Jewelry Blog

How to Crimp, A Basic Jewelry Making Skill

Crimping is likely one of the first things you did when you started beading. It's easy to do badly but not necessarily easy to do well! As soon as you venture into the world of beading wire, you will be introduced to crimps – funny (very!) little metal beads in various different finishes. They're not the prettiest beads in the world -- some look like donuts, some look like tiny lengths of tube. So what are they for? I am here to tell you how to use them properly to make your jewelry super secure!

Example of a bracelet with crimped ends

What are crimp beads?

Crimp beads are tiny metal beads with very thin walls. They aren’t designed to be used decoratively (although you can if you feel so inclined!), but are rather designed to be squashed and reformed with crimping pliers to be used at what I call the "construction points" of your jewelry. The construction points are what holds the jewelry together. Your creations are only as strong and secure as your crimping ability, so it's worth practicing and perfecting.

Crimp beads and crimp tubes

There are two main types of crimp beads: crimp beads, balls or rounds (terms are interchangeable) and crimp tubes. Crimp bead is the umbrella term that covers both, but they are in fact quite different.

Crimp beads

Crimp beads/balls/rounds

Crimp beads/balls/rounds are, as you might expect, round beads, kind of like tiny donuts.

Crimp tubes

Crimp tubes

Crimp tubes are cylindrical, like a length of tubing that has been chopped up into tiny sections. They are also a little longer and look larger than their ball counterparts, even when the diameter is the same. They typically have slightly thicker walls than crimp rounds, and are generally the type of crimps you should be using if you want your jewelry to last and stand up to wear.

Sizes

Crimp beads are available in different sizes, and these sizes refer to the inner diameter of their holes. Different sized crimps are applicable depending on what size beading wire you are using, how many strands in the necklace/bracelet, etc.

To start off with, I would select a 2mm crimp tube.

Standard crimping pliers

Crimping pliers

The other thing you need to know about in order to crimp successfully is crimping pliers. These are usually available in three different sizes: micro, standard and maxi. Think of them as the three bears! You need to get the crimping pliers that are the appropriate size for the crimps you are working with – the ones that are "just right." Generally, most people will be working with 2mm crimp tubes, and will want to use standard crimping pliers. These are what I am using in the examples below.

Crimping pliers' closed jaws
Note: Crimping pliers have two sections – the back section (nearest the joint) has a little nick in the top. The front section is like a tiny elipse. You use each section in turn.

Let’s get started!

How to crimp

A crimp tube on beading wire, uncrimped

Step 1:

Make a little loop with beading wire and your crimp tube. You want to make sure that the two wires are not crossing over within the crimp tube. Hold them firmly between finger and thumb to make sure they stay put.

A crimp tube being held within crimping pliers

Step 2:

Place the crimp tube within the back section of the crimping pliers...

A crimp tube being squashed within crimping pliers

...and close firmly. It is VERY important that the crimp tube sits exactly in the back section, as they are desgined to fit each other perfectly. If the crimp tube is not properly in place, your crimp will not fold properly and your jewelry will not be secure.

A crimp in the front notch of crimping pliers

Step 3:

Turn the squashed crimp on its side so that it looks like a crescent moon. Then, place it in the front section of the crimping pliers and close so that the crimp folds in on itself like a book.

Step 4:

If you wish, you can give the crimp an extra squash closed with chain-nosed pliers.

When you are done, make sure you give the crimp a little tug. If it won’t stand up to that, it isn’t secure enough to be worn. Sometimes you can do everything right and it just hasn’t taken, although this is less likely to happen with good quality crimp tubes.

A bracelet with crimped ends

Step 5:

Repeat at the other end of your length of beading wire once you’ve got the beads and findings you want on the wire.

Don’t be afraid to practice this technique with scrap beading wire! Crimping may not the most exciting of techniques to do, but it is a very important one. It keeps your jewelry physically together, and, however beautiful your jewelry is, if it’s not secure it won’t last. And that is, after all, what we all want.

17 Comments

Carol Rigby

That’s a really good set of instructions. Thank you! If you use tigertail , what size crimps should you use?

Reply
Carol Rigby

That’s a really good set of instructions. Thank you! If you use tigertail , what size crimps should you use?

Reply
Carla A Allen

Where do you purchase your crimp tubes? I noticed that yours look much thicker on the wall than the ones I am purchasing at my local JoAnn store. The ones I have been buying look and are very thin on the wall part and they don’t always give me the hold I am looking for. Thank you!

Reply
Rebecca Anderson

Hi Carla, I see my reply seems to have disappeared from here! I hope you got it when I posted it originally. I use Vintaj crimp tubes and they are excellent quality – you can pick them up from me here – http://www.thecuriousbeadshop.etsy.com. If you are wanting a different finish to antiqued brass, then I *believe* Beadalon do some good crimp tubes too, although it’s been a while since I used theirs. Hope that’s a help!

Reply
Carla A Allen

Where do you purchase your crimp tubes? I noticed that yours look much thicker on the wall than the ones I am purchasing at my local JoAnn store. The ones I have been buying look and are very thin on the wall part and they don’t always give me the hold I am looking for. Thank you!

Reply
Soma Wallett

Hi, I am looking for crimp beads or tubes, together with an appropriate crimping tool/pliers. The beads/tubes must be copper and must measure around 2,5mm ID x 7mm long. I require around 7000 (seven thousand). Can you help me?

Reply
Amanda

Hello! I’m just starting to get into beading and jewelry making. I have this necklace that I am making and they recommend using a braided thread to string it. Now the tutorial I’ve been watching doesnt say how to finish off the ends and attach them to the clasps. I was wondering if you can use crimp beads on braided thread or is it recommended for things like copper threads?

Reply
Rebecca Anderson

Hi Amanda, thanks for your reply! I am not quite sure which braided thread you are using – do you have a brand name and then I could advise you better?

Reply
Amanda

The thread I am using is a 0.20mm thread by beadalon. Its the Dandyline series.

Reply
Rebecca Anderson

Hi Amanda, I would say that Dandyline is more of a thread than a bead wire, which is what you would use crimps with. I took a look at the Beadalon Dandyline website and they recommend knotting this fibre when working with it. Personally, I would not use a thread for stringing but instead beading wire (Soft Flex, Tiger Tail or Beadalon beading wire are all examples) but that’s probably not much use to you now! I would suggest knotting many times with the thread, possibly at multiple points on the thread, and covering the knots first with jewelry cement and then with crimp covers or clamshell callottes if you want to hide them. I hope that’s a help! If you need any more advice/help then feel free to contact me via my blog (www.songbeads.blogspot.com) or my shop (www.thecuriousbeadshop.etsy.com).

Reply
Corlisa Diaz

Thank you so much. Been crimping incorrectly!

Reply
Sue

I have experienced endless frustration with crimp tubes. I use crimping pliers with 2mm tubes and follow the directions shown in this (and other) tutorials, videos, etc. I have watched a million of them, and each time I think I’ve “got it.” Then I try to do the crimp, and everything goes wrong. I make the little crease in the center of the tube as directed, but when I try to fold the sides of the tube together, I end up re-creating the tube (which of course slides up and down the wire just like it did before I crimped it). I never get it quite right, no matter how many times I practice. Crimp covers are also a problem for me. I get them around the crimp tube (if I manage to get the tube right), but when I try to close the crimp cover with pliers, the cover slips around and moves and I end up with a lopsided crimp cover or one that doesn’t actually cover the crimp. Please believe me, I have been practicing and practicing and trying and trying and watching video after video, and I can’t get it right. I don’t know what I expect you to do or say. LOL. I’m out of ideas.

Reply
Sue

I forgot to mention, I am using SoftFlex .014 (Fine) wire and 3mm silver-filled crimp tubes. I also have the same trouble when I use the 3mm tubes with .019 SoftFlex (medium) wire.

Reply
Rebecca Anderson

Hi Sue, that sounds like a pain for you! If the crimp is popping open at the second stage, it could be one of two things. 1) you need to press a little more firmly at the first stage. And/or 2) the crimp tube isn’t sitting perfectly in its little notch for the first stage. Another thought is crimp pliers. Have you tried using another pair? If you have a LBS or a beady friend you could go along and ask to borrow a different pair. I have found that some of the cheaper crimping pliers are not necessarily very good at their job.

Reply
Rebecca Anderson

Ps Crimp covers are tricky beasts! I have found that mine will only close neatly if I use specific pliers. Either bent-nosed pliers (my first choice) or large and sturdy flat-nosed pliers.

Reply
Rebekah

Thanks for a great, detailed tutorial! 🙂 I am stringing a mala on heavy weight thread (0.8mm satin nylon). I am using a finding (a curly metal “bead” that says, love) at the back of the necklace to connect the two halves, and so must cut the thread after tying onto the two sides of the finding. My question is this: is it ok to use a crimp bead to help tame the ends of the cut thread? I plan to knot around the “love” finding, but am worried that the ends will fray. It won’t need the amount of hold that is typically needed for crimp beads, but I’m worried that it might cut into the thread. Has anyone used crimp beads on 0.8mm or similar thread?

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply