Friday, 28 October 2016

Using A Bead Reamer

A while ago I bought a set of diamond coated bead reamers and thought it was about time I tried them out.

I got them from Cooksongold for just under £9 and they arrived in a plastic pouch. There are four bead reamers in the set: two thin round reamers - like a smaller version of a round needle file - and two conical shapes - one with a barrel shaped body. 

So, what do you do with a bead reamer? They are designed to be used to enlarge a hole in a bead and can also be used to smooth the area around the hole. Back when I used to make a lot of bead and wire jewellery, every now and then I would come across a couple of stone beads from a string with "wonky" holes. By that I mean when the hole was drilled in the bead it didn't meet properly in the middle causing a narrow area that stopped the wire going through to the other side. 

I thought I'd try out the bead reamer on a stone bead with this problem.

The 20g copper wire will only go about halfway through the bead because the hole isn't straight.

I used one of the round reamers and twisted it inside the hole a few times before doing the same at the other end. I checked it with the wire and it went through nicely.

It was really easy to do as the diamond particles on the reamer grind the inside of the stone away making the hole bigger.

Another use for the reamers is to enlarge the hole in a pearl. I have quite a lot of pearls......

.... and some of the smaller sizes have pretty small holes. Sometimes I like to use a thicker gauge wire especially for pearl dangles so being able to make the hole in the pearl bigger is very useful.

This potato pearl is about 5mm and the hole will take 22g/0.6mm wire.

I wanted to be able to use 20g/0.8mm with it so I used the thin round bead reamer.

I did the same as before and twisted the reamer in the hole a few times before doing the same at the other end and it very quickly enlarged the hole. You can see the dust from the inside of the pearl on my finger in the photo.

The hole was soon large enough to take the 20g/0.8mm wire. Some of the coloured coating/dye {not sure what they do to these pearls to colour them!} did come off around the hole but not enough to spoil the pearl.

If the bead was used as a dangle or bead link the wire wrap would cover the small amount of "damage" to the hole.

I also tried the reamer with a ceramic bead. I occasionally make bangles with a ceramic bead threaded onto them. The hole in the ceramic bead obviously needs to be bigger than the bangle wire.

The reamer did the job but it did take a bit more effort than the pearl and stone bead.

Here's the before and after photos of the hole and you can see it is bigger after using the reamer.

I did try using the conical shaped reamers with the ceramic bead but found they weren't as succesful as the thin round reamers. When I put any pressure on them they pushed down into the handle and the handle moved but the reamer stayed still when I twisted them.

Pulling them out again and adding a bit of super glue would no doubt sort that problem out.

On the whole I'm glad I bought them as they make it very easy to sort out any problems you might come across with rogue bead holes.

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  1. I've only got one bead reamer but have found it a pretty handy tool to have. I'd not come across the conical reamers before, so it's interesting to learn about them (and their limitations at times!)

  2. Great demonstration Tracy. Bead reamers really come in handy for me when working with pearls.

  3. Thanks for sharing your tips and experience. You're jewellery pieces are so beautiful and unique. It's a great idea to design your own bespoke jewellery pieces, and flaunt your unique style and individuality through them. If you have more intricate or difficult designs in mind, there's also some great jewellers that can help put your ideas into motion!

  4. Pretty sure that if you add water, your diamonds will stay put on the reamer, and so it will last longer. Just dip the reamer and the bead in water periodically as you work. Love your work and your blog, btw.

    1. Thanks you, and thanks for the tip with the bead reamer.


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