Crimp tubes and crimp beads for beading wire are available in a variety of diameters. As you gain experience, you'll likely develop your own crimp size preferences. In the meantime, here are some tips to help narrow down your choices.
Why Crimp Size Is Important
If you use a crimp whose inside diameter is too large for your beading wire, the crimp may not adequately grip the wire, even after you close the crimp 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, or just looks less professional on your designs.
If you've never heard of crimp covers, check them out! They look a little like metal donuts with a bite taken out. They slip over the crimp and when closed look just like a metal bead. It's genius! They come in a variety of metal finishes.
You should also avoid crimps that are too small for your beading wire. 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.
In addition to varying diameters, crimp tubes are also available in varying lengths. Some beaders find that longer crimp tubes are more durable than shorter ones because longer tubes have more surface area to grip onto wire.
However, shorter crimps can be easier to attach and less unsightly than longer crimps.
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 which sizes of beading wire.
For best results (and to keep things simple), I recommend following 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.
|Beadalon Beading Wire Size (Inches)||Beadalon Beading Wire Size (Millimeters)||Beadalon Crimp Bead Size||Beadalon Crimp Tube Size|
|0.010"||0.25mm||0 or 1||1|
|0.012"||0.30mm||0 or 1||1|
|0.013"||0.33mm||0 or 1||1 or 2|
|0.024"||0.61mm||2 or 3||2 or 3|
|0.026"||0.66mm||2 or 3||3 or 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 (Inches)||Crimp Tube Size (mm)|
Source: Soft Flex
If you're still in a quandary about which crimps to use with your wire, check out Tammy's general recommendations on the Jewelry Making site. She shares her preferences regarding bead size, beading wire size, and crimp size combinations.
Sizes of Crimping Pliers
Don't forget that you need to use the correct size crimping pliers with your crimp tubes. Very small crimps require that you use "micro" crimping pliers, medium crimps require "standard" or "regular" crimping pliers, and very large crimps need "extra large" or "mighty" crimping pliers.
Here are Soft Flex's crimp tube and crimping pliers size recommendations:
|Crimp Tube Size (mm)||Crimping Pliers Size|
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 and you can buy one plier that works with multiple sizes of crimps.
Crimp Tubes or Crimp Beads
Many jewelry designers prefer crimp tubes over crimp beads. Crimp tubes tend to be stronger than crimp beads, and less likely to crack and break. Tubes may also do a better job of gripping beading wire because they tend to have larger inside surface areas. 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 crimp tubes. You should consider using them for casual designs, or when your beading budget is tight.
Edited by Lisa Yang