Bead Relievers, er, Releasers

Last year I took a class with Andrea Guarino.  When I was there she showed us a soon-to-be-new-on-the-market tool.  The Bead Releaser by Jim Moore Tools.  I had talked to her earlier that year in Tucson and she told me how her thumbs had actually separated from her hand from removing beads from mandrels.  I think that’s how she explained it…her thumbs separated from something they should have still been attached to.  Regardless, it didn’t sound good and she had to have surgery in both hands, rendering her out of commission from bead making for a while.

Yikes.  That got me to thinking…I’ve had carpal tunnel and I was lucky enough to have it healed with acupuncture.  There are still days that my wrists bother me and the time I notice it most? When I’m removing beads from mandrels.  While this may look harmless:

removing bead from a mandrel

It’s not.

The right hand here is twisting that tiny mandrel in order to break it free from the bead.  Yes, I use pliers for some but it’s still a gripping and twisting action.  And while that might not seem like much to you young whipper-snappers out there, wait till you hit 40 and things start changing.  And the bigger the bead, the more twist strength you need.

So, knowing I had had wrist problems in the past, I bit the bullet and invested in one of those Jim Moore tools.  Not cheap but much cheaper than what it would take to repair my hands and think about if they couldn’t be repaired…that made the tool priceless.  I got it home after buying it at the Gathering and didn’t use it.  That was eight months ago.

My wrists weren’t bothering me and I wondered if I had just wasted $175.  Until this past month.

Something’s going on with my thumb.  Is it repetitive motion?  The start of arthritis?  I notice it when, again, I’m removing beads from mandrels and when I’m writing with a pen.  Two things I do a lot of.  Out came the Bead Releaser and I doubt it will be put away again.  It’s good to be prepared and probably would have been smarter to use it before I needed it, as I don’t know if there is damage done.

This is what it looks like in my studio (clamp not included):

Jim Moore Bead ReleaserHere’s a video of how it works.  Just drop your mandrel in, screw to tighten it and push down.  You get in the groove with smaller beads and it goes really quickly.

There is another method out there that I just came across in Rosemarie Hanus’ blog using a less expensive hand riveter.  You can read about that here.  I probably would have tried that first…I usually try the cheaper method first.  And then I find that the more expensive one really is better.  I think the gripping and squeezing of the riveter would have aggravated my wrists eventually…since I feel it when I grip pliers.  But, it’s an option for you.

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