Daily Tip July 9: Fine Wire for Stringing

By on July 8, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
July 9, 2010


I am looking for a thin but strong wire for beading necklaces and bracelets. All of the lines I have tried break too easily. What gauge would you recommend that would be strong but thin enough to fit through, say, Swarovski bicone beads on up?

-Janet in Hanover, Pennsylvania


You mention two terms that can be conflicting; “thin wire” and “lines,” along with “beading” necklaces and bracelets. I imagine you are speaking of “stringing”?

If so, you are aware of the fact that I do not string. However, I can give you my tiny, bi-cone use advice with regards to wire.

The smallest Swarovski bi-cone bead I occasionally use is 2.5mm and will fit onto a 24-gauge round wire. I also use 3mm beads, and these will fit on either a 22-gauge round or a 20-gauge half-round wire. As for beading/stringing the projects you mention, Wire-Sculpture does have some stock of beading wire, but I am sure that our beading friends will help by commenting on this post. (Thanks in advance, friends!)

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Any multistrand cable, such as Beadalon, Accuflex, or Softflex will work for stringing beads. For sizing, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. I believe any of those up to a diameter of .019 mm will work for even the smallest crystals and seed beads. For best results, use at least 19 strand cable, as the cable with the most strands will be more flexible and will make your pieces lay softer–more like thread than wire. Hope this helps. You will need crimp beads for this type of cable, and using either crimp bead covers or twisted (tornado) crimps will give a more professional look to your finished pieces. Hope this helps.

    • avatar


      July 9, 2010 at 9:57 am

      To all of my beading/stringing friends, Thanks so very much for jumping in to assist with this question!!!

  2. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 6:46 am

    I have been through the trial and error myself of beading with both stringing materials and plain wire. I have used beading chain, it broke. I used fireline, it sometimes broke, but rarely. I used wire, but then my swarovski crystals broke. I am now at the point where I have switched to the highest test weight beadalon 49 strand beading wire, and to date, have not had one single problem. Yes it is more expensive, but worth every penny!! I get the thickest wire and have never had an issue with swarovski crystal, or anything for that matter, not fitting the stringing wire. Good luck!

  3. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 6:54 am

    I tend to use a non kink tiger tail for stringing swarovski crystal which allows it to be threaded twice through a 3 or 4mm bicone, Sarah x

  4. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 7:06 am

    most of us who bead don’t use any kind of thread with Swarovsky crystals. they cut right through. You can use one of the beading wires, like Softflex, Beadalon or Aculon, which are actually braided steel wires encased in a nylon covering. They come in thicknesses down to .010 mm. You can also try the fused fishing lines, most popular is Fireline. Beadalon also produces a line calle Wild Fire, which is made for stringing heavy or sharp beads. These lines are extremely tough and fray resistant. Watch out, though. Stringing can be addictive. Enjoy.

  5. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 7:56 am

    As Dale stated it does seem like you are more into the beading end and maybe some coiling as well? Or braiding (or twining) of beads on wire? Please take into account that when using a smaller gauge of round wire, like 26 or 28, you are work hardening it as you sit there coiling it or braiding it and can easily snap the wire without meaning too. 24 gauge wire is better for this but you have to take into account what your design is, etc.; and the look you are working to achieve. I am curious to what it is you are doing, so please add some more information if you can.

  6. avatar

    Donna Davis

    July 9, 2010 at 8:07 am

    I find that fine copper wires break easily when used for beading patterns if the wire is bent or kinked.
    Be very careful and don’t use the wire for items that will be flexed by the wearer.
    The places where bends are located will break easily on 24 gauge or smaller wire.

  7. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 8:12 am

    If you are stringing beaded necklaces and bracelets you need beading wire, such as Beadalon or Accuflex. Many thin strands of wire are wound together to form a strong and flexible cable. 7 strand is considered “good”, 19 strand is considered “better”, and 49 strand is considered “best”. I personally like 19 strand, but sometimes use 7 strand wavy wire.

  8. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 8:20 am

    As Dale said, if you are stringing, I find that Accuflex beading wire is strong. I use the 0.014-inch as my standard wire for necklaces and delicate bracelets. It has not broken except when I’ve missed a rough hole edge on an intricately strung bracelet. What I see usually failing is improperly done crimps on necklaces that beginning beaders make. I use other diameters of Accuflex for other things–0.019″ for general bracelets and moderately heavy stones, 0.024″ for designs that will be very heavy (eg, a chunky design using 20+ mm beads).

    I prefer Accuflex because its construction makes it very strong, yet retaining great flexibility. It is bundles of bundles of extremely thin steel wire. The “platinum” level is 7 bundles of 7.

  9. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

    For crystals and bugle beads I like to use 6 to 10 lb. test Fireline or PowerPro fishing line. These are made of “Dyneema” which is a polyethylene braided lines. They are very resistant to abrasion. They should be cut using Fiskars children’s scissors. They will ruin good scissors. I actually like Fireline crystal 4 Lb. for seed beads. The fiber is bonded after it is braided and you can not pierce it with your needle as you weave. It is hair-fine so I can make many passes through the beads. Fireline comes in crystal, gray and moss green colors. PowerPro comes in white and moss green. These fibers can be dyed or colored with permanent markers if you object to the palette that is available.
    Another possibility if you want to go with nylon coated cable is Soft-Flex’s Soft Touch cable which is 0.010 ” in diameter. It is rated as 4 lb. test. I have to admit that I have rarely had crystals slice through any of these materials. I could just about count on nylon threads being cut. Nylon thread is another rant, however. Over time nylon will stretch, as will the Soft-Flex products. Soft-Flex cable comes in a lot of colors including the metal colors. Soft-Touch only comes in blah gray.
    For stone beads and pearls 0.014 beading wire (cable) is recommended. Use crimps to fasten your clasp onto the ends of the cable.

  10. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I use 49 strand cable wire – various brands. They will give the size of the coated wire on the package. Then you can tell if it will fit the hole of your bead. On the vintage tiny beads I must use a smaller strand- 19 or 7. The larger strands (opposite of what you might expect) are easier to use. Less kinking and more flexible in many ways.

    I also do something different than many it seems. I cross my wires in a beginning knot before I use the crimp bead and crimp cover. I have not yet had a piece come undone – not even my earliest pieces. I hope this bit and the other comments made help. Wire-Sculpture has some of the best information around, a great place to learn.

    Good Luck in whatever form your artistic expression takes.

  11. avatar

    Robin Myers

    July 9, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    The information above is good stringing advice. I have tried all of the brands and types listed. They are all good. I suspect that you are not stringing an entire piece, but want to use the crystals in a dangle or short pieces with wrapped end loops for accent in a piece. I have used crystals on headpins which are usually 20 or 22 gauge. To string a few beads you can use the same wire that is used for wire wrapping. If you are creating an entire necklace or bracelet of strung beads, you want a flexible wire or string. 22 gauge should work in the smallest crystals, if not try 24g. For the larger crystals you can use a 20g wire since the holes are larger. Pearls also need the smaller gauge of wire unless you are using the glass pearls. Good luck with your project.

    • avatar


      July 9, 2010 at 11:24 pm

      Thanks Robin – did you know that you no longer need to worry about the holes in most freshwater pearls? Wire-Sculpture now has quite a variety of Large Hole Pearls!! They will ALL fit on a 20g square wire and most will fit on an 18g round, check them out here: http://www.wire-sculpture.com/large-hole-pearls-1.html

  12. avatar


    July 9, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I’m also new to this beading. I use #6 or #20 fishing line. Have had great success with them. Am learning also to use a tool called a crimper, I wish they had classes for us or a film to show how it’s done. Thank you for all you and your staff do for us. Terri Smith

  13. avatar

    Kathie Ward

    July 10, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for all the advice! I currently do more beading than wire jewelry, only because I have not had the time to sit down and watch the videos. I, like most people, have another job to pay my bills. I love working with beads and know I will love working with wire. It is always nice to know there are others out there that will offer help. I use Flex Wire and of course it depends on what I am making as to whether I use 7, 19, or 49 strands. I make more medium to heavy necklace and bracelets, so I use more 19 and 49 strands. I also prefer Sterling Silver or 24K Gold wire. Thanks again.