Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads, Contemporary Wire Jewelry. Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder. You can buy all types of tube beads but making your own is a lot of fun and gives you many choices about size and finished texture.
Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads
by Kylie Jones
  • Category: Contemporary
  • Technique(s): Butane Torch Techniques
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
You can buy all types of tube beads but making your own is a lot of fun and gives you many choices about size and finished texture. Here we will make a pair of plain curved tube beads and a pair with a hammered finish.

Materials

Thin-walled dead soft copper tubing outer diameter (OD) 2.4mm inner diameter (ID) approx. 1.7mm, 1” per bead.
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
16 Gauge Round Half Hard Copper Wire
H11-16H
  • Lesson Quantity: 3.00 inches
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $1.26
  • Gold Club Price: $0.94
Out of Stock
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Tools

Jewelers Saw with Adjustable Frame without Blade
G18-3
  • G18-3
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $12.97
  • Gold Club Price: $9.73
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Tube Cutting Jig
HOL-108.00
  • HOL-108.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $47.95
  • Gold Club Price: $35.96
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WET/DRY PAPER 9 x 11, 400grit- PK/10
ABR-500.25
  • ABR-500.25
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $12.95
  • Gold Club Price: $9.71
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Mandrel approx. 85mm diameter, I used a vase, a bottle will also work.
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
1.6mm steel rod to support tubing and sandbag if you want a hammered finish.
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
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Instructions
Step 1
Make sure the end of the tube has a flat even edge and cut a piece of tubing 1' or 25mm long. Using 400 grit sandpaper or polishing paper remove any burs left from the saw blade and smooth the entire surface of the bead.
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Step 2
To begin making the beads you need the tubing to be very soft and easy to bend, so it is best to buy dead soft or bendable copper tubing. If you can't buy soft tubing, you can bend these curved beads with hard tubing but the harder the metal the less precision you have in the shape of the curve, particularly at both ends. If you need to anneal the tubing I find the easiest way is to draw a line on the piece of cut tubing with a sharpie marker and heat the tube evenly until the sharpie mark disappears. Quench and pickle.
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Step 3
I use 2 pieces of 1.5mm round copper wire to help me get the shape I want and to support the roundness of the tube and prevent it from collapsing under the pressure. Each wire is about 40mm long. I use copper because it is fairly soft and the wires can be straightened after making each bead and used again for the next bead. The wires are inserted into the tube so they meet in the middle of the tube.
Place the tube with the interior wires against the mandrel and with your fingers press the tube against the curve of the mandrel starting in the middle of the tube and working towards the ends. If you start at the ends you risk getting a pinch or sharp apex in the middle and the aim is to get a soft curve. This tube is so soft and easy to form that you can do a lot of the bending just with your fingers, but the very ends of the tube are hard to get to the right shape. The small thick wire pieces give you a lot of control over the precision of the bend - how much bend and exactly where to bend.
Once you have the main bend around the mandrel you can use the pieces of wire to bring the ends around a bit more to complete a nice curve shape. I have the wire just inside the end of the tube about 5 mm depending on where I want the curve to increase. This process is best done with lots of small changes because you are trying to get both ends to be the same and the entire curve shape to be uniform so the bead looks balanced. If necessary you can also use round/flat forming pliers as a mandrel to coax the tube around.
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Step 4
If you want to make the beads with a textured finish this needs to be done after cutting the tube pieces and sanding them to a nice finish, and before bending them into a curve. I used a 1.6mm steel rod to support the tubing so it didn't loose its shape. I supported the bead on a leather sandbag and used a cross-peen hammer to create a texture and then I switched to a ball-peen to make the surface more evenly textured. Make sure you regularly twist your bead so it doesn't get stuck on the mandrel as it is already a tight fit before the hammering. I didn't anneal the tube after hammering because I was curious to see if I could bend it into the right curve. It was much harder to bend. The initial pushing against the mandrel was fine but getting the precise bends at the very ends of the tube was quite hard but still doable, so if you don't have the tools to anneal the tube you can still make these beads. If I was making them again I'd probably anneal after hammering because you do risk pinching or denting the tube with the more force that you apply. The downside to annealing after hammering is that you then need to polish the bead and you lose some of the definition of your texture.
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads
Kylie Jones's Make Your Own Curved Tube Beads - , Contemporary Wire Jewelry, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, make curved tube beads