What should I be stringing on

hi there,

i am having a few stringing issues.

  1. i string a variety of beads. metal and otherwise on Beadalon 19
    strand nylon coated stainless steel wire. i finish the ends with
    tigertail, then i use 2 crimp beads, one right after the closing
    loop, then i string another bead, then put on another crimp bead for
    safety. i keep getting necklaces back for repair, as the steel wire
    keeps breaking. i am thinking this is because the steel wire is work
    hardening from simple wear.

i used to string in silk, then on this other nylon stuff that came
in different colors, now on this beadalon stuff. i am not happy with
any of this.

WHAT should i be using to string on?

  1. what is the REAL and proper way to finish the end sof a simple
    necklace? i think that crimp beads are tacky and unprofessional. but
    even though i have wracked my brain trying to figure out the proper
    way to do things, i just can’t figure it out. any help?

i just want to stop getting work back for repairs, and i also want to
make sure i am doing the best job i can do. i am almost at the point
where i am going to stop stringing, period, if i can’t do any better
than i am now.

thanks so much in advance,
joanna gollberg

1 Like

Joanna, I’m not sure how you are ending the necklace (do you add a
loop or clasp or anything?) and what you are stringing, where the
breakage is occuring (at crimp bead or along string of beads), but
here is my take:

Reasons for breakage could be:

Beads too heavy, rough edges Crimping crimp bead too hard and cutting

Suggested tips:

With larger-holed beads or beads with rough edges, string some size
15 seed beads (the smallest possible) if they fit thorough your
desired beads - in other words, cover the Beadalon with seed beads
and string your beads over that.

If the necklaces are breaking at the crimp bead, you are crimping
the bead too tight. If you are not looping the wire back through the
bead and hooking a clasp onto the end, that is what you need to do;
loop back through the bead and into a few beads at the end of the

If you are crimping too tight and you can use a larger wire (49
strand, etc.), that may solve the issue.

If you have any other problems, feel free to contact me and I’ll be
happy to help. I’ve had good success with the methods I use.

Good luck.

Hi Joanna,

I use #19 all the time. If you’re getting a lot of necklaces back,
then it’s one of a couple of things.

  1. Weight of what you’re stringing is too heavy for #19 (switch to
    next step stronger).

  2. You’re over-mashing your crimp beads and cutting the plastic
    coating. This leaves a rough edge and will cause the wire to break &
    fail. Make sure you’re using a 2X2 sterling silver crimp tube and a
    micro pair of pliers. Mash hard once to get your double tube, then
    gently mash in the round part one more time. DO NOT try to make them
    round again… this is where you get the most metal failure. Just
    crimp them tight.

  3. The line keeps slipping out of the tube… crimp tubes are too
    big. Double your strands if possible.

Some people have had good luck with tornado crimp tubes. They are
more expensive, but seem to do better. Your crimp, bead, crimp method
is the best way to finish. You might want to add one more smooth bead
on the end before you have a stone – this helps protect from contact
breakage from a rough burr from drilling right up against a crimp.

Hope this helps some,
Tracy’s Treasures

Hello Joanna,

A little more would help in diagnosis. You don’t mention
where the breaks occur on the pieces that come back for repair. Is
the break usually in the same place or does it vary so much that
there is no consistency. Is there a type of bead that might be
damaging the beadalon?

If the break is at the crimp bead, you may be crimping it so hard
that you damage and weaken the cable. There is also an appropriate
crimping tool and technique to be used, which has been covered on
Orchid in the past.

Personally, I avoid crimping and use silk or softflex cable so that
I can knot the ends and then cover the extra cable with a couple
beads and use adhesive (watch crystal cement) to secure those tails
inside the beads. It takes a little practice to adjust the cord or
cable and place the final knot. Silk is always my first choice, but I
recognize that ceramic, metal, and some glass beads will cut the
fiber… then the cable is necessary.

Like I said, give us some more details,
Judy in Kansas

Hi Joanna,

My first opinion is that the wire you are using is too small. The 19
strand is intended primarily for very small, lightweight beads like
pearls, small stones or glass and seed beads. You don’t say exactly
what kind or size of beads you are using but I suspect that they are
too large or too heavy for the thin 19 strands. You should consider
moving up to the 49 strand.

It is also possible that beads made of stone, glass or metal can
have sharp edges at the hole, especially if they have chipped in the
drilling process, that can eventually cut through the wire enough to
cause it to break. After you have laid out your design, you should
inspect your beads before stringing them. If you find any chips or
sharp edges, either trade the bead out for one that is smooth or put
a diamond bead reamer through the hole to smooth it out first.

My personal opinion is that I don’t like Beadalon wire. I much
prefer Soft Flex. Yes, it costs more but I have never had a strand
kink or break on me. If my first two ideas don’t work, I’d say try a
change of brands.

Finally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with crimping. I do
it myself. Just make sure that you are doing it correctly and, if
you think it’s needed, put a tiny drop of superglue at the ends of
the crimp. My favorite new product out there is a crimp cover. It’s
a round, hollow bead cut in half that fits over the crimp, making it
look like a regular silver bead. Shop around for the best price on
sterling covers. They are worth the added expense. Crimp covers
create a much more finished and “professional” look.

Best of Luck,
Geosoul Arts


What do you mean “finish the ends with tigertail”? Why not continue
with Beadalon?

I’m wondering how to transition From chain to beading without
incorporating the dreaded bead stringing material (ie Beadalon etc.).
Though it’s more flexible and looks better than some stinging

Thoughts, advice on this?


Hi Joanna:

This issue came up for me a while ago and so, I am forwarding the
reply I got from Beadalon. I don’t string on 19 strand Beadalon as I
find the drape and wear of 49 strand to be better. According to
Beadalon, many people (me included) squeeze the crimper too
hard…this breaks the Beadalon, but you only usually find out after
the customer has purchased the piece and it has broken while they’re
wearing it. Quite a few people wrote tom me and told of how they
never had any problems anymore with crimping, hopefully, you will
have a similar experience.

Good Luck


This would be my recommendation. I think the crimp beads lower the
quality look of a piece. I use 19 Beadalon (.012") and 49 (.013") for
heavier beads. I wrap the end with the smallest circumference of
french wire, sting through the first bead, tie a knot (yes, a knot!),
string through the next bead hiding the knot in the bead hole. This
is really only possible if the bead holes are larger than standard.
More suppliers are providing this, so it is possible. I then clip the
wire and use GS-hypo cement (available through Rio) to secure the
wire in bead and knot. I also recommend leaving about a bead to two
beads worth of slack in the strand, so the beads can flow on the
cable and drape better. This also helps prevent breakage because the
tighter the beads are on the cable, the more pressure is on the cable
to break. I have been using this method for seven years now and I
rarely get a piece back. Hope this method helps you.


I think the crimp beads lower the quality look of a piece. I use 19
Beadalon (.012") and 49 (.013") for heavier beads. 

It also works for “slack” and flow of beads to place a seed bead or
something of similar size in between large beads so they don’t rub
on each other; works very well with pearls and gives a similar look
as knotted pearls if you use a similar color as the pearl. Just a
thought. V.

thanks, all for the advice.

i meant to say “french wire” instead of “tigertail”, just to

rebecca, i really like your idea of tying knots and hiding them
inside the beads. i mostly string pearls, now am starting to use
some coral, also, so those are easy to drill out. i also like that
watch face glue from rio, it dries flexible instead of hard like
super glue. i learned that lesson early on while stringing on silk,
also the hard way, by getting necklaces back!

i will try the Accu-flex with the knot finishing method. phew! i
feel better about this now, thank you all so very much.


I don't string on 19 strand Beadalon as I find the drape and wear
of 49 strand to be better. According to Beadalon, many people (me
included) squeeze the crimper too hard...this breaks the Beadalon 

That’s a good point. I just realized, 19 strand has fewer strands to
break than 49 strand. Duh! And 49 strand is very pliable and the
diameter is small enough with more strength than 19 strand.



I prefer to use Flex Wire rather than Beadalon - You are not the
first person to complain that Beadalon breaks at the crimp so I
suspect you are possibly crimping too hard or using inferior wire.

I also don’t like the crimps to show so I finish my ends by running
the wire through the crimp and then through a closed eyepin, then
back through the crimp. At that point I can cover both the crimp and
eyepin with a bead that I fashion to fit over it and then attach the
clasp or finding from the eyepin wire. It gives it a nice, clean
professional look.



Several solutions - both wire and for crimps - please, read the
whole message!

  1. WIRE: As others have said, go to 49 strand in Beadalon or
    SoftFlex. Also, the diameter of the wire makes a difference -
    generally, the heavier the wire, the stronger (6 lb test vs 18 lb
    test, etc.). The more strands, the more flexibility and the better a
    piece hangs. I’ve heard of people who string and knot PEARLS with 49
    strand SoftFlex!

I visited your website and I don’t understand why you’re finishing a
piece with tigertail - tigertail is not strong, tends to kink if you
even look at it the wrong way and it is very cheap looking! If the
tigertail is what’s breaking - quit using tigertail!

If the wire is breaking where it goes through the clasp, there is a
“french wire” which is essentially a tube that the stringing wire
goes through to protect and reinforce it and keep it from breaking at
the clasp.

  1. CRIMPS - I have had a love/hate relationship with crimps and
    crimping pliers for years. Most of the time, I wind up with an “okay”
    crimp on one end and the other winds up looking like mangled metal -
    or breaks and I have to start over. Some of it is from the pressure
    used in squeezing the crimp, some of it is from the quality of the
    crimp bead itself, some of it is just dang bad luck! Until now, the
    best you could do is use a crimp cover or clamshell to hide the crimp
    and give a more professional look - but I don’t care for that very
    much, either. Depending on what I’m creating, crimp covers or
    clamshells can look almost as bad as a messed up crimp.

BUT - there is a tool from Beadsmith that will be on the market in a
few weeks. My husband Mike and I discovered it in Tucson at the To
Bead True Blue show. We have several dozen of these on order for our
shop - no retailer will have them until early June.I had to whine and
beg and plead to get a pair for doing demonstrations in our shop.

The tool is called the Magical Crimping Forming tool. We met the
inventor of the tool in Tucson and according to her, you must
use.018" or.019" diameter wire (any number of strands - SoftFlex or
Beadalon) and 2 mm crimping TUBES of sterling, or gold filled. (I’m
thinking copper crimps - if not plated - would work, also.) It must
not be plated - the plating process changes the temper of the metal,
making the finished crimp at best, look only slightly better than
“traditional” crimped tubes. I know from experimenting.

Okay - so what does this Magical tool do? It turns a 2mm tube crimp
into a PERFECTLY round bead! It takes a couple of seconds longer than
doing a traditional mashed crimp, but the result is so professional
looking! And the crimp is STRONG, too!

The Magical is made like a good jeweler’s tool, with a nice box
hinge, good springs and a nice grip. It feels good in your hand! I
have been trying to get traditional crimping tools made like this
instead of the piece-of-junk, stamped-from-metal ones we’ve had for
years. We have a waiting list of at least a dozen customers who want

I do several demonstrations a day with the Magical pliers and in
that time, I think I’ve probably only messed up 1 or 2 crimps at the
very beginning when I was still learning how to use the tool. The
tool will retail for $20, but it’s well made and worth the price. My
stepfather and my husband Mike both say, “Get the best tool you can
afford and use the right tool for the job, so you can do the best job
you can.” IMHO, the best tool for strong and professional looking
crimps is the Magical Crimp Forming Tool.

You can see a video demonstration of the tool on our website at

Sorry for the long URL and I apologize for the “commercial”, but
these Magicals are a tool I definitely believe in!

::DISCLAIMER: I do not receive any compensation from BeadSmith in
making this recommendation - I am merely a satisfied customer who is
very happy to have found a tool that works!::

Deb Weller
Weller’s Jewelry LLC
AZ Bead Depot
Apache Junction, AZ

Hi Joanna-

First, let me recommend a book called “The Best Little Bead Book”. It
has alot of good info on what to string with, size of thread, etc.

The size and style of your work will determine what and how you
string. I use tiger tail or the plastic coated steel wires ONLY for
necklaces/bracelets that are very heavy. Otherwise, I use thread. I
don’t use silk anymore either (even for pearls). It stretches too much
as does cotton. Rio has a pretty good product called “Strength” that
I use as a silk substitute. If your beads are small I would go with
nylon that comes in many sizes (and colors). You should be able to
double the thread and still go through the hole of your bead. I
ALWAYS end with French wire or bullion. It is old-fashioned but the
look is clean and elegant. That’s really all I do now as I don’t do
chunky jewelry anymore. French wire comes in silver and gold color
and usually three sizes.

Also, I always use double thread. It’s extra insurance in case the
thread ever breaks. I also knot every so often for the same reason.
General rule-of-thumb is if your beads/pearls are 5mm or larger you
knot in between the bead/pearl. I also use a permanent pen on white
thread to match color if necessary.

The knots at the ends with French wire are not at the clasp but at
the last bead before the clasp. The sequence to string is in
alphabetical order: Bead, Bullion, Clasp. You then double back
through the bead again and knot. I glue with clear nail polish or
super glue, let dry and snip. (Personally,I like to tuck the tail end
of the thread [after the knot] thru several beads and then snip, thus
hiding the tail end). But many snip at the actual knot.

I hope that this helps. I don’t claim to be an expert. I have only
had 2 repairs come in and one was tiger tail which had slipped thru
the crimp bead on a very heavy necklace and the other was thread that
a cheap stone bead had cut through.

I have no affiliation with the publishers of Best Little Bead Book or
with Rio/Bell Group.

Patricia Tschetter
Tschetter Studios, Inc.

Hello Cyndy,

I'm wondering how to transition From chain to beading without
incorporating the dreaded bead stringing material (ie Beadalon

I’ve been asked to repair so many cable-strung bracelets, that I
rarely use it. Instead I prefer to “string” metal beads and heavy
stone or ceramic beads on sterling chain. It is limited to stones
with a larger hole, in that the smallest good quality round chain
I’ve found, is 1mm diameter. Rio & IJS stock it. I like a strong
rounded box chain or wheat chain. I solder a loop on one end for the
clasp to engage, and solder about 35mm of 20 gauge sterling wire on
the other end for a needle. After the beads are strung, the wire is
looped through the clasp and wrapped “hangman noose” style.

This is a very sturdy method and works very well for bracelets, as
they can get jerked easily. It IS more costly though and requires
soldering skills. If you want more info or some tips for soldering
and finishing, email me off Orchid.

Judy in Kansas, who will be up at 0’dark thirty tomorrow, heading to
a show in Hutch. Yawn.

I'm wondering how to transition From chain to beading without
incorporating the dreaded bead stringing material (ie Beadalon
etc.). Though it's more flexible and looks better than some
stinging materials. 

Cyndy, the only way I can think of transitioning from chain to
beading is to put a very small jump ring at the end of the beading
with a crimp next to it and possibly a larger bead to either cover
the crimp or a crimp cover as mentioned in a previous entry in this
thread or also a larger bead to distract from the crimp. But other
than that, I have been so far baffled as to what to do with this
situation also. I hope someone has some ideas.


If you don’t like the look of the crimp beads, use crimp bead
covers. Halstead Bead has them.


Hi Folks…

I sell industrial wire rope sometimes…

The stuff that people use for industrial slings, elevators, and that
kind of thing…

The basics are, the more strands there are…the more flexible it
will be for the given size…and the strength of the wire is at
least as great as the lesser strand composition…

Tigertail runs about 3-7 strands…at least that’s what I see in the
catalogs…and kinks…(at least for me)… Maybe they have
more strands available… I dunno…

The better beading wires, say 21 -49 strands…give you the
strength of T-tail, plus better drapability…(sp…?)…i.e. more

But of course they cost a whole lot more…

Back when I got into tools and materials…the rule of order was
that one always should procure the very best they could
afford…and to go on from there…

It always pays back…

I have nothing against Tiger Tail…and I’m not that much of a

Ending gets a crimp and a bead…sometimes two beads…SS
usually…wire strung back through…

Seems to work…

Also… If you’re beading…you really ought to have one of those
nice beading crimping 2-stage pliers…Gives you an edge on doing
your crimps… Even for a klutz like me…

Rio, Tripps, Grobet, and probably everyone else sells them…

BTW…haven’t done the crimp covers yet…but sounds like a great

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)

Some tips for wire:

  1. Always use 49 beadalon - it’s stronger and more flexible

  2. use the largest diameter of wire that can be threaded through all
    the beads

  3. if small beads prevent using heavier wire, redrill or ream

  4. you only need one crimp - use a crimping pliers and make sure the
    tail goes through a couple of beads on the end. If the wire is cut
    too close to the crimp, it will break

  5. For very heavy beads, I double the wire and crimp on both ends of
    the last bead

  6. I don’t like french wire on beadalon because it gets destroyed
    quickly and there are silver and gold colored wire. I only use french
    wire on silk.

And after this whole explanation, I recommend you use silk - it’s
the only material that really gives fluidity to a piece. You may have
to quadruple your thread for larger pieces, but it is as strong as
wire, and more flexible.


I also don't like the crimps to show so I finish my ends by
running the wire through the crimp and then through a closed
eyepin, then back through the crimp. At that point I can cover both
the crimp and eyepin with a bead that I fashion to fit over it and
then attach the clasp or finding from the eyepin wire. It gives it
a nice, clean professional look. 

Do you have a picture illustrating this?