How To Use Crimp Beads (Tutorial)

Attach a clasp using flex wire and crimp beads

How to attach a clasp to your beadwork partly depends on what material you are using to string. When you are using flexible beading wire (such as Soft Flex), the best way to attach a clasp is to use crimp beads.

Flexible beading wires, such as Soft Flex Wire, consist of stainless steel wires coated in an acrylic sheath. These are soft wires, meaning they act as a thread rather than a stiff metal. Depending on the brand and style, some brands are stiffer than others. Usually, the more stainless steel wires per strand, the softer and more flexible it is. We prefer the Soft Flex brand.

There are a few benefits of choosing a beading wire over thread. It is usually stronger. It is less likely to be cut by beads with sharp edges. It is better for heavier beads. You do not need a needle for stringing (because it is already stiff enough). Most beading wires can be knotted but it is not always as effective as a knot made in thread. As a result, the best way to attach your clasp is with crimp beads, which essentially take the place of the knot.

We use two types of crimp beads: ribbed crimps and crimp tubes.

Ribbed crimps are typically base metal (such as brass) plated with gold or silver. Crimp tubes are made from base metal as well as finer metals like sterling silver and gold-fill. Both hold equally well. The difference is mainly in the look of the finished crimp. Here are the two styles of crimp bead, each flattened with basic needlenose pliers:

Ribbed Crimp Bead

Ribbed crimp flattened with pliers.

Crimp Tube

Crimp Tube flattened with pliers.

The method of attaching a clasp with either crimp bead is essentially the same. Follow the steps below to learn the very basics of attaching a clasp with crimp beads using needlenose pliers. (To learn how to use a crimping tool with crimp tubes, see our post How To Use a Crimping Tool.)

 

1. Cut your wire to the desired length using flush cutters or wire snips. Thread on one ribbed crimp bead and the clasp.(A)

2. Then bring your wire back through the crimp bead, forming a loop. The loop should be large enough that the clasp can hang freely, but not so large that it will get caught on things like earrings or combs. Usually about 1/8″ – 1/4″.

3. Using needlenose pliers, flatten the crimp bead into place. (B)

TIP: Flatten your crimp well, turning it over to do it a second time. Then check it to see if it slides. Crimps take the place of a knot, so they should hold just as well. (C)

4. Trim the “tail” of the wire and hide it under the first one or two beads that you string on. When you finish stringing your beads, you repeat the crimp bead process on the other side. After your last bead, add a crimp bead, then the other half of your clasp (or the ring it will connect to). Then bring your wire back through the crimp bead, this time also going down through the last one or two beads of the piece. (D)

5. Where to crimp the second crimp bead takes some consideration. If you make your necklace too tight, the beads will appear stiff and won’t flow nicely. If you make the necklace too loose, you’ll have a space of wire that is unattractive and the beads will slide around. You don’t need much space to allow for a flowing strand of beads. Once you place your crimp, flatten it, making a loop as you did in Step 2.

6. Trim the “tail” of wire using flush cutters, and you have a completed piece! (E)

 

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