Choosing the right elastic stretchy cord is crucial to your jewelry's longevity, look, and feel. With many types of cords available, it can be challenging to know which cord to choose for your jewelry-making applications.
At Tejas Beads, we receive a lot of questions about what size of elastic cord to use - the answer to this question dependent on hole size, but it's not as straightforward as it may seem at first glance.
This article aims to help answer some of the fundamental questions about elastic cord sizes and material types.
What Size Elastic Cord Should I Use?
Elastic stretchy cord comes in 0.5mm, 0.8mm, and 1.0mm sizes. When selecting an elastic cord, the general rule of thumb is to choose the largest cord that will fit in the bead holes without being too tight in beads. Larger cord will result in stronger and longer-lasting jewelry, and have more elastic spring.
Different factories use different drilling techniques and beads holes are not always 100% uniform for a given bead size. With that said, most beads are 'standard drill' meaning that the hole size ranges about 10% to 15% of the bead size.
Standard Elastic Cord vs Elastic Floss Cord
Standard elastic cords are firm rubber and do not squish much resulting in little flexibility when dealing with smaller holes. The one exception to this is the Elastic Floss material. Elastic Floss Cord is a more fibrous material and tends to be slightly smaller than the stated diameter in some dimensions as it's not perfectly round. Floss is also very stretchy and super squishy, allowing 0.5mm diameter Elastic Floss to be doubled up and pulled through with a needle in even 4mm beads (and sometimes slightly smaller but it's a gamble). Elastic Floss is a strong material, and it is recommended for all bead sizes. With larger holes just run the cord through the beads as many times as the hole size allows without making it too tight.
The image above shows 8mm beads on a doubled 0.5mm Elastic Floss. Elastic Floss 0.5mm is the most versatile size that will work through the the entire range of bead sizes 4mm and larger.
Preparation and Tying
It's important to pre-stretch your elastic cord before working with it to prevent it from getting loose over time. Pre-stretching is less necessary when working with Elastic Floss, but it doesn't hurt.
It's helpful to stretch the cord slightly during tying. This will ensure that the final product feels firm and solid instead of flimsy and loose. A dab of beading glue is recommended on the knot for good measure.
When working with elastic floss you'll find that it has tenancy to fray at the tips. This is normal behavior for this material and can be remedied with a quick burn on the tips and a dab of glue on the knot after tying.
Standard elastic cord such as the Beadalon Elasticity is a long-time trusted choice. Elastic Floss on the other hand provides a different feel to your jewelry, is long-lasting, and is excellent for smaller hole sizes when it's getting a little tight. Remember that Floss has to be doubled at a minimum and threaded through with a beading needle.
Given how important it is to select the optimal cord, every experienced jewelry maker has many options on hand. If you plan to make a lot of jewelry, it is strongly recommended to get a wide array of Elastic Cords to ensure that you always have something that works in a pinch.
If you're seeking to make bracelets, anklets, or anything else requiring elastic cords, check out our Elastic Cord Collection for a wide variety of sizes, colors, and types.