Jewelry Making Basics 5 – Four Ways To Make Wire Clasps
Today’s lesson is all about hand-made wire clasps! Although there are many types of pre-made clasps in the market, I usually don’t like their industrial feel and still prefer to make them by myself.
In this tutorial, we are going to cover four basic clasp designs including toggle, hook and eye, classic hook and S hook.
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Choosing the right wire
Before diving into the making process, let’s chat a little about choosing the wire. Hand-made clasps usually need strong jewelry wire that’s 20 gauge or higher. It is also a good idea to choose half hard instead of soft wire.
In today’s tutorial, I used 20-gauge half hard square sterling silver wire. For comparison, I also made the same style using the 20-gauge half hard round gold filled wire. You can see them in the pictures below. Square and round wire generate very different looks. You can make your own decision on which style you like.
Design No.1 — Toggle (Bar and Ring) Clasp
Our first clasp is a classic toggle design with a ring and bar. First, let’s make a bar using jewelry wire.
To make a bar, wrap a piece of 3cm/1.2inch wire around the smallest loop of a looping plier. Align the two ends of the wire on the same line. Using a ruler, measure 1cm/0.4 inch for each end and cut the excess.
File the ends of the wire using a wire rounder. Then hammer both ends down on a bench block. To make the edges look nicer, I filed them again using an automatic nail polisher. This is my secret weapon for filing the wire, unlike a wire rounder which only removes the sharp ends, the automatic nail polisher can adjust the shape of the edge.
The ring in the classic toggle design is a perfect circle. But it can be very difficult to achieve using thick square wire. If you want to stick with the classic ring, use the round wire instead. You can find out how to make a perfect wire circle in this tutorial.
For the silver square wire, we are going to make a teardrop shape. Curl a piece of wire (about 7cm/2.8inch) around a small mandrel (10mm in diameter) and form a teardrop shape. Bend one end of the wire perpendicular to the teardrop using a flat nose plier and make a wrap. Wrap the other end of the wire around a round nose plier to create a small loop. Hammer the piece if desired.
Design No. 2 — Hook and Eye Clasp
Our second clasp is a hook and eye that’s originally designed for women garments. We are going to make an enlarged version today for bracelets.
To make the eyelet into which the hook fits, wrap a piece of wire on the largest loop (0.9mm in diameter) of the looping plier to form a teardrop shape. Bend the two ends outward and make two small loops using a round nose plier. Cut the excess wire using a wire cutter and file the ends with a wire rounder. If you prefer, hammer the piece a few times on a bench block to make it sturdier. Now your eyelet has been finished.
To make the hook, bend a piece of wire (8cm/3.1inch) around a looping plier into a narrow U shape. Then bend the top of U into a hook as shown in picture 3. Make two small loops at both ends using either a looping plier or round nose plier. File the sharp ends and hammer the piece if desired.
Attach the eyelet with the hook we just made. Now our hook and eye clasp is ready to use.
Tools used in this tutorial
Design No. 3 — Classic Hook Clasp
Our next design is a very simple hook and jump ring clasp. This is simplest project among the four. If you are beginner, definitely try this one our first.
Curl a piece of wire (7cm/2.8inch) using the largest loop (0.9mm in diameter) of a looping plier as shown in picture 2. Then bend the longer end into a small loop using a round nose plier and cut the excess. Do the same thing for the other end; but make sure the two loops are neither the same size nor at the same level. Hammer the piece on a bench block. Re-adjust the opening between the two loops, it should be kept very narrow.
Match the hook with a jump ring; your classic hook clasp is ready to use. You can read how to make a jump ring at the end of this article.
Design No. 4 — S Hook Clasp
Our last clasp is an elegant S hook.
Curl both ends of wire around 9mm mandrel to make a symmetrical S Shape. Then form two tiny loops using the round nose plier at both ends and cut the excess. File down the sharp ends using the wire rounder and hammer the piece if desired.
Like the classic hook we made before, S hook needs to be paired with jump rings before using. We’ll discuss how to make a jump ring next.
Extra Bonus: How to make a jump ring
To make a jump ring, tightly wrap a piece of wire several times around a small mandrel(5mm in diameter) as shown in picture 2. Remove the coil from the mandrel and cut the coil up following a straight line. The jump rings will fall from the coil as you cut.
To summarize the tutorial we had today, I prepared the four long step-by-step pictures below. Feel free to save them for future reference.
One more thing! I want to share with you guys my newly created video tutorial! As you probably noticed, I love to combine polymer clay technique with other jewelry making skills together to create beautiful pieces.
Lately I’ve made an in-depth video series teaching you how to make vintage rose earrings. Check it out in my Etsy shop! With 14 videos and 4 PDF materials, this tutorial will bring your jewelry making skill to another level.