When it comes to making open back, or open bezel, resin jewelry there’s 8 tools that I’ve found help create success.
All crafts have tools that make things easier, and fortunately these are all pretty common tools. You might already have things like jewelry pliers and a utility lighter—and some items are even more common items.
And if you don’t have an item, it won’t be too hard to find at your local department store.
These are the tools I use to create open resin jewelry. I’m writing another blog post on the supplies I use and why I use them, but today let’s talk tools.
There’s alternatives to what’s on my list, but I use these for a reason. After lots of mishaps and learning through trial-and-error, I've narrowed down my essential tool list to these 8 items.
1. Jewelry pliers
These are a staple for any jewelry crafter, helpful for cutting wire and chain, opening jump rings and links, and getting into tiny spaces. 3-in-1 usually has the regular jewelry pliers on top, capable of created loops and holding objects on the needle nose, plus wire cutters.
I use a 3-in-1 pair as well as a pair with a curved nose. Using two pliers at once is the most effective way to open and close jump rings and easily line them up after they're closed. And a curved nose can get into places and hold onto objects differently than the standard jewelry pliers.
2. A drill
Open bezel jewelry isn't impossible to find, but you can really open up your options if you can also use open links and connectors.
To attach them to bracelets, earrings, and necklaces you can drill a hole. Technically, you can use whatever kind of drill you would like.
I personally use a Spring Drill from Little Windows made specifically for resin. I use a brand of resin that's a little soft, which is great because it means it's flexible but also has it's downsides.
Plus, I'm also impatient and like to put together my jewelry as soon as I can, so sometimes I don't let the resin harden long enough to withstand the pressure of a drill. So, to ensure that I'm using as little pressure as possible so that the resin isn't strained (which creates cloudiness and white streaks) I just twist the drill and apply a light amount of pressure with my hand.
Yeah, I don't actually use he spring. But, it's a great option for a faster drill. My resin jewelry is thin because I don't like chunky jewelry, which also means this process of doing it by hand isn't painstakingly long. If a resin charm is super thick, a spring drill or electric drill would make the process a lot easier.
Definitely always have practice pieces you don't care about, especially if you haven't used a drill much in your life and aren't confident you can do it well.
Size-wise, I recommend using 1 to 1.5 millimeter drill bits. At this size, they can get delicate. Particularly 1 millimeter bits can break pretty easy, especially if it's drilling through a thick resin charm.
Of course, if you don't use open link or connectors and your open bezel charms already have jump rings soldered on to the charms--no holes needed!
3. Utility lighter
This one has so many names, BBQ lighter, candle flame lighter, etc. Even if you don’t have one at home—they come in handy for so much more than making resin crafts.
But, when it comes to resin it’s one of the most important tools. Alternatively, you could use a straw and blow on the surface of resin--but I have this weird, irrational fear of accidentally sucking in (plus, not matter how mild the resin smells, I like to wear a respirator for safety and smell reasons).
The heat of a flame pops bubbles in curing resin that are near the surface (curing is the state when the resin and the hardener are mixed together and begin the hardening process).
Heat in general is helpful for resin crafts—summer being the best climate to work in. The heat causes the resin to mix better, the resin to de-gas more quickly (resulting in less bubbles), and doesn’t slow the curing process like cold does (which is a good or bad thing depending on the situation).
As a jewelry maker and seller, I don’t always have the choice of only working when it’s warm—sometimes I have to create resin jewelry in the middle of winter. A heater helps, and using my utility lighter creates an even more noticeable affect on the bubbles in the resin because in the cold, there's more bubbles.
4. Short, wooden craft sticks
Short wooden craft sticks are perfect for mixing resin and hardener inside a plastic measuring cup, or medicine cup. Why short? With resin jewelry, a pretty small amount of resin is used. So the measuring cups the resin and hardener is mixed in are pretty tiny themselves.
A large wooden craft stick might tip out and fling curing resin everywhere (not a good situation to be in).
The short ones are the perfect size. They also work as the tool to add resin to your crafts and to spread the resin around. Make sure to use clean ones.
A really common household item I’ve found essential for making resin jewelry. It lets you get into small corners, it can pop bubbles, or it can even be used to twirl bubbles out of resin.
Have you wanted to make open back resin jewelry but don't have the time to wade through endless YouTube videos and Pinterest articles? Do you not have time to learn through trial-and-error?
You can learn from an experienced teacher (hint: it's me! I've been making resin jewelry for 2 years) how to make 3 open-back resin jewelry projects. I cover every single step in detail through quick video lessons that never exceed 15 minutes.
For really tiny charms, I use toothpicks to pick up resin from the measuring up and drop the resin, literally drop by drop, onto the charm. An overflow is fixable, but it is a pain in the butt that we would all do best to avoid.
6. Cotton swabs
Cotton swabs are super helpful, when used carefully, to pick up little resin spills and messes. I mainly use them to stop resin from going over the side of a bezel.
Even if the resin dome on a charm isn't overflowing, if even a drop of resin falls on the edge of the charm, the resin will begin flowing down off the top, following the new pathway that was made for it.
To stop the resin from flowing downward on it's new pathway, I quickly grab a cotton swab and swipe along the sides.Even if the cotton swab doesn't grab all of the resin on the side of the bezel, once it cures it can easily be scraped off the sides.
But, be careful using cotton swabs, because the cotton fibers can get in the resin. Especially when you’re using tape for your open bezel charms, the cotton fibers can get pulled off by the sticky surface and get in the resin.
There last two coming up aren't must-haves, but they can make your life easier.
7. Small, sharp scissors
Specifically, I use cuticle scissors. Now, this tool isn't necessary but I find it really, really handy.
If an open charm was pressed flush against the tape and it has flowed out the bottom, or if during the hardening process the resin has flowed off from the top layer of the charm, I use cuticle scissors.
Once the messed up piece hardens, I use the sharp tip and curved edges to gently goad the overflow off of the charm. A nail or scrapper comes in handy, too.
Another non-essential, I keep tweezers handy because the make it easier to pick up small pieces of flowers, leaves, or small findings I want to embed in the resin.
I sometimes get resin on the tweezers, but you can wipe off the resin before it hardens (after it hardens, you can still get the resin off, but it isn't as easy).
There you have it! 8 tools to succeed at making open resin jewelry. To keep this list handy, you can get a printable PDF version of the list below.
To review, the eight must-have tools I use to make resin jewelry are: jewelry pliers, a drill, utility lighter, short & wooden craft sticks, toothpicks, cotton swabs, small scissors, and tweezers.
The last two are not necessary--but they are super helpful and easy to buy if you don't already have them.
Keep in mind that it's recommended to dedicate these tools to resin-jewelry. But, let's be honest, when I need to light a candle I use the same utility lighter I use for resin jewelry making.
However, this rule should be STRICT when it comes to food. Even though many epoxy resins are food-safe when cured, or hardened, when working with epoxy resin before it is cured it's recommended to not cross-contaminate with food.
So be sure not to use your tools for food just to be safe.