wire diameters

Beading Wire Diameters

1:12 PM

More and more, I'm talking to designers who are frustrated and confused about how to pick the best diameter of wire for their beading projects. With there being so many copy cat wire manufacturers out there and no standard way of marketing or labeling the wire, it can be very hard to decipher what is the most important information. I can't speak for every brand, but I can certainly speak for ours.

Choose the thickest diameter that will fit under your beads!

That is right. It is that simple. Just choose the thickest diameter that will fit under your beads in Soft Flex Wire. You don't need to memorize number of strands or look at tensile strength. I will talk a little about those things later in the blog, but you can make it very easy and very simple and just look at the diameter.

Most common usage for each diameter can be found right on the label:

Very Fine
(.010 in) – sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving & embellishment.

Fine (.014 in) – pearls, seed beads, small stones that won’t fit on a thicker diameter

Medium (.019 in) – most commonly used, all purpose diameter – will fit most pearls & seed beads but can also handle more abrasive materials such as crystal, glass & stone

Heavy (.024 in) – best for bracelets, eye glass holders, watch bands (designs that get a lot of wear and tear) – also good for lampwork, trade beads, bone & stone (heavy and abrasive beads) most

Construction of beading wire & number of strands:

Most beading wire is strands of steel that are braided together and then coated in nylon. The variations on this basic recipe can include different numbers of strands, thickness of nylon, colored nylon, plating with gold or silver, etc. From manufacturer to manufacturer, there are variations in quality & origin of the steel, types of nylon as well as braid/weave of the wire. All in all, every beading wire is not created equally. For quality assurance, we touch every inch of Soft Flex Wire as it is being spooled. We are particular about our product from beginning to end, only using the best products in the interior of the wire so that the exterior can look, feel and be "simply the best" beading wire. So you will hear that a wire is a 7, 19, 21 or 49 stranded product. This refers to the number of strands that are braided within the wire. We currently make Soft Flex Wire in Fine - .014 - 21 strands, Medium - .019 - 49 strands & Heavy - .024 - 49 strands. We have never strayed from that same construction in our core product, Soft Flex Beading Wire. Any time we have tinkered with the construction to create something more flexible (Soft Touch), less flexible (Econoflex) or plated (Extreme), we have put a new brand name on the product so that it can easily be spotted as different and not the same.

Tensile Strength:

So, tensile strength is another confusing tid bit that is on all beading wire labels. Tensile strength refers to the breaking point when the wire will snap under the stress of weight. How does this apply to jewelry exactly? Um, I don't think it does. However, it is a standard way of talking about wire. Unless you are using this wire for fishing or lassoing a little one (not recommened by me - of course), there is no reason why this part of the label should trip you up. It is there if you want to look at it, but it is not important in any way shape or form in choosing your beading wire diameter.

Quick guide to our beading wire brands:

Soft Flex & Metallics – original 21 & 49 stranded beading wire, available in 3 diameters: .014/Fine (6 colors + steel), .019/Medium (22 colors + steel) & .024/Heavy (4 colors + steel)

Soft Touch – premium 21 & 49 stranded beading wire, available in 4 diameters: .010/Very Fine (2 colors + steel), .014/Fine (steel only), .019/Medium (steel only), .024/Heavy (steel only). Soft Touch is more flexible with the same strength and durability as Soft Flex Company

Extreme Steel – 19 stranded beading wire, available in 3 diameters: .014/Fine (only silver), .019/Medium (only silver), .024/Heavy (only silver).

NEW Extreme “Green Product” (look for green logo) – 19 stranded beading wire, available in 3 diameters: .014/Fine (silver, gold & champagne), .019/Medium (silver, gold & champagne), .024/Heavy (silver, gold & champagne). The NEW Extreme “Green Product” is more flexible than Extreme Steel with the same durability.

Econoflex – 7 stranded beading, available in 3 diameters: .010/Very Fine (7 colors + steel), .014/Fine (7 colors + steel), .019/Medium (7 colors + steel). This is our ONLY wire manufactured in China. It is for beginners and crafters not for typical stringing projects.

What other questions do you have? I'm all ears. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me at Sara@SoftFlexCompany.com.

See what my friends are up to:

Jamie Hogsett caught up with some of her long distance buddies at the Bead and Button show.

Kristen Fagan has got a lot of inquiries from friends and family about her Jamaican bus ride so, here is her review.

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6 fabulous thoughts ...

  1. Can you tell me why the "Green product" is green? Is it recyled steel or something?

  2. Hi Leah,

    The eco-friendly Extreme is currently the only beading wire that does not have a steel core. We are using a softer metal in an innovative construction which produces far less waste and pollution in the manufacturing process. It is also cadmium free. This wire is strong, durable and really flexible as well as available in beautiful colors - 925 sterling silver, 24k gold & champagne.

    All of our other beading wire has a steel core, which isn't entirely bad since steel is a recyclable product. All of our original beading wire brands are made with 60-70% recycled steel.

    To learn more about going "green" as a company, check out this page: http://www.softflexcompany.com/CustomerService_Green.html.

  3. Thanks so much for the info. I had some lanyards break lately and I see that I was using the wrong wire! This info helps a great deal!

  4. I just discovered your blog and really enjoy it. I have given you a blogger award which you can view at:


    feel free to accept it or not -- whatever you wish. It is just my way of sharing your blog with others!

    Carolyn Good

  5. You are very welcome. Lanyards get a lot of wear and tear. The thicker diameters will be better for sure. I would even try .024/heavy if at all possible. :)

    Good luck!

  6. Very Interesting!
    Thank You!


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