7 Steps to the Perfect Crimp

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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