View Full Version : Bead Caps

11-10-2009, 01:17 PM
I would like to make simple bead caps for some quite large beads.

Is the best way to cut small circles of thinnish sheet then shape them and drill holes in them?
If so, what thickness of sheet is recommended?

11-10-2009, 01:27 PM
I make a lot of beadcaps!

I use a disc cutter and doming block for shaping, and a screw down punch for the holes.

As for she sheet, it varies. For my smallest, I go as thin as 0.2mm, up to 0.5mm for big or textured ones. The ones I make most of tend to be 0.3 or 0.4mm. I anneal before cutting, and tumble the finished caps. If you drill the holes, rather than using a screw down or cutting centre punch, make sure you debur the holes carefully, they can be very sharp otherwise.

Always dome very gradually, I've found over time that they need to be far less curved than you might think, especially for larger beads.

11-10-2009, 01:38 PM
Wow, excellent, thank you for the great advice, again :Y: :) I bought some lovely 18mm lampwork beads which I want to make in to a nice necklace so I think hand made bead caps will go very nicely...

Ive been waiting for an good excuse to buy a disc cutter, so now I have one! :)

Solunar Silver Studio
11-10-2009, 04:53 PM
I've often wondered if a disc cutter would sort of buckle the thinner sheet? Have you used it with fine silver George? If so what sort of range of sizes and thicknesses would you use with it? I could be tempted to add a disc cutter to my shopping list too!!

11-10-2009, 06:15 PM
Thanks for asking the question Trudy!! :Y: ....Reads with interest.... OOh - one day I'd like to have a go at making my own beadcaps. I've been silently appreciating your beadcaps from afar G, so am pleased you make your own, cos they're really lovely..

um I think I shall end up posting an enormous list on this site one day with the question ... What tools have I missed from my ever growing shopping list ?


11-10-2009, 06:15 PM
Thinner sheet is harder to work with, but perfectly possible, especially with the smaller sizes of disc. I don't cut fine silver though B. I think it's just too soft, and would worry about it getting stuck in the tube. There again, I don't use fine silver sheet for anything except bezels, so I'm not being that helpful (sorry!).

11-10-2009, 06:33 PM
George, what is a screw down punch? Sounds interesting. I'm off to look at your end caps now.

Solunar Silver Studio
11-10-2009, 06:36 PM
No, that's not true, George!! Any info is a great help!! I am playing around a bit more with Argentium now....so I will have options for stronger silver sheet than just fine silver too. I expect it will be a long process getting proficient using it but I am always up for a challenge!

11-10-2009, 06:40 PM
Argentium sheet works fine with a disc cutter Barbara. That I can be helpful on!

11-10-2009, 08:04 PM
George, what is a screw down punch? Sounds interesting.

I have been wondering this and trying to find one too :)

Solunar Silver Studio
12-10-2009, 08:02 AM
I assume it is one of these... American supplier, of course, I can't find any UK suppliers on Google... :'(Steel hole punch, 73x10x20mm. Sold individually. - Fire Mountain Gems and Beads (http://www.firemountaingems.com/details.asp?PN=H203084TL)

12-10-2009, 08:55 AM
The FMG one isn't very good quality, sadly (because it's a great price). I use one like this:

Screw Down Hole Punch [PUN 4] : Beaducation, Jewelry Making Classes When You Want, Where You Want (http://www.beaducation.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=77_83&products_id=565)

Fantastic little gadget :)

14-10-2009, 11:52 AM
I like the look of that tool George, havent seen one before and think i might need one now lol

14-10-2009, 01:10 PM
That's me - enabler to the stars ;)

14-11-2009, 08:52 PM
As I have spent too much money on lampwork and semi precious beads I have had to put the disc cutter and punches on my Christmas list and will hopefully be able to start making my bead caps in the New Year...in the mean time does anyone know anywhere I can buy this kind of style? Just simple sterling silver plain caps in a couple of different sizes....??

14-11-2009, 10:33 PM
From me if you like ;)

pm me if you want more info :)

15-11-2009, 08:02 AM
Oooh great! I will pm you :) :)

25-01-2010, 10:24 AM
George, sorry - I know I am always picking your brains! (or anyone else who can help!)

Is there an easy way to calculate the size disc you need for a beadcap? For example, I'm trying to make a simple silver domed disc beadcap for an 8mm round bead - to cover 1/3 to 1/2 of the bead (not fussed as long as it fits nicely!) - is there a formula you would use to work out what size disc to cut in the first place?:confused: I tried it with a 1/2" disc, and it turned out too big, despite my rudimentary maths!

I'd eventually like to make smaller (and possibly bigger!) caps if I can find out the formula for them.

I found one at ganoksin (can't post links yet but seach for beadcaps) - and that was so confusing as maths has never been my strong point!

25-01-2010, 10:29 AM
what is the difference between Argentium and Sterling silver?

25-01-2010, 10:35 AM
The main difference is the addition of Germanium to the Argentium
which makes it more tarnish resistant (stronger too)
There's an article on it in the knowledge base (http://portal.knowledgebase.net/display/2/searchDirect/?searchString=argentium&searchType=allwords&searchby=keywords&r=0.3467066) :)

25-01-2010, 02:26 PM
The doming actually takes so little away from the diameter that I would tend to stick with simple measurements, and look at the bead as a half sphere. So for an 8mm bead, I would generally go with a 4mm cap (8mm really isn't that big).

Most of the caps I make and sell are used on lampwork beads, and in general the 6mm size is good for beads up to about 15mm, and the 9mm size for focals (which are usually 18mm or larger in diameter).

I tend to keep the dome fairly shallow, and test the fit regularly - mine are often to make rondelle/doughnut shaped beads look just a little rounder, but I rarely need more than a dome that's equivalent to more than 1/4 of the diameter.

Hope that's not even more confusing!

21-02-2010, 08:26 PM
I use 0.4-0.5mm sheet that has been annealed. I drill my holes whilst the discs are still flat and use a drop of paraffin as a coolant/lubricant which helps to stop burrs forming. I then shape them in a doming block. There is a formula for disc size to hemisphere size but cannot remember it offhand. Polishing in a shot polisher works but the half cups often sit inside one another so it can be frustrating. I either pattern the sheet when rolling to thickness or sometimes use the frosting wheels Cooksons sell on the finished article if I want a matt finish.
Nick R

21-02-2010, 08:28 PM
I made a screw down punch many years ago, it looks like a bicycle chain rivet extractor.
Nick R