How to Make Mala Beads

    by Jenny Harrington

    About the Author

    Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.


    Mala beads, or o-juzu, are Buddhist prayer beads. Traditionally, a string of Mala beads has 108 beads and is wrapped around the left wrist. They are often used as a focus for meditation is many Buddhist traditions. In some traditions, the Mala is used to keep track of mantras as they are chanted.

    Things You'll Need

    • 108 10mm wood or stone beads
    • 1 12mm wood bead
    • 1 8mm wood or stone bead
    • 4 feet nylon twine
    • 1 beading needle
    • 4 feet embroidery floss
    • Scissors
    • Locking pliers or clamp
    • Dremel tool
    • 4 inch square of cardboard

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    Choose your materials and lay them out before starting. Beads should be made from a natural material, not plastic or acrylic. Stone beads can be used, but keep in mind the weight of the finished Mala when choosing stone beads. Your large bead, also known as a Guru or Buddha bead, needs to be wood so you can drill a third hole in it.
    Choose a color of embroidery floss that will compliment your beads and the nylon twine you string them on. Black is a common choice.

    Secure the largest bead, using the locking pliers or clamp, with the hole channel parallel to the workbench. Hold the clamp steady and drill a hole into the bead with the Dremel tool until it enters the existing hole channel. Don't drill all the way through the bead. Set the bead aside.

    String the nylon twine on the beading needle. String the first 10mm bead and tie it in place. Tie it on loosely because you will be untying it later. Continue stringing the remaining 107 beads onto the twine. Do not allow the twine to twist or it will cause the Mala to tangle later

    Thread the twine through one of the side holes in the Buddha bead and out the center hole you just drilled. Remove the needle and then untie the knot on the other end of the prayer beads. Attach the needle to the untied end and thread it through the other side of the Buddha bead, then through the center hole. Thread both ends through the 8mm bead and tie them in a square knot.

    Cut a 2-foot length from the embroidery floss. Take the 4-inch square of cardboard and wrap the embroidery floss around it. Keep the floss smooth and neat as you wrap. Snip the looped floss at the bottom of the cardboard square, making a small stack of floss that is 8 inches in length. Using the ends of the twine that emerges from the last bead, tie another square knot around the center of the bundle of embroidery floss.

    Fold the floss back over the knot, hiding it in the center. To complete the tassel, take the remaining 2 feet of floss and wind it 1/2 to 1 inch down from the top of the tassel several time. Tie a knot and push it under the winded floss. Trim any loose ends from the twine and floss. Smooth the tassel and make sure the ends are even.

    • You can use larger beads but keep in mind it will add to the length of the Mala,
    • Some Buddhist traditions use different numbers of beads in their Mala, so check what your tradition uses first.
    • Don't let the Dremel slip when drilling. You can make a dent with a nail where you wish to drill your hole in the Buddha bead to prevent slippage.
    • Always take proper safety precautions when using power tools.

    Photo Credits

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