Many types of jewellery crafts involve quite a bit of metal bending. Whether you're doing light bending for projects like wire wraps or the heavy bending of sheet metal jewellery, it's impossible to get the right shapes without the right tools. A wide array of vices, pliers and tools both handheld and mounted bring professional-looking results to metal jewellery craft projects of all kinds.
The type of hammer you want to use in bending metal for jewellery depends on the type of bend you want and the type of metal. Most jewellery hammers are small and dense, designed for applications such as smoothing and flattening metal or changing the shape of the metal so that it keeps the bend you've placed in it; for example, after rolling up thin sheets of metal into a spiral, you might hammer the spiral to fuse the layers together. Most jewellery hammers resemble a ball-peen hammer on one side and have a wide, flat head on the other.
A standard metal vice is an essential part of many metal jewellery designs; not only can you use the vice to help make clean bends in thick metals, you can use it to secure thick pieces of metal while you make more intricate bends with smaller tools. Make sure that your vice is smooth to avoid scratching the jewellery metal, or protect the metal with something like a strip of soft leather on either side.
Use jewellery pliers for bending small pieces of metal, such as jewellery clasps or jewellery wire. Alternately, bring in the jewellery pliers for small detail work on jewellery made from larger sheet metal pieces. Tools such as needle-nosed pliers, wire snips and round-nosed pliers are just the ticket for delicate detail work.
Metal clamps work just like a vice, only more flexible. This means they don't have the advantage of holding the jewellery in place, but this is often a good thing when you want to be able to hold the piece in your hands and move it around while you're working with it. For some types of bends, use handheld clamps, or a tool like a vice grips, along with the mounted vice to create clean bends in large, thick pieces of metal.
Bending pliers are somewhere in between jewellery pliers and a vice in terms of both power and flexibility of use. Bending pliers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes ranging from wire bending pliers (these look like super thick needle-nosed pliers) to serial keel pliers, which have a wide, flat nose for gripping flat planes of sheet metal.