Monday, July 22, 2013

Copper Tube Clasp - Boot Camp Tutorial

MaryAnn Carroll
I don't know about you, but making the right clasp for the right design can be challenging. My dream is that one day I will invent a very cool clasp that is easy to make, looks great in all designs and holds up well.

In the meantime, my favorites are the ones that I always fall back on .... the basic clasp. Staci did a wire clasp post about that a couple of weeks back. I use the same type, but the "look" that fits right in with her designs does not work in mine. My biggest issue is this..... I want something that I can use in bracelets that will not take up any more space than a lobster clasp would, but would be completely handmade AND look good without taking away from the design. Bracelets tend to be my biggest issue. I decided that I am going to make bracelets that are simple and accentuate my beads. I do admire people who can put different beads together and make it look so effortless. That is not me. I may evolve into that one day, but right now, I am not there. So, I want something simple that is functional, looks good and will not fall off.

I've made my share of toggles, but sometimes they just are too much for me. I don't know why, but I've learned to just go with whatever works for me. I can create a lot more with that attitude. So, let me share with you my simple little invention that works for me.....

The great thing about this clasp is that you can go right to Lowes, Home Depot or other hardware store and purchase everything you need (except the jewelry tools, of course). I get lots of wire from hardware stores too.

Here is an older version. The obvious problem here is that if I have the clasp tight enough to not fall off, I risk the wire (even though it has been hammered and hardened) to separate. Yes, it has happened :o(

Head on over and get yourself an inexpensive box of soft copper tubing (1/4"). I will sometimes use a little larger tube, but I prefer the smaller for a more discreet, chunky look.


Drag out the tools. The Ridgid tube cutter and the yellow burr remover can both be purchased at said hardware stores for not too much money. I did invest in a slightly more expensive tube cutter for $16 or $17, but you can get them for less than $10. Make sure that the store carries replacement blades for the cutter that you choose. The wire purchased is 16 gauge and was cut from a HUGE roll of wire.

You will need a hammer (I use my chasing hammer), a block and metal sandpaper. I just bought the sandpaper for metal recently and love it! It has a stronger back and does not rip like the regular sandpaper does. Also pictured, is my new block! It is an antique iron. I got it for $3 at a barn sale (one of my favorite things to do on weekends) and it is soooooooooooo much quieter than the one that I purchased online for 6 times more. Bill appreciates that is is quieter too, since I have been known to hammer while he is watching TV!

Here is a side view. It was really rusty, but Bill took it to the workshop and gave it a nice sanding right when we got home. What a great husband :o)

Here we go....  Let me introduce the Tube Clasp!

1. Insert your copper tube from this side. If you need more detail on cutting tubes, check out the tube cutting tutorial that I did awhile back.

2. This little thing is a burr cleaner. You will need to clean out the burrs from each cut. It only takes a half minute. It simply rotates inside the tube. These can be found where the tube cutters and copper are sold. I believe it was less than $10.

3. Here is a side view. Once the tube is in place snuggly, you rotate the cutter around the tube until you feel it loosen. Each time it loosens, tighten it slightly and continue the process until you have cut completely through.

4. This is what will be your ring for the clasp.

5. Using you hammer and block, hammer the ring flat, flipping it over so that each side is getting hammered evenly. I usually flip it every ten taps or so.

6. Here it is hammered.

7. Now it is time for your 16 gauge wire. I use a stronger wire if I am making a larger clasp, but for one that I want this small, 14 gauge is the most I can bend and make it work.

8. I use the very tip of my pliers because my goal is to make this as small as possible, yet functional at the same time.

9. I also form my second loop as small as I can get it without making it too small.

10. Snip the wire so that it is a little longer than the top of the first loop made.

11. Here is is cut. If this is too large or two long, adjust accordingly.

12. Hammer a little for hardness. This can also be done in the tumbler if you own one.

13. Stretch the wire out so that you do not hammer your fingers for this next part. I hammer about 1/4" of the tip until I get it to the size that I want. The purpose is to have it grab slightly when hooked on the tube so that it does not fall off while wearing.

14. Use you sandpaper and sand until it is rounded and smooth.

15. Here you have it ready to add a patina if that is a look that you like. You could tumble it to smooth it out, but I don't typically do that.

Here are some complete and some waiting for a little liver of sulfer to darken them.

As you can see, the clasps are fairly small. Personally, I would still like them somewhat smaller, but that will take a little more practice. These hands of mine are not always up to doing LOTS of metal bending for days on end!

So, here is yet another way to add that one of a kind clasp to your designs. Have you been experimenting with clasps? If so, what has worked out great and what hasn't?

We would love to hear from you :o)

And..... as always....

Thank-you for supporting artists who created handmade with handmade.



Nana Louise Nielsen said...

Great idea using tubing. I hadn't thought of it. It gives a lovely chunky look and works perfectly with your beads.
Love it.

Ema Kilroy said...

I love this clasp. I am definitely going to be this giving this a try! Thanks for the post.

Mystic Indigo said...

MaryAnn...that is a great idea about the copper get a great connector that will not break apart if cold connected and it looks super coolio too...great tutorial!

Anonymous said...

Love the chunky rings from the tubing. I'm definitely going to give these a go. I think they make wonderful beads, or even spacers, in their own right as well.
Thanks for the great tutorial, MaryAnn.

mairedodd said...

excellent, mary ann! and with a center punch, you can make eyelets! thanks for giving me something to think about!

Gaia Copia said...

I love this for bracelets! I will be utilizing this for sure. The look is perfect and gives a sturdy finishing touch. Thanks for the tut!

gretchen said...

Aren't you clever! I love this and will have to pick up some tubing and (yeah!) new tools on my next trip to the hardware store. It's one of my favorite places to find odd bits to use in jewelry, too.

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Thanks, everyone. I think that if you try it you will like it. Also, I found that if I tap it with a 1-2 stop 1-2 stop kind of thing, it ends up more rounded. If I tap it 10 times in a row and then do the same on the other side, I get a more scrunched look. It depends on what you like.

Y said...

Thank you for sharing this! That is a great idea about the copper tube and I love this clasp!

Christine said...

Love your tutorial - thanks for sharing!! I'm definitely going to give this a try!

Unknown said...

brilliant! thanks so much

LisaS said...

Great use of copper tubing! I love the bracelets ;)

in the red said...

Love the copper tubing idea, I'm utilizing your idea and its working out great! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for sharing. I love the look of the clasp and the fact that it's so safe. I'm new to metal work and was hating the little ragged join on the copper jumps rings I've been making.

Awais Irshad said...

Incredible thought utilizing tubing. I hadn't considered it. It gives a dazzling thick look and works superbly with your dabs.

Cherish it.
Pipe Tubing & Supplies

Raka said...

Nice one, but it's definitely not what I was looking for. A "tube clasp" is actually something else, so I'm still searching. But love your clasp!

Melanie LeGrand said...

This is amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!!!!

Michele McKay said...

Beautiful clasps! I really appreciate the tutorial since I never would have thought of using copper pipe from Home Depot! I have all the items on my list and can't wait to get them tomorrow. :)

Patricia said...

Thank you so much for the great ideas. Very thoughtful of you to share!

Kathy Lowe said...

Just discovered this on Pinterest. Great idea!

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