Saving Money by Improvising Tools

Or…Save That Money and Buy More Glass!

Somehow I always find myself with expensive habits! I’ve been making glass beads for almost 20 years and buying glass, tools, and supplies has never been cheap. My other hobby is triathlon. Technically, triathlon is one sport that consists of three different legs of a race. But, of course, you have to buy all the equipment for three sports! I don’t know how I end up spending money, but I have found several ways to save it!


One of the ways is to improvise on tools for making beads. If you’ve been making beads for any time at all, you realize how expensive beadmaking is. For the most part, you can’t just drop by a craft store and pick up the necessary supplies and tools. But luckily, there are everyday items you can use to build your arsenal.


I dug around in my kitchen for a few ideas and came up with some tool ideas.

A butter knife


Since touching molten glass would create burns, we beadmakers need something that won’t transfer the heat from the glass through the tools. That’s where stainless steel comes in handy! You can use a butter knife to smash dots, create indentions, or cut into the glass.




One way to make a nice round bead is to use a beadroller, but if you need to save a few bucks before getting one, use a melon baller. A measuring teaspoon or tablespoon also works well.

Melon baller


Everyday straight razors come in especially handy to cut into glass. You can find these easily at home improvement stores and grocery stores.



I have tons of frit and when it comes to rolling my beads in it, I’ve tried all sorts of things. But my favorite is the bottom of a coke (soda) can. Cut the sides out of the aluminum, but keep the bottoms in tact. I use this now all the time when I need to make cane or roll my beads in frit. It’s so easy!

Cut soda can



While this tip isn’t necessarily for a tool, you can save a lot of money by buying mandrels and cutting them yourself. Just find a local welding supply store and asking for 316L welding rods.



Tell me; have you come up with a nifty tool that allowed you to save some money? If so, let me know in the comments section.

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About LeahBeads 21 Articles
Leah has been working with all types of glass since 2000. She loves sharing her knowledge and helping people experience the thrill of glass beadmaking. She also runs and competes in triathlons when she's not at the torch.

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