For awhile, I’ve been meaning to put up a short tutorial on how to make a folded crimp using Crimp Beads (also called Crimp Tubes) and bead crimping pliers. Mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing the first time I got one of these tools, so I figure maybe someone else could use the help. First, this differs from making a standard “flat crimp”. For making flat crimps you can simply flatten a crimp bead with standard chainnose pliers and you’re done.
But for making folded crimps you need a special tool which is called variously: crimp bead pliers, crimping pliers, or bead crimpers. Whatever you call it, they all look pretty much the same. Take a look at Figure 1b for an example. A bead crimping tool has two crimp positions that are used to make a folded crimp. The crimp position that looks sort of like a heart or a “U” is the first crimp you do, and the second crimp position looks sort of like an oval or a lemon. You can pick up one of these for fairly cheap at any bead store or online. But you WILL need it if you are doing folded crimps unless you have some magical method to make the crimp!
First, what are crimp beads used for? These tiny hollow metal tubes (often made of sterling silver) are used for terminating the ends of wire, rope or string that you’ve strung beads and gems on. Though some materials can be tied or knotted, for jewelry cable (like Tigertail, Acculon, Beadalon, Soft Flex) the most common thing to use to stop your beads from coming off the end is a bead crimp.
So why would you want to make a folded crimp? For me there are two reasons: strength and aesthetics. Though some simple crimp beads are nicely decorated and can be just squeezed shut with chainnose pliers, the folded crimp just looks more elegant and finished to me. And as far as durability goes… I have not used non-folded crimps ever since I had an experience where the bead was not crimped down hard enough and got pulled out - resulting in a shower of seed beads on the floor.
(for one crimp bead on the end of a wire)
length of jewelry wire or cable
1 silver crimp bead
Barrel Clasp or other clasp for the end of the wire.
Bead Crimping Pliers
Sharp nosed pliers for cutting
plus whatever beads you want to use