I am trying to start to learn metal working jewelry. I have read books, magazines and I wanted to know what the people at this site can tell me what is their favorite tools. For example, favorite jeweler's saw. Does anyone have a favorite brand of jeweler's saw. Where do you get your sheet metal reasonably priced? I am amazed at how much one disc costs! So I want to learn how to make my own. That leads me to asking what are your favorite type of metal shears? Do you use a vice when doing your work? Is there a magazine that addresses metal working mainly?
I have half a dozen saw frames, it was an ongoing search for the perfect saw frame. I have three saw frames that you tension by pressing the handle against your sternum, somewhat uncomfortable after a long day of sawing with lots of piercings. I also have three that use a wingnut on the top for tensioning the blade and boy are they wonderful to use. The rest of the saw frames use other methods to put tension on the blade, some OK and other a pure pain to use. Now the other part of sawing is the blade, buy cheap one and break them often, buy better blades and get longer use out of each blade. Having said that no matter how expensive or cheap your blade there will be days where you will be swearing at your saw frame and blades because they will seem to be snapping at every stroke.
Now as to shears, same thing, I have lots of shears, ancient ones from the 1840s that still work great, new ones that were expensive and are junk. I bought a set of 12" shears from China for $5 and use them to make long straight cuts and they are wonderful. I have tiny shears for bezel cutting and ones from Germany, France and Italy for cutting thin sheet. I also have a large bench shear that also cuts rod. I have a pair of aviation sheet metal shears form WWII that are very nice, look bad all brown with rust but they cut like a dream. I guess what I'm trying to say is you got to kiss a lot of shears to find the one that is right for you and that no matter how good they are they are still considered consumables, that is they will wear out and you will need to get another pair along the way in your jewelry making journey.
Now as to sheet metal goods, for silver I shop Thunderbird Jewelry Supply, they have super sales several times a year where they have it on sale for a pretty good price. Also you might try Monster Slayer.
Monsterslayer is my favorite place to buy metal, though it's been a while since I bought any. (When I buy metal, I buy enough for several years since prices just keep going up.) In addition to silver, they had a good selection of base metals. (90% of hand crafted jewelry is silver, so I like to be different and use copper, "aged" brass, etc.)
When last I ordered from them, I first emailed them with some questions about their products. Their customer service was truly excellent and their prices were good too.
I am a *HUGE* fan of Knew Concepts saw frames! Very easy to use. And with good blades (I went Swiss,) will slice through copper and brass sheet and sterling coils like a hot knife through butter. And I either saw on my bench pin or with my metal vise that I got through Rio Grande. I rarely use shears, so I have no real advice for that...
I have tendon, nerve and joint problems, so I've found Lindstrom Rx pliers to be the best for that sort of work.
Hope that any of this helps! Welcome to the metal world and good luck in your endeavours!!!