Beading wire comes in many varieties and sizes and we are frequently asked what to use. We do recommend Beadalon and encourage you to keep reading even if you have other preferences. If you are just looking for absolute basic wire size infor then switch to our "Basic Wire size Chart" in our Guides
Before we go on, we invite you to write us with specific questions which we might not have anticipated when we wrote this guide.
To determine the wire thickness you must first deal withthe following information. Then you will be able to determine which thickness. We will explain generic information, useful for any kind of wire. First, and most important, is I personally recommend the heaviest of thickest diameter wire that give you the "DRAPE" you want and goes through most of your beads ONE time. Now this creates many opportunities for us to discuss variations.
What I recommend most of the time is if you have to go through the last few beads twice (this can be good if you think it through), then allow your design to have some beads which have larger holes at the ends. If you can, you might need a vew metal beads with larger holes. What you want to avoid is to use lighter wire to accommodate going through your end beads. This is bad and do not let the bead police catch you doing this. This is like buying low cost silver when it's just not .925; it's like buying dyed beads when you think it's natural gem material. What is happing is you will be wearing, or worse, selling a necklace with the heaviest beads on too light a wire.
Back to what I recommend: create the design to handle the weight.
Now, what is the drape you want? If the wire is too heavy, then it will be too stiff and not flow properly. (Watch out for the bead police!) But if you want it to not flow, no one will critize your design. This is all right as long as you plan it.
So, let's add some facts here:
There are many diameters of beading wire. There are also many beading wires with the same thickness/diameter but have a variety of strandage levels. Whoa!
I deal with 400 beaders a week and most use wire and most do not understand this. Many manufacturers and designers selling pieces may not be able to put this into a letter explaining it. I usually do not make judgments here but if the problem causes them or me a problem, then I recommend using some judgment. It could be get the best, or get the cheapest; it doesn't matter.
I'll repeat key information: There are the same size/thickness wires in a variety of strandage levels. There could be close matches for diameters in different strandages as well. Basically, the more strands of wire in the same diameter are going to be stronger and more flexible than less strands. The three most likely strandage levels to be found will be 7-strands, 19-strands or 49-strands of wire making up the wire you use.
The higher the strandage level, the greater the strength and flexibility and the pricer the wire. It's more work to make the higher strandage levels. The higher the strandage level, it will be stroner and more flexible than a comparable thickness in a lesser strandage.
For those who are still on the path here, the diameter may not be exactly the same for each strandage, so you may go thicker or thinner a .001 or so.
Now we will work more closely with the diameters and that pesky math. I always refer to the diameter by the size in inches, which will be under 0 until you get into bridge cable. So....
.010 is the smallest diameter and very thin; a specialty diameter
.012 is good enought for light and small hole beads
.015 is medium light
.018 medium, all purpose diameter
.020 and .021 fall between the last two and are good for specific projects.
Above .024 (thicker) and I require a note from your engineering firm! You will need special crimps from here and larger. Oops - if you don't use my crimps then this last statement is going to void your warranty.
Check out my crimping information guide.