How To Use a Bead Board in Jewelry Making

Colorful beads

A bead board is a tray (usually plastic) that is covered with felt or a felt-like substance. This tray is great for putting your beads on and for designing your jewelry. This can make for an easy and effective way to design your own jewelry. It isn't hard to use and can help you to make fewer mistakes. Bead boards also provide an easy way to change your designs and make your jewelry the length that you wish.

  1. Choose your groove. There are several grooves located on your bead board. Some are short and others are long and rounded. Which groove you use will depend on which project you are doing. Shorter projects, like earrings, can use the shorter grooves. Longer projects, such as necklaces, use the longer rounded grooves.
  2. Begin by placing your piece down. Your jewelry piece will be placed on the board one item at a time. If you are doing a necklace, you will want to set your piece out starting in the middle with the center of the necklace at 0. If you are making a bracelet or earrings, you will want to begin with the clasp at 0 and work to the other end.
  3. Place your pattern. Now comes the design part. You will want to place out your pattern. This can be done one bead at a time, or a few beads at a time, depending on your design decisions. If making a short item, you will build it from one end to the other. If making a necklace, you will build it from the middle to both ends.
  4. Finish it according to length. You will want to end the piece as it approaches the length you wish the piece to be. If your grooves are so short that you have to use more than one, make sure you are careful to figure out the length total. For necklaces, you will want to build the length to 1/2 the total on each side of the 0 (for example: 10" on each side would be needed for a 20" necklace). It is also important that you make sure you include the length the clasp will be when you latch it. It might take up less space this way than it would for both halves of the clasp to be open.
  5. Make final changes. You now have to decide if this is the pattern you really want or if you want to make any last minute changes. If you do want to make changes, then make them. There is no rush--you can set the board aside and come back later to make that decision if you wish.
  6. Once you are certain that your pattern is as you wish it to be, check for errors. Nothing is worse than stringing your necklace and discovering you have to start over because of small errors. You can easily check for mistakes while it is laid out on the bead board.
  7. String your jewelry. Whether you have made a necklace, earrings, or a bracelet, you now have a great pattern that only needs to be strung. To string it, follow the method you have chosen to make your great jewelry.

Stringing options can include using bead wire and crimp beads, string and bead tips, memory wire, head and eye pins, or other jewelry-making options.

With the bead board, you can make great jewelry that is the perfect design, free of mistakes, and is the perfect length. It is simple and easy to use and well worth it. After all, you won't have to start a piece over or worry about mistakes, the length of a piece, or its design ever again. You will be making jewelry you love and that is perfect for your collection, to give as gifts, and even to sell.


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I've often wondered if I should buy one - the elimination of mistakes is certainly a good argument.

By Melissa Howard

Hi Danelle. I have used a bead board and enjoyed it thoroughly but your tips will make it even easier.

By Mary Norton