Tools for a new passion: Big hole beads

I fancied the idea of making Pandora and Troll beads already for a longer time. I actually made some last year around this time – however, I didn’t have a bead coring tool at that time and handcoring sounded too daunting. I know, I could have sold Pandora beads without the sterling silver cores, but personally I just don’t like the uncored look and didn’t want to sell uncored beads to my customers.

After having several customers ask me for big hole beads, I finally took the plunge and got all the necessary equipment. There is lots of options for bead coring tools, and lots of information out there to point you in the right direction. Every tool has it’s advantages and disadvantages and I’ll not start pointing out all the pro and cons, simply because I only have experience with one of the tools available. So I’m just telling you which tools I’m using … and maybe it’s helpful in case you’re considering making Pandora beads.

First of all I got a digital caliper, which makes it so easy to measure the bead width. This one is from Harbour Freigth and was approx. $20. Money wisely spent, because I use it now all the time, not only for bead coring. Next I use this little benchtop cut-off saw (also Harbour Freight) to cut the copper or sterling silver tubing to size matching the bead that I want to core (+ 3.6mm). You can also get a simple mini pipe cutter at Home Depot or Sears. My metal tubing supplier is Ginkodesigns on Etsy and I am using the 4.37 inside diameter size.
After cutting the core to the right size, I use sandpaper and Dave’s deburing tool (http://www.artintheround.com/) to smooth the ends of the tubing and debur the inside. Now – finally – the actual coring happens. I decided to get Dave’s Impress Bead Liner (see link above). It’s very reasonably priced, easy to use and it makes nicely domed bead cores rather than flattening the sides of the rivet. Once the bead is cored, I check the sides to see if it’s all snug and tight. Sometimes the core needs some additional tightening. To gently tap the edges of the rivet and tighten it, I use a rawhide mallet with a nylon anvil.
Once the rivets are all snug and tight, I polish the rivet with a silver polishing cloth and “seal” the metal with Renaissance wax (Ebay).

And these are just a few sample beads that I made in the last week:

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11 responses to “Tools for a new passion: Big hole beads

  1. Thanks for the great post about coring! We are planning to get a coring setup soon so going to bookmark this for the future refence 🙂 Awesome beads! I especially love the last one 🙂

  2. I got the nylon anvil (which is reversible – nylon on one side, stainless steel on the other) as well as the hammer from “FDJ On Time”. You get them also from a couple of other jewelry tool suppliers, but I found their price to be the best.

  3. I'm going to forward your blog to Dave, I'm sure he will really appreciate your post about his Impress tool. Great post by the way!!!Vickie

  4. Thanks Vickie. Sure, I would love Dave to know that I love his tools. I think both tools (bead liner and deburer) are of great quality and very reasonably priced. I really enjoy coring beads. I didn't go into details about how the coring itself happens, because I found there is a fabulous article on Dave's website explaining it very detailed.

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