Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tool Review: One Step Looper

One of the first things I ever made when I started making jewelry was earrings.  I'm not sure the grammar of that sentence is correct, but you get my meaning.  I took a head pin, put a bead or three on it, cut the excess off leaving an indeterminate amount, made a loop in it, and voila! I had a dangle for an earring.  I don't remember when I started doing this, but I believe I was in my early-to-mid twenties.  As I am about to turn (ahem) 42, it has been probably about 20 years.

In all of those 20 years, I have not yet perfected this simple dangle.  What's that?  I make jewelry for a living but can't make a consistent dangle?  Yeah, I know.  Embarrassing, isn't it?  I can never gauge how long past the beads to leave the wire, so my loops are either too small or too big or too odd-looking, and I found myself remaking pieces and throwing away a perfectly good pin.  I even took to using straight pins (from the sewing aisle) because they were incredibly cheap.  Not very malleable, though, so that might have contributed to my problem.

At long last, there is a solution.  It's not without its problems, but it is a HUGE step in the right direction.  I first heard of BeadSmith's One Step Looper from my friend Michelle.  She was so excited about it and gave me a demonstration.  She has let me borrow it, and I made many pairs of earrings in a short amount of time and decided to tell all of you about it.

Here's what the tool looks like:

Yup, that's in it's "natural" position.  It's a little wide for my taste, but there is a reason for it.  Let's look at the business end of the Looper:

The wire goes in on the left side.  It goes under that circular peg, above the two pointy bits, and through the hole you can't see on the right side which is in that round swoopy part.  Yes, these are all technical terms, I'll have you know.

Let's see it in action:

The wire is placed, and we give it a squeeze:

This is in mid-squeeze.  You can see that the wire is already cut and the loop is starting to form.  The excess wire shimmied its way through the hole as I was juggling the camera and the Looper.

(Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of a process like this?  One hand is squeezing, and the other hand is taking a picture.  Very hard!  I should have waited until Steve got home so he could take the picture.)

Once you've squeezed (squoze?) all the way, here's the result:

As you can see, the loop isn't closed all the way.  This is okay if you're going to put it on an earring wire.  You just slide the loop onto the earring wire then close.  It would be nice if it had the capability of closing all the way, but I'm more concerned with the amount of wire is left between the bead and the loop.  That's a little much for me.

I tried it again and really pushed the beads up as far as they would go:

Michelle said that it helps if you rock it a bit while you're squeezing.  I think that tightens the gap and closes the loop more, but I haven't tried it yet.

Here's what I got from pushing the beads far up:

The first one I did is on the left, and the second is on the right.  Much better, isn't it?  I don't think it's ever going to be right next to the beads, but I can live with a little gap.  I also wish the loop was a tiny bit larger or if there were attachments that you could snap in to make different sized loops, but for making simple dangles for earrings, these Loopers are brilliant.  I found that if I press my thumb in on the end while I squeeze there is a smaller gap.

So since I can't have inconsistent earrings like the above pair, I remade the first one.  PLD (Pre-Looper Days) I would have tossed that pin.  However, PLD (Post-Looper Days - hey, wait... that doesn't work), I can use that pin to make a small dangle.

Here's a comparison of a normal-sized pin and the cut-down pin from the first earring (with a 6mm bead on it so you can kinda tell how big it is):

I inserted the pin as far in as it would go:

The hole in the swoopy part is there to stablize the wire.  When working with a smaller wire, I had to be careful it didn't slip.  It was long enough to cut and loop, leaving me with a small dangle and a small end I don't feel guilty tossing:

I put that dangle in a diamond-shaped earring component:

No wasted wire!

But what of the spare piece leftover from a non-rejected dangle?  That can be used, too!

That's a 5mm crystal up there for size comparison.  I took one end of the wire, made a loop right at the end, put the crystal on, and made a loop at the other end:

This could be used in any number of jewelry pieces.

I did try it with one straight pin, and it cut just fine.  I have some earring components with a bunch of holes in them, and I think I'd prefer to use straight pins which are dirt cheap rather than the more expensive headpins.  However, since the tool isn't mine, I didn't want to dull it by cutting a bunch of harder pins.

To sum up: this tool is really neat.  (Another technical term, that.)  I don't know if there's any way they could change it so there'd be less of a gap, but that can be worked around with a bit of patience and ingenuity.  The benefits far outweigh the negatives, so I recommend it very highly for anyone who makes earrings or dangles for any purpose.

Unlike the two previous tools I reviewed (the Xuron Fireline scissors and the Xuron 4 in 1 Crimper), I have no plans to carry the BeadSmith One Step Looper.  They can be found all over the Internet, sometimes under BeadSmith and sometimes under Vintaj.  As far as I can tell, they're the same tool.

I have one last warning:  If you get this tool, you will soon run out of earring ideas and maybe even beads!  That's not a bad problem to have.

Unfortunately, I need to give this back to Michelle.  Hopefully I'll get my own soon, and Steve will have to make me another earring holder!


Up there ^ I mentioned that I wish there could be a bigger loop.  As of June, 2014 there's a new tool called the One Step Big Looper, which makes loops twice the size!  I've posted a review of it, including comparisons with the original One Step Looper.  Check that out before you pick up the tool so you get the right one for the size loops you'll need.


  1. Cool tool, but I prefer the loops to have the right angle at the beginning to make a perfectly round loop. Any ingenuity for that? One instruction I recently read for that kind of loop said to cut the pin at 3/8".

    1. Nope. I have no ingenuity for that. I like perfectly round loops, too, but I have a heck of a time getting them consistently. I think the loop made by this tool is just fine - the convenience and speed far outweighs me trying to measure the end of the pin, cutting it, bending the wire, and curling it into a loop. That's four tools (ruler, cutters, chain nose pliers, and round nose pliers) instead of one (plus one for closing the loop when it's on the piece). Sorry!

    2. You can have a right angle with this tool. All you do is bend back the pin a littel bit before taking it of the pliers. She doesn't show it in the pictures but that is what you are supposed to do.

    3. You can have a right angle with this tool. All you do is bend back the pin a littel bit before taking it of the pliers. She doesn't show it in the pictures but that is what you are supposed to do.

  2. If your camera has a timer, you can set that and be able to use both hands to do whatever it is you want to photograph. (Don't thank me, I commented on the great photos of two hands knitting and the blogger said she used the timer on her iPad camera.)

    1. Thanks! I just started using a tripod and the timer on my camera to try to get really good jewelry pictures. I found it cumbersome to weave myself around the tripod, but I'll have to do that next time I have one of these "one-handed" pictures. I should look into those smaller desktop tripods. Thanks!

    2. What if you sat on the other side of the camera and then just flipped the pictures right side up?

  3. Since I use inexpensive plated headpins I buy the longer ones so I can put it through the hole and hang on to it on the other side.
    Oh! and FYI-----All you have to do to get your cut lengths consistant when doing them by hand is to find the right size bead (8mm?), slip on the head pin after last bead you want, snip wire at the top of that bead and remove that bead.