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Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 18 of 22

Making and Soldering a Toggle Clasp


Explorations in Metalsmithing: Creative Chain Making

Lesson 18 of 22

Making and Soldering a Toggle Clasp


Lesson Info

Making and Soldering a Toggle Clasp

Now let's talk about another kind of clasp which is a toggle. And a toggle is a nice option as well, particularly if you're doing circular links. But the thing with the toggle is that it does require soldering. So if you aren't familiar with a toggle, if anyone remembers those like Tiffany's necklaces that were really popular in like the early 2000's, that was like a classic example of a toggle necklace. So, a toggle is literally a bar with half a loop soldered to it and it feeds back through whatever chain you're using. And so the most important thing with a toggle is that it has to be longer than the link that it goes through and it has to be longer than the longest side. So if you're making an oval shaped link and you're trying to put a toggle through there, the length of your T bar needs to be longer than the actual toggle itself. The other thing that I wanna point out about a toggle, and I'll solder one for you guys in a second, is you'll notice that it has this little half loop, ...

but then it's connected to the next jump ring. They're pretty big jump rings on this chain. It's connected to the next one with a smaller link in there. So generally, to have the flexibility in your toggle, it goes toggle, small link, rest of your chain. So let's go ahead and prep a toggle to actually solder this. So when I'm making a toggle, I generally like to solder first, like solder this guy, and then trim this down so that way if I don't solder it perfectly on the half, like if it gets off center, it's okay, I've a little extra material and I can trim it down later. Of course, when you're trimming it, you shouldn't be like rushing to leave for Creative Live because in our little sample here, I definitely trimmed that crooked. (laughing) So, you know, actually measure, don't do that. So what I do when I'm making a toggle is I'll take a smaller jump ring and then I will literally just cut it in half with my pliers, or not with my pliers, with my wire cutters, right? So I'll cut that in half, so I've got half a jump ring. I think in this case I maybe even like smooshed it because I wanted it to be a little smaller. Then we wanna make sure that this is going to fit nicely, so I'll take this over here to my bench pin and I already did this but I just wanna show you guys, and then I'll just, again, flatten each end so that this is going to sit up against my guy here. So I'll go ahead, make sure that's filed, and then from there, we're gonna go ahead and solder this guy just so you can see. It's a pretty straightforward process at this point, you guys are starting to be soldering pros. But we'll go ahead and do one last little solder seam for you. So just like with pretty much everything else we've been doing, I'm gonna go ahead and dunk this guy in here. And just for kind of point of reference, I believe I made this bar out of 14 gauge and I believe this little half loop is out of 16 gauge. Just like with our S hook, you wanna kinda just follow what you're using in your necklace. So if you're using 14 gauge, you're probably gonna build a 14 gauge toggle. Sometimes I like to make this bar a little beefier so with my S hook where sometimes I went a gauge thinner, with my toggle sometimes I'll go a gauge thicker. So if my necklace is 14 gauge, I might use 12 gauge on the bar of my toggle. So then I'm just gonna come in here and I am gonna solder both of these at once because I wanna make my toggle and then I can always use that little jump ring that we had to make, that can be my last solder connection. And I think we're probably good with one piece on each. And I think I mentioned this in our previous class, I have a real tendency to wanna like put a lot of solder in but solder covers more than you think and then you have to clean it back up. Because again, the only place we wanna see our solder is in that seam because as people have kind of been asking in the comments, "I used this kind of solder "and it's not the same color and how do I match that?" Well the honest answer is, solder never matches perfectly so the less of it we can use, the less of it we have to clean up. So the thicker the bar that you're using here, the more this little tiny jump ring is gonna wanna get hot faster, so you can see I'm focusing more of my heat on my bar right now. I'm also just trying to dry my flux a little. Because that little jump ring is gonna wanna get hot faster and our solder is always gonna flow towards the thing that's hottest so if I'm not careful, my solder's gonna wanna flow towards my little jump ring instead of towards my bar. And, you know, if I were setting this up not in front of a room full of people, I probably would have actually flipped this the other direction since I'm right handed. I would have put the bar on the right side, that would have been the smart way to do it. I guess we could just do that. (laughing) I told you guys, I don't have an annealing pan, and so this is one of those things that I do forget that I can just spin pan. Megan, can you answer whether you're using paste flux or liquid flux? I am using paste flux. So, I have found that that is sort of a matter of personal preference so the woman who used to do production for me, she was such a fan of liquid flux and that was just, it basically, it looks like, I think it's like a pink liquid. And that's what she loved to use and so that's what I bought for her but I have just kind of always used paste flux and it's what I'm comfortable with. And so you can see, there we go, we just got our solder right in our little seam there. So I'm using paste flux but you can certainly use liquid flux as well if that makes you happy. Thank you. And so that is it with our toggle so now I've got that little seam there and you can see really that, let's quench this guy. I really don't have a lot of excess solder so that was really like the right amount to kind of fight my urges of wanting to pack more solder in there. And so then from there, what we can do is actually just, I would pickle this first because right now it's covered in flux and crud, but then I would take this, let's move our, we've got little flux strings happening everywhere. I would take this guy and I would go ahead and put this in here and just measure. So I would kind of eyeball it but then I would say, "Okay, this is about an inch "from my jump ring so I'm gonna go an extra "kinda quarter inch in so I'm gonna cut this, "or an extra, about an eighth of an inch on either side "so I'm gonna cut this at an inch and a quarter." So now I would go ahead and actually measure it, mark it, cut it, and then just like we did with the S hook, you can round the end with your file or you can round the end with your cup bur. I'm not gonna take my tools to this because it's all covered in flux. Do the cup bur's work on metal that's a different shape like the square or the triangle? Not really, it's gonna kinda be like, it's gonna take the corners off but I think it's gonna take the corners off in kind of a weird way. So in the case of those, I would just file by hand. If you're not doing a ton, you can kinda file it quick. So the other thing is, because of like the triangle or the square wire, I wouldn't necessarily worry about making that round, round because the wire itself isn't round. So what you could actually do is just literally file it flat or if you were cutting it like on something like that, I would probably instead of cutting with my wire cutters, take the like two strokes to cut it with my jeweler saw because it's gonna give me a nice, flat end. Because the problem with square or even triangle is depending on your wire cutters, they are actually gonna wanna like smoosh the profile a little bit so cut it with your jeweler saw, then it's ready to go. And then I would just like take a little sandpaper to the end to kind of take the bur off. Okay. So, then from there we can go ahead and assemble using our kind of smaller jump ring and going down to our chain. Any questions about the toggle? No questions on the toggle. Okay, but other questions or no? Actually, wanting to know if you need to wear dark glasses when you're using the soldering blow torch. Not this torch. So there are certain types of torches that you do need to wear dark glasses. In my own studio, I frequently use an oxy-acetylene. So the way a torch works is torches need both a fuel source and they need a source of air or oxygen. Our torch is an acetylene torch that just pulls atmospheric air, right, so it takes the air in from the room and that's how it makes it hot. There are torches where they actually get hotter by having a second tank that adds oxygen to the flame so you can get propane and oxygen or you can get acetylene and oxygen and that's gonna make a hotter flame and as the flame gets hotter, that's when you need dark glasses. So this kind of torch or your butane micro torch, perfectly safe to wear without dark glasses, but anything that you're adding oxygen to, you wanna wear those dark glasses and protect your eyes. And then another question from Tiffany just came in. "Is there an occasion that it's better to use a toggle, "bracelets versus necklaces?" For the most part, it's aesthetic, though the thing to keep in mind is that a toggle is definitely a less secure type of chain, a less secure type of clasp than an S hook. I find toggles, they're just kind of temperamental. A little bit of movement, they kinda wanna slide out. So I think toggles work best really when you've got a nice, big circular chain like this. I tend to reserve toggles for like big, chunky links and then anything else pretty much I put an S hook in. And there's obviously other kinds of clasps as well but I think for this, for a toggle, it's usually only big links that where it aesthetically makes sense but if I'm concerned about something, if I wanna make sure it's safe, I always personally feel safer with an S hook.

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!