How to Make Beads | Polymer Clay Tools | Tri Bead Roller by Amaco

Amaco Tri Bead Roller Tool

Do Your Bicone, Oval and Round Beads Always End Up Looking As They Should?

When I originally bought my Amaco Tri-Bead Roller, I thought it was going to solve all of my bead rolling problems. And now that I know how to use this handy polymer clay tool, I do love it a lot. However, there was definitely a learning curve. Many beginners end up with misshapen beads that have cracked ends. So today’s article will give you some tips on how to work with your Amaco Tri Bead Roller properly.

If you don’t yet have a polymer clay beadroller tool, here’s a link to where you can purchase one online at Amazon (they are not very expensive): Buy Amaco Tri-Bead Roller

Bead Roller Tips:

  • Use the measuring tool that comes with the bead roller, to get an exact amount of polymer clay. If you have too much clay, your bead will come out warped with cracked ends. Too little clay in the roller and the ball will not roll.
  • Move slowly. Rolling too fast will mis-shape the beads.
  • Use marbled clay to get a spiral effect in the beads. For a spiraled bead, start at one end of the roller and roll the bead till you get to the end. When you reach the end, pick up the bead and put it at the beginning again. Keep rolling in this way in only one direction, until you reach the desired amount of swirling on your polymer clay bead. You can make these swirls on any of the three bead shapes in the Amaco roller.
  • To avoid distorting the beads, let them rest before piercing. Some of the bead rollers have a piercing hole in them for sliding the piercing pin into without touching the bead at all. It is a very nice feature, and I’ve been thinking of ways I could modify my roller to have the same function. If I figure it out I will let you know.

Follow these tips and you will definitely have great success rolling your polymer clay beads with the Amaco Tri-Bead Roller.


BY THE WAY… all the above information (and more) about the Amaco Tri Bead Roller, is covered in Tutorial Video #20 of my 39 Part Polymer Clay Fundamentals Course. If you would like to see a sneak preview clip for this course video, here is the link:
Amaco Tri Bead Roller – How To Make it Work Right

Or if you want to go straight to the course order page, here is that link: Polymer Clay Bead Making Fundamentals


Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. MJ, 05 December, 2008

    Hi Cindy,

    Have one of these rollers and you really do need to use the measuring device. Will try the spiral technique. Hope you come up with the hole piercing solution.



  2. Cindy Lietz, 05 December, 2008

    It shouldn’t be too hard. Just need the time to sit down and figure it out. I’ll let everyone know when I do! Thanks MJ!

  3. Silverleaf, 06 December, 2008

    I love spiral oval beads, just made about a million batches of them the other week! I love the shape.

    Can’t say I’m sold on bicones though. I don’t know, they just don’t please my eye in the same way that ovals do.

    I’m definitely glad I bought my bead roller – but as you say, there’s a learning curve. I’ve spent a few hours of frustration with cracked beads, even when using the measuring device! Eventually I learned to take a little bit of clay off problem beads until they rolled properly.

    I still can’t manage to do round beads without getting curved lines in them from the roller.

    One tip I’d like to add is make sure your clay is really well conditioned before using it in the roller, because if you don’t the beads will definitely crack.

  4. Cindy Lietz, 06 December, 2008

    Thank you for your tips Silverleaf! I’m not sure what is happening with your round beads. If I figure it out I’ll let you know! I usually roll my round beads by hand. I can do them a lot faster that way and a variety of sizes.

  5. craftygurl, 08 December, 2008

    Hi Cindy,
    I have that thingy and only used it once… Heee… I need to practice on that… the beads however are huge… I need to get me something way smaller but that’s all they had at the store… :(

    And thank you for passing by to my site… you so sweet. :)

  6. deirdre, 08 December, 2008

    Thanks for the advice! I don’t think I even noticed it came with a measuring device. I’ll have to try that out.

  7. Cindy Lietz, 08 December, 2008

    @craftygurl: There are a lot of cool things you can do with a large bead besides just stringing them. They make great pendants, tassel bases and look great wire wrapped as well! So you might want to pull that tool out again and see what you can come up with! I am enjoying your site BTW. You have lots of neat information!

    @Deirdre: You’re welcome. You will find it is a lot easier to work with, when you have exactly the right amount of clay!

  8. Diana S, 09 December, 2008

    Hi Cindy!

    I have that tool also. A friend came by one day, with a present for me. She had taken a class in making Clay Mogame Cane. Anyway, I took out that tool, and both of us realized simultaneously, that a measuring tool was included. At first, I looked at it, and commented, “What is this all about?” After looking at the instructions (Daw! Who knew! Ahem!) Before that, we were estimating what we thought we needed. Amazingly enough, that dohicky does sure make a difference! Anyway, once we used the measuring tool, it was so much easier. It even gave us something to laugh about. Who knew! After a little bit, we had a batch of beads ready to bake. They were really nice looking! The Mogame was a mixture of a Reddish Clay, with Golds, Bronze and Copper (from what I remember). I’m counting on my memory for this tidbit of information, because my supplies are back in Vegas, and I’m in Virginia. Boo Who! These colors were gorgeous together, and really were impressive. Besides that, we had so much fun together sharing our day. In the end, I felt guilty keeping all the stash, and insisted on sharing these with her. After all, it was originally her Mogame Clay. Anyways, that Amaco Bead thingie makes really nice beads. Want to also wire wrap some of them. Do think that it is easier, if you make holes in the clay before baking. However, there is an advantage to drilling after the fact, because then you can use them on thick or thin stringing materials. My trusty dremel does come in handy. I’m one of those people whom shoreeee loves tools!!! Although, I do plan on purchasing your back issue Dremel Information. Love your explicit explanations, and ya gotta know, that there’s always a handy dandy bit of info. included. It’s always plainer when it’s visual for me. The main thing is that you are having fun experimenting. I truly believe this. I’ve taught myself also to be able to not take myself seriously. Ha! Ha! In this way, it’s a total blast. You never know what you are going to come up with, that is, unless you try. See, like I’ve said in the past, “I’ve turned into my MOM.” Ha! Ha!

    I just love all of your stuff Cindy. Thanks ever so much. You are truly appreciated, and just having you there makes a difference to me.

    Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, but I’ve been down with that blasted Viral Bug. Can’t keep a good woman down, so “I’m backkkkk!!!!”. La De Da!!!!

    DIANA (The Crazy Lady)
    Queen of Beading

  9. Cindy Lietz, 10 December, 2008

    Great to see you’re back Diana!! Thanks for the fabulous comment. Sounds like you had fun making beads with your friend!

  10. Kelly, 27 December, 2008

    I’ve had one for years and absolutely love it! I just wish that they had more sizes available. =)

  11. Cindy Lietz, 28 December, 2008

    If you go to Amaco’s website you will see they have tons of sizes. From my experience the craft stores don’t carry most of them. Thanks for coming by Kelly!

  12. Sue F, 09 January, 2009

    I have one of these, but the measuring tool was so annoying to use that I put the whole thing away after only a few minutes.

    But I was “playing clay” tonight, and after seeing this post thought I’d give the bead roller another go. I still loathed the supplied measuring tool, so I experimented with pasta machine settings and cutters until I found a combination that exactly matched the bead roller’s measuring tool. It didn’t take long to find one, and the whole process is MUCH easier and faster. (For what it’s worth, I have a Fire Mountain Gems “Poly Roller”, and its #2 setting and the smallest round Klay Kutter (from FMG again; I think it’s 19mm) gave the perfect amount of clay. Also, two of those rounds at #3 let me produce nice and consistent “overfilled” shape effects.)

    I haven’t tried modifying my tri bead roller to take piercing pins, but when piercing radially symmetrical beads I actually find it easiest to hold my piercing tool still and twist the bead onto it, i.e. I position the point where I want the hole to start, then rotate the bead while applying gentle pressure to push it onto the piercing tool. The holes go straight through rather than coming out in funny places because the rotation lets you see straight away if you start going out of alignment. It also avoids “flat spots” from holding the bead in a single place. I still hold the piercing tool in my dominant hand and the bead in my other hand, but my dominant hand isn’t THAT dominant so it wouldn’t hurt to try it both ways.

    (By the way, thanks for the useful info and videos around your site!)

  13. Cindy Lietz, 09 January, 2009

    WOW Sue Thanks!!! Those tips are extremely helpful! I will have to try that out with my pasta machine and cutters to see what works for me. That would be way easier than that fiddly little measuring tool.

    Also the tip on twisting the bead instead of the wire is fantastic and of course makes sense! I will have to try that too! (For those of you that haven’t read the post on piercing beads yet, click the link by my name. Do the things there that I suggest and add Sue’s idea for twisting the bead instead of the pin and see how that works for you.)

    Thank you so much Sue for sharing your tips with us!

  14. Helena, 21 August, 2009

    Dear Cindy,

    First, let me congratulate you for your amazing site, very user friendly and terribly helpful, but mostly for the way you run it always having a kind and encouraging word to give to everybody. I’m very new to polymer clay and trying to find my way.

    Unfortunately I still haven’t found a solution for an actual problem which is – I made the cutest beads but some just cracked after baking. I know that sometimes this happens when you clay is not sufficiently conditioned but I think this happened to me because the canes I used were untouched for to long (I find easier to cut them without distorting it). Is there a way to recover them? To fix the crack? I tried once putting liquid clay and baking it but they just looked like charcoal.

    Many thanks
    All the best for you and business

  15. Cindy Lietz, 24 August, 2009

    That is too bad Helena about the cracks. There is always something you can do with a less than perfect bead, so don’t despair!

    What kind of clay were you using? Also I’m not sure what you mean by the liquid clay making your bead look like charcoal.

    Sometimes a bead will crack if there is water or air trapped in it before it was baked. Conditioning properly will help.

    As well, old canes can be a bit of a problem for cracking. Try and ‘wake up’ the molecules in the cane by warming in your hands or rolling the sides with a brayer a little before using them right away.

    Click the link by my name to go to an article called “What to do when polymer clay techniques go bad” for some ideas that may help.

  16. Helena, 29 August, 2009

    Dear Cindy,

    Many thanks for your prompt reply.

    I use Fimo, Fimo soft in this case. I never used liquid clay except once. I don’t know why but I had the idea I had read somewhere that you could use liquid clay on the cracked bead to close the crack than you needed to sand. I must have done something really wrong because I totally roasted the top of the bead. I used Kato medium on Fimo.

    Many thanks for your tips, will see the video

    Take care
    All the best

  17. Cindy Lietz, 13 April, 2010

    FYI: There is a very helpful discussion on how to use Amaco rollers in a more recent post. The link by my name will take you there now.

  18. Helen Sperring, 18 July, 2010

    WOW……This blog is unbelievable!!!!!…… I feel sorry for all the people that are missing this website…..Cindy and Doug, I wish I could think of a different, really great word , that hasn’t been said about the both of you…….I’ll bet that no one has started a website from really very little to what the both of you have done, with such precision. This blog starts in 2008. goes to 2009, and ends up in 2010. I just cant’t believe all of this….Look at the size of this website, NOW. The both of you are really loved by many……God bless the both of you and your children too…..KEEP GOING GUYS>>>>YOU ARE THE BEST IN EVERYTHING YOU DO…….Love Ya, Honey, WPB, Fl…….

  19. Marsha Richard, 27 April, 2019

    I roll my beads with a bead roller, so the shape is pretty much defined. So why when I take the bead out it’s not round? It’s kinda wonky. I add tiny bits of clay til I can get it round but it’ll leave a little raised circle on each end of the bead. How can I get my beads to come out round from the bead roller?

  20. Cindy Lietz, 30 April, 2019

    Bead rollers are tricky! If you don’t have EXACTLY the right amount of clay they will either roll out wonky or have little bumps on the sides like you discovered. Bumps = too much. Wonky = too little. It is one of the reasons, I am not a big fan of bead rollers.

  21. Jill Lloyd-Jones, 27 July, 2022

    Hi Cindy,
    Do you know if the plastic bead makers will also make a long bead, like a roll shape?

  22. Cindy Lietz, 28 July, 2022

    Hi Jill, they used to make plastic tube bead rollers and long dagger style rollers, but I haven’t seen them in many years. Not sure if they’re made anymore.

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