Here's where I have to interject a health warning. Sigh. Beading can be dangerous. Not in any way I can actually imagine, but, well, maybe the anvil scenario, or if you strung wire across the bottom of a doorframe. Don't eat beads or stuff them up your nose. Try to cut the wire and not your fingers. Etc. The only serious warning I might offer is to always watch out for shrapnel. This is actually more of a concern with wire wrapping, but if you get bollixed up and accidentally end up flinging your beads across the room, anything could happen. You might put an eye out, or scare your cats. You could break a window and a flying piece of glass might sever an artery. If there is often a lot of flying debris in your workroom, wear safety glasses.
As you've guessed, we're not really all that tenderly concerned for your health. What we're really saying is that we are not responsible for the injuries you may inflict upon yourself in pursuit of learning a craft. We don't even feel that we're responsible for our own. We follow our own advice and still manage to get boo-boos all the time, so be forewarned.
Cutting Your Bead Wire
Make sure you read the above safety warnings first.
It really doesn't matter what you cut the bead wire with, obviously, but if you use the same cutter you use for thread and French wire, eventually the beading wire will make microscopic dings in your cutter, and the French Wire and thread cuts will start coming out ragged. So if you're going to be doing a lot of this get separate cutters for each job.
Using Crimping Pliers To Attach A Sterling Clasp
For a moment, let us switch, confusingly, to a sterling clasp, sterling tube crimp, and red coral.
(see photos above) Here you see a basic crimp assembly, without French Wire. The wire goes through the ring and back through the crimp. Now we're going to use crimping pliers to crimp it. You could also smash it flat with regular pliers, but that's pretty crude, don't you think?
First we'll make a crimp with this part of the pliers. This part of the pliers will create two channels for the wire.
Then we'll push the two channels together, rounding the crimp back into a tube shape, with this part of the pliers. This makes a sterling or base metal crimp more secure. Sterling and base metal are both brittle enough that the indentation of the crimp could actually crack, if pressed hard enough, so it's best that the indentation is toward the inside.
You'll skip this step with the 14k crimp.
Here are the pliers in action, and the results, showing the beading wire encased in two channels, before the crimp is rounded back into a tube form.
Will the clasp be less secure if the wire doesn't end up in two channels? It depends on the kind of wire you're using and the way it ends up inside the crimp. If it prevents the crimp from being sufficiently crimped around it, there may be wiggle room for the wire to come loose. If you're not sure, and don't want to restring, nip the indentation of the crimp in a little closer with the flat part of the pliers.
What kind of crimping pliers should you buy? There are two types, regular and micro. I recommend the micro. Most tube crimps are too small to be effectively crimped by regular crimping pliers.
Ream Two Beads, if Necessary
Some gem beads have very very small holes. This is not so with the faceted citrine, but we're going to bend the wire back through the first and last bead, so that it has two widths of bead wire through it, and often you'll need to enlarge the hole of a gem bead, such as this 4mm red coral bead. For this you'll need a high-speed minature drill bit, as for a Foredom or Dremel, somewhere between a 68-80 gauge. The higher the gauge, the more slender diameter of the bit.
Yes, the drill bit in the photo is broken. And yes, I am still using it. I am so ashamed.
You can learn to ream beads with a motorized tool, but if you do that you definitely will have shrapnel. It will happen. That's how this drill bit was broken. The drill bit, impaled in a bead, got stuck, and flung itself out of my fingers and directly at my face at high speed, since I was looking at the bead at the time. Although apparently not closely enough.
String The First Reamed Bead
Here are my Xuron Tweezer Pliers. I love my Xuron Tweezer Pliers. They're a narrow flat-nosed plier with a softer jaw which is great for using on beading wire, which can sometimes be bent or smashed flat by heavier pliers. And they get into tiny places, which is a always beneficial when doing fine beading. We're going to use them to help thread the end of the wire back through the coral bead.
Why is threading the wire back through the first bead necessary? Because if you cut it off right after the crimp, it's more likely to pull out, so it's not secure. And it also looks like crap. It will also leave a visible wire, and the crimp will sit on the bead at an angle. That's-a no good.
First you coax the end of the beading wire back into the hole of the coral bead by gently holding the the wires with the tweezer pliers about an eighth of an inch away from the bead on the clasp side, and push-pulling till the end gets through.
Then you grasp the wires from the other end and slide the bead up to the clasp.
Cut the straggle-end of the bead wire off as close to the bead as possible. You'll do this on the other end when all the beads are strung, too, of course. Here we're using a cheapo flush cutter. There is more info about flush cutters in the earring wire-wrap tutorial.