Bead stringing materials – thread, cord, etc.

So, you may be wondering what the best “support” for your necklace or bracelet might be. Asking yourself, should I use thread, cord, wire, leather, or maybe even hemp rope? There is no right or wrong answer here. It all depends on YOUR preference, and sometimes, it depends on the design of the piece.

So, I thought that I would cover a few of your options in this discussion.


There are A LOT of different options out there, with which to string your pieces together. Thread is widely used for stringing beads. There are silk threads, nylon threads, cotton threads, and more. The three I mentioned, are the most commonly used for beading. Check the chart below,  If you’re not sure which material to use with your beads. If you use a large glass bead, or metal bead, a lot of times, these have rough, uncured edges in the bead hole, and will cut your beading material if it is too weak for the type of bead. We want to make efficient time of our craft, not have to start all over! Especially if we are making sell able inventory.

You can buy waxed thread, which is best, as it helps the beads slide smoothly onto the string. Or, you can buy beading wax, and wax your own thread. Waxing your own thread is extremely easy, so it’s entirely up to your preference.

There are different “weights” of beading thread (or thickness), so be sure to look at what you are buying. If you are making a double or triple strand necklace, you may want to buy the thickest thread, to sustain the weight of that many beads.

Threads can also be purchased in various colors, if you are knotting your thread in between beads, such as pearls, and you want the thread color to match so the knots aren’t as noticeable. When stringing pearls, you want to use silk thread, as it’s easy to knot, and is extremely sturdy.


Tiger-tail, is the most used wire for beading. It is stainless steel wire, that is wrapped with nylon thread. It is the most resiliant material for semi-precious gem stones, and any other kind of bead that may have rough edges to the holes of these beads. If you use tiger-tail, you will need wire cutters to cut it, and crimp beads to finish the ends of it, as you cannot tie it in a knot. However, if you get a kink in the wire, or bend it too far, it will make that particular point weak, and has potential to break. So be careful not to bend or kink it, when stringing with it.


Nylong cord is really easy to work with, but is thick. It is generally used for Pony beads, or any larger beads with large holes in them, like wood beads, as an example. It’s easy to knot, and easy to string. It can fray at the ends, so I suggest wrapping a piece of any kind of tape around the end that you are stringing beads on.

Monofilament, originally was introduced as fishing line. But, because it is lightweight and strong, and can hold a lot of weight, it has been introduced into the beading industry as a useful beading thread. It comes in different weights, so you can keep an already heavy bead, as a lightweight bracelet or necklace that will also be sturdy. You can also get a “stretchy” version of this, if you want to make a bracelet that just slips around the wrist. These are very popular, as you don’t have to have a certain measurement, or worry about clasps, and it makes it easier for the person who wears it, to put it on. Without attaching clasps, you can make a fair production of stretchy bracelets in a short amount of time as well.


You can purchase a bead tray from most craft stores, and all bead stores. This is a plastic, felt covered tray that has a half or full circle indentation, with a ruler going all the way around the circle. This helps you get the perfect length of necklace, bracelet, or anklet, without you having to measure and hope for the best. It’s an accurate way to make a piece. But not as easy to string beads with.

Stringing beads can be quite a task. It can get tiresome and boring. I have found that getting a shallow plastic dish that I put leftovers in, and filling it half full with the main color of bead I’m using, works well to scoop beads onto my beading needle. The container needs to be comparable in size to the amount of beads I’m stringing. I want to be able to fill the container at least half-way full of the beads. Then I simply scoop them up with the needle and let them slide down my thread, until I have all the beads I need.

Another way to do it, is to look on the internet. There are lots of free videos, and step by step directions on how to make a bead spinner at home with an empty butter tub, a dowel, and a hot glue gun. It works REALLY well! I have made one myself, and use it often. Gravity is a good friend in the beading world as far as stringing goes. 🙂


I hope that the information I have provided helps you with your decisions and choices of what kind of beading string you need to complete your project, and the confidence that your choice will make a sturdy piece of jewelry that won’t break with normal wear and tear. Confidence that your masterpiece will be worn for decades to come.

If I have left out anything, or you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

Happy Beading everyone!!



Machele VanVoorhis

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