If you’re a beader who struggles to confidently use crimps to secure beads and other components on flexible beading wire, this article offers neat and easier alternatives to using ordinary crimps. There are few things more frustrating to a beader than having a jewelry project fall apart due to a failed crimp. When this happens, the beads and/or their components need to be restrung for another try with a new crimp bead. The failed crimp also may have damaged the beading wire, creating additional problems.
Also frustrating is having one of your customers return your jewelry creation in pieces for restringing due to a failed crimp. Another consideration is the despair a jewelry customer may experience when a crimp bead fails, scattering (and likely losing) beads, destroying an expensive or much loved creation forever. Buyers who experience failed crimps will probably not be repeat customers.
Considering all this, I have deliberately sought out fail-proof alternatives to the lowly crimp bead or crimp tube. Besides, crimps are notoriously ugly and cheap-looking, unless the jewelry designer very neatly crimps them and/or tediously hides them with expensive crimp covers.
This article shares my extensive research into the pros and cons of some potentially more secure and beautiful alternatives to relying on simple crimp beads/tubes to secure jewelry projects.
Patented Magic Findings™ offer the ability to crimp together 2-5 strands of beading wire (up to .19mm diameter each), resulting in an attractive silver or gold round bead shape. Magic Findings have been ideal for creating my Protestant prayer beads as I need only one Magic Finding per set. I also thread the tail ends of the wire twice through the Magic Finding.
Then I use the special two-step Magic Finding pliers to securely crimp 5 strands of beading wire into a round bead shape. This creates a study and beautiful bond.
This video shows how to use Magic Findings and their special crimping tool.
(Magic Finding images courtesy of Fire Mountain Gems.)
There are many other ways to use Magic Findings. The company also offers special U-shaped sterling silver or 14k gold-filled Omega Inserts that may be crimped into the Magic Finding.
Magic Findings initially came in four metals: gold-plated, silver-plated, sterling silver, and 14k gold-filled. I opted for the less expensive plated versions and was a very happy customer for several years. The only problem I seldom encountered was one of the finding’s internal tubes pulling loose (they are only held inside the outer tube by friction), taking a looped-back stringing wire with it. This resulted in a failed crimp, likely due to insufficient crimping on my part.
Unfortunately, production of Magic Findings has been discontinued. Plated versions are no longer available at all. There is a dwindling supply of sterling silver and gold-filled Magic Findings available from a few suppliers (see table below) at steadily increasing prices, due to their growing scarcity.
Current prices range from $1.89 to $2.86 per finding, based on quantity purchased and metal type. (At present, there are more Omega inserts available than Magic Findings, and the crimping pliers are being heavily discounted.)
This product discontinuation led me to seek alternatives and write this article. Although I have yet to find a similar 3+ strand crimp, there are some interesting and potentially secure 2-strand options on the market.
Scrimp™ Findings, by Beadalon™, offer potentially secure 2-strand crimping. They come in silver-plated, copper-plated (oval only), or gold-colored “metal.” There are three shapes (for use as crimps): 3mm bullet, 4.5mm round, and 3.5mm oval. Other Scrimp types available include memory wire oval and cable end (with integral loop).
All Scrimps have integral screws for tightening or loosening the clamp on whatever is run through the bead’s hole. A special screwdriver tool is needed to manage the screws. It comes in a kit that contains extra findings in its handle. Extra screws are available, which also will fit inside the screwdriver’s handle.
The inside diameter of the oval, round, and bullet Scrimp Findings is approximately 1.04mm (.041 in). Each Scrimp will accommodate one or two strands of up to .024 inch diameter beading wire.
This video shows how they work.
Some reviewers complain that some of the screws are difficult or impossible to loosen, possibly rendering the crimp useless. Beadalon cautions not to screw the screws “too tight.” Beadalon also recommends adding a drop of adhesive to the bead’s screw hole before inserting the screw “for extra security.” However, that would make the crimp unable to be loosened in the future (which may be a plus). Sounds messy to me. It also makes me wonder if these crimps may occasionally fail.
Current prices are $.19 to $.55 per Scrimp, based on quantity purchased and metal type. This is less than half the price of Magic Findings. However, because Scrimps only hold 1-2 strands of beading wire, I would have to use two Scrimps per prayer bead creation, instead of one Magic Finding. Still, using two Scrimps would cost much less than using one Magic Finding.
I’m seeing a potential trend toward discontinuation of Scrimps, because several outlets that carry the screwdriver kit are no longer carrying scrimps. Such outlets also are offering only a few varieties of Scrimps, most of which are showing low inventory.
Screw-Tite Crimps™ look and function the same as Scrimps, but they come in additional colors and materials. Available materials include silver-, gold-, gunmetal-, and copper-plated copper; gold- and silver-plated brass (barrel style only); and stainless steel.
Sizes include: 3mm rectangle (plated brass only), 4mm round, 3.5mm barrel, and 4.5mm round (stainless steel only). Hole size is approximately 1mm. Each crimp will accommodate one or two strands of up to .024-inch diameter beading wire. My testing has revealed that they will successfully crimp together 3 strands of .019″ diameter Accu-Flex 49-strand beading wire. The interior diameter of the crimps is sometimes too small to accept three strands of beading wire. Keep trying, and you will quickly find one that easily will accommodate three strands.
A small percentage of the Screw-Tite Crimps have imperfect threads on the screws. This results in the screws not screwing all the way into the ball. When this happens, the part of the screw that sticks out feels sharp to the touch, though I doubt it would actually cut anyone.
If you unscrew the screws too far, they will fall out. They are tiny, so work over a bead board or other surface that will catch them. To reinsert a screw into the crimp, balance the screw vertically in the screw hole and screw it in. (This is surprisingly easy to do.) Using a free-standing magnifying glass (or magnifying eyeglasses) is a help if your eyesight is challenged by tiny tasks.
This video shows how Screw-Tite Crimps work.
Compared to Scrimps, Screw-tite Crimps offer a slightly larger round crimp (4.5mm vs. 4mm) and a 3mm rectangle, instead of a 3mm bullet. Screw-tite Crimps specify plated crimps’ base metal (copper or brass), while Scrimps do not. Pricing is comparable, except for stainless steel Screw-tite Crimps, which cost $2.19 each in small quantities (6), but can be had for $1.25 each with larger quantity orders.
The screwdriver kit for Screw-Tite Crimps looks identical to the one for Scrimps, but costs about a dollar more ($4.51 vs. $3.49).
I haven’t been able to find information about Screw-Tite Crimps’ manufacturer online. The primary source for them seems to be Fire Mountain Gems. Perhaps some company acquired the Scrimp patent and is rebranding it with a few improvements?
Bead Buddy CrimpLoks
Bead Buddy™ CrimpLoks™ function in the same manner as Scrimps and Screw-Tite Crimps, but use a non-reversible metal plunger instead of a screw to secure 1-2 (up to .018 inch diameter) beading wire strands. The plunger is depressed using flat- or chain-nosed pliers.
This video shows how CrimpLoks work.
CrimpLoks are 3mm x 2.5mm (2.5mm hole to hole). They are available in either gold- or silver-colored metal (non-magnetic) in packages of 8 for approximately $1.00 per CrimpLok.
Several reviewers reported that some CrimpLoks were defective and would not work. Others said the colors received were not consistent. Some sources for this product no longer have it in stock.
Magical Crimping Pliers
Beadsmith’s Magical Crimp Forming Tool™ can be used to squash 2mm x 2mm gold-filled, sterling silver, or base metal crimp tubes into a round shape that looks like a bead. The jury is still out on whether these tools will work successfully on other metal crimps or with fine or single wire strands.
Magical Crimp Forming Tools come in 2 sizes:
- ER940 Beadsmith (ergonomic version with green handle) for crimping 1-2 strands of .014” to .015” flexible wire (presumably this tool has a smaller bead-forming chamber than the PL950)
- PL950 Beadsmith or Universal for crimping 1-2 strands of .018” to .024” diameter flexible wire. (Regular has blue or yellow handle; ergonomic version has purple handle. Ergonomic pliers are a half inch longer [5” vs. 4.5”].)
Tool prices range from $17.00 to $21.49.
Two companies are marketing 2mm x 2mm crimp tubes specifically for use with Magical Crimp Forming Tools.
- Soft Flex™ Crimp Tubes (seamless with heavy walls): Sterling silver, gold filled, sterling silver, black oxidized, or copper; 1.2mm inside diameter for use with 2 strands of .019 or .024 inch diameter flexible wire. Prices on the Soft Flex website are based on the metal’s current market price when goods are purchased. (Example prices per crimp on 5/15/21: Silver $.20, Gold $.40, Copper $.14, SS Black Oxidized $.21 )
- Beadsmith™ Magical Crimps™ (base metal) and Beadsmith’s regular base metal crimps: Black oxide, copper color, silver color, gold color; For use specifically with PL950 tools and 2 strands of the following wires (may work with other brands and other diameter wires):
- Beadalon™ .018 inch diameter
- Soft Flex™ .019 inch diameter
- Flex Rite™ .020 inch diameter
Here is how the Magical Crimp Forming Tool works:
This video shows the magical crimping process.
Magical Crimping Tool images courtesy of BeadSmith.
The key to this tool working successfully to crimp together 2 strands of flexible beading wire seems to be the use of heavy walled (1.2mm) 2mm x 2mm crimp tubes made of malleable metals. Experimentation using this tool with various 2mm x 2mm crimp tubes is likely the best way to determine which will successfully work to firmly hold together various wire sizes (and number of strands) while forming the crimp tube into a desirable ball shape. This tool offers the only option (other than the nearly extinct Magic Finding) to potentially successfully form a crimp tube into a round ball shape without a visible plunger or screw head. The forming process may take a little practice to perfect.
Easier and more-reliable crimping options are becoming available to beaders who want to avoid using normal crimps or crimp covers. However, some of these options, such as Magic Findings and Bead Buddy CrimpLoks, are not surviving in the marketplace. Of the remaining options, Scrimp Findings and Screw-Tite Crimps are reasonably priced, offer a variety of types/materials, and will reliably and beautifully do the jobs required.
The Magical Crimp Forming Tool offers a wide variety of possible crimping options that sound almost too “magical” to be true. In combination with Beadsmith Magical Crimps, the cost per crimp is the lowest at $.02, though these crimps are made of base metal and only “colored” in four different colors. Beaders will have to experiment with using this tool on various crimp tube types/materials and beading wire diameters to determine which combination will best meet their needs and market.
I have compiled statistics on all these options in table form in this .PDF file: Alternative Crimps. I encourage you to give it a look! (Prices and statistics in this file and post were accurate on 6/10/21).
Personally, I have chosen to start using Screw-Tite Crimps for my future jewelry and prayer bead creations when my supply of Magic Findings runs out. Screw-Tite Crimps offer the most options. I am especially pleased that they allow me to continue to create my prayer beads using only one Screw-Tite crimp per set, because they will crimp together three strands of the .019″ Accu-Flex 49-strand beading wire I use. They are reliably and cost-effectively available through Fire Mountain Gems. They will enhance my creations and keep them from falling apart in my customers’ hands.
I hope this article helps you decide which alternative crimps may work best for you! I look forward to receiving your comments and questions. Please share your experiences with these crimps. If you have discovered any additional options, please let me know!