I Gotta Have That Beading Tool!

Feb 11, 2012

I came home from the Tucson gem, mineral and bead shows with more than just a new stash of beads. I came home with loads of new ideas! One thing is for certain as I look at my new goodies - I need some new beading tools!

I can't wait to start working on embellishing these vintage copper neck pieces from The Beadin' Path!
These wonderful textured copper neck pieces from the Beadin' Path just called out to me while I was browsing. I've always had a thing for beaded necklaces, and I'm particularly drawn to beaded collars ever since I first saw the work of bead artists like Sherry Serafini and Heidi Kummli. Of course, I loved the texture of the collars and didn't want to cover them up with a piece of bead embroidery, but in order to get something on those collars, I think I'm going to need to poke a few holes in them. Ah-ha! An excuse to buy a new beading tool!

I get the feeling that this combination hole punch and rivet setting beading tool is going to get a lot of use!
I talked to Jewelry Making Daily's Tammy Jones while we were in Tucson, and she showed me this wonderful little hole punch that she'll be using in some of her projects. Lightweight and compact, it can punch holes of two different sizes in several different thicknesses of metal. I'm sold! This beading tool can also be used to set semi-tubular rivets. (Cold connections, anyone?) I can already imagine a dozen projects where this will come in handy!

Fortunately for me, the other must-have beading tool that I need for some of my newly-planned beading projects is one that I already own: a cup file.

Vintage Swarovski crystal "disco ball" earrings? Yes, please!
My new cup file beading tool will let me make gorgeous and comfortable sterling silver ear wires!
I had asked Tammy about this a few weeks ago when I decided that I wanted to start making more of my own ear wires. While we were shopping in Tucson at Whimbeads, I came across these absolutely amazing, sparkly vintage Swarovski crystal rounds. Tammy kept calling them "disco balls" and on my flight home, I sketched out a couple of earring designs using them, both of which would look fabulous with some handmade sterling silver ear wires.

I've already had lots of practice using the cup file. While working on a pair of crystal earrings designed by Rachel Nelson-Smith, the ear wires I had purchased for the project broke. Since I don't have a local bead shop near me where I could buy a comparable pair of ear wires, I decided to make my own ear wires using sterling silver wire. Using the cup file on the ends of the wire made these ear wires go in so smoothly, I barely noticed them! (I now understand that I have absolutely no excuse for buying ear wires anymore.)

These wonderful filigree bending pliers give me so much more control when using brass filigrees to make my own custom settings for beaded cabochons!
One thing I saw everywhere in Tucson were lovely brass filigrees, both new and vintage. I've been wanting to try my hand at using those brass filigrees to make settings for beaded cabochon rings, earrings and pendants, but I was afraid to try bending the filigrees with my regular chain nose pliers. So one of my purchases while in Tucson was a pair of filigree bending pliers, also sometimes known as bail making pliers. These wonderful tools have uniform, round jaws, each one a different size to create a different bail or bend in your filigree. I've only used them once, but already I can tell they give me far superior control over my filigree-bending than my regular chain nose pliers!

Sometimes I think that the beading tools are one of the best parts of jewelry-making! I love opening up my tool bag and looking at my array of pliers, cutters and crimpers, and adding a new tool (and a new jewelry-making skill) to my collection is always a thrill. If you're thinking that it's time to add a few new beading tools to your collection, or even if you just want to use the tools you already have, check out Katie Hacker's Hip to Bead, now in electronic format! You can download this book instantly on your desktop or laptop computer, pick a project, and start creating right away! You'll find all the instructions you need right there, along with fabulous color photographs and illustrations for each of the thirty-two beading projects that cover jewelry, accessories and more. Download your copy of Hip to Bead and start creating with your beading tools tonight!

Is there a particular beading tool that has been on your wish list lately? What is it? Why do you want it? Leave a comment and share your thoughts here on the Beading Daily blog!

Bead Happy,


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EllaMae22 wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 4:58 AM

I love the cup file - does anyone know where I can buy one in the UK?

Jodes wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 5:17 AM

I bought a cup burring or cup file or wire rounder as they are called and the results are excellent - to the point that I could not see myself without one.  Now, the bad news, they wear out quickly.  Im going to try a premium model to see if that will last longer.  Don't know if anyone has tried it, but this is the one I'll get - beadstore.wigjig.com/.../0387.html

kranz wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 5:48 AM

I've used a black marker on my round nose pliers for years.  Step pliers won't do the trick.  I tried the diamond file score (can't really see it - still use the black marker!).

I've found 6 step barrel pliers!!!

Marion@51 wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 7:55 AM

Hi, is it possible to buy the combination hole punch and rivet setting tool referred to above, in the UK ? I have seen it mentioned in several articles recently, and as I have used rivets in some pieces think it is a great little gadget, but so far haven't been able to track it down - anywhere.  

Paka wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 9:33 AM

I have all three of these and love them.  The hole puncher is among my newer toys (I HAD to get it for the earring challenge), and I am constantly amazed that the thing actually punches holes in metal.  The cup burr is a necessity, and the bail-making pliers are handy for making jump rings and coils as well as bails.  I've just acquired two new tools:  a bench pin and a jeweler's saw.  Now I have to learn how to use them properly.  What I want (and am actively saving for) is a bench vise that has rubber covers for the gripping part and a swiveling ball joint for its base.   I have only just begun to imagine the things I could do with it, but they seem to involve drilling, sawing, and bending.  I'm sure there's more!

BeckyP@18 wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 9:49 AM

I just got bail making pliers &  a hole punch pliers. I have used them both twice &  I agree that they are great. My next tool will be a dapping punch set.  My bur cup I got last year &  I use it often.


on Feb 13, 2012 11:51 AM

who carrys the hole punch,rivet tool?  Im in G.R Mich.~rhanks

LauraH@79 wrote
on Feb 13, 2012 3:02 PM

I didn't know the puncher was a riveter too!

Marion@51 wrote
on Feb 14, 2012 7:28 AM

If anyone in UK is interested have found the "Crafted" combination punch and rivet setting tool in Palmers Metals website.

Marion@51 wrote
on Feb 14, 2012 7:32 AM

EllaMae22 - the cup burr also sold by Palmers Metals - they call it a " wire rounder".

on Feb 18, 2012 9:14 AM

It is maddening to read an article about a tool and want to look for said tool and find no info what so ever. Is it possible to list if item is new and soon to be available / not available and if it is to be available it's actual name and where it can be found?  In the US and abroad.

morley227 wrote
on Feb 18, 2012 2:59 PM

Cup burs can be found at any jewelry supply company, such as fire mountain or rio grande or Stuller Settings out of Lafayette LA.  You must have a jeweler's license to order from Stuller but you can buy them in quantity and save money or they also make them in different grades(some that last longer because of the steel they are made from.  They do wear out quickly but can be replaced quickly as well.  I usually buy them in quantity of 6 to a box. Hope this helps to those having trouble finding them.  They aren't anything new, they've been used for cupping prongs for years and years. It just takes a bit of research on your part to find parts, order catalogs from different vendors and then you can always have these things available to you.