Crimping BasicsCrimping requires crimps and pliers. You can buy crimp beads or tubes, generally tubes are preferable as when crimped they are less likely to damage or cut through your wire and tend to look neater. Crimp pliers are many peoples favourites, but some people find they get good results using flat/chain nose pliers.
Crimp beads do come in different sizes if you've checked out the suppliers mentioned in my beading wire guide you will have noticed they give recommended crimp sizes for different wire diameters. They also come in base metals (including plated) and precious metals. Many people prefer precious metal crimps as they tend to be more sturdy and stand up to crimping better than base metals.
You can find a simple "video" on how to crimp on beadalons website. These instructions still apply if you are crimping the 2 ends of claspless necklace together. If you are crimping a single end of a wire (for earrings or when using calottes/beadtips/clamshells) simply using flat/chain nose pliers to secure the crimp will suffice.
Remember when crimping to grip the pliers "with a firm handshake" if you squeeze to hard you will break your crimps and damage your wire.
Magical Crimping PliersYou may have heard of the relatively new product available form BeadSmith "Magical crimping pliers" (Also known as Magical crimp forming pliers).
These are a totally different type of crimping pliers that have been designed to specifically turn a 2mm sterling or gold filled crimp tube into a 2mm round bead while securely crimping your beading wire.
There are 2 sizes of these pliers available. The first are designed for use with Softflex .019 mm (or equivalent beading wire), and the second is designed for use with Softflex Fine .014 mm beading wire (or equivalent wire).
As with the normal crimping technique you string your piece and add the crimp bead this is where the difference occurs. On your first squeeze the pliers will make your crimp bead 'ravioli' shaped. By turning your crimp bead 90 degrees and squeezing again you will have your near round bead, and with a few more turns and squeezes you should end up with a perfectly round bead.
Some people have reported that they have managed to use plated crimps with these pliers, with varying degrees of success. The vast majority of people who have used the specific crimps and wires recommended have reported trouble free neat results!
Finishing TipsYou can cut the end of your wire near the crimp but most people prefer to leave a tail (which is threaded through a bead or 2) for security and to keep the wire neat.
Many people recommend putting a small bead between the crimp and the clasp/ring to protect them from rubbing together and damaging the wire, and also to blend the crimp into your jewellery design. You may also want to look into using French wire/gimp/bullion which protects and hides the wire or a product called Wire Guardians.
If you don't like the look of your crimps you can use crimp covers to hide them, or a bead with a large hole.
If all this sound like to much hard work you might like to try Twisted Tornado crimps. They come highly recommended as you don't need crimping pliers to use them and they look quite nice.
Another product available to those who dislike traditional crimping techniques are Scrimps from Beadalon, now available in a range of designs and finishes.
I hope this has covered all your basic questions. Remember there are no rights and wrongs to beading, but some techniques and products will give you better results. I think it's worth trying out different things to find out what works for you. Happy bead stringing (and crimping)!
Please look at my other guides for more information on selecting the right beading wire for your project.
copyright kitschkitty @ UK Beaders 2006