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Tricks against nicks

How to prevent scratching your wire and jump rings

We show you a few ways you can adapt your pliers' jaws to protect your wire when you're making wirework jewelry. Plus, our tips on good wireworking technique can also help.

Plain old masking tape wrapped around the jaws of your pliers will cover the edges. But blue painters tape comes off easily and leaves behind less sticky residue.


Moleskin or Molefoam is a soft, adhesive fabric product used to cushion your feet. Cut it to fit your pliers, remove the backing paper, and apply. Molefoam has more cushion than moleskin.


Try covering your wire with a scrap of fabric while you work it. It can be tricky to learn how best to hold the fabric as you’re using your pliers, but you get instant protection without any preparation. Plus, there’s no adhesive to remove later.


Plasti Dip and Tool Magic are liquid-rubber products that were intended to be used on the handles of tools. But they also cover pliers jaws really well. They’re my favorite coverings for pliers, though they require forethought. You can get liquid rubber at the hardware store or perhaps at your local bead shop. Follow the package’s instructions for applying the product. After a couple hours of drying time, your rubber-covered pliers will be ready to use. The bonus is that you can rip the stuff off when you’re done, and you’re back to your original pliers.

Nylon-jaw pliers are a popular alternative to wrapping your pliers. Because they’re made of soft nylon, they don’t scrape colored wire. Unfortunately, because nylon’s so soft, these pliers are only made as large forming pliers, which are difficult to use for making details. 

Whether you choose to wrap your pliers or not, keep these tips in mind:

Always use the right pair of pliers for the job. Flat pliers make corners; round pliers make curves. If you use angular pliers to create a fluid bend, expect gouges. You may need to change your pliers multiple times while creating a single piece of jewelry, but the effort is worth it. 

Use only enough pressure to achieve your bend. You don’t need an unbreakable grip on the wire – that will only squeeze and distort it. Instead, hold it gently, with just enough pressure to ensure that it won’t slip from the pliers (causing a possible scratch) as you bend it. Because copper is softer than silver, it’s a good metal to practice this on. If you can create a good-looking bend in copper without denting it, you’ll have no problem working with silver. 

When you can, bend a wire only once. Sure, wire’s malleable and will bend and rebend. But after too many corrections, the wire won’t look as clean as if you’d just bent it once. Experiment on a piece of scrap wire or a cheaper alternative, like copper. Then translate what you learned from your test runs into a sleek final piece.

Even with all of these tricks, the best tip I could possibly give you is to simply practice. Learn your tools and materials well enough to work with them confidently. Good luck and happy wire working!

To remove residual adhesive from your pliers, try rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or Goo-Gone.
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