Q: I'm just getting started with purchasing beading supplies, and was wondering if the pliers with, or without the spring-action are better... or does it not really matter that much?

A: I, personally, do not find that it makes a difference. However, most of my students prefer pliers with springs, so I'd recommend with springs for beginners. More important than with or without springs, is the quality of the pliers that you get. Try to make sure that your round nose pliers come to a tip of no more than 1/32 inch, if you plan to do fine work. Another thing, don't buy the cheap ones. If you are a serious crafter, purchase the better models, and please do shop around. I found from one place to another, a set of German made pliers for $20 and at another place, it was for $45. It really pays to shop around. I personally use my pliers with spring action everyday... I got them at Wal-Mart, in the hardware section. They have a bent tip, and grippy grooves ... I think they were $ 5.00. 'Allcraft Tools' has some wonderful new small spring action pliers. They are running a special, and if you order before November '98, the three (round nose, flat nose, and needle nose) can be purchased for $45.00 plus shipping. I recently wrote an article about them in the 'Florida Society' of 'Goldsmiths' newsletter. 'Allcraft's' number is: 1 800 645 7124. Ask for Tevel, and you can tell him that Ray from 'The Society For Midwest Metalsmiths' told you about them. Yesterday, I bought a new set of 5 pliers/cutters from 'Corinne Gurry' at the 'Whole Bead Show' in Providence, RI. Corinne sells a 3-plier set that have exceptionally long handles, which are made to ease the strain on the hand that normal short-handled tools cause. The 3 plier set (chain, round, and bent nosed) was $33, but for $50 you can get those 3, plus a special thick clipper and another plier called a jump-ring closer. With the latter 2 tools, you can make heavy wire OVAL jumprings whose closure stays on the side, and therefore away from attachments. All of these tools are spring-action, which I like, except the jump-ring closer.