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Not to long ago, I watched someone use a lathe.  Yes, you can indeed make wooden beads with lathes.  But if you aren't into wood working and don't own a lathe, there is another alternative.  Your handy dandy Dremel drill.  Uncle G's video tutorial shows some pretty clever tricks making and marking handmade wooden beads.

He actually starts from an ash twig for his demo. He strips the bark off when the wood is still green and then lets it dry. You do need a saw to cut up sections. Otherwise, the drill is used to bore holes and to prepare a homemade mandrel. His  really brilliant tip is to use a cut up Allen key to stuff into the hole. As the hole is round and the key is not, this makeshift mandrel will hold the wooden section while turning it into a bead.

He then shapes the bead with sandpaper and scores lines on a blade. Those dark areas were simply created by spinning the bead on its mandrel on paper etc. This effectively burns the wood.  I also loved how he added wax to the beads the easy way!

If you do have a lathe, then  David Smith's tutorial for turning a wooden bead is worth a peek. His design is for a longer bead. I like what he used to score the 3 lines in the middle of the bead.  He said on his post, "You can probably buy plain matte oval or wooden beads at a craft store for around 5 cents each, so the first design consideration is to make them different than that so they're worth the trouble."  Good point.

H/T Aims for the Dremel find!

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  1. There are many reasons to use wood beads in a design.

    Wood beads add a wonderful feeling to a necklace. I think it's because the beads have a warm temperature to them instead of the coolness of the traditional materials used in bead making. The warmth makes you want to touch them and your own body temp transfers to the wood and wax and it becomes somewhat of a circle doesn't it!

    I also think the natural organic elements of a wood bead make them appealing to many.

    Because they are so light weight it allows for larger beads to be used in a design without being too heavy to wear comfortably.

    I also think wood beads take us back to what was used originally as an ornament. Stone would have been difficult to drill through with bone being somewhat easier. That would leave wood as a much easier alternative and also plentiful and close at hand. I can easily imagine grinding wood on stone to make a shape.

    I was truly amazed to see how easily the dark design was transferred to the bead. I can also imagine earlier methods of doing this.

    Wood beads take us back to our roots and give back to us with simple contentment with their use in a design.

    I've also seen people use wood in different ways instead of the traditional bead shape. But that's for another post I think ...right Pearl?

    Anyone have any other thoughts on the making and use of wood beads?

    1. Some people might react with "but we can buy wooden beads!" The handmade variety is different as one can customize it. I agree they do not have to be round. I would mix wooden beads with the more matte components like stone or even matte glazed polymer clay beads. It will take a creative eye to put together something spectacular.

  2. This looks and sounds interesting. Thanks


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