Which beading wire should I use?
December 8, 2009
A frequent question new beaders ask is “what is the best beading wire to use?” I’ll admit, it can be confusing…there is wire, beading wire, seed bead thread (Nymo type), and different weights or thicknesses of all! Here are a few tips to make sure you are using the best wire for your project!
1. Start with the right type of wire.
If you are stringing beads for a bracelet or necklace, you’ll want to use one of the multi-strand, nylon coated brands such as SoftFlex, AccuFlex, or Beadalon. These are most commonly referred to as “beading wire”. These wires are flexible and strong, and even under the toughest conditions, I’ve found they hold up well!
Seed bead projects will use something more like a thread or even like fishing line. Look for brands like Nymo (thread), Supplemax or Fireline (monofilament). Flexible and thin, they can be re-threaded through beads multiple times for complex seed bead projects.
Wire wrapping is the one type of project where you will choose actual uncoated wire. Use fine gauge wire (24g or smaller) to attach beads to a wire frame or clasp.
2. Select the right gauge and number of strands in your wire.
I’ll focus on stringers in this post…it can be confusing, especially if you are new at making jewelry! As far as gauge goes, the best rule of thumb is to use the thickest beading wire that will fit through your beads. Remember that at the end of your bracelet or necklace, you’ll want to run the wire back through one or two beads…so don’t make it too tight of a fit!
Another good general rule is to evaluate the weight and size of the beads you are using, and determine what size wire will work best. Heavy beads, like the river rock and silver in the first bracelet pictured, need a stronger base. I used .019 Accuflex for the tan bracelet pictured.
Lighter or smaller beads can use a smaller gauge wire – .014 beading wire was used for the pink necklace comprised of 4mm coral and glass beads.
When it comes to the number of strands in the beading wire, the more strands, the more flexible the wire. So…49-strand (7 twists of 7 wires!) will be more flexible than 21-strand. You will usually want more flexibility in a bracelet than a necklace, but 49-strand is a good pick for most projects if you are trying to limit the number of spools of beading wire you have on hand.