Wire cutters are an essential jewelry making tool. You can buy specialist tools created for jewelry making. Or if you are just cutting basic wire, you may already have something suitable in your DIY tool collection.
I am going to tell you a bit about the two main types of wire cutters you need. I will explain how to use them and where to buy them.
Why do you need wire cutters?
Wire cutters are an essential tool for jewellery making. A lot of basic jewellery is made with materials like Beadalon or Tigertail. These are essentially very fine metal strands woven together to create a flexible stringing material. So, you will need professional wire cutters to cut them.
If you try cutting this material with scissors, you are firstly, unlikely to succeed. However, if the scissors do cut through, you are pretty much guaranteed to end up blunting them!
Wire cutters are made with a shaped cutting edge, flat on one side and sloped on the other (you can see the sloped edge in the photo). The actual blade is very sharp and thin. So, this shaping will allow you to manoeuvre the wire cutters so that they cut as flush as possible to the beads.
You will also need to use the same type of wire cutters if you are doing other wirework, for example, French Beading.
I also use my wire cutters when I want to cut lengths of French wire. But do be careful as it is very easy to end up pulling this wire out of shape unless you use the wire cutters with precision.
How to use wire cutters
Experience will teach you the best angle to hold your wire cutters when you are trimming wire. You are aiming to cut as close in to the beads as possible. So, you want to avoid ending up with little tails of wire in your work.
I would recommend you practice on scraps of wire, with or without beads. Then, when you have mastered the technique, you can begin working on the jewelry that you are planning to sell or wear.
How to choose wire cutters
My top tip is to buy the best pair of cutters that you can afford.
I once thought I would save a little money by choosing a very cheap pair of wire cutters from a large craft store. Unfortunately, the first thing I tried to do was cut a length of 24 gauge (0.5mm) craft wire. The blade snapped off as I tried to make the cut!
Ok, so it was only a couple of pounds wasted. But I could have invested that money more profitably in other materials. So, I was not impressed!… A valuable lesson learned.
It is tempting to pick up the cheapest when you are faced with a range of prices. But always resist that temptation – it is false economy!
I have been using a pair of ‘Beadsmith’ wire cutters for years and have had no problems with them at all. So, I’ve linked to those here. It will save you struggling over that decision of which to buy!
Memory Wire Cutters
Ordinary wire cutters will cut most types of wire-based material that you are wanting to use for jewelry making. The one exception is memory wire.
If you have a really, really good pair of wire cutters, there is a chance that you will eventually manage to cut memory wire. But only if you also have very strong wrists and a lot of patience!
The way in which memory wire is formed (designed to hold its shape) also makes it a lot tougher to manipulate or cut.
Happily, there is an answer to this problem. You can buy memory wire cutters which are designed specifically to deal with this material. As you can see from the photo, the cutting blade is shaped differently.
I would highly recommend this investment – memory wire cutters will cut straight through memory wire with no effort at all!
So, when you are getting your wire cutters, think about what you want to use them for. If you are planning lots of jewelry making projects, it may even be worth investing in a complete toolkit instead of buying everything separately.