Crimp tubes and crimp beads designed for beading wire are available in a variety of diameters. As you gain experience, you’ll likely develop your own crimp size preferences and learn which size works best for the various wires you use. In the meantime, there are a few guidelines you can follow to find the right size to start.
Types of Crimps
Crimp beads are available in two common shapes: tubes and rounded beads.
They are made of a variety of metals, though the tubes are typically either sterling silver or gold-filled. Many beaders find that the tubes are easier to work with, so that might be a good place to begin if you’re new to beading.
These finishing beads are essential for completing a piece of jewelry and other bead projects. They help your work stay together and are an alternative to—or can be used with—a bead tip. Most often, they’re used to form a loop that also helps you attach a clasp.
Many jewelry designers prefer crimp tubes over crimp beads. The tubes tend to be stronger than crimp beads and less likely to crack and break. Tubes may do a better job of gripping beading wire because they tend to have a larger interior surface area.
Crimp tubes also allow you to use crimping pliers which make your crimps look less like tubes and more like beads that are part of your design. Crimp beads, however, are often more economical than tubes.
Consider using beads for casual designs, or when your beading budget is tight.
In addition to varying diameters, crimp tubes come in varying lengths. Some beaders find that longer crimp tubes are more durable than shorter ones because of the increased surface area. However, shorter crimps can be easier to attach and less unsightly than longer crimps.
The Importance of Crimp Size
Choosing the right size of crimp bead or tube for the beading wire you’re working with is important. Going with the wrong combination could spell disaster for your beading.
If you use a crimp with an inside diameter that is too large for your beading wire, the crimp may not adequately grip the wire, even after you close it with pliers. This can lead to the crimp slipping and, ultimately, the failure of your design.
Additionally, overly-large crimps can become squashed or otherwise deformed when you close them. This makes them more difficult to hide with a crimp cover. It can also make your designs look less professional.
Crimp covers look a little like metal donuts with a bite taken out. They slip over the crimp and look just like a metal bead when closed. They come in a variety of metal finishes to match any project.
It’s important to avoid crimps that are too small for your beading wire as well. Even if your wire fits through a small crimp, the wire may not align properly when you close the crimp. This can also lead to failure of the strung bead design.
One last aspect of choosing a crimp is the smoothness of the crimp. Twisted crimps have a metal tube that is slightly twisted which means that it may grip the beading wire slightly better than a smooth crimp.
Choosing a Crimp Size
There are no absolute rules for which sizes of crimps to use with certain sizes of beading wire. For best results (and to keep things simple), you’ll find it best to follow the beading wire manufacturer’s guidelines on crimp sizes, whenever they’re available.
For example, Beadalon provides the following chart to help you match Beadalon brand crimps with Beadalon beading wire:
|Beading Wire Size||Crimp Bead Size||Crimp Tube Size|
|0.010 inch (0.25 mm)||0 or 1||1|
|0.012 inch (0.30 mm)||0 or 1||1|
|0.013 inch (0.33 mm)||0 or 1||1 or 2|
|0.015 inch (0.38 mm)||1||2|
|0.018 inch (0.46 mm)||1||2|
|0.020 inch (0.51 mm)||1||2|
|0.021 inch (0.53 mm)||1||2|
|0.024 inch (0.61 mm)||2 or 3||2 or 3|
|0.026 inch (0.66 mm)||2 or 3||3 or 4|
|0.030 inch (0.76 mm)||3||4|
|0.036 inch (0.91 mm)||3||4|
Soft Flex also offers a chart of what it calls the “most typical” crimp tube and beading wire size combinations:
|Soft Flex Beading Wire Size||Crimp Tube Size|
|0.010 inch||1-by-1 mm|
|0.014 inch||2-by-2 mm|
|0.019 inch||2-by-2 mm|
|0.024 inch||2-by-3 mm|
Source: Soft Flex
If you’re in a quandary about which crimps and wire to use with certain beads, you can use these general guidelines, which apply to most (not all) beads:
- Beads under 4 mm: 0.010 to 0.012 beading wire with 1-by-1 mm crimp beads
- Beads between 4 mm and 8 mm: 0.014 to 0.015 beading wire with 2-by-2 mm crimp beads
- Beads 10 mm and up: 0.019 to 0.24 beading wire with 3-by-3 mm crimp beads
Sizes of Crimping Pliers
Don’t forget that you need to use the correct size crimping pliers for your crimp tubes. Very small crimps require “micro” crimping pliers, where medium crimps require “standard” or “regular” crimping pliers. And, if you’re working with very large crimps, you’ll need “extra large” or “mighty” crimping pliers.
These are Soft Flex’s crimp tube and crimping plier size recommendations:
|Crimp Tube Size||Crimping Pliers Size|
|1-by-1 mm||Micro Pliers|
|2-by-2 mm||Regular Pliers|
|2-by-3 mm||Regular Pliers|
|3-by-3 mm||Mighty Pliers|
|3-by-4 mm||Mighty Pliers|
|3-by-5 mm||Mighty Pliers|
Source: Soft Flex
If you want to skip the headache of having multiple crimping pliers, you may want to consider the Om Tara crimping plier. It is a single-step crimper so you can buy one plier that works with multiple sizes of crimps.