Jewellery makers sometimes need to punch small holes in pieces of metal. With holes in place, jewellery makers can use findings to connect pieces together. This technique allows jewellery makers to fashion bracelets, necklaces and earrings from pieces that would otherwise have no means of connection. Several hole punch tools are available for jewellery work.
Hole Punch Pliers
Hole punch pliers allow beaders to make precision holes in sheet metal. The most commonly available hole punch pliers make round holes. Two versions of these pliers are widely available, making holes that are 1.25 and 1.8mm in diameter. Such holes are tiny, but they serve the intended purpose of allowing a beader to insert a split ring or a jump ring through the hole so that the punched piece can be joined to other jewellery elements, such as chain. Most hole punch pliers for round holes cost between £6 and £13 as of 2011.
Speciality Hole Punch Pliers
A more recent innovation in jewellery tools has been the development of hole punch pliers that make oval and square holes. The oval version makes a hole that is 1mm by 1.7mm, and the square version makes a hole that is 1.5mm on each side. These pliers retail between £9 and £13 as of 2011. They are harder to find; some stores and online retailers carry only the round-hole version of hole punch pliers.
Screw Down Hole Punch
Hole punch pliers are a quick way to make holes, but they only work on relatively thin sheets of metal. Some brands of hole punch pliers can work with metal as thick as 18 gauge; others are for use only on metal as thick as 24 gauge. For punching round holes in thicker sheets of metal, beaders can use a screw down hole punch. A standard screw down punch is double-sided, offering both a 1.6mm hole punch and a 2.3mm hole punch. This type of punch requires more time to use, but can make holes in metal as thick as 12 gauge. Screw down hole punches are usually available for less than £19 as of 2011.
Power Punch Pliers
The most versatile option for the casual beader is a pair of power punch pliers. These pliers use hardened steel dies to cut round holes in metal as thick as 16 gauge and come standard with seven different punch sizes from .094mm to 7.14mm. Power punch pliers cost less than £32 as of 2011.
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