Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tool Review: Bead Buddy 1-Step Crimper Tool

Photo from its Amazon listing.
Before I get to the review, let me clarify that I am in no way, shape, or form affiliated with the makers or sellers of the Bead Buddy 1-Step Crimper Tool. I am merely a user of said tool with some opinions on it. :)

Let me tell you how I found this tool. It was a few years ago (two or three, maybe?) and I was just getting serious about stringing. I had just been using fishing line and tying knots in the end when I started, and I had moved on to crimping tubes but didn't have any actual crimping pliers. I was using just regular chain-nose pliers to flatten the tubes, and while it looked better than knots, I wanted the tubes to look nice. Professional. Tubular, one might say. Also, because the flattened tubes left sharp, pointy corners. So anyway, I was in the market for a pair of crimp pliers, but I also wanted something easy to use, and simple. I happened to see these in the jewelry section of my favorite big-box store, and I was sold.

I don't have any photos of me using the Crimper Tool, but I did find an instructional video on Youtube. I couldn't catch what-all the person in the video said (kiddo's sleeping and I couldn't find my headphones), but the video shows how to use the tool.

I chose the 1-Step Crimper Tool over a regular pair of crimping pliers because I noticed that the regular pliers have multiple spaces to put the crimping tube, and that would have confused me. Like I said, I was looking for something simple, and I know me - after a while of using the pliers, I just know I would suddenly have a brainfart and forget which part of the pliers are used for which part of the crimping process. This makes me sound like a total ditz, I know, but I do have a tendency to blank after being on auto-pilot.

Enough about my foibles - here are my pros and cons about this tool:

  • Pro: Easy to use. There's only one spot to put the crimp bead, and the tool does the rest. You do have to remember to not cross the wires while crimping, but that's the same with any crimping tool.
  • Pro: Quick. Three movements, and the piece is crimped! 
  • Pro: Professional. You don't have to worry about proper squeeze pressure like you would with regular pliers - the tool does all the work, and the crimps come out uniform and neat, every time.
  • Con: Size. I have dainty little hands, and the movement between one set of handles and the other is a little awkward for me. Your mileage may vary. 
  • Con: Doesn't put on crimp covers like regular crimping pliers can. To offset this, however, I have been able to successfully place crimp covers with my chainnose pliers, so I don't find this to be a dealbreaker.
On the whole, this is my most specialized tool, but also one of my favorites. It's everything that I was looking for in crimping tools, and the two downsides to it aren't that biggie (for me, at least). If you're in the market for a crimping tool, I recommend giving the Bead Buddy 1-Step Crimper Tool a look. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Long Time, No Blog!

Hi there! I hope everyone out there in Internet Land is doing great. I know I have been!

Apart from a slight reinjury today, my toe's almost healed up. I don't think I rebroke it - again! - but whatever happened did hurt a bit. I can walk around almost like normal, and I don't have to sleep with my foot poking out the bottom of the blankets anymore, so that's good.

In other news, I've been steadily getting new listings up and running in both my shops. I'm almost done with the last batch of photos I took, and I've created plenty of new pieces since then, so it's just about time for photos again!

Mostly, what I've been working on is reclaiming the yards. Apparently, whoever lived here before we did either really liked to garden or had the money for a landscaper; there are shrubs everywhere and they're all planted close enough that they need pruned back every year or two so that they don't choke each other out. Unfortunately, my husband and I didn't realize this for the first year, plus I was pregnant and definitely not feeling up to strenuous yard-work, then we were busy with a brand-new baby the second year, and dealing with an extremely mobile and inquisitive one-year-old the third year...long story short, it's kind of a jungle out there. The worst part is that the previous owners (or whatever landscaper they had possibly hired) had planted new bushes on top of older plants that were just chopped short, so besides pruning back the keeper bushes, there are older bushes and sucker-plants sprouting out of the middle of said keeper bushes, and it's just insane. Some of the suckers have inch-long thorns!

Snowball flowers. Photo from Wikipedia.

It's taken me nearly a week, but I got one of the biggest, messiest plants almost pruned to where I want it. I think it's a Viburnum opulus "Roseum" - we just call it our "snowball tree". My research suggests that it's a shrub, but it's easily the size of a tree, over ten feet tall, and about as wide. Well, it's been intruding on our rosebushes - the rose bushes have a definite lean, just to get some sun - and its dangling branches interfere with my doing any other yardwork around it, so I decided last week that it was time to do something with it. I've seen another snowball tree in a neighbor's yard, and it looked like three distinct trunks that kind of twist up and around each other, offering mutual support, with an umbrella-like canopy of leaves above. This is drastically different from what ours looked like - a multitude of trunks sprouting from a central location, going every-which-way and just unruly as could be. I don't have any photos of what it looked before, though take my word for it - it was a mess. I decided that I was going to cut back the suckers and keep a few main trunks to try and get it to how our neighbors' looks, because their tree/bush looks really nice.

Almost a week later, I have two good-sized branch piles out in the yard and there are maybe seven trunks still standing. I also discovered that there were several dead branches in the midst of the mess, and there appears to be a nest of carpenter ants living in the dead branches. Ew! I also discovered that one of the astilbes that I had planted out behind the snowball tree in our first year here, back when I could still get behind the tree, is finally coming up. I think maybe the snow we had this last winter kicked the bulbs into survival mode, because this is the first sign of the astilbes I've seen since I planted them. The snowstorm also seems to have affected our fence, because - now that we can get back to that corner! - there's a section of fence behind the snowball tree that is in some serious need of repair.

Astilbes. Photo from Wikipedia.

The silver lining to all of this is that I can feel myself getting back into shape. I haven't been able to do much physical activity besides walk short distances for two months now, and it's been bumming me out. I've been doing 30-60 minutes of yard work every day for the last week, though, and I find myself feeling really good afterwards. I'd say it's the endorphin rush, but that good feeling lasts all day. I think it's knowing that I'm on the mend and can actually do something for once in two months. :)