Posts filed under ‘Tools’

Tool Time: Drill Bit Sizes

I often need to use a micro drill bit set like the one shown below. The main thing I use it for is to open the holes in pearls a little bit. Pearls have such tiny holes, and sometimes even a 24 gauge headpin will not go through. By starting with the smallest bit in a micro drill bit set, I can gradually work my way up to a larger size bit and enlarge the hole very easily.

The drill bit sets such as this and the 20 piece replacement set have confusing numbers – the 12 drill bits in the set are sizes “52 – 74”. Some sets say, “.0635 – 0225.”   But what does that mean to you?

There is a very handy website at

This is a drill bit size chart – and it will tell you in millimeters, inches, and the number designation, as well as a few suggestions as to how to use different drill bit sizes. I have found this extremely useful!



March 14, 2008 at 3:32 pm 2 comments

Tools and Tips for Measuring

With some of my beading projects, I actually work over a ruler.  An example would be when I make an illusion-style necklace.  I like to start from the middle and work from side to side.  In order to keep my intervals between beads nice and even, I set the beads in place right over a regular plastic school ruler.

Here are a few ideas for keeping a measuring instrument at hand!

At the hardware store, you can purchase self-sticking measuring tape for around $2. Use a strip on your bead table, another on your bead tray, or even on your traveling bead case.

Keep a measuring tape in your traveling bead box. You don’t need a 6′ measuring tape, so you will be able to find one that is compact and fits easily with your gear.

Beadsmith came out with a little job called “The Ultimate Folding Ruler.” I ordered some and will be listing them in my eBay store. It is very clever – it folds out into the length of a regular ruler, with both inches and centimeters, but then it folds up into a little compact cube about the size of a Chunky candy bar! (actual measurements 1.5″x 1.5″x 1″.) It will retail for about $1.75 and is cute as a bug!

In a later post I will address the tools you can use to measure your beads.



February 8, 2008 at 3:51 pm Leave a comment

Twisting Wire with a Pin Vise

Prin Vise

A pin vise is a handy tool – above is a picture of a typical 2-ended pin vise.  Each end is capable of holding wire, one end will hold thicker wire than the other.  In my eBay store you will find this pin vise, a micro drill bit set which not only works as a pin vise but comes with  tiny drill bits you can use for enlarging the hole on pearls and other beads, and there is also a 3 piece pin vise set which will give you more size options.  Here is a “how to” from the now-defunct Wire Artist Magazine:

Twisting Wire

(From Wire Artist Jeweller – April, 2004)


Understanding that wire hardens as you work explains the two different techniques used to twist wire. To twist a length of soft wire, place about ¼” of one end into a pin vise and hold the other end with your flat-nose pliers. While keeping the wire straight and moving the two tools together in the same direction, roll the pin vise down the length of your thigh. Pick the pin vise up and repeat several times until you have the degree of twist desired. The wire will twist evenly along its entire length. (In effect, you have taken a soft wire and worked it to about half-hard wire.)


However, starting with a 2# (half-) hard wire requires a different technique. Beginning at one end, slide your pin vise along the length of the wire, stopping about 2” from the other end. Tighten the vise and hold the top of the (small) end with your flat-nose pliers. Twist the section between the tools by turning the vise until you achieve the degree of twist desired. Open the vise and slide it back along the wire about 1-1/2”, tighten the vise and then move the pliers over on top of the last few twists in the wire. Again, turn the vise until you have the same degree of twist between the two tools. Repeat this process along the entire length of the wire. Be careful not to over-twist the wire, as it may work-harden to spring hard and break.


January 19, 2008 at 3:48 pm Leave a comment


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