I bought this bead liner from Retro Glass Tools when I was at the ISGB convention this year. I’ve just now gotten around to making some beads and buying some silver tube and trying it out. I probably would have taken longer to get around to it, but I’ve been asked to do a demo at the Southern Flames Demopalooza in January. So far I’m very happy with the results. It’s not too complicated or difficult, and it doesn’t take too long either.
First of all, the bead ends have to be even with a slight pucker. I had quite a bit of troubles getting good bead ends with the 3/16″ mandrels I’m using. I got so used to the 3/32″ that changing to a bigger mandrel is a bit of a challenge. I still can’t make thin beads on these mandrels, but that will come with practice. I’ve been using some of the Double Helix glass that I got at the convention.
Second you need the appropriate size silver tubing. There’s a whole thread on Lampwork Etc. (actually there are probably several) about what size mandrel to use, what size tubing, and where to get it. You could use a different metal tubing, but I haven’t found any copper tubing for sale. I haven’t looked too hard, but the places I have gone to don’t seem to have copper. There is one place that sells the tubing for the 3/16″ mandrels that fits Pandora bracelets, and then the tubing from other places is too thick and won’t fit over the clasp. So, I’m using the tubing that supposedly fits, but I haven’t found a Pandora bracelet to try it out on yet.
Once you have the bead and the tubing you need a couple other tools: a metal caliper and a mini tube cutter. The metal caliper is used to measure the bead and the silver tubing. I use a metal caliper because it will mark the silver tube and I don’t have to worry about a marker or something. Once the mark is set, use the tube cutter to cut the tube. The instructional video that came with my bead liner (quite the production by the way) suggested using the tube cutter to just score the tubing and then snap it off. That hasn’t worked for me – I just use the cutter to cut all the way through the tube. Once the tube is cut, the inside needs to be filed down and any burs removed. This is the most time consuming part of the whole process. But it’s not too bad.
Once you have your tube, and your bead, you load the bead on the tube into the beadliner where I have the arrow pointing to in the picture. Then it’s just a matter of turning the big wheel on the right until the bead doesn’t turn freely on the tube any more. It is important to turn the big wheel slowly, or in small increments, testing the bead between turns. I’ve only cracked one bead (my first) and that was because after I was through tightening the large wheel I got so excited that I had lined a bead I turned the wheel in the wrong direction to get it off. I tightened when I should have loosened, and the bead cracked. I don’t think I’ll make that mistake again.
And then you have a lined bead!