How to Use Stop Beads and Stoppers

Using a bead stopper
Lisa Yang
  • 01 of 04

    What is a Bead Stopper?

    How to Use Bead Stoppers
    Lisa Yang

    A bead stopper is a piece of tightly coiled metal wire that resembles a spring. On each end, there are loops that you squeeze toward each other to separate the coils of the bead stopper so you can slide in the beading wire or thread. When you release the loops, the coils spring back together, clamping onto the beading wire or thread.

    The loops on the end are sometimes covered with a plastic coating. The soft plastic covering makes it easier to grip the bead stopper to open, close and position it on your string.

    Bead stoppers can be used with any type of beading wire or beading thread. They seem to work best with beading wire or heavier beading threads like Fireline or Wildfire. They can get tangled in lighter threads such as Nymo. A better solution to keep beads in place on thread is to string a stop bead.

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  • 02 of 04

    How to Open and Position a Bead Stopper

    Using a Bead Stopper
    Lisa Yang

    To open the bead stopper, grasp it by the two loops. Pinch the loops towards each other so the coils of the spring separate.

    Once the bead stopper is open, slide your thread or beading wire into the space between the coils of wire. Place the thread or wire about halfway through the coil and then release the loops so that the coil closes on the thread or wire.

    Position your bead stopper so there is a length of thread or wire after it as a tail. Don't place the bead stopper at the very end of the beading wire or you won't be able to add crimps, or otherwise finish your strand of beads.

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  • 03 of 04

    Adjusting the Position of the Bead Stopper

    Using a bead stopper
    Lisa Yang

    You can adjust the position of the bead stopper by pinching the loops slightly apart and carefully sliding it up and down the beading thread or beading wire. Be careful not to slide the bead stopper off the end of the thread or wire.

    Once you are satisfied with the position of the bead stopper, you can string on the rest of the beads for your project and start beading. 

    One bead stopper can be used to hold more than one piece of beading wire. This can be especially helpful when making a multi-strand bracelet or necklace. It can lead to accidents when a wire slips loose though, so it can be safer to use one bead stopper per piece of beading wire, especially when you are still stringing the beads. Once they are the correct length and you are setting them aside, it makes more sense to combine them.

    If you are using the bead stopper for off-loom bead weaving with a fine beading thread, remember that when you push on your bead stopper, it will slide towards the end of the beading thread. Be careful that you don't accidentally push the bead stopper off the end of the beading thread.

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  • 04 of 04

    Comparing a Bead Stopper to a Stop Bead

    Spiral Tube Bead Earring Tutorial
    Lisa Yang

    Stop beads are more frequently used with seed beading than with bead stringing. The opposite is true with bead stoppers, which are more frequently used with bead stringing. This is mostly due to the different types of thread or cord used with each type of beadwork.

    Bead stringing typically uses a thicker beading wire which does not bend, loop and tangle as easily. Beadwork uses thinner more flexible thread, plus stringing a stop bead makes perfect sense in beadwork since you always have a dish of them at the ready.

    For bead stringing, bead stoppers are certainly not mandatory since a stop bead will work. Just make sure you choose a bead with the correct size hole so the beading wire loops around the bead as opposed to getting bent or kinked. Generally, that means using a 4mm or larger bead.

    The same conditions apply as using a bead stopper; always make sure there is a large enough tail behind the stop bead to finish your project with crimp beads, fold over clasp ends or whatever type of clasp works best for the jewelry design.