Bead Stringing Materials
Stranded Stringing Cable and Tigertail
Bead Stringing Materials: Definitions
Beginner Stringing Tutorial
Shopping for Bead Stringing Materials
- The Beginner's Shopping Guide For Basic Bead Stringing
- The Beginner's Basic Bead Stringing "Only What I Need" Toolkit
Tigertail is a good, general, beginner stringing cable. I've never seen it sold in the craft stores in my area, but you should be able to find it in most bead shops.
Acculon is the most common brand name of tigertail. It's made of either 3 or 7 micro spun, stainless steel wires woven together and then nylon coated. It is the most inexpensive nylon coated wire available, and it is a great all purpose wire for beginners, or want to make inexpensive jewelry
To use tigertail as a stringing material, you'll need to learn how to use crimp tube or crimp beads. You can't use knots to secure tigertail. To learn how to use crimps, take a look at my instructions for stringing a basic bracelet .
Stranded Stringing Cable (a.k.a. Nylon Coated Steel Cable)
This is my favourite of all bead stringing materials. Nylon-coated steel cable is also known as stranded stringing cable and stringing wire and is available at most craft stores, bead shops, and jewellerry supply outlets.
Various brands are available. The most popular and common are Softflex and Beadalon. The cable is composed of 7, 19, or 49 strands of steel wire, bundled together and twisted, then coated with nylon.
You can find nylon coated steel cable in a variety of colors, including your basic steel, silver plated, gold plated, silver colored, and gold colored.
There's also an ever growing assortment of fashion colors available too. This really expands the design possibilities because in the past the cable was always meant to be hidden. Now with the hughe assortment of colors available, you can create designs that use the cable as a design element in and of itself.
Stranded Stringing Cable Sizes (diameters) :
Take your pick of these three diameters or thicknesses of stranded cable:
Medium Weight (.019 " diam.) Most Common
This is the most commonly used thickness. It was designed for use with small to medium beads with medium sized holes. This cable will accommodate most beads, except for freshwater pearls and smaller seed beads.
Light Weight (.014 " diam)
Pearls almost always have teeny holes so if you plan on doing some pearl stringing, either go for the .014 size, or use the more traditional silk stringing thread with knots in between each pearl.
Heavy Weight (.024 " diam)
There's also a heavy duty .024 size available that is great for jewelry that takes more of a beating like bracelets and watches. It's also good for heavier beads and large stones and multi-strand designs.
Stranded Stringing Cable and Number of Strands
Now that you know what thickness you need for your project, you'll have to choose from 3 different strand numbers too.
Here's the story on the strands:
7 Strand: Least expensive, also the least flexible. Still a step up from tigertail though. The 7 strand cable Is prone to kinking when bent. In my opinion this quality of cable should never be used for delicate work, although it's a great choice for larger heavier beads in a chunky bracelet. You'll find it might even drape better than the 19 strand if you beads are large and heavy. Not a great choice for necklaces though. It'll work, but the longer the piece of jewellery, the more likely it'll get bent. And if it kinks, it's permanent.
19 Strand: A good middle of the road alternative for necklace making if you find the 49 strand cost prohibitive. If you use the 19 strand cable for jewelry you plan to sell or gift, you should add a care sheet reminding people not to squoosh the bracelet or necklace into their pocket or otherwise bend the cable too much.
49 Strand: The Cadillac of nylon-coated steel cable, the 49 strand nylon cable is strong, drapes beautifully, and isn't prone to kinking. Of course you get what you pay for - the 49 strand costs a fair amount more than the 7 or 19 strand.
Other Stranded Stringing Cable Info
Softflex and Beadalon seem to be coming out with new and improved choices of cable all the time. For beginners though, I'd start with the most commonly used (size .019, 7 strand or 19 strand) and get a feel for it and get used to using the crimping beads.
How To String Beads on Stranded Stringing Cable
I'm going to share my basic bead-stringing method with you. Others may do things a little differently, but every time I string a bracelet, I follow this basic simple method. You can continue to my Basic Bracelet stringing tutorial by clicking here.
Beginner Stringing Shopping List
To learn more about building your own stash bead stringing materials and toolkit, visit my Bead Stringing Shopping Guide for Beginners.
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