezel pusher and use the straight one, but lots of people like it so it could be worth trying! I tend to slip more with this.
Amazon: Curved Burnisher
- Essential for setting cabochons in bezel wire. Use this to burnish all around the stone to smooth the bezel.
Amazon: Ring Sizer
- Only necessary if you need to size fingers for rings.
Amazon: Rawhide Mallet
- Use this to form metal into shape without marring the metal.
Amazon: Nylon Hammer
- Use this as an alternative to the rawhide mallet.
Amazon: Steel Bench Block
- Use this to stamp or hammer your metal on.
Amazon: .925 Silver Stamp
- Be sure to always stamp your silver work with .925 for authenticity.
Amazon: Drill Bits
- Only necessary if you want to drill holes for earring hooks or for piercing cutouts in sheet metal. To use with a rotary tool.
Amazon: Center Punch
- Only necessary if you need to drill holes. I rarely wind up using one. Stamp the metal with the punch to get a divot and then drill.
Beginners Tools / Soldering
I recommend starting out with a soldering kit, and adding on what you need from there! Please protect yourself from the harmful fumes produced by soldering. Make sure your space is well ventilated with something to pull the fumes away from you. There are many DIY fume extractors you can search for online which vent out a window. At the very least buy the fume extractor in this list, and ALWAYS wear a respirator!!
Otto Frei: Soldering Made Simple Kit
- I highly recommend starting with this comprehensive kit. It even comes with two torches, solder, a book and DVD, and pliers!
Otto Frei: Starter Soldering Kit
- This is a more basic kit but comes with the essentials and is more affordable than the one above.
Silvera Jewelry: Soldering Kit
- This is a really basic kit that comes with a pickle pot, pickle solution, a soldering board and charcoal block, flux, pick, paintbrush, and tweezers. It does NOT come with a torch.
Amazon: Soldering Kit
- This is another great option that comes with a torch and pickle pot, making it slightly more affordable than the Silvera kit.
Amazon: Denim Apron
- Please use an apron made of natural fibers that will not catch fire!
- Essential for soldering or grinding/buffing/polishing etc. Protect your lungs! I buy mine from riogrande.com with the pink filters.
Rio Grande: Refill Filter Cartridges
- These might be more affordable elsewhere, but this is where I buy mine.
Amazon: Stingray Butane Torch
- I recommend this butane torch for small jobs up to 1 inch in size.
Amazon: Big Shot Butane Torch
- I recommend this butane torch for medium to large jobs.
Amazon: Butane Refill
- Refillable butane for your butane torch. I get mine at the hardware store.
Amazon: Pickle Pot with Pickle Solution & Tongs
- This is a great startup pickle pot, but you can also use a crock pot from a thrift store (be sure it doesn't have any metal parts, only ceramic and glass). Only use copper tongs with your pickle.
Amazon: Baking Soda
- Get yourself a value size bag of baking soda, which you'll use to neutralize the pickle pot acid. I get mine from Costco!
Amazon: Fume Extractor
- I use this next to my soldering setup to help pull the fumes away from me. An advanced extractor setup is recommended if you can afford one! This can easily catch on fire if you get the flame too close, so keep your extinguishing spray close by!
Amazon: Home Fire Extinguisher
- Always a good idea to have on hand!!!
Amazon: Extinguishing Aerosol Spray
- I like to keep this small spray extinguisher up on my bench, far from my soldering area but still within arms reach.
Amazon: Handy Flux
- This flux is an industry standard. I buy the large container from Rio and pour small amounts into this smaller jar so it doesn't dry out.
Rio Grande: Handy Flux 1lb
- You can buy up to 5lbs to save money, but I get the 1lb which lasts a really long time.
Amazon: Plastic Paint Brushes
- These are great for adding your flux, and also adding patina if the patina you use is reactive to metal, which is at the end of most all small paintbrushes.
Amazon: Solder Sheets
- This is a nice starter kit with the three types of solder you need for silver work.
Otto Frei: Solder Sheets
- Larger pieces than from Amazon, and trusted quality.
Rio Grande: Sheet Solder
- Choose individual solder sheets and the size.
Amazon: Soldering Picks
- Picks are used for placing your solder. These will warp over time but they are inexpensive and great for beginning. Fancier picks are available for more money.
Amazon: Cross Locking Tweezer Set
- These are essential tweezers for holding pieces in place while soldering
Rio Grande: Stainless Steel Curved Tweezers
- It's important to have a variety of steel tweezers for soldering. Play around to find the ones you use most.
Rio Grande: Stainless Steel Precision Curved Tweezers
- These are great for positioning tiny details while soldering. 4.5 inches long.
Rio Grande: Curved Utility Tweezers
- These are bigger at 6.5 inches.
Amazon: Charcoal Block
- This is used as a soldering surface, the charcoal holds heat to help get pieces up to temp. I recommend starting with this hard block which maintains a flatter surface better than the soft.
Rio Grande: Soft Charcoal Block
- A soft block can be used to make indents for melting beads, or can be stuck with steel pins to hold pieces in place. You must wrap it around with steel wire to hold it together or it easily breaks into pieces.
Amazon: Honeycomb Soldering Boards
- These are great to put steel wire in the holes to hold pieces while soldering.
Amazon: Rotating Soldering Platform
- This isn't necessary, but I love using one in order to easily swivel my piece while soldering.
Rio Grande: Annealing Pan with Pumice 7"
- This is the soldering turnstile I love to use. You can put a soldering block or charcoal over it or solder right on the pumice. I think it has better turn control than the Amazon one.
Otto Frei: Soldering Board
- I really love having this 12" x 12" soldering board as my surface for putting my smaller soldering boards or charcoal on. It will protect your table from getting burnt!
Amazon: Mesh Tripod
- This isn't necessary but can be helpful when first learning how to solder bezels onto backplates because you can heat the piece from underneath.
Amazon: Steel Wire
- Use this to wrap around your charcoal block or to hold pieces of metal in place for soldering.
Amazon: Steel Pins
- Use these to press into your charcoal block or board to hold pieces in place while soldering.
*You will also need a jar or container to hold the baking soda and water solution, and one for plain water for cleaning your piece from the pickle pot.
Beginner's Tools / Metal & Stones
Amazon: Bezel Wire
- I recommend ordering your bezel wire from Rio Grande or Otto Frei over Amazon. Measure your stone first to buy the right height. I recommend a thickness of 26g to 24g to start with.
Rio Grande: Bezel Wire
- Always get .999 fine silver, dead soft. This is softer than regular silver and easier to push over your stone. Measure what height you need for your stone and buy 26g or 24g. I feel that 28g and 30g are too thin and actually harder to work with.
Otto Frei: Bezel Wire
- Only some of these can be ordered in lengths longer than 12".
Rio Grande: Serrated Bezel Wire
- Serrated bezels are easier to push over the stone since some of the metal is cut out. It gives a nice Southwester style.
Amazon: Silver Sheet
- I recommend ordering all metal from Rio Grande or Otto Frei over Amazon for quality purposes. I recommend 24g to 22g to start.
Rio Grande: Silver Sheet
- This page is a little confusing, but be sure to pick Sterling Silver, Dead Soft, the gauge you want, and the size. I recommend 24g for earring backs, 22g for small ring and pendant backs, and 20g to 18g for medium to large pieces.
Otto Frei: Silver Sheet
- This page is much easier to use than the Rio page!
Rio Grande: Cabochons
- I recommend browsing Rio's site for cabochons. They can be on the pricier side, but they are consistent quality and you know what size you are getting. There are many sellers on Instagram who you can find be searching hashtags, for ex: #turquoisecabochon.
Beginner's Tools / Patina & Polishing
Always wear your respirator and have good ventilation when oxidizing your work.
Amazon: Liver of Sulphur
- This is what most people use to get a black patina on silver. I prefer Midas Black Max.
Rio Grande: Midas Black Max
- This is my preferred patina for silver and gold. Be cautious of toxic fumes.
Rio Grande: Pro Polishing Pads
- These are my go-to pads for polishing off extra patina. It leaves a nice polish.
Amazon: Micro Abrasive Polishing Pads
- These should be the same pads, but I haven't tried them.
Amazon: Steel Wool
- Use a very fine steel wool as a way to buff off extra patina to leave a matte finish.
Amazon: Renaissance Wax
- This gets rubbed over oxidized metal to keep it from fading.
Beginner's Tools / Other
Amazon: Digital Jewelers Scale
- A scale is important if you want to sell your jewelry so you can weigh the amount of metal you've used in order to price accurately.
Beginner's & Intermediate Tools / Rotary Tools
Having a rotary tool isn't absolutely necessary, but it will be worth it to invest in the best Dremel or Flex Shaft that you can when you're ready for it. At the beginning you can use your saw, sheers, files, and sandpaper to do everything you need. These are really helpful for polishing.
Amazon: Dremel 3000
- A Dremel is convenient because it doesn't need to be hung up, but it doesn't have a speed pedal which makes it harder to control.
Harbor Freight: Chicago Flex Shaft
- This was my first flex shaft. It works well, but may not ship to every state.
Rio Grande: Prodigy Flex Shaft System
- The most affordable flex shaft option from Rio Grande.
Otto Frei: Eurotool Flex Shaft
- This is a well priced flex shaft that is great for beginners. You'll need to purchase the stand or find something to hang it on.
Otto Frei: Eurotool Flex Shaft with Accessories
- This is the same one but comes with a rotating bur stand and an assortment of bits and burs.
Otto Frei: Foredom K.TX301 Flex Shaft Kit with Hanger
- This is the best flex shaft you can buy and well worth the investment if finances allow. It comes with everything you need including a stand and a bur stand. It will last forever if you keep up with maintenance. There are many more you can research at Rio Grande.
Amazon: Flex Shaft Stand
- Only necessary if you opt for a hanging flex shaft over a dremel. You can also get creative with hanging your flex shaft based on your environment.
Amazon: Rotary Tool Bit Holder
- Not necessary to own but I find it to be essential in keeping all of my rotary bits organized.
The items on this list are a little more advanced but might be something of interest to have at the beginning!
Amazon: Boric Acid
- I mix this with denatured alcohol to make a firecoat. Add the solution to your piece before soldering and light it with your torch to burn away the alcohol, leaving a coating of boric acid. You can use this as an alternative to flux. Do two layers to help prevent fire stain.
Amazon: Denatured Alcohol
- Mis this with the boric acid to make the firecoat. This can't be shipped to CA.
Rio Grande: Brass Hammer
- These hammers are nice and heavy and are awesome for stamping.
Rio Grande: Parallel Pliers
- These are awesome for flattening metal and earring posts. I use them a lot.
Amazon: Bracelet Mandrel
- Use this to form cuffs into shape. Gets marred easily but still works fine after taking a beating.
Rio Grande: Oval Bracelet Mandrel
- This is more expensive but it probably a harder wood. I can't confirm.
Rio Grande: Cast-Iron Stepped Oval Bracelet Mandrel
- This get put into a clamp and makes it easier to hammer cuffs into shape.
Amazon: Hoop Mandrel
- This would be great for forming hoops if you'll do a lot of that.
Rio Grande: Screw Mandrels 3/32"
- Buy a bunch of these for all of your rotary pieces!
Otto Frei: 3M Radial Bristle Disc Kit
- These go onto mandrels for polishing, and I highly recommend starting with a kit like this to figure out which ones you use most and what sizes you like best. Layer at least 3 together. I use these for everything.
Rio Grande: 3M Radial Bristles
- Order individual bristles from Rio.
Rio Grande: Dedeco Polishing Kit
- I highly recommend getting this kit and playing around with the different wheels.
Rio Grande: EVEFlex Black Polishing Wheel
- I use these wheels more than anything else! I use them to even out the surface of my metal, soften edge, and remove fire stain.
Amazon: Buffing Wheels
- Use these with polish. There are many options but I love the Luxi brand polishes.
- An option to use with the buffing wheels for a high polish on metal or even stones.
Amazon: Abrasive Buffing Wheels
- These are really inexpensive and nice to have around to smooth surfaces and edges.
Rio Grande: Ring Bending Pliers
- I use these pliers a lot to bend ring bands and make other bends, but you need to cover the bottom in a piece of copper or brass to minimize the marring on your piece.
Amazon: Ring Bending Kit
- I haven't tried this yet but it's on my wishlist!
Amazon: Dapping Set
- This is an amazing set! I use it all the time for shaping metal.
Rio Grande: Oxygen & Acetylene System
- This is my gas setup. It comes with the smith little torch which is great for tiny jobs like jump rings, up to small - medium jobs. Check with your home insurance to see if acetylene is covered, because it might not be.
Rio Grande: Smith Silver Smith Torch #2
- I use this as my most powerful torch which attaches to my acetylene tank. I use it for medium to XL jobs.