Freshwater pearls and gemstones are some of my favorite beads to wear and design with, but they’re notorious for having tiny holes. If these are your favorite beads too you can use a handy tool called a bead reamer to enlarge the holes of these beads and make them more usable! Today’s tips will help you use a bead reamer safely and efficiently.
Most bead reamer sets come with multiple tips. For the best results start with the smallest tip and move to larger tips to gradually work up to your desired hole size. In addition to the bead reamer, you’ll also need water and a water-tight container that’s large enough for both of your hands to work in comfortably. A deep baking pan works well for this or you can plug and fill your sink. Working underwater reduces heat produced by the friction and protects you from breathing dust produced by the reaming.
Be aware of what you’re doing as you work! Bead reamer tips are very sharp and it’s easy to poke yourself, especially when your tools are wet and slippery.
The tips of the bead reamer are tapered, so be prepared to have a hole that is slightly larger on the exterior and narrows as you move towards the center of the bead. To get a hole that’s even on both sides, work from one side of the hole, then switch to the other side. There’s always a risk of chipping or cracking your bead when reaming, so work slowly and test the hole often to keep from making it too large.
Bead reaming is a great solution for freshwater pearls and gemstones, but don’t be tempted to use this method on your glass or crystal beads! These beads are too fragile to have their holes manually enlarged and will shatter.
Happy Tuesday! – Gretchen