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Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 17 of 22

Making an S-Hook Clasp


Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 17 of 22

Making an S-Hook Clasp


Lesson Info

Making an S-Hook Clasp

Even though we are working on those chain earring samples, we're going to take a little detour and talk about two different types of clasps now. Because obviously if you want to create a bracelet, or a necklace, you're going to need to put a clasp in there to make sure you can get those pieces on and off. So I wanna show you guys two different types of clasps, and the first one is an S-hook. And I wanna show you guys the S-hook because it's actually what I personally use myself in pretty much all my work and because it really is a basic clasp but it has a lot of endless variation. For those of you who are working through this and not planning on soldering, this is the type of clasp you wanna make, this is the one that doesn't require us to solder. You certainly can solder it, but it's often not a requirement. So I'm gonna show you guys just a couple different examples of S-hooks, because with this process you can really play with proportion, and do kind've really nice curved pieces, yo...

u can do really long guys and so as we're making this, you can really play around and make your S-hook match the aesthetic of your chain. What I want to show you now is how to make that basic S-hook. So depending on what you're working with, you want to pick a gauge that's comparable to the gauge of wire that you're working with in your necklace. So if you've been working with 16 gauge, I generally say use 16 for your S-hook. If you're working with something smaller, go smaller, larger, go larger. So occasionally I'll go one gauge down, so if I've built my entire chain in 14 gauge, but I know I kinda want my S-hook to be a little bit smaller, I might do that in 16 gauge. So I'll either do the same gauge, or gauge step down, depending on the size of my S-hook. So is another one of those times where you might want to practice a time or two, and kinda see what you like best in terms of actually the length of the wire. I get in my studio, just like I mentioned, I have kind've pre-cut pieces and I know when I'm making an S-hook it matches this template. But for this we'll just say, let's start with something that kinda feels like it could work. So maybe we'll go two and quarter inch. And I always recommend when you're doing this whatever you start with for your dimensions, go ahead and write that number down so that that way you don't forget when you make a second one or if you realize that, oh, too short, but you don't remember too short from what, you're not gonna get there. Anywhere usually between say two to three inches is probably a good place to start when you're thinking about your S-hook. The first thing that I do when I'm making an S-hook is I'll just go ahead and straighten out my wire, because I don't wanna have to fuss with that curve from when it came off my coil. So I'm huge fan, again, of my parallel pliers here with a nice, flat jaw. I'm just gonna go ahead and straighten that out. Now we need to go ahead and finish our ends so that they're nice and soft, obviously right now they're cut with our wire. You really have three choices here. I'm going to come over to our bench pin. The first one is very simple if you have nothing else on hand. You can just come in and use a flat file and file the end. You can just kinda go around. (grinding metal) And we're looking for in this case - we don't need it to be a flat end because we're not trying to solder it to something we want it to be an end that isn't going to poke our customer in the neck. So you can go ahead and just kinda give it a nice, little rounded edge. If you're looking for a more efficient way, because you're making a lot of these, you can also use something called a cup bur, so cup as in c-u-p and bur and in b-u-r. These come in a lot of different sizes and basically what it is is a little bit with a little rounded cup at the end. And you wanna find one that is just larger than the wire that you're trying to use. This one is a little small and, of course, in the process of demoing I have misplaced my next two sizes. This one is a little big but we're gonna use it anyway. So these cup burs, there are wire-rounding ends, I'll show you guys those when we get to ear wire, but this kind of cup bur is actually designed to work in your flex shaft or your rotary tool. So I'll go ahead and put this in my flex shaft, but again, if you have any kind of dremel, or anything like that, that's gonna work for this. If you have none of those, your file will always work just fine. I filed the ends of my S-hooks for a really long time, and then I was like, this is crazy, I make a lot of S-hooks every day. So I'm going to go ahead and put this in our flex shaft here, and then it's very simply just coming in here and moving this guy around. (buzzing) And you can see I kind've rotate it. The one thing that you just wanna keep an eye on here, is that this is a piece of metal, you've got friction happening between this and this, which means you've got heat, and actually if you're using bronze or brass or copper, those conduct really well even silver will conduct because it has copper in it. Those conduct really well, which means if you're grinding on this for a long time, just keep in mind that your wire might start to get a little warm. You may need to set it aside and pick up another one and just kinda work from there. So just know that it could get a little toasty on your fingers. So now that I've got my ends, either cup burred or filed, I can go ahead and start bending my S-hooks. What I'll do here is - let's talk about a couple different things. So when you're making an S-hook you can either bend both ends so they kinda splay out like this guy here, or you can bend just one end and make the other end kinda come in to meet it. Does that make sense? So when I say bend one end, what I mean is taking a flat plier and literally giving it about a 45-degree bend. In my personal S-hook making, I tend to bend both ends, because I like that both ends kind've curve like an S. But if you're bending both, you want to bend the second one in the opposite direction. Basically we've made a little tiny baby S. Now I will take my half-round, half-flat pliers, or if you just have round-nosed pliers, that are round on both sides you can use those as well. And I'll come in here, and you can see, I want my hook to kind've go out. So now I'll just bend this around so that my hook comes in - make sense? And then I'll flip it around to the other side. I would practice this a time or two if you're going to use silver, practice this a time or two in brass or bronze or something that is less expensive, because you may find that you're head needs to think about what it's doing. Like, I think I'm going to bend it this way and then you bend it and you're like, Nope, that was the wrong way. So I recommend practicing it a time or two before you get it straight. So that you know kinda what works. But then here, you know, this is a pretty simple, basic shape. But you can play with making a bigger loop, making a smaller loop, and just experiment to see what matches the aesthetic of your chain. The other thing is, if when you bend it, like, a little bit wonky, I'll usually just come back in here with my parallel pliers and even it up a little. So that everything is kind've on the same plain - make sense? If you really, really want to, especially on ones where you don't have that other end bent, you can always solder this joint down here at the bottom, so the side that's gonna be closed. You can always solder that if you want to make sure it's secure. But for those of you who aren't soldering, this is a great option 'cause you can see these are really strong as-is, they're gonna stay on your chain for you.

Class Description

Go beyond the basics of handmade chain making and discover your own creative voice.

There’s no need to buy boring, store-bought chain. In Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chainmaking, you’ll learn the basics of creating your own handmade chain (including how to get comfortable soldering with a torch) and how to take the basics of chain making and add endless variations to create designs that are uniquely yours.

Designer and metalsmith Megan Auman has built her own jewelry line by discovering her signature style in chain making, and now she wants to help you do the same!

In this class, you will learn how to:

  • Make and solder jump rings into a basic link-in link-chain.
  • Create variation in your chain making through wire gauge, link size, shape, and more.
  • Hone in on your aesthetic to find a style that’s uniquely you.
  • Finish your chains so they’re sturdy and stunning.
  • Turn your chain making explorations into amazing earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.

Whether you’re just getting started in metalsmithing, or you’re looking to inject some creativity into your jewelry designs, you’ll leave this class with the skills and ideas necessary to create your own unique chain. Plus, you’ll explore your ideas by creating a series of chain-link statement earrings - perfect to wear, share, or sell!



Megan' an excellent instructor and lays things out very clearly, with a lot of good tips based on her extensive experience. I've experience making wire wrapped chain and have taken a beginning metalsmithing class before, and this class had some good refresher information. I particularly appreciated seeing her techniques and process for streamlining production.

a Creativelive Student

Megan is an awesome teacher! She is genuinely enthusiastic about sharing her metalsmithing skills with us. I am really looking forward to trying my hand at designing and making a chained necklace on my own soon.

Vernell Bevelander

Another excellent class! Thank you Megan!