A bead reamer is a useful tool to have on hand. Learn what it is and how to use one.
A bead reamer is an excellent tool to add to your arsenal. If you’ve never heard of it before, you may be wondering what it is.
It’s a pointed round file used to enlarge, straighten or smooth bead holes. The tip is usually coated with diamond dust providing a hard durable surface perfect for this use.
So, let’s delve into how to use a bead reamer and why you need to get your hands on one.
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Using A Bead Reamer
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When To Use A Bead Reamer
Before we get into how to use a reamer tool, you need to know when you should use one.
Use this tool if you have beads with holes that:
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- Have sharp edges that could cut your beading thread
- Don’t line up properly
- Are simply too small for your beading needle or wire
You can ream several types of bead materials ranging from glass to gemstones.
How To Use A Reamer
As you ream your beads, remember to keep the bead and reamer tip wet. Water is your best friend throughout the entire process.
You can turn on a tap and hold your bead under a steady trickle of water. This way, you flush the hole out as you work.
My preferred method however, is to fill a bowl with water and submerge the bead and reamer tip in that. The second method saves water and still gets the job done.
If the reamer bit dries out during the process, you risk stripping the diamond coating and ruining your tip. The bead might also overheat and chip or crack. Water lubricates the tip and keeps the bead cool.
Wet the reamer bit and bead. Then, insert the tip into the bead hole. Turn the tip inside the bead hole. Don’t jam it into the bead or push too hard. Using too much force, trying to speed up the process, might just break your bead.
Periodically stop and check that everything is going okay, i.e. you’re working in a straight line and the hole is enlarging.
Keep a piece of wire or thread nearby to test your progress. When you can insert either about halfway into the bead, stop and flip the bead to the other side. Continue reaming as before.
Most reamer tips are tapered so reaming from both sides will help to keep the hole size even on both ends of the bead.
Types of Bead Reamer Tools
There are multiple types of bead reamers — ones that are operated manually and electric or battery-powered ones.
Hand Bead Reamer
These usually come in sets with various tips to accommodate lots of hole sizes. These are more than adequate for the average beader.
If you specifically want to enlarge holes in freshwater pearls, use a Fine or Very Fine Bead Reamer. These have narrow and sharp corkscrew tips that fit inside the tiny holes of natural pearls.
Electric Bead Reamer
If you typically ream a lot of beads or have problems with your hands that affect your grip or ability to twist your wrist back and forth, you might consider a battery-powered or electric bead reamer tool.
These do the work for you and allow you to ream beads quickly and without much physical effort. Of course, they tend to be a bit more expensive than the manual ones.
If you’re using an electric or battery-operated tool, be very careful not to insert the body into water.
Technically, these are not bead reamers but these electric powered drills have tiny bits that are great for drilling new holes in beads and making existing holes larger.
Of course, you want to submerge the bead in water but not the drill itself while working.
Here’s a review of the best Dremel tools for jewelry making.
Other Tools You May Need
For round beads 8mm and smaller, you may have difficulty holding onto them while reaming. If this is the case, these Beadsmith Pearl and Bead Holding Tweezers will be very useful.
These tweezers have a smooth plastic tip which prevents scratching delicate pearls and beads. There are also indentations on the tip so you can get a better grip on round beads.
You might also want to wear googles to protect your eyes while reaming beads.
Benefits of Owning A Reamer Tool
By now, you may have determined that there are many benefits associated with using a bead reamer:
- It saves you money because you don’t need to discard beads that would be unusable otherwise.
- You drastically reduce any frustration you might feel as a result of fiddling with holes that are too small or don’t line up.
- Finally, you protect your work by making sure the holes are not so sharp that they can cut your beading thread, ruining your hard work.
So, have I convinced you of what a valuable tool to own.