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Perfecting Your Crimping Technique

Crimp beads are round and look like tiny seed beads. Crimp tubes are cylindrical. Deciding to use crimp beads versus tubes is primarily a matter of personal preference. Most people tend to use crimp beads when it’s important to have a smaller overall look, like when holding beads in place on an illusion design. Crimp tubes can make better surface contact with the beading wire, so use them when you need extra strength, like when attaching a clasp. The best quality crimp beads and tubes are seamless, which prevents them from breaking open when squeezed with a crimping tool.

Crimp beads and tubes both come in several different sizes that are sold separately or in a variety pack. Choose the size based on the size of wire you’re using. Keep in mind that you’ll often have to pass the wire through a crimp twice. Choose a crimp that will be mostly filled by the wire because this helps prevent breakage. If you’re having trouble with crimps breaking, you may need to use a larger size of wire or change to a smaller crimp.

Crimps have an internal and an external diameter. The internal diameter (ID) determines which size wire will pass through and the outside diameter (OD) determines how much space the crimp will fill in a jewelry design.

For example, .012” wire works best with #0 (.8mm ID/1.3mm OD) crimp beads and #1 crimp tubes (1.3mm ID/1.8mm OD) while .030” wire works best with #3 crimp beads (1.8mm ID/3mm OD) and #4 crimp tubes (2mm ID/2.5mm OD). You can also use these larger sizes of crimp beads and tubes to crimp multiple strands together. Sizing information is printed on the crimp packages and the beading wire spools to help you match up the correct size products.

Different sizes of crimps require different sizes of crimping tools. Use a micro crimping tool with #0 crimp beads and #1 crimp tubes. Use a standard crimping tool with #1&2 crimp beads and #2&3 crimp tubes. The pocket crimper  functions as a standard size crimping tool, it just has shorter handles . Use a mighty crimping tool with #3 crimp beads and #4 crimp tubes. Look for this information printed on the crimp and tool packages to assist you. 

When crimping, there are three basic steps. Before you begin, make sure that the wires are parallel inside the crimp bead or tube. Place the crimp in the outer jaws of the crimping tool and squeeze gently so the crimp forms and oval shape. Place it in the inner jaws of the crimping tool and squeeze hard so it forms a crescent shape. Turn the crimp 90 degrees and place it in the outer jaws. Squeeze gently to fold and round the crimp. 

 - Katie Hacker for Beadalon


  1. Hi, Katie:
    I subscribe to your blog. I saw your post about crimping so I stopped by here. Leaving a comment to let you know I was here :-) I just subscribed to this blog to so I won't miss a thing!


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