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July 11, 2015

Rosary Style Bracelet: 1 Step Looper Vs. Pliers

Comparing the 1-Step Looper and Round Nose Pliers

I love getting new tools - especially one that could potentially replace the use of so many other tools - like the Beadsmith 1-Step Looper Pliers .

OK - so it's not exactly a brand new tool on the market.  It came out a couple of years ago and it was so hot for a while it was really hard to get your hands on one. The reviews I initially heard weren't very good. But now that demand has settled and they are in stock - I decided it was time for me to get one.

Materials used with the 1 step looper pliers to make a bracelet - only one tool?!

My approach for this, is to do a direct comparison of making a simple loop wire bracelet using the standard wire jewelry making tools and one using the 1 step looper. In case you are wondering - I purchased the tool - it was not provided by Beadsmith.

One more thing I should tell you - I hate making simple loops. I find them much more time consuming to make than wrapped loops and I think they are less secure. So, there's a slight bias towards not liking simple loops before I start this process.

You probably know by now, that I like to be slightly methodical about these things, so I decided to use ten 10mm jade beads, a piece of 12 inches of 20g wire as the basic materials - and then the necessary tools. I used my phone to time how long it took to complete 10 links going at what I thought is a standard pace - not rushing - just making some links.

If you'd like to see the 1 step looper step by step process for making the bracelet, it is on the page. And one thing you may like at that is new - is you can now see my step by step  projects on one page instead of having to scroll through a slide show. Yay!  Look for the link that says Show All.

Links made with the 1 step looping pliers and scrap pieces of metal from the process: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

These are the links I made with the 1 step looper and the scrap wire produced by the process.  OK - I might have missed a few little wire ends - but the point is - there's not much scrap produced by the process if you take the time to understand how the tool works - i.e. find the cut off point for the wire and push your wire just past it.

As for time, it took about 7 minutes and only one tool to make these links. I didn't fix the loops, straighten them etc. - this is how they come off the 1 step looper.

Bracelet links made with pliers: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

Here's the second batch.  From a process perspective, this was a little more involved.  First, I unwound one of the looper made links to see how long the wire needs to be.  That's the crumpled wire up top.  The time to do this was not included in my link making time.

Now, I started the clock.  I cut 10 pieces of wire to the right size for making the links. I made sure to flush cut each end of the wire like I normally would - but did not file the end.

Put down the wire cutters, pick up the round nose pliers.

Make an eye loop, add a bead, then make the second eye loop - 1 link done. I repeated this process and it only took slightly longer than with the 1 step looper.  About 7.5 minutes.  Not bad - but I am pretty experienced with wire work.

BUT... a few more caveats.

  • In both processes, I didn't care about the alignment of the loops (i.e. are they are lined up on either end of the bead or at right angles - didn't care.  Just made loops.
  • The process of making the components with round nosed pliers definitely gives more wrist stress than the 1 step looper.
  • The loops on both are OK - but I prefer the ones made with the looper because the tool automatically accounts for the slight difference in bead size. Some of my components made with round nose pliers have a longer wire neck than others.  Normally I would trim a little from the loop, use the round nose pliers to bring the loop closer and re-bend the neck.  I didn't do that.
Beaded chain made using the 1-step looper tool: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

The one step looper tends to make a tight loop when there is no bead on the wire (the first loop) and a more open loop when there is a bead on the wire (the second loop).  I need to make adjustments to the loops to close them using the round nose plier and link them using the chain nose pliers.

Ta da... Now I've used a total of 15 mins to make my beaded chain. Above is the 1 step looper chain.

Comparison of making a bead chain bracelet using the 1 step looper and pliers: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

The chain made using multiple tools takes less adjustment and less time to put together and is done in just under 12 minutes.  Depends on how you look at things - 3 minutes doesn't seem like a big difference but turns out that it is actually 25% faster to do it the multiple tool method. When you look at it that way - big difference.

Ah - but I just realized I forgot to include the time it took to figure out the size of the wire I needed - which is probably about 3 minutes.  So - it's probably a wash from a time perspective.

Another BUT - it was much more pleasant, easier on my hands and just overall felt better to use the one step looper. And I like the results a little better.  The loops are more even, the beads are more evenly distributed on the wire - i.e. no long wire necks.

Comparison of making a bead chain bracelet using the 1 step looper and pliers: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I think there are some keys to getting good results with this tool that I haven't seen mentioned - and it may be why some people don't like it.

  • When making the second loop, keep the bead flush to the tool and pressed against the eyepin to avoid a long neck.
  • When making any loops, make sure the wire is pressed flush with the back of the tool - especially while you are making the loop. While making a few practice loops, I found it very common - especially on the second loop for the wire to slide forward from the base - which gives you a wonky twisted loop.  You need to use your free hand to hold it in place as the tool is closed. (I'm obviously not doing this in the picture - but the wire is in the correct position).
Comparison of making a bead chain bracelet using the 1 step looper and pliers: Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog

I didn't time the process of adding a charm or clasp.  Those steps are the same regardless.  

My first impressions - I really like the 1-Step Looper .  I plan to make a couple of more projects with different beads, try some different wire sizes (it says you can use 18-24g) and I hate to admit it, I also want to buy the 1-Step BIG Looper - but not because I prefer larger loops - just because I like tools.

I am wear-testing the bracelet to see how long it will take before the loops bend or something breaks. To be fair, I should probably complete and wear both bracelets - and maybe I will if I don't look like a total dork wearing two of the same thing.

Note to self - use different colored beads next time so this isn't an issue.

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  1. I have trouble using the 1step because I can't seem to get closed (or even semi closed) loops. I just can't seem to get the hang of this. I am exactly like you in my bias of preferring wire wrapped loops for security & I can whip them out in no time vs simple loops and consistency with them. I read your tips, watched the video several times & still can't get it right. Is there any other tips or techniques you can think of to try?

    1. Sometimes I'm so lucky I should buy a lottery ticket. Lol. It just so happens that a 10mm round bead and 20g wire seem to be the perfect combination for the 1 step looper. I've tried a couple of other combinations and none work quite as well. I'll follow up with my experiments with other size wire and beads but for now I'd say it's not technique as much as the bead and wire sizes. And I seem to have gotten lucky.

  2. This seems to be a fairly useful tool if you make simple loops but I never use simple loops in my jewelry-making! They give too easily and I MUCH prefer the look, consistency and durability of wrapped loops.

    1. I normally don't make simple loops either - but that's mostly because I think they are more difficult to make than wrapped loops. One thing about the small size loop made with the tool is that in 18g and 20g wire, they are very sturdy. I've been wearing the same bracelet for 3 days (all day and night) and I don't see any signs of loop separation. I think it's pretty secure.