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: