How to Use Beading Needles

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How to Use Beading Needles

Working with small beads requires a special type of needle called a "beading needle&". This needle is long, very thin, and flexible. Beading needles are inexpensive, but they do not last long and need to be replaced often. It is important for those interested in beading to purchase a variety of sizes of beading needles and to have multiples of these sizes on hand. In this way it is easy to replace a needle that breaks in the middle of a project.

It is not difficult to use a beading needle. This small gauge wire only requires a couple of special tools to work with it, and these are primarily used in securing the thread in place in the needle eye. Before purchasing beading needles, determine what exactly they are to be used on, from leather work to stringing bracelets. It is also important to determine what size needle beaders want to use most frequently in these project. Very small seed beads tend to require the finest of needles, while larger beads are okay for use with thicker needles. Beading needles can be found in sewing and craft stores, through needle manufacturers and their websites, crafting websites and online listing sites, such as eBay.

Types of Beading Needles

There are several types of beading needles to choose from for stringing beads. Each needle is developed for a specific purpose relating to beading. Some needles are ideal for stringing jewellery, such as necklaces and bracelets. Others are perfect for crochet and beading on the loom. All jewellery beading needles are approximately 5 centimetres (cm) long, but other types of needles can vary in length.

English Beading Needle

This is a high-quality beading needle made in England, which does not snag. These types of beading needles are long lasting and can be reused a couple of times before they are discarded. English needles are pliable and not as brittle as other needles. In fact, the English beading needle is the most commonly used type of beading needle and is widely available.

Japanese Beading Needle

Japanese needles are high-quality, and also made in Japan. They are smooth, do not snag, and are less prone to bending compared to English needles. However, Japanese needles are more brittle, and can break more easily compared to English needles.

Economy Beading Needle

Economy needles are lower-priced and generally made in several different countries. These needles are stiffer than English or Japanese needles and do break more quickly compared to both. Those who want to start learning how to bead can use these economy beading needles without worry or too much expense.

Big Eye Needle

The big eye needle features a gigantic eyelet compared to other beading needles. In fact, this needle is composed of two smaller needles soldered together at the ends. The eye is in the centre of the big eye needle, and is approximately 5 cm in length. This needle is used for threading ribbon, yarn, twine, and other large or wide materials for beading large beads and even crocheting.

Sharp Needle

The sharp needle is not necessarily sharper than other beading needles, but it is shorter. Coming in at approximately 3.8 cm, sharp needles are stiffer and provide better leverage for embroidery beading. The sharp needle is not recommended for traditional beading or beading on the loom, as it is not long or flexible enough.

Glover's Needle

The Glover's Needle is designed for use in beading leatherwork. It is a thicker needle with a very sharp, three sided point. It is also stiffer than other beading needles. These needles can even be used to bead some of the larger seed beads onto leather or thick layers of fabric.

Griffin Needle

The Griffin soft wire twisted needle is unusual in appearance but highly effective for its purpose. This needle features a large eye at the end of a string of thin, soft wire twisted around itself. The Griffin needle is ideal for threading large materials, such as yarn, and ribbon through small beads or even beads with curved holes. The Griffin needle is used in beading small pearls and gemstones onto silk cord. These needles are only available in three sizes, fine, medium, and heavy.

Beading Needle Sizes

Beading needles come in a variety of thicknesses referred to as "sizes". The thinner needles are used on small seed beads, and the thicker needles are used on beads with larger holes. When it comes to beading needle sizes; the lower the size number is, the thicker the needle. Here is a chart of the most common beading needle sizes and the bead sizes they are used on.

Needle Size

Bead Sizes

General Needle Thickness

Size 10

10, 11


Size 11

11, 12


Size 12

12, 13


Size 13

13, 14, 15


Size 14

14, 15


Size 15

15, 16, 17


These are just some of the most common needle sizes. Beading needles may also be sold according to their millimetre (mm) thickness. Most medium-sized needles are around 6 mm in thickness or less. Fine needles are 3 mm or less, and thick needles are larger than 6 mm.

Using Beading Needles

Since the most commonly used type of beading needle is the English needle, beaders need to know specifically how to use this needle for most of their work. The English needle is made of a very thin metal, but still requires a special tool to manipulate the metal without breaking it because it is so small. This is why beaders need a pair of needle nose pliers,, and fishing line or beading string.

Threading the Needle

Threading the needle is simple. Locate the eye at the end the needle and slide the end of the thread through the eye. Pull about 7 cm of thread through the eye so that it does not come loose while beading.

Pick up the pair of needle nosed pliers and position them around the outside of the eye of the needle. Holding the needle firmly, squeeze the pliers together to close the eye. Now, the needle is ready for use.

Threading Beads

Tie off the end of the thread or tie a small stick or piece of metal to the end to block the beads from sliding off the thread. Slide each bead over at the point of the needle and onto the thread. When finished adding beads, tie off the thread at the other end close to the beads. Be sure to leave enough room beyond the knot to secure a clasp to the threaded beads.

Releasing the Thread

When finished beading, it is simple to release the thread from the eye of the needle. Use the pair of pliers to grip one side of the eye and gently pull it open. Slide out the end of the thread. Beaders who are careful with their beading needles can use them two or three times before the metal fatigues and breaks around the eye.

Buying Beading Needles on eBay

You can buy beading needles on eBay from hundreds of sellers in the sewing and crafting categories. Rather than searching for the many sizes and varieties of needles manually, use the eBay search engine to save yourself a bit of time. It is available from any page of the website and only requires a single search term for use. Your search term can be anything related to beading needles, such as "twisted wire needles&", which is another name for Griffin needles. Other search terms can include brand names, such as "Beadsmith&", or even other beading supplies, such as "beeswax&".

Seller History

Before purchasing any kind of tool or piece of equipment on eBay, you may want to look at the seller's history. You can access any seller's history by clicking on that seller's name in any product listing. This takes you to another page of the website showing all of the seller's previous customer feedback in the form of comments, and a star rating. Customers can also indicate whether they had an overall positive or negative experience with the seller.


Beading needles are designed in a few different ways for different purposes from embroidery on fabric to threading jewellery. The most commonly used type of beading needle is the English needle, a very fine gauge wire with a large eyelet at one end. The eyelet can be secured around the beading thread using a pair of needle nose pliers. Unfortunately, the wire is so thin that opening and closing the eyelet only a few times can fatigue and break the needle. Beaders need to purchase several needles to have in reserve for when this happens.

Beading needles are available in the five standard sizes from size 10 to size 15. The lower sizes are for thicker needles and the larger size numbers are for thinner needles. Some types of beading needles, such as the Griffin needle, are only sold in the fine, medium, and heavy sizes. Bead sizes are generally similar to beading needle sizes, so that a size 10 needle is used on a size 10 bead. Beading needles are readily available on the auction site, eBay.

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