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How to Pick Tools for Beaded Jewelry

VirginiaLynne loves crafts and scrapbooking. She shares her original ideas and tips for how to make crafts quickly and easily.

Learn how to handcraft your own jewelry, like this beaded necklace with a glass heart.

Learn how to handcraft your own jewelry, like this beaded necklace with a glass heart.

Which Beading Tools Should You Buy?

Just started beading? You may wonder what tools you need to buy? Or perhaps you want to expand to making new types of beaded jewelry and want to know what tools can help you. Or maybe you know someone who makes beaded jewelry and would like to buy them a gift.

This bead tool guide will explain the different tools and how they are used. Bead tools are not expensive and if you buy a kit with several tools, you will save even more money.

Needle-nosed pliers and wire cutters are the first tools to buy.

Needle-nosed pliers and wire cutters are the first tools to buy.

Starter Bead Tool Kit

So what tools do you need? To start beading, you need:

  • Needle-Nose Pliers
  • Chain-Nose Pliers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Scissors

First Bead Tools to Buy

If you have needle-nose pliers and wire-cutting pliers, you can do almost all the tasks of beaded jewelry making, so just these two tools are the first I'd put in any kit. What can these tools do?

Beading Tool Kits

Even though you can do most of your tasks with the three tools above, many of the other beading tools help you make handmade beaded jewelry faster and easier. Here are some of the additional tools which are used by most people crafting beaded jewelry. Most of the pliers can be bought for under $10.00 separately, but they are cheaper if you buy them in a kit.

  • Crimping Pliers: For attaching crimp beads to flexible beading wire.
  • Round Nose Pliers: For bending and twisting wire, especially into loops of different sizes.
  • Bent Nose Pliers: For holding beads in difficult positions and bending wire.
  • Loop Closing Pliers: For closing jump rings and bracelet rings without bending, scratching, or distorting the shape.
  • Split-Ring Pliers: to open jump rings
  • Bead Reamer: to enlarge the holes of beads and pearls
  • Tweezers: to pick up beads
  • Awl: to help you knot string very tightly.
  • Beading Needles of Various Sizes: for stringing smaller beads.
  • Bead Board: Curved plastic board with measurements around it. Use to help you put beads in order for your jewelry, to hold beads in place, and to measure how many beads you need.
  • Hammer: used to flatten the ends of the wire.

High Quality Bead Tools

What makes a good beading tool? Beading tools need to be precise and well made. Generally, tools from well-known companies like Beadalon or Beadsmith are reliable choices. Look for tools which:

  • Have rubberized handles so they are comfortable to hold.
  • Are able to open and close smoothly.
  • Made from smooth, forged steel.
  • Are finely made so they grip firmly and come together precisely.

Why Buy a Starter Beading Kit?

For my birthday, my husband gave me the starter beading tool kit below. I love the quality and the fact that it has a variety of tools for me to use. I love this kit!

Here's why: Before I got the kit, I thought my long-nosed pliers were enough, and I would definitely suggest that as the first and most important tool. However, after I got the kit, I found that many times another one of the tools worked better for a particular task. If you buy a set, the tools are cheaper than purchasing

  1. Variety of Tools for Every Task: Before I got the kit, I thought my long-nosed pliers were enough, and I would definitely suggest that as the first and most important tool. However, after I got the kit, I found that many times another one of the tools worked better for a particular task. If you buy a set, the tools are cheaper than purchasing
  2. Better Value: If you buy a set, the tools are cheaper than purchasing them separately.
  3. Can Do More Types of Jewelry Making: As I used the tools, I began to see that I could do new things. Moreover, when I look up a beading project on Pinterest, I know I can do that project because I always have the right tools.

My Favorite Beading Tool Kit

Needle-Nose Pliers

Needle-nose pliers are my go-to beading tool for many purposes. Buy these and wire cutters and you will be ready for most beaded jewelry tasks. Needle-nose pliers are a type of chain-nose pliers which have much longer and more tapered jaws.

Needle-Nose Plier Uses

  • Gripping beads and wire.
  • Turning and bending wire.
  • Opening and closing jump rings, loops, and wire.
  • Attaching crimp beads.
  • Bending back memory wire
  • Making beaded wire pendants.

Wire Cutters

Wire cutters are the second essential bead tool.

Wire Cutter Uses

  • Cutting the flexible wire that is used to string on beads for bracelets and necklaces.
  • Cutting the ends of eye pins and headpins so that you can use them in making earrings and bead charms.
  • Cutting wire used in making wire pendants.
Bent-nose pliers and round-nose pliers are probably the next most used bead tools.

Bent-nose pliers and round-nose pliers are probably the next most used bead tools.

Round-Nose and Bent-Nose Pliers

Similar to chain-nose pliers, the round-nose pliers have a variety of uses. Like their name, the two jaws of the pliers are rounded and tapered. This makes them good for:

  • Making loops in wire.
  • Holding while making a loop
  • Adjusting the size of loops by moving the loop up or down on the jaw.

Bent-nose pliers have curved jaws which I find often allow me to reach in to grab a bead or a wire which I can't grip otherwise. It took me a while to remember I had these pliers in my kit at first, but now I find I reach for them a lot for:

  • Grabbing to hold beads or wires which are hard to reach.
  • Holding your wire while you are putting on beads or crimping.
Chain-nose pliers can help you made wire pendants.

Chain-nose pliers can help you made wire pendants.

Chain-Nose Pliers

One of the most basic tools in your beading box is chain-nose pliers. These come in different sizes for working with different-sized beads and findings. Chain-nose pliers are pointed and are flat inside the blades.

Chain-Nose Plier Uses

  • Grab beads and findings.
  • Grip beading supplies tightly.
  • Open and close jump rings and loops.
Crimping pliers

Crimping pliers

Crimping Pliers

These specialized pliers have two grooves in their jaws. Some crimping pliers also have a cutting edge. Crimp beads are small, large-holed, beads with thin walls which are used to secure the ends of flexible beading wire.

They come in many colors but are usually silver or gold to match the wire. You can fold and flatten crimping beads with Chain Nose or Needle Nosed pliers, but if you are going to use flexible wire often, you probably need Crimping Pliers to make this task easier and neater.

Crimping Plier Uses

  • First, fold crimping beads in half in between the two grooves in the jaw.
  • Second, roll the two halves together to secure the crimp bead.
Crimp beads attach clasps on flexible wire.

Crimp beads attach clasps on flexible wire.

Specialized Beading Tools

Some Tools won't be used by all people making beaded jewelry, but will be helpful if you are doing a particular kind of beading. Here are some of the tools which can be very useful for advanced beading:

Flat Nose Pliers: For working with colored wire so that color doesn't come off.

Hole Punching Pliers: For making holes which have no sharp edges in metal sheets.

Gem Setting Tool: For fastening the prongs of set stones.

Multi-Function Pliers or Rosary Pliers: These pliers come in a variety of styles and sizes. Usually they combine wire cutting, needle nosed and round nose pliers. Especially useful if you are traveling and don't want to take all your beading tools, want a tool to use in teaching, or want to just buy one tool when you get started.

Bead tools help you to bend and finish wires professionally on your beaded jewelry.

Bead tools help you to bend and finish wires professionally on your beaded jewelry.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Charlyn June from Philippines on April 21, 2015:

Thanks for the great information.. I already have the cutter and round nose pliers but was looking for a tool for other purposes and you definitely gave me the idea.. Will be checking for crimping pliers and chain nosed pliers at the shop..

Jacobb9205 on February 10, 2015:

Awesome way to pick tools!

Marco Piazzalunga from Presezzo, Italy on December 24, 2012:

Hello VirginiaLynne,

As I am a glass jewelry manufacturer, with regards to the pliers, of almost any kind, I just want to remember that it is important to emphasize that, as regards the manufacture of jewelry and costume jewelry, it is important that the inner faces of the pliers are flat and not knurled.

Very good overview of tools. Thank you for sharing.

Marco

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 26, 2012:

So glad this helped Magicfive. I love beaded jewelry because you can start with just a few tools and then add on as you go.

MAGICFIVE from New York on August 26, 2012:

I've been thinking of getting into jewelry making, and wasn't sure exactly what tools I need. This hub is very helpful!

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 30, 2012:

You know I've been writing and researching about Alzheimer's and one of the things which has struck me is that learning new things and stretching your mind is one of the best ways to keep our minds healthy for our whole lives! Thanks for stopping by Pauline!

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 30, 2012:

Thanks Angelo!

Pauline Davenport from Isle of Man on July 30, 2012:

So much information and so refreshing to read about this lovely hobby. I've always enjoyed doing 'fiddly' things, and this hub has fascinated me to the point where I'm going to have a go myself. It's something that's only ever been in the 'think about it' stage for me, but this has really inspired me.Thanks so much VirginiaLynnne

Maddie Ruud from Oakland, CA on July 30, 2012:

I love beading! I took a workshop a few years ago, bought my tools, and made a few pieces, but life got in the way! You've inspired me to dig them out and start creating again.

Angelo52 on July 30, 2012:

Excellent information for making bead jewelry. Sharing on facebook. Voted up +

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 30, 2012:

Glad to help kissayer!

Kristy Sayer from Sydney, Australia on July 29, 2012:

Oh my sister is really into making jewellry, I am sending this straight to her! Great hub :)

Voted up!

Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on July 29, 2012:

Thanks so much lady rain. I actually learned a lot while researching this Hub. I want to get some of those specialty tools I listed!

lady rain from Australia on July 29, 2012:

Great information on the tools. I have a couple of the pliers but hopefully will be able to find a full kit with all the tools I need. Voted UP and more..