How to Make a Wire Bead Chain!

Great Wire Jewelry Deserves Perfect Loops

Early efforts in wire work

I was doing some domestic spelunking and found a rosary I made before I knew much about wirework. It was a gift I'd made for my son when he was little. I'd invested in stone beads, made the cross in metal clay, and chained it all together with silver wire. My son loved it because it made him feel like a big boy to have such a special, non-plastic gift. I was very proud of it at the time. But now when I look at it, I’m more than a little embarrassed. The loops are all so uneven! 




I know our learning curves all start somewhere, but that “somewhere” usually has better results if it begins with instructions in a class, book, or magazine. For instance, I could have learned how to make consistent loops in a magazine like Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry. Beading Daily is a good place to learn, too, of course. Here’s how to avoid my beaded chain-making mistakes and learn the proper way to do it.    

Step 1 mark pliers' jaw

1. Use a permanent marker to draw a line on one of the jaws of your round-nose pliers. This will help you make all bends in the same spot, creating equally-wide loops.

Step 2 chain loop

2. If necessary, use nylon-jaw pliers to straighten the last few inches of wire on the spool or roll. Don’t trim any wire off the spool yet. Flush cut the end of the wire, then slide on a bead. Grasp the wire end with the round-nose pliers at the spot you previously marked on the jaw.

step 3 wire loop

3. Roll the pliers until the wire touches itself, forming a loop. The wire will be shaped like the letter P.

step 4 wire loop

4. If your wire is 20-gauge or thinner, you can just press your thumbnail firmly into the base of the loop and pull the pliers back against your nail, so the wire looks like a balloon on a string. If your wire is thicker, you’ll probably want to grasp the wire at the loop base with chain-nose pliers instead.

step 5 wire loop

5. Snug the bead against the loop and flush cut the wire 3/8" from the

top of the bead.

Step 6 wire loop

6. Grasp the wire end with round-nose pliers at the marked spot. Pull the wire against the top of the bead at a 45° angle. 

step 7 one link complete

7. Roll the pliers to form another simple loop. The loops should be even and scroll like the letter S. Set the link aside.


Step 8 open link

Step 8b link first wire loop8. Make another link. Use flat- or chain-nose pliers to open one of the loops as you would a jump ring. Connect the loop to one of the loops of the previous link. 



So, there it is–consistent and clean work, so you’ll still be proud of it years from now.


Got any other tips for making beaded chain? Have you made some great jewelry using this technique or fashioned your own prayer beads? Share your thoughts and comments below!


Related Posts:


Beading Daily Blog

About Leslie

Leslie Rogalski, born and bred in Philadelphia, holds a degree in illustration and design from the University of the Arts, and has been “making stuff” since childhood. She was editor in chief of Step by Step Beads before becoming editor of Beading Daily in 2009, and is currently busy making her own designs, teaching, making videos, and writing. She's contributed original designs to Step by Step Beads, Beadwork, Creative Jewelry, and many Interweave books including 101 Wire Earrings and Chain Style. A teacher at many Bead Fest shows, she's a featured presenter on the PBS TV series Beads, Baubles and Jewels. Her lessons, called DoodleBeads©, were first created as videos for Beading Daily, and are a method of drawing thread paths that makes learning beadstitching easy. DoodleBeads is available on DVD. Leslie is known for playing with different materials, though seed beads remain top of her list. Prior to all this Leslie was a freelance writer, illustrator, and sold her original art clothing at national craft shows. She loves all things beady, making iMovies, tap dancing, her wonderful husband, illustrator, book designer, and owner of Eyewash Design, Mike Rogalski, and especiallybeing a stage mother to her Broadway-bound daughter.

7 thoughts on “How to Make a Wire Bead Chain!

  1. What size ‘loop’ does 3/8″ wire create? Different thicknesses of wire must require different lengths of wire for the loops. Also is there a rough guide to how much wire is required (miniumum) for wrapped loops?

  2. OMG! Thanks so much and it is true, we do need a somewhere…it’s just unfortunate that mine came at the expense of a lot of trial and error and sore fingers. For the life of me I couldn’t get those darn loops right..I bet you I spent all day trying to, on one design that called for seemingly hundreds of loops. I had loops popping all over the place and at one point my wire looked so darn tangled from trying so much that I just gave up, LOL!
    Good advice and great instructions. Angel

  3. I have used the technique featured (and still do ocassionally) for bracelets & necklaces. But I have ‘graduated’ to wire wrapping, Iike Angel it’s still a case of trial & error. The number of the wraps on one side is usually more than the other, I lose count after a while. The figure 8 technique is fast becoming a fave of mine.

    This is what I love about wire jewellery, the possibilities/techniques are endless. You don’t have to stick to the same technique. Well done to the contributors of Beading Daily.

  4. Hi there,
    I had ‘YouTubed’ something and as usual got caught up in ‘checking-out’ other sites when I came across a little video of this lady, standing [I think in a shop] making ‘wired beads’.
    She was so fast, and effective. She used the wire straight from the roll too, It was just one of those ‘once-off’ things in life, but I leant sooo much.
    I wish I had marked the page. si I could return to it.
    I’m nowhere as fast [or as good] as that Indian lady, but I certainly learnt something very quickly.
    Thank you for all your help and advice.
    Ella D. Australia

  5. Love it! I made a strung rosary for each of my own kids when they were little. They got to choose the beads and loved them at the time. But now they are off to college and I’d like to upgrade them to the looped (or wrapped) kind. I think the BEST tip that sets your information apart is making a simple mark on the pliers. I’m an engineer by training (Mom now) and as soon as I read that I realized without something like that it’s purely guesswork. good job!