Beading tool..?

Hello everyone, I’m interested in trying to set some very small
faceted stones in a pave style. I have no experience or previous
instruction so I’m kind of flying blind here. I have only the book
-The Complete Metalsmith- by Tim McCreight to go by and the
instructions are a bit unclear to me. He refers to using a beading
tool to give a clean, rounded shape to the prongs. My English tool
catalogues make no mention of any such tool, but from the one
illustration in his book it appears to be a just a tapered steel
point. Can anyone help me to understand how this tool is used or what
it might be called in the UK?

At the risk of exposing my ignorance even more, I’ll ask one more
question. What is a milgrain tool and how is it used? It appears from
the ilustration that it gives a textured line on the metal?. Is it
rolled along the metal, stamped? They come in sizes from 1 to 15, what
do these sizes correspond to?

I’m Sorry to post such basic questions. I know, I should just go in
the store and ask them but it’s less embarassing to do it here. Thanks
in advance for any help you guys can offer.

Daniel Conlin

Daniel, In the United Kingdom you can purchase one of my books titled:
Bead Setting Diamonds with Pave’ Applications. It should answer your
list of questions. Contact the jewellery supplier H.S.Walsh & Sons,
243 Beckenham Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 4TS…Robert R. Wooding

Hi Daniel, I’ve not come across a website that shows a illustration
of how this is done.  I purchased a book that came in handy when
I started learning to set stones, the name is “Bead Setting Diamonds
with Pave Applications” by Robert Wooding.

Terri Collier
Dallas, TX

Daniel, Same name. The Beader has a highly polished concave surface at
the end that performs two functions:

  1. Depress and smooth the pointed metal grain

  2. Burnish the resulting bead to a bright finish

They are produced in graduated sizes and the cup is maintained by the
use of a Fion stake or Beading tool that has a number of graduated
tapered points or small round spheres that fit into the concave of the
beader and then burnished to keep the inner surface bright and clean.
Use a circular motion and never use a hammer to strike the beader onto
the stake in a effort to so called “sharpen the cup” . The edge of the
beader will bur over if in the process of beading down the grain, it
comes in contact with the stone. Accurate and proper use of these
tools will give you very good service. You may need to locate a more
comprehensive publication. Good luck, Phil

I'm Sorry to post such basic questions. I know, I should just go in
 the store and ask them but it's less embarassing to do it here. Thanks
 in advance for any help you guys can offer. 


I can’t help you with either of your questions, but I did feel
compelled to address the above. Apologies are not necessary on
Orchid unless you’ve stepped on someone’s toes or the like. Posing
an honest question, no matter how basic or complex, doesn’t fall in
that category.

No one knows everything about everything, though, compared to my
meager skills, some seem to come pretty darned close! Drawing upon
the combined experiences of the group is what Orchid is all about.
Each technique may have its own particular set of rules, tricks and
tools. So even a jeweler who’s highly experienced in their own
“genre” of techniques may end up asking the same exact questions
beginners like you and I might. There’s no shame in it. In my
opinion, the shame would be in not asking, and wasting valuable
time and materials banging your head against a problem that could
have been avoided.

In turn, your unique insights and perspectives, and what you learn in
your own explorations of the art become an asset to the group. I’ve
been on Orchid for about nine months and the folks that sponsor and
make up this group are the finest of their type I’ve found on the
net. While I’m “singing to the choir,” let me say thank you to all
of you for the genuine warmth and encouragement I’ve experienced.
And, to you, Daniel, I wish you welcome.

Warm Regards,

Daniel hello!

If you really want to learn pave’, then you will. Your determination
will be your best ally. You will need to become very familiar with
beading tools and millgrainers. Gravers I suspect is not an area you
have developed necessary skills. Start with pieces of copper or
sterling. For beginning to learn, I recommend cutting a straight line
in the metal with a point graver. Raise beads with round bottom
gravers to the edge, but a little over; as though a stone were there.
Do this exercise until you can make a line of beads that look like
each other, and you no longer push any too far (and shear them off)
or not far enough. You do not need to set a single stone to teach
yourself the basics! Stones just get in the way, initially. Now that
you have raised a curl of metal with say a #53 round bottom graver,
it is time to form round beads. You need to buy a set of beading
tools. They should be in any tool catalog, even in the U.K. Use a
firm rocking motion to round the bead. Imagine a stone were their,
and begin to realize the damage you could do to a stone if you are
not careful. From this point the books, (Woodings books are quite
good) should give you patterns to work on. Pave’ is 2 rows or more of
stones, not a single row. When you try to lay out pave’ and you are
unfamiliar, the tendency will be to have many more beads than
necessary for a clean look. True pave’ has only two primary beads;
and is shouldered by an additional four. That probably makes no
sense, and won’t without showing you. You will need to be shown, or
put a lot of time into research.

There is also a system of precutting, or metal removal that is
important to pave’. Without knowing what to remove, again you won’t
have the look you see on the finer pieces of work.

Millgrain tools have their own numbering system. Smaller #s are fine,
larger are a more open tooth for use in milled bands or when you
like. This is done with a wood handle with a chuck, by hand. Order
those too. Behind the row of beads you did in practice, you can now
clean up where the beads were brought from with a graver line behind
the beads. Now use your millgrain tool on this straight edge. Good


Daniel Exchange Findings catalogue has beading tools on page 85a
of tools section - sizes 1(smallest) to 18(largest). They have
round hollows in tip and burnish the prong to a round tip.
Milligarin wheels are a way of texturing a bezel to fake the
appearance of beaded (or grained) mounting. I don’t know what
the sizes relate to either! Exchange are on 0171 831 7574 Andy

Andy Parker, Agate House Lapidary
Ulverston, Cumbria, England

Tel: 01229 584023

Hello Daniel,

Tim Dooley’s description of making the little balls for pave’ setting
is very apt. Here’s a little visualization exercise. In forming the
little metal curls, think of making a ball of ice cream with a scoop.
You dig the scoop into the ice cream and bring it forward to form
the ball, but in this case you don’t continue forward because you
want to make a mound on top of the ice cream.

This visualization was offered to me when I was trying to figure out
how to use that silly little graver. Oddly enough, it helped me
understand. Get some ice cream for a fattening but enjoyable practice
session. :wink: Sounds like a good excuse to me! Good luck and have

Judy in Kansas where I’m hunting morels for supper. Judy M.
Willingham, R.S. Extension Associate 221 Call Hall Kansas State
Univerisity Manhattan KS 66506 (785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681

A beading tool, actually it is an assortment of tools with an
interchangable handle (like an engraver handle) The tools themselves
are a series of steel rods with a pionted end, the end also has a
concave on the end, like someone has drilled a small ball out of the
end. You choose a concave similar to the bead you raised and twist
and rotate the concave over it, being careful not to touch the stone.
This will give you a nice even look to your beads, push down any burrs
and polish the beads as well.

At the risk of exposing my ignorance even more, I’ll ask one more
question. What is a milgrain tool and how is it used? It appears from
the ilustration that it gives a textured line on the metal?. Is it
rolled along the metal, stamped? They come in sizes from 1 to 15, what
do these sizes correspond to?

Milgraining tools are like tiny pizza cutters, a round rolling blade
on a handle, but instead of having a sharp cutting edge, they have a
row of tiny concaves again. To use it properly you need a ridge, like
a raised bezel edge, or a thin strip of metel between two saw cuts.
The tool is rolled along the edge and pushes the edge into even beads,
very nice finishing look, doesnt tripoli well. #1 is tiny, 15 is huge,
I use my 12 a lot. good luck! karen in canada

Hello Daniel, Although a beading tool is a tapered steel shaft, at
the end there is a small rounded indentation; such as might been made
by a tiny ball bur. I do, in fact, make mine this way. When you raise
beads of metal to hold stones in position in pave`work, a beading tool
is used to give a final shape and position to these beads. A milgrain
tool is a tiny wheel at the end of a metal shaft. This wheel has a row
of small dents in it. If you roll this wheel along a knife edge. it
will leave a row of small bed shapes. The number stamped on it refers
to the number of beads per centimeter the wheel
will make. Have fun . Tom Arnold

Hi Daniel in the UK,

Beading tools can be bought from any jewellery tools supplier. If you
ask for a “set of beaders” you should get a self-contained plastic
holder with a handle and a range of beading tools to fit into the

The beading tools are hardened steel rod about two and a quarter
inches long and 2.26mm in diameter (about the thickness of a medium
nail). The working end is tapered with a tiny polished concave
indentation at the end. This rounds over the setting grain or burr
which is raised when you are setting your pave (grave above the “e”)

The condition and polish of the concavity at the tip of the beader is
maintained by tapping the beader onto a “fion” (or “fyon”) - a handy
little accessory which consists of a range of very hard tungsten steel
polished rounded points which match the concavities of the beaders.

Any book on setting should spell this out. Sylvia Wicks’ “Jewellery
Making” explains the process on page 93. Gerald Wykoff’s “Master
Stonesetting. Vol. 2” Chapter 6, Bead Setting, (pp.137 - 161) is
excellent, although I don’t know any professional setter who follows
his recommendation of the vertical-edged seating burr. As a diamond
setter of some experience, I prefer to use the hart-style burr or the
bull stick for seating-in the stones. This is a small quibble - if it
works, it’s OK!

I’m sure other Orchidists will have more helpful hints to add. Kind
regards, Rex from Oz

  In forming the little metal curls, think of making a ball of ice
cream with a scoop. You dig the scoop into the ice cream and bring
it forward to form the ball, 

G’day. Yes, all fine and dandy and easily visualised. BUT! It
isn’t those little balls which form the important part of the setting.
No? No it isn’t. When a graver is pushed into the metal toward the
setting hole, it does indeed form an ‘ice cream scoop curl’. At the
same time the metal in front of the graver is stressed so that just
a fraction before the setting hole is reached a tiny lump is formed
which protrudes past the circumference of the hole, and it is this
which forms the restraining part of the ‘star’ or ‘bead’ setting.

You see, if the setting hole is made correctly, the stone seats with
the girdle a little below the surface of the metal, with a conical
portion for the pavilion to safely sit upon. Which is what setting
burrs are for. (Why the burr has a conical and then a parallel
portion) You will also see that the little protuberance beyond the
circumference of the seating, made by the graver, will hold the stone
far more safely than that little weak curl of metal which is
subsequently shaped into a ball with the beading tool(s). That is
done solely for decorative purposes.

It is difficult to make one’s own setting burrs; they are not very
expensive and every jewellery tool provider can supply them at very
reasonable cost. (even I can afford some) But it is easy to make a
beading tool. Simply take a piece of what we call silver steel, or
what you call drill steel rod (carbon steel) and using a dental ball
shaped burr - or at a pinch even a small twist drill - or both - to
make a hemispherical hollow in the end of the rod. Grind the rod to a
taper, harden and temper it properly, and voila!! a beading tool. Use
it to shape and burnish that ‘ice cream curl’ to a nice ball.
Details of hardening and tempering appear in the Orchid archives. Or
if you really don’t want the hunt, email me. Happy pave or star or
bead setting and cheers, –

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

Beading tools are also nice to round the head of an exposed
rivet-will round nicely and burnish at at the same time. I put mine
in the drill press-easier to be accurate, to have it descend onto the
rivet, and avoid touching/nicking the background.

Daniel, in Walsh’s catalogue ( H.S.Walsh & Sons, 243 Beckenham Road,
Beckenham, Kent, BR3 4TS Tel. 0181 778 7061 ) beading tools are
called grain tools. Hope this helps you find them…Ruta Brown