A cautionary tale

Remember (as I did not!) that when using stainless steel shot to
polish your beads with holes larger than about 1mm, that you must
thread a wire through the holes to stop the little needle-like shot
pieces from getting inside the beads! Now I have a beautifully etched
and shiny polished bead which is full of stainless steel.

It makes rather a pleasing rattling sound - should I market it as a
rattler beade? Though it’s kind of heavy…

I really don’t want to heat it again to re-melt the solder and then
start again, but unless anyone has any bright ideas on how to empty
the bead, I guess I might have to…

I’ve tried shaking it and nothing comes out. I perhaps could make
the holes bigger - hopefully then the shot will come out - and use a
leather thong to thread it rather than the chain I had planned to
use. Any other thoughts will be welcome!


Janet, Put a little bit of oil into the bead hole and let set for a
minute, then shake, the shot should fall out. If it doesn’t, take a
wooden tooth pick and nudge them, being so oily should work. This is
what I do when I get shot into my beads and parts.

Veva Bailey

Would magnets help? Those rare earth things are really strong.


Depending on the alloy, your stainless might be somewhat attracted
to a magnet which might help in the removal. Worth a try.

Pam Chott

Hi Janet,

Have you tried running the beads through the tumbler with the
lubricant and water without shot. I am wondering if enough of the
shot may voluntarely come out.

Best of luck,

Janet- I’ve made that error myself. Insert image of palm slapping
forhead here.

I just put it in the sonic with a ton of slippery soap and soniced
the heck out of it all day. It all eventually came out.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

HI Janet,

You could etch the shot out. Find an acid that will get the
stainless without dissolving the sterling.

If it were normal steel, I’d go for sparex #2 pickle. But it’s
stainless. That may take some experimentation. Dilute sulphuric?
Reactive Metals Multi-Etch? It’ll likely take a good while to
dissolve the pins completely.

I’d test any acid you think to use on a couple of sample pins (and a
scrap of sterling) to see what it does where you can see what’s
going on with the pins.

(All the usual safety rules apply: gloves, goggles, ventilation,
baking soda, etc.)


Janet, this is just a thought and may not work, but is worth a try.
Use a magnet to pull the steel shot toward the holes in the beads,
and try to workthem out using a probe, to maneuver them around.


IN iron working or mechanics like motorcycle repair you heat it and
then the steel shrinks physically now I would myself would coat the
bead solder areas especially but coat all you can of the bead in
heat shielding gel then heat the little steel buggers then put it in
the freezer and the ball bearings hopefully will fall out and your
solder joint will be still good

not affiliated etc etc they have a paste see if they can sell you a
smaller amount for jewelry applications


to get the shot out, a reverse of the method you used to get it in

Try vibratory finishing with larger shot - teh smaller pieces may
work themselves out.

or, you could, carefully and with eye protection, used compressed
air in one hole of the bead, to coax the shot out of the other.

Mark Zirinsky

Janet, have you tried using a magnet?

Hello Janet,

My commiserations. Really hate it when those little pieces get into
the back of an open bezel! Noel posted in the distant past to ‘put
the piece inside a sturdy cardboard box and shake it like a crazy
person’ It does work, although I wonder sometimes how many crazy
persons are shaken! LOL

Have fun shakin’ Judy in Kansas, where the garden clean-up continues
since the day is lovely with temps in the 60s!

Wow - thanks to everyone who responded to this crie de coeur! All
with great methods to try. I love Jo Haemer’s hand slapping forehead
image :slight_smile: I regret to say I resorted to mild profanity. but with all
the suggestions from you lovely people I’ve got lots of things to try
so I can get the steel out of my bead.


Cant it be dissolved with pickle or alum?

Alum will dissolve drill bits. why not shot? keep it in hot alum and
water for 30 minutes. thsnk you Harold O’Connor… he uses a crock

To those who replied to my anguished note about stainless shot stuck
in my bead after neglecting to block the holes with something before

That everyone has my thanks goes without saying!

Being of a simple mind (!) I tried the simplest suggested method
first - that of shaking the 1" diameter bead in a box. It worked
great, and 26 stainless shot needles came out in less than 5 minutes
of shaking. Each time some came loose, I took them out of the box
(actually a plastic jam jar with lid) lest they decided to go back in
again if I left them shaking with the bead.

Needless to say I was delighted, and I offer the method to others
who forget that bead holes should be blocked before tumbling! Or
remove any needle shapes, I guess.

Next time I tumble my beads with larger holes I’ll make darned sure
they will all be threaded on a wire or pipecleaner!


Cant it be dissolved with pickle or alum? 

An interesting tangent, although maybe this could be considered a
cautionary tale as well. I recently finished a really good book
involving pirates in the early 18th century. In the story the
pirates would dampen their sails with water mixed with alum as a
fire retardant before a battle on the high seas. Who knew?

If you’re interested the book is, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers.
It’s a great adventure, pirates, voodoo, the works. I read that
Disney bought the rights to the book to use for an upcoming Pirates
of the Caribbean film.


Noel posted in the distant past to 'put the piece inside a sturdy
cardboard box and shake it like a crazy person' It does work,
although I wonder sometimes how many crazy persons are shaken! LOL 

First-- good point about shaking crazy people…

Second, though, that is a trick for when you put a stone in a bezel
to check fit, and neglect to put dental floss across the opening. It
might work, though!


Yes - it worked, Noel - I got 26 little needles out of a 2.5cm
diameter bed with holes of about 1.5mm So whatever you first posted it
for, the method has now got two reasons for using it. And I heartily
recommend it - saved my sanity, it did!