How to Get the Perfect Crimp Using The Right Crimping Technique

Jean Cox

Jean (Campbell) Cox, Beadwork editor, 1998-2005

I’m one of those folks who often do things by the seat of their pants, but learning how to use crimping pliers isn’t one of them. I just assume I can barrel through anything and get it right the first time. I rarely do, of course! For instance, I was just out for a night on the town with a friend, and we passed a dance hall. It was Milonga night, an Argentinian tango-type dance with a very specific beat.

We looked at each other and said, “Yes! Let’s do it! It doesn’t look hard!” But when we got out on the dance floor, we realized there was no amount of liquid courage that could make us look good dancing this very specific dance when we didn’t have a clue about how to do it. Some things you just can’t fake. Some things you need lessons in order to master them.

I tried to just wing it when I learned how to crimp my strung designs, too. I figured, “Yeah! Just string this thingamabobby here, pass it back through the whatsit there, and squish it with this gizmo over here.” My blind ambition made my beautifully strung pieces look horrible, with pointy flat squares of metal at the ends that would snag clothing and scratch at skin. I learned quite quickly that crimping, like the Milonga, is a definite art. Something to be learned carefully and with instruction.

I learned how to crimp properly several years ago when I helped launch Jewelry Stringing magazine. It’s a really basic technique, so I’m always surprised when I run across a beader who isn’t familiar with it. Again, it just needs to be taught! So I thought I’d revisit good old crimping today, giving you all a quick lesson on the fine art of how to use crimping pliers. It can be done in seven easy steps.

How to Use Crimping Pliers

1. Begin your strand of beads with a crimp tube.

How to use crimping pliers to get the perfect crimp!

2. Pass through the clasp or connector.

How to use crimping pliers to get the perfect crimp!

3. Pass back through the crimp tube and, if possible, a few beads on the strand.

How to use crimping pliers to get the perfect crimp!

4. Snug the crimp tube and beads close to the closure.

How to use crimping pliers to get the perfect crimp!

5. Spread the two wires so they lie along each side of the tube. Use the first notch on the crimping pliers (round on one jaw, dipped on the other) to squeeze the crimp tube shut, making sure there’s one wire on each side of the crimp.

How to use crimping pliers to get the perfect crimp!

6. Use the second notch on the crimping pliers (rounded on both jaws) to shape the tube into a tight round. Make gentle squeezes around the tube for a perfect cylinder.

How to use crimping pliers to get the perfect crimp!

7. Trim the tail wire close to the beads.

How to use crimping pliers to get the perfect crimp!

Pretty easy, eh? It’s the technique you need to know to create strong, beautiful pieces of jewelry like those in the Fast and Fabulous section of Beadwork magazine!

More Resources to Help You Perfect Your Skills

For more tips and tricks on stringing fundamentals, check out these posts by Debbie Blair:
How to Get Started Stringing Jewelry—The Right Tools

Jewelry Trends: The Top Classic and Modern Jewelry Styles and How to Make Them

Happy beading!
Jean

Excerpted from Getting Started Stringing Beads by Jean Campbell, available in the Interweave Store along with the Stringing Starter Kit, which comes with crimping tubes and pliers.

post updated October 2017


Find more tips and tricks at the Interweave Store.

 

2 Comments

  1. Kristina M at 6:34 pm October 26, 2017

    Thanks for the tip! I’m self taught so only had the instructions on the back of the pliers package to tell me how to use the tool. I haven’t paid close attention to how I place the wires but will do so now.

    • Tammy Honaman at 10:54 am November 20, 2017

      So glad you found this article helpful!

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