7 Steps to the Perfect Crimp

Jun 18, 2008
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When channel surfing the other day I came across a show featuring a home built by its owner. The guy had used recycled materials and industrial cast-offs to create a very modern, fresh space. One of the best features was the staircase, which employed thick steel cable and eye screws as balusters. The owner showed how he used a huge tool and a fist-sized tube to crimp the cables in place.

I was thinking, man--if only I had that tool! I could show a whole room full of people how to crimp beading wire. But then I realized . . . that’s what Beading Daily is for, right?

I’ll admit, when I first started beading I didn’t want to buy yet another tool, especially if it was just for one purpose. So I just used chain-nose pliers and squished the crimps shut. I got so much razzing from my friends about it! My jewelry fell apart and my, oh, my . . . those unsightly little silver squares. I now know that using crimping pliers is the classiest way to finish this type of strung jewelry and certainly one of the most secure.

There are lots of tricks to know about crimping, but the first trick to know is how:

 

The Basic Crimp
Crimping works great for adding metal findings to pieces strung on beading wire. I use it most for securing clasps.

  The Tool: Crimping pliers have flat jaws with two notches. The back notch looks like the outline of lips, the front notch like a leaf.

The Finding:
Crimp beads and tubes are thin metal beads used expressly for crimping. They come in several sizes; the most common is 2x2mm.

 

The Steps

Step 1: Figure your desired jewelry length, subtract the clasp or other finding length, and add 2-3". Cut beading wire to that length.

Step 2: String a crimp bead or tube. Pass the wire end through the clasp (or whatever finding you’re using), leaving a 1" tail.

 

Step 3: Pass the wire end back through the crimp in the opposite direction to make a loop. Snug the crimp so it’s about 1/8" from the finding. (Much tighter than that will cause your wire to abrade.) 

 

Step 4: Slightly separate the wire ends so they line the sides of the tube. Tightly squeeze the crimp with the back notch of the pliers. The crimp will make a U shape.  


Step 5:
Turn the crimp 90° and nestle it inside the pliers’ front notch. Gently squeeze the pliers to collapse it on itself. If necessary, continue to make gentle squeezes around the crimp to round and shape it into a perfect cylinder.  

Step 6: String beads on the wire. If the bead holes are large enough, slide the beads over the wire tail, too. If not, use wire cutters to trim the tail close to the crimp.

Step 7: When you’re about 2" from the other wire end, test the piece for fit. Adjust the bead strand as necessary. String a crimp and the other side of the clasp. Pass back through the crimp and as many beads on the strand as possible. Snug the beads and crimp as before. Trim any excess wire.

 

 

That’s all there is to it! Stay tuned for more info on super-secure, multi-strand, and decorative crimping. In the meantime I think I’ll take a stroll to the hardware store to find that monster crimping tool. Those steel cable balusters have got me thinking about replacing my own . . . but I think a few beads would make the design complete. 

 


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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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Comments

Thyme2dream2 wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 10:39 AM

Thank you so much~ wire I can play with all day, but crimps have not been my friend...this is a delightful simple and straight to the point tutorial yet includes some important points often overlooked~you have done a great job of making crimps less scary;-).

SimoneT2 wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 10:48 AM

Thanks Jean, great tutorial. My main problem is that my crimp always breaks when I try to fold it over. I use tiny crimp beads though and usually crimp three in a row to make sure one of them will hold.

ldybtrfly wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 10:55 AM

Your article couldn't have come at a more opportune time. I was getting dressed for work this morning and putting on my favorite anklet I had made. One of my first pieces. Well it broke and fell apart. The crimp bead didn't hold. So tonite I will go home with this article and remake my favorite anklet.

thanks

Larry.Linson wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 11:02 AM

I use sterling crimp tubes almost exclusively (even on projects made with inexpensive components and silver plated findings) because their malleability makes them far more secure and longer-lived than plated base metal tubes. The plated base metal crimp tubes have a tendency to crack when crimped and soon fall off. If I need gold color and I can't use a crimp cover, and for black (dark metallic), I use crimp beads, not tubes.

Azure Canyon wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 12:44 PM

I am very glad to have read this article.  I have avoided crimping by using the magic crimp tools (ugh).  They don't seem to work for me.  I went back to old faithful crimp tool.  I seem to have trouble separating the two sides of the wire so that they line either side of the tube.  I bought some silver plated tubes that came in a pack from beadalon.  Not too sure they are strong enough because a few have broken.  Will keep at it.  Any other tips would be helpful.  Thanks.

PatriciaD@39 wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 2:02 PM

Hi Jean, Good advice. My only addition would be not only to use SS crimps, like Larry suggested, but string crimp, small bead, clasp, and then go back throug bead, crimp, and then crimp it. I have found that the small bead takes some of the tension off of the crimp tube. I usually use the larger holed 2 mm ss beads. Oh and leave at least a 1/2" tail of wire, not to cut the wire really close to the crimp.

Thanks for your site, I love it,

pattyo'

MelanieR@12 wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 2:24 PM

I don't think of my crimping tool as a unitasker at all.

I also use it to "tuck in" the last little bit of the coil when wire wrapping.  A crimp cover fits perfectly in the outer section and the tool allows me to close it without distorting it.  

Oh, bonus tip- when using 2x2 crimps with .014 diameter wire, slip the crimp back in the first section and crimp again to make sure it doesn't slip.

Melanie

JanG@25 wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 3:05 PM

I'd like to see something from Beadsmith about the Magic Crimp.  Evidently, from Azure Canyon's "ugh" re: the tool, I'm not the only one who has problems with it.  Even with a couple of years' practice with it, I still can end up with too much bare wire at the end.  A crimp cover might take up the slack, but if the idea is not to use one....

Otherwise, thanks for the info.  Wish I'd had something similar when I started stringing.

Oh, and Melanie -- I've used the pliers for wire wrap finishes, too.  Sometimes the coil is a bit too short, and I crack a seed bead here and there, but mostly, it works.

Jan

lizajayne wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 3:19 PM

" I didn’t want to buy yet another tool, especially if it was just for one purpose"

Ah Jean, but the crimp pliers are not just for crimping tubes!  I use the front cavity to press that tiny little tail of wire down when making wrapped loops.  You can never cut the tails close enough, and because of that you always have a straight little tail sticking out.  I wrap my loop, cut the tail off as close as possible, and then put the front section of the crimp plier around my wrap.  Give it just a slight amount of pressure and spin it around the loop.  This pushes that straight tail down against the rest of the loops in the row leaving a nice finish that won't snag on anything.

Eliza

DebWAZ wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 3:48 PM

JanG & Azure Canyon,

On the Beading Daily Forum, under Where can I find?, there is a thread called "Has anyone tried?" about the Magical Crimp forming tool. I posted a tutorial there about using the Magical tool.

I used the regular crimp pliers for years (decades?) and hated them almost from the first day. They are great for tube crimps, but too often a crimp bead wound up like a squished blob and sent me running a bead with a larger hole to cover the mess. (This was many years before crimp covers were even thought of!)

To get the Magical crimp closer with less wire showing, you can move the crimp, sort of between step 1 and step 2 - before you actually start rounding the crimp. This is when I adjust the position of the crimp - right after I've rotated the crimp 90 degrees. At that point, the crimp is still loose enough on the wire that you can move it into a better position. It takes a little practice to get the hang of keeping the tension and holding the pliers but not quite crimping, so that the crimp winds up in the right place.

I'm also using the blue crimp pliers for finishing a wrapped loop, or as pliers to open/close jump rings, but I hardly ever use them as crimp pliers any more. <grin>

Deb

CindyC@53 wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 9:08 PM

Jean,

Great tutorial.  I am also one of those who use the crimping tool to finish off the coil end of a wrapped loop.  I have one other suggestion.  I usually double crimp the ends of necklaces made with stones just to be extra secure.  I put on a crimp near the end as you do then I add a small seed bead or two then another crimp then a few beads over the wire end.  Sometimes I try to find a bead with a hole big enough to cover the crimp then you don't see it at all.

CindyC

Jsmaz wrote
on Jun 18, 2008 11:38 PM

That is a good tutorial. and I never thought of using my crimping pliers to finish wrapped loops!  I always use my small flat-nose pliers.  Learn something new every day.

My only other suggestion would be that instead of pre-cutting my beading wire, I string straight on to the spool, finish one end, then cut the other end, leaving enough for the tail.  I find I waste less wire this way.  I do the same thing when wire-wrapping whenever possible, especially with precious metal wire.

Jeni

AnneS@84 wrote
on Jun 19, 2008 8:09 AM

Thanks for the information.  This method sounds very secure but because of the way my crimp beads used to look, I found a method which is very secure although taking more time.

I take half round wire(20 gauge) and wrap it around the  ends of the necklace wire.   I use a hemostat or other clamp to hold the  half round wire in place until I have done a couple of wraps using my chain nose pliers to wrap and press down the half round.   I then remove the clamp and finish the wrap using 2 pairs of chain nose pliers.   This takes about an inch or a little more of wire at each end of the necklace; sterling silver or gf wire works well.  One advantage of this method is that you can trim off the end of the wire and cover the raw end with another wrap so that no raw ends will be in sight or irritating the wearer.

 As far as I know none of these have ever come loose.  It takes a little practice but  I like the idea that it will add to the permanence of the piece.  

on Jun 19, 2008 9:15 AM

I am a really new beader and am spending way to much time reading and doing my jewelry now instead of other things.  I like the idea of using the crimping tool to finish the wraps.  I'm working with the crimps and am improving with each one (most of the time!)  I like everyone's tips. thanks a lot.  Beading and Broke

nana@41 wrote
on Jun 19, 2008 12:45 PM

Nana--Carol re: 7 Steps to the Perfect Crimp

I am a real beginner.... This came at the right time for me because I had spent the night before trying to do this.  Thank you so much.  All tips I have read so far have come in handy now to remember them all.  

I am with beading & broke...I am spending a lot of time doing this but love it.  I take my first class on June 27th.  I made 2 bracellets on my own last evening.    Happy Beading All

Clinevalerie wrote
on Jun 22, 2008 9:31 AM

This is not about the perfiect crimp even though you did a bang up job and made it very easy for anyone to understand.

What I would like to know is how can I print out a certain part of your daily bolg without printing out everything from top to bottom. Sometimes you have an artical that I would like to print out and put it in my book of tips and Beading Daily articals. It would be nice if you had a link after a artical like the on on crimp beads that says "printer friendly" which takes you to an area with just that artical and nothing else.

I have seen this with other e-zins that I recieve and it makes it very easy to print what you want and leave the garbage behind.

Can you help?

By the way I love you sence of humor in you stories that you tell. Keep it up. That is what I love about your Wensday blog along with your daily blogs.

Valerie

Cline Jewels

tcl1954 wrote
on Oct 7, 2013 11:27 AM

I have been beading on and off for years. My problem with crimping in not the first crimp, but the finishing crimp. After stringing all beads, crimp, clasp and back through the crimp, there isn't enough room to see if the wire is going into the two different sides of the crimp while tightening and crimping. Any help please?