Power Crimping and Other Crimping Tips

Four-Way Crimp

Ah, the time-eating joys of the Internet . . . I just Googled the word crimp and the #1 entry that came up was the “friendly rap” stylings of The Mighty Boosh, a surrealistic comedy troop that our BBC-viewing friends probably know well. Being from the States, I had no idea! Judging from the half hour I just spent looking at their videos, I guess they have a new fan.

The reason these guys came up on my search engine is they perform "Four-Way Crimp," an absolutely insane song that repeats the word “crimpity” over and over. (Fair readers, be warned: this silly song crescendos into an expletive.) Never again will I be able to crimp beads without this soundtrack playing in my head.

My post last week promised more crimping tricks, so without further ado . . . crimpity, crimpity.

Front Notch First
I just heard from The Impatient Beader Margot Potter with a crimping alert. She knows a guy who knows the guy who invented the crimping tool, and many of us (me included!) have been using the crimping tool incorrectly. You should first squeeze your crimp with the front notch to make it an oval. Then do the back notch biz, then round it again up front. Thanks, Margot.

Base vs. Precious Metal
I’m pretty freestyle when it comes to materials I use in my designs. I often mix brass and gold, glass and crystal, found objects and precision cut beads—whatever looks good. But I’m an absolute snob when it comes to crimps. I always use sterling silver or gold-filled ones because the others have given me such fits.  So, if you want to save yourself a headache, only buy the high-end ones.

Power Crimping
If you’re stringing heavy-duty beads, it’s worth the time and effort to add more than one crimp at each end of your strand so the bead weight doesn’t overpower the crimp connection. Just string a crimp, then a bead, and another crimp. Make sure to pass back through both crimps and secure both! Crimp covers or wide-holed beads that slide over a crimp are great ways to cover up your tracks.

Decorative Crimping
Most of us have plain 2x2mm crimp beads in our stashes, but the sizes and styles certainly don’t end there. There are chunky crimps (3x3mm) that work well for cords and multi-strand pieces. There are also twisted, or “tornado” crimps—you just squeeze these with chain-nose pliers to secure them. Also available are clasp crimps–you just squeeze these in the middle, too. If you’re making a piece that features “floating” beads on a wire, use 1x1mm crimps to secure the beads in place. They’ll hardly be noticed along the wire and will keep the beads from sliding around.

Multi-strand Crimping
What happens when you string a multi-strand piece and you can’t get all the strands back through the crimp? Here’s the trick to making it work:

Step 1: String the crimp tube and half of the clasp on all the strands.


Step 2: Pass as many of the strands back through the crimp as possible. Let those that don’t fit through stay put (in this case, the blue wire).


Step 3: Secure the crimp, then carefully trim the excess wires above the crimp (the blue wire).

If necessary, also trim the tail wire below the crimp (the pink wire).

Do you have any tricks for crimpity crimpity? Or maybe some friendly rap of your own? Share them on the website! 

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!



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Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at beadingdaily@interweave.com or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  www.michellemach.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/beadsandbooks Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

27 thoughts on “Power Crimping and Other Crimping Tips

  1. When I have too many wires for the crimp, I generally crimp one wire at a time, then thread all the loops onto a jump ring to join them up. Forcing too many wires in one crimp will leave gaps that allow the wires to slip out. You can avoid the mass of crimps side-by-side by crimping them between beads at odd distances from the loop.

  2. I guess I like to play it safe. I like to crimp at different intervals if the piece is heavy, to many times I have multi strands crimp and cut and it doesn’t hold. I always crimp a few beads before the last couple of beads and add another crimp, run it back though the beads and crimp again. I don’t loose much if it doesn’t hold & it releaves the stress on the one crimp.
    Connie T. in Florida

  3. This is off-topic, but I think it’s been a while since you talked about taking care of your body while beading. As you can see in the forum (non-bead discussions/hand problems), there are bunches who could use advice there. Perhaps an article on hand, neck & back stretches? And something about workspace like posture & light?

  4. My sons here in the US and my step-daughter in the UK are all Mighty Boosh fans…I forwarded your email to them….I think we have some new beading fans now:-) The tip from Margot Potter is great, thanks for passing these along!!

  5. I have the almost exact opposite view. I always use sterling silver and/or gold filled components and findings but never crimp beads. I use base metal crimp beads because sterling silver is so soft, and does not hold as well as my base metal crimps. Then I hide my crimp with a crimp cover or a large-holed sterling silver and/or GF bead!

    Catherine in MN

  6. It would be nice if your newsletter recipients were automatically signed in or told to sign in. I just spent 5 minutes figuring out that I was not signed in when I tried to respond.
    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy the newsletter and how much I appreciate the tips. Loved the power crimping tips.
    Question: Has anyone used the decorative looking crimps that I’ve seen advertised. Some offer 4 or 5 crimping holes. How do you keep them from looking unsightly or feeling scratchy when you crimp them? Love the way they spread the beads, but I’m afraid I’ll mess up one crimp and have to throw the costly finding away. Anyone? Thanks.

  7. My husband bought me the new crimping tool for Christmas that creates a round ball when completed. I have yet to use it. Does anyone use this type of crimp? I’d love to hear more about this technique.

  8. I’ll bet there are lots of people who have been taught the “wrong” way to crimp (Second hole first) even those instructions with some crimp tools. I gave up doing it that way and went to a smaller crimp and just flatten them because I could not “get” it right.
    As for the crimp tool that makes round crimps, you have to use the correct size crimp or it will not work. You need to read the instructions that come with the tool. I haven’t had much success with that either.
    And don’t get me started on crimp covers!

  9. On using the crimper that creates a round ball when completed. First off make sure you’re using the right size tool for the size of the crimp you are using. I believe there are two sizes at this time. Second, it will take a little practice to get the proper result but it’s so worth it. Use the tool and squeeze firmly to make the first pass on your crimp. You’ll end up with a ball shape with 4 little corners (two at one side and two at the other. Turn the crimp and squeeze again. Keep turning and squeezing until everything is tucked in and you’ll end up with your closed crimp in a little ball. It will also fit inside a crimp cover.

  10. I have had great success with good (Beadalon) brass crimps – dark bronze and black finish. I agree that it’s a mistake to get cheap with crimps. But the brass crimps are soft enough to make it easy for my class students to feel like a professional. And they blend so well with many organic designs.

    Thanks for the tip about the Tornado crimps. I gave up using them because I was trying to use a crimp tool and they came out looking awful. By the way, I really appreciate the newsletter. It’s nice to know there’s lots of beading geeks out there.

  11. I guess that I may be (a little?) overprotective of my crimping but I not only double crimp on heavy pieces but I add a drop of hypo-cement in every crimp before I close it. Makes me feel better any way. 🙂 Thanks for the article. Who would have ever guessed; first notch first! Been doing it wrong for 10 years, oops. Lou Ma

  12. I have been obsessed with secure crimping, since I started beading trying to fix someone else’s handiwork. What works for me is matching the correct size cable wire with corresponding crimp. Multi-strands fit snuggly anchored, with possibly two or more separate crimps gathered on an eyepin, covered inside a deep cap, tube or cone finding. I will definitely adopt the front end crimping to my steps, which include the dab of Hypo Cement. I learned the secret to crimp covers is to use the very tip of the crimp tool to lightly press on the gap of the open edges to get them as close together as possible.

  13. I can get good crimps with only one size of tube, a #2. Seems I need a pair of “mini” and also “maxi” crimpling pliers. Anyone know where these can be purchased? All I can find are “standard” crimpling pliers.
    They only work well (for me) on #2 size crimp tubes. (I gave up on trying to use crimp beads… they just don’t work!)

  14. I think all these tips are great. I have a jewelry business and dispaired at how many times I could not get a good look on a crimp. I would resort to crimp covers, but that can get expensive. I switched to tornado crimps. They are larger but at least have a uniform look. I also tried a micro-crimper on smaller crimpers.

    I can’t wait to try the ‘correct’ way to use the crimper.

    Thanks so much for Beading Daily. It keeps my beading addiction in check. Almost! he.he.

  15. There is a post on the forums board in the, how do I, board. Someone there gives exact instructions on how to properly use the magic crimp pliers and correct wire size and crimp size. Use only the ss and gf 2mm crimp tubes. There are two sizes of the magic pliers and the correct sizes are posted there.
    I have been using the black crimp beads and am breaking many more then are successful. They told why this is and it does make sense, those are plated crimp beads and thus are weaker and break when crimped.
    I too have enjoyed this thread and have been using the crimping tool wrong all these years. How does one know this if we are following the manufacturers directions that came with the tool? So they are wrong too? What else is the industry wrong about? lololol
    I have also used more then one crimp to hold something heavy, it just makes more sense to relieve the stress at that point. BeBe of tucson

  16. JudyW re: Power Crimping and other Crimping Tips

    I live in Australia and have been beading for 3 years. I am mostly self taught as we don’t have the classes, etc. available to us here. I bring all my beads, findings, etc. in from the U.S. I have always used a crimping tool and I am very fussy with my crimps – I always think how terrible for one of my purchasers to lose their strands in the middle of the shopping mall or worse).

    The secret to using a crimp cover successfully, I think, is to use the first notch on the crimping tool to place the crimp cover over the crimp. This leaves what looks like a silver bead. The main thing is to make sure that the wire is centered in the center of the cover ( open side facing front)
    and when you gently squeeze the cover closed do not get the wire caught in the crimp cover. It is a gentle process – it cost me a few wasted crimps before I got the hang of it. I also repeat the process after another bead has been added for extra strength as I mostly work with gemstones.

    I love this chatter…….yes, I’m a bead junky !

  17. Crimpity! I have not seen an important step in insuring a secure crimp that I always do. Make sure the wires are on top of each other (not side by side) when you make the first crimp. This will give you a really secure, non-slip, simply “crimpity” crimp!
    Pat K. Thomas

  18. Your instructions on crimping failed to mention one of the most important elements of crimping successfully. For a “fold” crimp to work & hold properly, the first fold must be between the 2 segments of the wire. The easiest way to accomplish this is to put a bead (any bead that works with your design) between the crimp bead/tube and the ring.

    After you loop through the ring & run it back through the first bead, the wire always crosses over itself (it’s a physics thing which I can’t accurately explain). When the wire crosses it creates an “X” inside the first bead. If your first bead is a crimp, you will be folding onto the “X” which actually starts a cutting action on the wire. By putting the crimp as the second bead, the wire stays straight and is easy to separate so your fold is always between the wire segments.

    Crimping is actually a 3-step process (4 if you use the front notch first as your article states). The last step to proper crimping is to place the folded & closed crimp in the flat portion of the tip of the crimping pliers (with the fold facing the tip of the pliers) and give it a light to medium squeeze. “Why?” you ask. The crimp pliers “notches” are sized to accommodate a wide range of stringing wire diameters. To ensure that your crimp is going to properly hold on the size of wire you are using…just give it a little squeeze.

    Once we started using the above techniques, over 8 years ago, we have never had a crimp fail. BTW, we always use a single 2x2mm sterling or GF crimp on each end, no matter how heavy the beads and this technique always works.

    Allen White
    Cindale Beads
    Smithfield, NC

  19. I am happy to hear that there is another way to use the crimping tool. I tried using the double notch first and then trying to round it and it breaks the crimp. That has happened every time I have tried so I stopped. Has anyone else had that problem.


  20. I so enjoy Jean’s articles! I’d never thought of using the first notch in the crimping pliers to pre-shape the crimp. Brilliant! I’ve tried the magical crimper with 2mm sterling silver crimps but ended up with some sorry looking little dried prune-shaped beads lol! I also have to use the smallest sized magical pliers, otherwise the pliers overhang the crimp and I end up mashing up the beads on either side of the crimp. I would readily use sterling silver crimps for “normal” crimping, but I’m too worried the metal would be too soft. Can you recommend “high end” i.e. top quality base metal crimps? I end up throwing away so many with raggedy edges. By the way, this was such a good read, I’ve finally subscribed to Beadwork! (…and letting lapse my subscription to B&B…). Keep up the good work Jean! and thank you so much for a brilliant read 🙂
    Salisbury, GB

  21. No one has mentioned that the first crimp bead is easy since you can move the beads down to make sure the two wires are not crossed, but when you do the opposite end, there is no extra room to make sure the wored are not crossed, It’s almost impossible to uncross them.

  22. No one has mentioned that the first crimp bead is easy since you can move the beads down to make sure the two wires are not crossed, but when you do the opposite end, there is no extra room to make sure the wored are not crossed, It’s almost impossible to uncross them.

  23. Two of the tips are gold!!!
    1) use the front end of the crimp to make an oval before making the notch.
    2) add a bead before the crimp tube to keep the wires uncrossed.
    Best tips on crimping and I LOVE the results I’m getting!