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Beading How-To's


by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Crimp tubes are amazing little titans of the jewelry-making world. They are metal and mighty--holding stringing materials and beads together. They are THE finding to keep your stringing projects intact; they are the "glue" that keeps a design together (without the need for glue); they can even be counted on to add flash to a design. And crimps have come a long way from the days of the little round piece of metal you "crush flat" to secure inflexible beading wire (not to mention the advancement of beading wire--but that is another story for another day).

Crimp tubes, or crimp beads as they are often called, are sections of tubing (typically seamless) that are intended to be used when finishing beading wire, like Accu-Flex® professional-quality beading wire. The end of the beading wire is passed through a crimp; through a loop on your clasp, or other finding like a soldered jumpring; passed back through the crimp and then drawn taut. Crimping pliers are then used to crimp the bead to secure it. These pliers are expressly designed for use with crimp beads, utilizing a 2-step process for creating a very secure finish to your design. The crimp is compressed in the rear section of crimping pliers which forms the crimp into a crescent moon shape as well as compresses the crimp over and between the wires captured inside; then in the second step the crimp is rounded with the front notch of the pliers to round the crescent-shaped tube into a "bead."

2x2mm cut tube with 1.3mm inside diameter

2x2mm cut tube with heavy wall, 1mm inside diameter
Crimp tubes are measured length by outside diameter (OD), i.e. 3x2mm means 3mm long by 2mm around. You will also see the inside diameter (ID) measurement noted which indicates the inside space of the crimp and how much room there is for your stringing material. In most cases, a larger ID indicates a larger opening, where the smaller the opening indicates a thicker crimp wall and a stronger crimp hold, i.e. 2x2mm sterling silver crimp with a 1mm ID has a thicker wall than a 2x2mm crimp with a 1.3mm ID. You want your crimp to succeed so choose the right size but also the thickest metal possible.

Generally speaking, a 1mm OD crimp tube of any length is great for use with finer strands of beading wire (.007 to .014), 2mm OD crimps are ideal for .019 and the 3mm OD crimps for the heavier .024 beading wire. This general rule is based on passing the beading wire through the crimp bead two times.

Wire:
.014" Accu-Flex beading wire
x (2) passes through a crimp
.028" needed inside diameter

This scenario allows enough room for the crimp to compress over and between the wires captured inside and hold them in place, rather than filling the crimp to a point where one length of wire can slip against the other and subsequently out of the crimp.

Design tips:

Enlargement shows gathered wires secured by crimps covered with crimp covers.
There are designs where multiple strands of beading wire are gathered and secured in one crimp. To accomplish this, it is recommended to choose the crimp tube that best accommodates the diameter of the beading wire multiplied by the amount of strands in your design.


Enlargement shows crimps on single strand.
There are designs which call for using the crimp on a single strand of beading wire. For these instances, select a crimp with a smaller OD and smaller ID so it won’t slip and move around. The crimps in this design were compressed using chain-nose pliers and are intended to be flat rather than rounded. This technique secures the beads on the wire, highlights the crimp and takes advantage of the flash.


Enlargement shows crimp covers.
For those designs where you want to disguise crimped crimp beads, choose crimp covers in the metal and size that suits your design - 3mm crimp covers work well at covering most 1x1mm-2x3mm crimps. However, if your design has 4mm metal beads in it then you may prefer to use 4mm crimp covers.

Another use for the almighty crimp tube (thicker wall)--is as a tube rivet. For instructions on how to use crimp tubes in this way, click here.


Another professional finishing option is to string your beading wire through an Accu-Guard™ Wire Protector as it passes over your finding. The Accu-Guard protects the wire from abrading as well as blends the crimp seamlessly with the clasp or other findings in your design.

Additional Resources:
 
 


Inside opening = inside diameter (ID)

1-inch = 25.4mm

1mm = .0394 inches

Crimp Tubes/Crimp Beads
Size
Material
Inside Diameter
1x1mm
Sterling Silver
1.5x1mm
Sterling Silver
2x1mm
Gold-Filled
Sterling Silver
2x1.5mm
Gold-Filled
Sterling Silver
Black-Plated
2.5x1.5mm
Gold-Filled
Silver-Plated
2x2mm
Gold-Filled
Copper
Sterling Silver
2.5x2mm
Gold-Filled
Silver-plated
Black-plated
3x1.5mm
Sterling Silver
3x2mm
Gold-Plated
Silver-Plated
Gold-Filled
Sterling Silver
3x3mm
Copper
Sterling Silver
4x2.5mm
Sterling Silver
Brass
Copper-Plated
4x3mm
Sterling Silver
4x4mm
Sterling Silver
5x2.75mm
Sterling Silver
5x3mm
Sterling Silver
5.5x2.5mm
Brass
Copper-Plated
5.5x3mm
Sterling Silver
6x2mm
Sterling Silver
6x3mm
Copper
Sterling Silver
6x4mm
Sterling Silver
6x3.5mm
Brass
12.5x2mm
Sterling Silver

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "Crimp Tubes," featured in an email exclusive. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"This was a great chart!! I don't know how many times I have messed up my design by using the wrong crimp tube.

Thanks!!"
- Lorna

"Excellent. I want to print it out and preserve the information.

Thank you."
- Renah

"Hi,

This was a very informative read, please carry on giving us this type of info.

Many thanks,"
- Heather...UK

"The "crimp" article was very helpful! Thank you!"
- Anonymous

"I love this lesson as well as any others that you have offered. Great job.

I would like to know how to consistently crimp the beads on the second (or Last) end of your project. When I am doing the first end I can keep the two strands of the beading wire separated, crimp and then move on to the other end. It is at this point that I haven't yet figured out how to assure that I do get a good crimp to separate these two wires. Any ideas? Thank you,"
- Sherry

"Excellent information, I'm always in need of tips and ideas for my beading... Thanks
- Carol

This was a good beginner tutorial. I have read reviews from beaders that base metal crimps do not work as well as sterling silver or gold filled crimp tubes. I've read that the base metal crimps break easily and do not create a secure finish. I would love a little discussion on the topic of which metals to use to most securely crimp a piece. Is this one area where scrimping on cheaper materials is a mistake?"
- Jane

"Great info. Thanks. Wonderful pictures.

I learned stuff I didn't know..."
- Bobbie

"No question, just some feedback: Thank you! I have a Fire Mountain crimping tool, but never knew how to use it correctly."

- Bjo

"Did I like it? I loved it! So clear and informative.

From now on crimping should never go wrong again."
- Lia

"This is just what I have been looking for. I needed info. on crimping ends for necklaces, but what for silk cords? How thick do I need the crimps to be? Thank you"
- Patricia


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Products sold by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® are intended for experienced jewelry-makers and designer-artists;
children 14 years of age or younger should use these products with adult direction.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Inc. - One Fire Mountain Way, Grants Pass, OR USA 97526-2373
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