Selecting the Right Bead Reamer: An Essential Beading Tool for Jewelry Designers

Selecting the Right Bead Reamer: An Essential Beading Tool for Jewelry Designers
by Anne Marie Hunter, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

It's been said that a good bead reamer can be your best friend.

A bead reamer is a pointed, round needle file that is used to either smooth the edges of the drill-hole in a bead, or to enlarge or straighten the hole itself. A reamer allows you to use beads that might not seem usable because the stringing hole is too small, doesn't line up properly, or has burrs or sharp edges, Additionally, it's important to smooth the rough edges on a bead's stringing hole as they can wear or abrade the wire or cord of your design. Finally, a bead reamer helps the designer achieve smooth centers and larger bead holes without damaging the beads.

Bead reamers have distinctive qualities and selecting the correct tool for a particular material is important. Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ® offers an excellent selection of bead reamers and learning more about choosing the correct reamer can contribute to design success for jewelry and bead artists:

  • Extra-Fine Pearl Reamer
    According to Esther, jewelry making expert, ''Pearls are softer and the fluted, double helix pattern of this extra fine pearl reamer allows you to increase or smooth the pearl's drill-hole size.'' This reamer is ideal for freshwater pearls because they can be fragile. It is most effective when using an easy twisting motion. Made of a stainless steel alloy and designed with a special S-shaped cross section, this reamer is resistant to breakage.
  • Item Number 1539TL Bead Reamer

  • Diamond Dust-Coated Bead Reamer Set
    ''The reamers in this four-piece set function more as files,'' notes Esther. ''They work really well for gemstone beads to increase the drill-hole size or remove unwanted burrs from the hole. These reamers remove a small amount of material at a time from harder gemstone surfaces, to reduce the risk of damage. They're a good choice for opening the end of a bead that has an incomplete or half-finished hole.'' Encrusted with industrial-grade diamond dust and available in several shapes and widths, these steel tools work well for stones that have very small drill-holes or unwanted burrs.
  • Item Number 3232TL Bead Reamer

    4-piece set includes: 1.8mm yellow, 3.0mm red, 4.8mm green and 5.0mm blue

  • Diamond-Coated Wire Bead Reamer
    This reamer will evenly increase drill-hole size to desired size, starting from 1mm. Because of the diamond coating, this reamer is ideal for harder gemstones or beads. It can be used on most stones, glass and ceramic. Reamer size is 1mm wide.
  • Item Number 3234TL Bead Reamer

  • Interchangeable 4-Piece Bead Reamer Set
    Terrific reamers for gemstones, the diamond-coated tips in this set enlarge and straighten drill holes and smooth any surfaces or rough edges around the holes. These reamers are also excellent for polymer clay and wood beads, as often wood beads have loose fibers or splinters in the hole that will snag stringing materials, such as satin cord, when in use.
  • Item Number 3263TL Bead Reamer

    4-piece interchangeable set includes: one long round (80mm long, 3.2mm wide at top of file), one flat (5.7 wide X 1.4mm thick at the top. Tapers down to 0.5mm at end), one short round (2mm thick at top of file) and one arrow (5.8mm thick).

  • Diamond-Coated Bead Reamer
    This diamond-coated steel bead reamer is essential for many of the most common reaming needs, use it to both increase the diameter or straighten holes. Keep it at your fingertips for use with acrylic beads, art clay or bisque beads. 1.8mm wide.

Item Number 1590TL Bead Reamer

How to Use a Bead Reamer

For beads 8mm or smaller, plastic-tipped tweezers will hold the beads in place when working with a reamer. In addition, it's recommended to ream your beads and stones while they're wet or in a bowl of water. Water acts as a lubricant to protect beads from chipping or cracking from the friction heat produced by using these tools. Water not only sustains the component from damage, it reduces wear and tear on the reamer itself. For your safety, always wear eye protection when using pearl or bead reamers.

Item Number 3747TL Bead Reamer

Finally, Esther offers excellent advice for effectively using a reamer. ''Use the smallest tip to start with because the tips are specifically meant to take a little at a time. Don't force the reamer to do the work, but let the tool do the work for you, so the beads aren't damaged.'' You can also use a jeweler's saw as a bead reamer as demonstrated in this short video: ''Using a Jewelers Saw as a Pearl/Bead Reamer''.

Which Reamer to Use Based on Material
  Pearl Reamer

Item Number H20-1539TL

Bead Reamer

Item Number H20-3232TL

Diamond Wire Bead Reamer

Item Number H20-3234TL

Aluminum Bead Reamer

Item Number H20-3263TL

Bead Reamer

Item Number H20-1590TL

Acrylic Beads

Acrylic beads

X X X X Yes
Bisque Ceramic Beads

Bisque ceramic beads

Yes X Yes X Yes
Glazed Ceramic Beads

Glazed ceramic beads

X X Yes X X
Gemstone Beads

Gemstone beads

X Yes Yes Yes X
Glass Beads

Glass beads

X X Yes X X
Metal Clay

Metal clay

X X X X Yes


Yes X X X X
Polymer Clay Beads

Polymer clay beads

X X X Yes X
Wood Beads

Wood beads

X X X Yes X

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