Useful Jewelry Tools at Harbor Freight
Note: Harbor Freight changes their web links – A LOT! So, if any of these links don’t work, I apologize. I try to keep up with their ever changing site.
Tools that can be used in jewelry making from Harbor Freight. You don’t have to buy all of them unless you are a tool *$%$ like me! One of these days, Harbor Freight should either put me on commission or give me store credit for all this free advertising! Listening HF?
P.S: Just in case someone doesn’t get it: I am in no way responsible for your safety, happiness or experience with any product discussed on this webpage – whether it is a personal, emotional, physical or esoteric-al (new word) problem. I don’t work for Harbor Freight and won’t be held responsible for their products – in any way! These are just my opinions based on my experiences with these tools.
Harbor Freight keeps changing their page links so, the following links might not work. You’ll just have to search their site. I’ll try to keep up with them but, there are other things to do.
Warning: About 10 years ago, I purchased Harbor Freight’s, 1500 watt, Chicago Electric heat gun (Item #69343). It saw light usage over the years. Today, I was heat coloring copper, on the 950° setting and it caught on fire. Flames were shooting out of the nozzle and smoke billowed from the air intake vents. I unplugged it and dumped it into my quench bowl. Fortunately, this all occurred while I had my ventilation on high and I was at my soldering station – with it’s concrete board and, of course, that handy quench bowl. As a replacement, I purchased a Dewalt heat gun. It has an overload protection switch, that keeps things like electrical fires, from occurring! I also trust this brand and have quite a few of their tools.
Related Web Pages
Angle Finders are useful for drawing angles and square edges.
They have two different weight anvils: 55 lbs (Shown on the left,Item #69161) and 15 lbs Item #69425. I have the 15 lb anvil – I could lift it! A note on these anvils – I’ve had mine for 15 years but, they are cast iron, not steel. So, they mar a lot easier. Also, I had to refinish mine before using. You want a nice shiny surface so that the metal you are hammering doesn’t pick up any marks from the anvil.
This Apron is useful when welding and soldering. Protects your clothes and areas behind the apron from surprise attacks by hot metal or sparks.
4″ Scratch Awl
The Scratch Awl Useful as a metal scribe (to mark patterns/lines/etc. Can also be used as a burnisher and to make dents for drill placement (so the drill bit stays in place and doesn’t skitter across the metal). Can also be used for tube riveting – although, I’d cut it down a bit!
A Bench Grinder is very useful in the studio. I use mine to shape tools – especially chasing and repousse tools. The stone wheels are very abrasive and will remove metal quickly. Tie back long hair, no long, loose sleeves, no dangly anything!
An inexpensive Bench Grinder/Buffer. This combines the Bench Grinder above with a buffing mop for polishing.. The only problem is that you only have one grit for the stone. I suppose you could look into getting another one with HF. The one that comes with it is 36 grit.
Bins and Storage
Lots of Bin and Storage ideas. Let’s see, what to do with these? Hmmm….
These 2″ Industrial “C” clamps are extremely useful (as are bigger sizes). I use these for clamping tools to my desk like: my bench pin, shears, vise, etc. The “C” clamp allows your tools to be portable so, that you don’t have to always have them bolted in one place. Handy when you are entertaining guests in the studio and you don’t want someone chopping off a finger.
This spring loaded Center Punch is good for making divots for drilling. You can also use it as a scribe. Nail sets also work (fine tipped ones).
Digital Calipers are A MUST HAVE TOOL! I use them for everything: measuring metal/wire thickness, designing, layout, stone measurement, checking drill bit sizes, measuring tubing. I would not be as happy a jeweler without this tool, and I mean this (obviously). This is a must have! You don’t have to get a HF caliper but get some type of Calipers, in general. Digital is easiest.
Another useful tool, the Digital Scale comes in handy for weighing your materials (to help you price them), for readying scrap, for any diet that forces you to weigh your food! P.S. (Diets don’t work! Stop drinking soda. 25 grams of sugar is the recommended daily intake.)
This 9 Piece Punch and Die Set (Disk Cutter) is useful for cutting discs (sometimes). Round shanks of punches can also be used to create tubing (see Art Jewelry Magazine link under Doming tools (above), wrapping wire and sheet too. Not the best set but, if your budget is very tiny, this will do at $30 US.
Doming Block and Punch Set
You need this 25 Piece Doming Block and Punch Set. Great for making domes, riveting, texturing metal, repousse, shaping. The shanks are also useful for making tubing with a swage block and for making circles from wire or sheet – see this video on tube making from Art Jewelry Magazine.
I use my Drill to spin mandrels when making jump rings. Also useful for refinishing large metal tools like anvils, blocks, etc. Many attachments available. I hold mine in a large vice so that I can use both hands when making jump rings.
Ear Protection – Industrial Ear Muffs, Item #61372. Protect your hearing – especially when forging or using heavy, loud machinery.
Adjustable Face Shield, Item#46526 – Wear when working with chemicals i.e.: making pickle, etching, etc. Also useful when operating machinery. Protects your eyes and your beautiful face.
You need all types of files: Flat, Half-Round, Round, Triangle, etc. – Great for, well, filing!
Flexible Shaft Grinder (Flex Shaft) – Useful for all types of jewelry work: drilling, sanding, burnishing, stone setting, buffing, finishing, patterns, etc. A necessary tool for the jeweler. The foot pedal sucks but, you can upgrade it – even use one from a sewing machine! The foot pedal included is a cheap, plastic pedal with little subtlety. Saying that, I still use a few of these foot pedals for my not often used flex shaft stations – like jump ring cutting or for my buffing machine.
Hex Keys – I use these more than I ever thought I would. I have several tools that adjust with hex keys and I’m always losing them. Having them in a set like this, hopefully, keeps them all together. Only time will tell!
Abrasive Blasting Hood – Item#62378 Well, this is probably overkill but, I put it on this page because: 1) I wanted to see if you were still awake and 2) I thought you’d look pretty funny in this getup!
Hook and Pick
Hook and Pick Set. Useful for wax carving, teeth cleaning (kidding – don’t do that to your teeth!), applying small bits of glue, digging at stuff.
56 Piece Precision Knife Set – Who doesn’t need 56 different “Exacto” type knives? Also, some of the tools make great scribes for scratching your patterns into metal. So crafty…
Mask, Face – You need to wear one of these when sanding, filing, buffing, etc. Buy good masks to protect your (still) good lungs. The ventilator helps to cut down on steamy glasses. I like 3M’s best though. You can get 10 (3M brand) for $17.48 US at Amazon.
Anti-Fatigue Foam Mat -Item#94635 I have these in my soldering area and in my forging area. Saves on leg and foot fatigue. Use wherever you stand a lot. Happy feet are useful feet!
Plumb Bob – Riveting Tool
Plumb Bob – great tool for creating tube rivets. Can also be used as a form to make faceted stone settings with.
Safety Glasses – UV
Safety Goggles, Item#94357 – Imperative! Wear when sanding, filing, operating equipment, soldering, etching, forging, etc. Wear them!
Shear, Throatless – Great for cutting large metal sheet. I buy 2’x3′ sheets of copper from my neighborhood, metal junk yard and this is great for cutting the sheet into manageable sizes. Also, great for cutting smaller pieces too. Difficult to achieve precision cuts as there are no guides. This is the only shear that I used (until this year) to cut my metal (besides handheld shears). If you’ve got the cash, look into buying a precision bench shear. See my page: Q&A Tools for information on: What type of bench shear should I use to cut sheet metal? I discuss a lot of different options for cutting sheet.
Stamps – Letter and Number
Letter/Number Stamping Set – useful for decorative embellishments on metal. Can also be used with metal clays and polymer clays.
Stand – I purchased this for the rolling mill at Chimera’s jewelry studio. It worked great with the little economy mill. It is very stable. I haven’t tried it with a Durston mill yet. Compare the price with the Durston stand: HF – $29.99 US, Durston – $335.00 US. Hmmm…. Great for the bench grinder and other large tools. There’s also a 29″H similar version (the one shown is 32″H). See my Q&A Page on Rolling Mills.
Tool Storage – Well, to store tools and materials in!
Tumbler, Rotary – This is the one that I own. I like the dual barrels because I can store two types of media in each barrel: stainless shot and ceramic medium. I use a large funnel to pour the medium into (after use), let it dry and pour back into the barrel and cover until needed again.
Tumbler, Vibratory – used for finishing metal. Used with (stainless) steel shot, this will put a shine on your work. The vibratory tumbler is supposedly more efficient than the rolling type of tumbler. I don’t own this so, can’t speak too much about it. People kinda liked it in the reviews. It got 3 stars.
Tweezers, Cross-lock Tweezers
Tweezer Set – This is also a useful set. If you are like me, you’ll go through them rapidly. They get pretty funky when used for soldering.
Utility Knife – ’cause ya never know when you’ll need one!
Vise – Useful for holding a drill while making jump rings. Also, great for fold-forming, forging, filing and other techniques. I think it’s nice to have two different sizes: A big girl vise for holding the drill and big jobs and a little boy one for your desktop and everyday stuff. I have the 3″ and the 5″.
60″, 4 Drawer, Hardwood Workbench – I purchased this for Chimera’s Jewelry Studio and was very happy with it – still am. It’s sturdy and large and I loved the drawers and footrest/shelf. It was pretty easy to put together too! I didn’t use the pegs and the vise so I covered the top of the bench with a piece of an extra long piece of 1″ pine (covering the entire top and screwing it on to the bench). I did that because of those holes for the peggy things. It also made the benchtop longer and wider. Another option would be to hammer in dowels, of the appropriate size, with a little wood glue or glue in the pegs themselves and then cut them off.
Well, I think I’m done here. There are more tools available for use but, either they weren’t on the website or I just couldn’t find them. There are small, smooth faced pliers available (not of a great quality though), small hammers that could be of some use but, I’m tired of their website and this page for now. Thanks for visiting and I hope this helps.
Please also see: Tools from Micro-Mark.