Flex Your Power!

There are heaps of different types of cord in the beading industry: waxed linen, leather, Nymo, and Fireline, just to name a few. However, the cord we return to time and time again for the majority of our beading needs is SoftFlex. We have tried other brands of flexible beading wire, and we have found that, when it comes to flexibility & durability, SoftFlex stands out head-and-shoulders above the rest.

With their wide range of diameters & colors, SoftFlex offers one of the most extensive selections of cord we have ever seen. But how do you know which cord is appropriate for your project? We’re glad you asked! 🙂

This is a great cord for beaders just starting out who aren’t sure if they want to make beading a full-time hobby. We say that because, although Econoflex (like all cord in the SoftFlex family) is comprised of thin, steel wires woven together and coated with nylon, it has the fewest number of metal strands woven together. That means it is the least flexible type of SoftFlex, and so it is prone to kinking more than other styles. However, as its name indicates, it is the least expensive cord SoftFlex makes, and it’s a heck of a lot better than stringing your beads on fishing line or (gasp!) dental floss. (We understand that there are very few options for stringing materials at summer camp, but it’s time for an upgrade, people.)

Regular SoftFlex comes in several diameters:

Photo courtesy of caravanbeads.blogspot.com.

Photo courtesy of caravanbeads.blogspot.com.

Very Fine – .010 inches in diameter (Use 1x1mm crimps to fininsh.)
This diameter is only found in the SoftTouch style of SoftFlex. Being that it is very fine, it cannot withstand a lot of weight before it kinks and, eventually, breaks. The folks at SoftFlex recommend it only be used for sewing, crocheting, knitting, and weaving. Other diameters in the SoftTouch family (see below) are better suited for necklaces and bracelets.

Photo courtesy of Rare Find Jewelry by Cindy Lou on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of Rare Find Jewelry by Cindy Lou on Etsy.

Fine – .014 inches (Use 1.5×1.5mm  or 2x2mm crimps to finish, giving each crimp and extra squish.)
This diameter is designed for softer, less abrasive materials such as fresh water pearls and seed beads. As SoftFlex states, “Diameter .014 offers the softness and flexibility of pearl stringing threads, yet has the strength of stainless steel.” It is best not to use heavy beads with this diameter; as a good rule of thumb, avoid .014 if you are stringing beads that are larger than 8mm.

Photo courtesy of ArtfulHummingbird on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of ArtfulHummingbird on Etsy.

Medium – .019 inches (Use 2×2 crimps to finish.)
This diameter is our favorite! Medium works well with small to medium glass beads, gemstones, crystals, metal beads, and the majority of freshwater pearls and seed beads. We recommend using this diameter when you are designing with a variety of materials.

Photo courtesy of Rocktoplois on Etsy.

Photo courtesy of Rocktopolis on Etsy.

Heavy – .024 inches (Use 2.5×2.5 crimps to finish.)
This diameter is designed for abrasive materials (it has the thickest coating of nylon applied to the woven wires) and “designs that will meet excessive movement such as watch bands, bracelets, belts and purse straps.” It is great for large, heavy beads, such as lampwork glass and large gemstones.

Photo courtesy of SoftFlex Company.

Photo courtesy of SoftFlex Company.

SoftFlex Metallics and SoftFlex Colors
These two subcategories of SoftFlex are manufactured in the same way as the other Fine-through-Heavy SoftFlex cords, with one exception: the nylon coating on the outside of the woven wires has had color added. This is a permanent color and will not bleed. It is ideal for woven and floating-style pieces where you want the cord to show, or if you have somewhat translucent beads and you don’t like the idea of having the standard, gray color of regular SoftFlex to show.

Photo courtesy of SoftFlex Company

Photo courtesy of SoftFlex Company

The fanciest of the SoftFlex family, this subcategory also comes in SoftFlex’s full range of diameters, but what makes ExtremeFlex so nifty is that the woven wires underneath the nylon coating have been plated with precious metals! These cords are shimmery silver & gold because they have real silver and gold in them. Don’t worry about the plating wearing off: you’d have to scrape through the entire layer of nylon to get to the wires, then scrape the electroplating off of the wires. In other words, it would be darn near impossible. We recommend using ExtremeFlex for the same kind of projects where you’d use the Metallics or Colors. Covering up such lovely (and somewhat pricey) cord would be a waste!

We hope you find this guide helpful, and that you have great success with all of your beading projects. Flex your beading power!


7 thoughts on “Flex Your Power!

  1. Pingback: Why Did It Break? | Behind the Blue Door

  2. Howdy! I understand this is somewhat off-topic however I had to
    ask. Does running a well-established blog like yours require a large amount of work?
    I am brand new to blogging but I do write in my diary on a daily basis.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for new aspiring blog
    owners. Appreciate it!

    • Thanks for your question! I try to write a blog post at least once a month, especially when I plan to write longer posts. Sometimes I post more frequently, but usually those posts are a little shorter. Many of the blogs I follow personally are written more like a diary, and many of the posts are just pictures that the author found meaningful, plus a bit of text — basically, whatever they found inspiring that day. Considering Blue Door Beads is a bead & jewelry business that encourages people to create their own jewelry, we try to be more informative/educational with our posts, but sometimes we enjoy writing more lighthearted posts. We try to mix it up! 🙂

      My biggest piece of advice is to proofread before you post. If you plan to make your blog public, proofreading can make a big difference — a well-written post will receive way more views that a garbled post full of typos. Have fun, and good luck!

  3. I am using softflex wire for stone beaded necklaces (no knotting between beads) and my necklaces keep breaking when packaged?? Is it because they can’t take the pressure of being bent? Not sure what is going on?? Please help.

    • Thanks for your question, Wendy! When this happens, we suspect it could be one of a few things:

      1) If your stone beads are extra large, you may need to upgrade to a heavier gauge of SoftFlex because the test-pound-strength may not be high enough. If you’ve been using Fine, consider switching to Medium (if the beads’ hole sizes allow.) If it will fit, maybe even try using Heavy.

      2) The beads have unevenly-drilled/roughly-drilled holes and the burrs inside the holes are scraping the nylon coating off of the woven wires, exposing them, causing them to kink, and then eventually causing them to break. If this is the case, you can try smoothing out the holes using a bead reamer, although more delicate stones may break or crack from the pressure. We have not yet found any cord better than SoftFlex for stringing beads with jagged holes, since it holds up better than softer cords, but even SoftFlex has its limits.

      3) If your beads are an appropriate size, and the holes are not rough, then your guess may be correct — bending a necklace into a too-small box can cause kinks, which can create vulnerable spots in your necklace. Try to package necklaces flat and not coiled up too tightly, and you will hopefully minimize breakage.

      Hope this helps! Good luck!

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