Beading wire

I’ve got an almost embarrassingly basic question to ask. I
wanted to find out if there were any good tricks for beading wire
(i.e., heating it to get a ball on the end).

I hold the wire vertically along a magnesium block and aim the
torch horizontally at the bottom of the wire. I find that I get
inconsistent results in terms of the smoothness of the finished
beads. Sometimes they are grainy, pitted. Sometimes they are
perfect. Is there a way to make them perfect more than 50% of
the time?

Thanks in advance.


I wanted to find out if there were any good tricks for beading wire
(i.e., heating it to get a ball on the end).

Hi rd,

What I do: drill a hole into a charcoal block (as those I get
now are as hard as rock) and, with a round burr, make a hollow
at the top of the hole. I insert the wire so a small length
protrudes from the charcoal; this I melt down and usually get
satisfying results. Hope this helps, Markus

PS: I just noticed that my mail program ignores the reset key at times, which is
quite annoying and btw has caused the misunderstanding about cyanides. Sorry

I usually hold the wire away from the block an inch or so and
attack it. After a short while you get to know where on the wire
you want the bead to stop. Don’t forget the anti-oxidant.

Stella Samson


I just figured this out last week when I was making several
pairs of earrings at one time. (I’m pretty new at this, and no
expert but, here goes…) I hold the wire using locking tweezers
with the wire hanging vertically at about eye level. Instead of
AIMING the torch flame at the bottom of the wire (which gave me
very inconsistent beads), hold the torch flame horizontally and
DIP the end of the wire into the flame, near the tip of the blue
part of the flame. You have to pay close attention, because when
it starts to ball up it happens quickly. By continuing to feed
more of the wire into the flame, you can get larger spheres. I’m
not sure if this will help with your pitting problem, but it does
give you a nice spherical bead.

I should probably add that I was using fine silver, and the
beads were nice and shiny. Good luck, and I hope this helps.


P.S. I also like Markus’ idea of drilling sort of "bead molds"
in charcoal. I may try that next time.

r beading wire (i.e., heating it to get a ball on the end

Are you coating with boric acid and alcohol?

Mark P.

Is there a way to make them perfect more than 50% of
the time?

hi rd, pitted and rough would indicate either too much oxygen in
your flame, heating the gold too long allowing it oxidize or
just over heating. your positioning sounds perfect. you want a
sharp flame but not too oxidizing. there is a distance from the
end of the bright cone to the end of the flame.(there is a name
for all parts of the flame but i don’t recall and I’m too lazy
to look it up)work with the middle third of that part , moving
it back and forth within that third to find out what works best
for you. you don’t wnat to too close to that bright blue inner
cone.i know your using a boric acid solution to prevent
oxidation. propane is cleaner than acetylene. don’t pretend it’s
not fun melting things on purpose. good luck.

geo fox

I use fine silver wire for melting a bead at the tip. It comes
out smooth and shiny, and doesn’t need to be polished before
string beads on it! It also never tarnishes, and the cost
difference is minimal. Of course, the wire is softer, but that
can be handled. It’s also great for making granules. Ruth

You did not say what type of metal you were using. I find that
when balling the ends of fine silver, and fine or high karat
gold, the balls are shiney and round, however, if I am using
sterling or lower karat golds, I am careful to hold the wire so
that gravity will pull the ball in the direction I want(not
always directly away from the end in all cases - depends on my
design)and I use a cooler flame, or cooler part of the flame. It
seems that the hotter it is, the more it shrinks and wrinkles
upon cooling. An interesting effect is to ball several wires
together - several separate lines running together into a drop
shape. In sterling or 18K, I bind them together without flux and
ball. Fluxing causes the wires to fuse for a ways before the
actual melted ball whereas without it, the wires stay separate.
Have fun. Mary

Mary Hu wrote:

An interesting effect is to ball several wires together - several
separate lines running together into a drop shape. "

What a neat idea! I’ve never thought of that, and I’ve been
working with some designs where that might just come in handy!
Thanks, Mary!

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC

Hi everyone, I am new to making jewelry and originally started
creating necklaces with wire work links. I quickly realized that was
too time consuming and wanted to get into stringing my beads. I
looked at all the available options for stringing and tried Fireline.
Silly me didn’t know any better and tried to use crimp tubes or crimp
beads and found out that my necklaces would pull apart. I then tried
Nymo thread and tried to crimp and my piece would break and beads
would fly everywhere. I am now finding out that I need to use beading
wire and crimp tubes or crimp beads (which I thought was going to be
stiff so avoided it in the beginning). My problem is that I don’t
understand what type of beading wire to get and what size tubes or
beads. I don’t want to go buy something, only to find out that what I
bought does not work together and I still can not complete a project
because I need something different. Can anyone help me with what to
get? What types and sizes do you use?

Thank you


I would recommend Beadalon in sizes 19 (.012") and 49 (.013"). Start
stringing the beads on with a piece of folded tape over the end (I
allow for 4" on each end for tying off the pieces, use French wire
on the cable ends where you attach to your clasp, loop back through
the first bead, tie a knot (yes, you can tie knots with both sizes)
and if the bead holes are large enough, push the cable back through
the second bead hole, then cut the cable with flush cutters. I use
G-S Hypo Cement to secure the knot.

If your bead holes are not big enough, you can tie off the knot
through a 2mm bead ball/quad bead etc. Choose your cable size based
on the weight of your beads. Leave a space of about one-two bead
widths for slack in the piece. This keeps your beads from buckling
and the drape is much nicer.

Also prevents breakage.

I’ve been using this product and stringing style for about 12 years
and have had very few problems. I think the crimp beads make
finished pieces look crafty and the crimp is usually what wears into
the cable to make it break.

Have fun and let me know if you have more questions.

Dear Mischelle:

I started out with the same problems. I have since found a wire I
like, Acculon. I chose this brand because the end does not fray, and
I do not have to keep clipping it.

It comes in numerous sizes. A.12 guage is for light beading,.15 for
heavier,.19 is what i choose, (heavy stones) and 21 or 24 for
heavier. I choose 7 strand. there is a 3 strand that is too light,
and the 48 strands are too soft, I choose 7 because it does not bend
and it holds up well because my beaded things get into bunches.

I buy mine from Shipwreck, and I only stock Acculon ror for resale
at my shop.

Best of luck, you will be okay, find what works for you.

The crimps are simple. 2mm and I buy the best quality for my
necklaces and bracelets. Then I have a B grade for my windchimes.
The important thing is to have a pair of plyers that are flat and do
not give a place to pull out. I am known for my two crimp flat. I
tried the hiding, the rolling, the yadayadayada.

Your whole operation is centered around the wire and crimps. If you
cut costs there, you have an inferior product. I buy from two places
only, Fire Mountain Gems and Shipwreck for the wire (But this year I
have four other ladies and we are going to approach Acculon about
wholesale. And I only buy my crimps from Shipwreck. I have a little
box with small and large crimps, and I work in 4 elements, gold,
silver, copper and gunmetal. But 90% of my use is the gold and
Sterling S. 2mm crimps, so I buy them by the thousand, and that is
all I sell in my shop. Best of luck, you will get dozens of
preferences, and in the end it is what you have found works best for

Stop by and see my new shop “AlaskaStixsnStones” it is
brand new, and yes, I am replacing my photos, just got a new camera.
Blessings pat

I’ve always used Beadalon. I think the smallest is .013, which I
would used for lighter necklaces (pearls) and move up to .018 for
heavier. They make even heavier, but it gets kind of stiff. I find
Beadalon to be more flexible than the other beading wires available.
I think the small crimp beads work with both of those sizes, but I
usually make sure I have two sizes of crimp beads. Then there are
little cover beads to cover the crimps that make a nicer look/feel.
Rio Grande has everything you need – wire, crimp beads/tubes,
crimping tool… – and people who can help answer questions. Pegi

My favorite product wire is Softflex and crimps. I design my bead
necklaces (mostly work in sterling wire work), in order that the end
crimp hides inside or next to a bead. Also, I begin with the clasp,
secure it, and then don’t worry about clamping or beads falling off.
This allows for a more accurate final measurement as well. Often
crimps are used throughout a heavy bead necklace to avoid excess
movement and make the beads safer, always hidden. No matter how
simple a necklace, French wire an essential.

Hi Mischelle,

I have found the best stringing product on the market is Softflex.
It is the only product of that type that I carry in my shop. I have
been using it for many many years. It also comes in different sizes
Fine is .014 21 strands, medium is .019 49 strands, and heavy is .024
49 strands. It even comes in very fine (can be used with really small
fresh water pearls or seed beads) It comes it quite a few colors
also. I use the Medium primarily, except if I am stringing fresh
water pearls, then I use the fine.

I find it to be the most flexible and doesn’t break or kink. I do a
lot of restringing/repair work and in my experience the broken
strands are usually strung with Beadalon. All of my customers that I
have converted over to Softflex are very pleased with it. If you just
touch the different products you can actually feel the difference. It
is a little more expensive, however, in my opinion I find it to be
the best.

Also, it is very important to use good crimp beads. I use sterling
silver (or gold filled) all of the time 2 x 2 crimp tubes.

Softflex can usually be purchased at your local bead store.

Park Avenue Beads

Soft Flex is the top brand of flexible beading wire on the market
today and I highly recommend it. It comes in a variety of
thicknesses, the most frequently used are fine (0.14) and medium
(0.19). For fine, use a 1.5mm crimp bead, for the medium, use a
2.0mm crimp bead. I’ve been selling the product and using the product
for more than 15 years, so feel free to email me directly if you have
additional questions.

Sandra Graves (Beadstorm)
Stormcloud Trading Co, St Paul, MN

Hi, Mischelle,

Check the Bead and Button and the Beading Daily forums for better
help on this. From what I have read, Ganoksin is populated with
(mainly) high end gold and silversmiths. For stringing and crimping,
you’ll get more help from others who use these techniques regularly.

Have fun,
Carol in Chicago

Spiderwire, two-ton epoxy, bead-tips for most beads, including
low-end semiprecious and manmade materials.

Silk for pearls, French wire, and bead-tips.

Wire (copper, bronze, sterling or fine silver, vermeil, or karat
gold) and wrapped loops for high-end gemstone beads. Don’t waste
time or money with gold or silver plate. It’s not going to last.
Even vermeil is dubious (plated, just precious metal).

Yeah, it cuts down on volume, but it puts ya through the roof on

Don’t waste time with crimp beads. The only thing they’re good for
is as anchors inside a bead-tip, epoxied in place. I do a lot of
repairs, and the biggest point of failure is those (bleeped) crimp
beads. I don’t care how careful anyone is about proper crimps,
they’re the weak point in any piece of jewelry. Besides, they look
cheap and slapdash.

Go the extra mile with your finishing work, even if your customers
don’t have the expertise to see and appreciate the fact that you did
so, and spend the time it takes to properly secure a strand of

Wow…I really have stronger opinions than I realized. Um. FWIW,
don’t be offended anybody, please.