Wednesday 10 March 2010

Making Mandrels

Me making mandrelsIt got to the point this morning where I was down to about ten mandrels. After each bead-cleaning session I clean and dry the mandrels and throw away any bent ones and eventually they dwindle away and then it's time to make some more. MandrelsI haven't bought ready-made mandrels for at least four years. Instead I cut up stainless steel welding rods which saves so much money you wouldn't believe it. I have a five kilo tube of ESAB 1.6mm rods and one of 2.4mm rods. I mainly use the 1.6mm ones for my beadmaking. One tube of welding rods goes a long way. You can get four mandrels out of one rod. As I say, I've had these tubes of rods for over four years and I'm only two thirds of the way through the smaller ones.
You don't have to buy a five kilo tube - some places sell the rods by the kilo or less. It may be worth going into your local welding supplies place and asking them about buying some. You will save so much money in the long run. Here are the labels off my rod tubes - print the picture out and take it along with you :
ESAB stainless steel welding rodsPlease click here for a list of ESAB dealers and maybe you can find one near you.
I have a pair of cutters (the make is Facom) that cut the 1.6mm rods quite happily. They do cut the 2.4mm ones too but you need a bit more grunt - I use two hands. Or if I'm feeling particlualry feeble I get Dad to cut them for me!
Sandpaper and cuttersAfter I've cut up my welding rods into mandrel-sized lengths I sand the ends of them on some heavy-duty sandpaper to take off any sharp bits and then I'm left with a bunch of shiny new mandrels!


  1. Thank you Laura for this great tip! I am going to have to find some of these rods in the US so that I can make my own mandrels as well.


  2. I agree with Cheryl, thank you, and I will try to find some these rods in the Netherland ;-)

  3. I always wondered where to get the raw materials for mandrels - thanks for the tip. I have been cutting the bent ends off my mandrels (and then filing the ends). They get shorter and shorter until they're unusable!

    I'm saving the shorts up hoping to find a metal sculpture artist who can turn them into something useful (I hate throwing things away!)

    If anyone else is going to do this (I certainly will now!) My cutters have bypass blades rather than anvil blades like Laura's, they're made by Drapers and cost around £14 from memory. (They also need two hands to cut the thicker mandrels).

  4. This is so handy, thank you! Was about to buy some mandrels but will be investing in cutters and rods instead...

  5. What a good idea, I was about to buy some mandrels also. Will be doing this instead...I wonder why I haven't before. I always sit on the floor to do thing too!


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