The disc cutter was the first "real" and expensive tool I bought. I was nervous I wouldn't use it enough to justify buying it, so I hummed and hawed for a good while before I made the plunge. I hadn't made many round earrings before, but then I was cutting the discs out by hand with my saw. No one in their right mind would make many earrings that way. I quickly fell in love with it and in the first week cut out all kinds of discs in all various sizes. It was a real game changer for me.
I ordered mine through RioGrande and I bought a Swanstrom, which is made in the US. They have a variety of cutters, not only round, but teardrop shape, two different sizes of the oval shape, a multishape cutter (one size each of oval, rectangle, teardrop, square, triangle and heart), a heart shape cutter, triangle, square, and rectangle shape cutters. The amount of time you save using the cutters is huge. Just the consistency is worth it.
This is another set of tools that I use all the time is my steel dapping block. Again it is the consistency that I like. I do have wooden blocks, but they can sometimes be a bit trickier and I ended up messing up the wooden punches a bit. I could fix them, I am sure if I sanded them smooth. I still use them on occasion, but for the most part the steel dapping block is what I turn to.
It is pretty basic to use; you put your piece in the hole, place the punch on top and give it a good whack. You can go to a smaller and smaller hole, going from a slight curvature to half round.
There are many other tools that we silversmiths use and we will be looking at them in the weeks to come