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Threads, cords and beading wire: What to use when

The connective tissue of every piece of beadwork, your choice of thread or wire is a significant factor in the strength and durability of your beading projects. 
Threads and cords

Today’s beaders have more threads and cords to choose from than ever before. The majority of them fall into one of two camps — nylon and gel-spun polyethylene (GSP, Spectra Fiber, and Dyneema are some of he names this material is marketed under). Some other products, notably aramid and polyester, are available as well. 

No thread is perfect for all beading projects. Each product has its strengths and weaknesses, and some are better than others for certain applications. The chart below describes the general characteristics of many of the available products. Note the different methods used to describe the size, weight, or strength of these threads. 


Flexible beading wire is composed of wires twisted together and coated with nylon. The wire is stronger than thread and doesn't stretch. The higher the strand count, the more flexible and kink-resistant the wire. In general, use the thickest wire that will go through your beads. 

Flexible Beading Wire

The decimal refers to the wire diameter in inches (e.g., .014 beading wire has a diameter of .014 inches). When choosing flexible beading wire, use: 

  • .010 or .012 to string lightweight beads or beads with small holes, such as seed beads or pearls.
  • .014 or .015 for most gemstones, crystals, and glass beads. If you buy only one spool of wire, start with .014 or .015. 
  • .018 or .019 for medium-weight beads.
  • .024 or .036 for heavy beads and nuggets.

Spools of beading wire

Flexible beading wire is available in several different (mostly metallic) colors. Use a shade that matches your beads and findings, or as a design alternative, use a color that contrasts with your beads.

Finish beading wire with crimp beads or crimp ends. If using crimp beads, string beading wire through a crimp bead, one half of a clasp, then back through the crimp bead and a few more beads. Crimp the crimp bead. If beads are very heavy or have holes that might fray the wire, you can double the wire for extra security. Just make sure your finishing beads have holes that can accommodate the additional thickness. 

To make a multistrand necklace: Decide the length of the shortest strand, add 6 in. (15 cm), and cut a piece of beading wire to that length. If you want the additional strands just a bit longer, cut each piece 2–3 in. (5–7.6 cm) longer than the previous piece. For more space between each strand, cut each piece 4–5 in. (10–13 cm) longer than the previous piece.

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