Saturday, February 10, 2018

How to Get Clean, Clear Holes in your Lampwork Beads

Isinglass Desgin handmade glass fish bead
Here it is, the post you've all been waiting for, where I reveal how to get really clean bead holes! Woohoo!

Once a lampwork bead is finished and taken off the steel mandrel, the sludge inside has to be removed. Folks use a reamer of some type to do this- sometimes by hand, sometimes with a dremel tool. But no matter how it's cleaned, the inside of the bead hole can look pretty gritty and almost chalky at the end of the process.
Fish hole before sanding
In a small holed bead with a solid core, this might not be a really big deal- who can see down in there anyway? But if your bead is clear or the hole is large enough that someone might be looking at it closely, it can be an issue.
Fish hole after sanding

So, what can you do about it??? One solution is to sand the inside of the beads. Here's how.

First ream the bead well and make sure all of the sludge is removed. This can be done by using diamond reamers by hand or with a dremel tool.

Reamer with sandpaper
Take a tiny rectangular piece of 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper, place the long reamer (or mandrel) in the center lengthwise and fold tightly around it. Get the bead and sandpaper/reamer wet and rub back and forth lengthwise all around the hole for a minute or so. It could take a little longer if the bead is really messy inside.
Next do the same with a piece of 600 grit sandpaper. That should do it for the inside of the bead.

End reamers with sandpaper

If you want to sand the opening of the hole, take a small square of 400 grit sandpaper and place it at the tip of a small conical reamer. Rotate until smooth, then do the same with 600 grit.

At the end of this process, your bead will have a lovely smooth satin finish.

Black bead before sandpaper
Black bead after sandpaper
Clear bead before sandpaper
Clear bead after sandpaper

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