Introduction: Custom Screw Eyes
My wife is making a banner for a women's convention. The regulations stipulate a screw eye is to be used on each end of a large dowel crossbar. Screw eyes with a small diameter to fit the cord for hanging are light duty and the screw section is too short to be reliable. She asked if I could make two screw eyes for her.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- #8 woodscrew 1 inch in length
- 2 inch finish nail
- Aerosol paint
- Slip-joint plier
- Steel rod equal in diameter to the eye opening
- Dremel tool with cut off wheel and grinder stone
- Wire feed welder
- Spring clamps
- Sheet metal for a shim
Step 2: Bend the Finish Nail
I used a screw hook 1/4 inch in diameter as a form around which to bend the finish nail. The cord for my wife's banner is 1/4 inch in diameter. A larger round form could be used to fit your needs. Rod heavier than a finish nail could also be used, if your requirements necessitated it.
The finish nail is strong enough to do the task needed, but thin enough that I could bend it by hand if I held its end with the pliers. Bend a little more than a full circle.
Step 3: Cut the Finish Nail
See the first photo. Cut the nail as shown by the white and yellow lines. You want the ends of the nail to meet so they form a circle without a gap and without overlapping. Pound or bend the circle so it lays flat. See the second photo.
Step 4: Cut the Screw
Use a Dremel tool with a cutting wheel to remove the head from the woodscrew.
Step 5: Weld the Eye to the Screw
I used a spring clamp to hold the screw to a piece of flat aluminum. The eye is thinner than the screw, so I raised the eye a little with a piece of sheet metal and held it in place next to the screw with another spring clamp. The opening in the eye will be welded closed at the same time the eye is welded to the end of the screw. It is not easy to see with the clamps in place, but do your best to center the eye on the end of the screw before welding.
By experience I found welding from above the joint as shown in the photo is sufficient and makes a nice clean looking joint. On my first attempt I welded from above and from each side. Not only was that not necessary, but it also left more clumpy material to be ground away so the end product would be better looking. For an example, go back to the photo in the Introduction. The screw eye on the left was welded with a single weld made from above both front and back. The screw eye on the right is my first attempt and was welded from each side as well as from above. Notice the screw eye on the left has a smoother appearance, even after grinding.
For those without access to a welder, it would be possible to braze the pieces rather than weld them. For many years I did not have a welder and found I could join small parts like these with a MAPP gas torch for a home workshop. But, it becomes important to make the most of the torch's capabilities. I would rest the parts on a brick. After it heats up, the brick helps direct the heat from the torch to the parts you are brazing. It does not duct away heat like the aluminum does.
Step 6: Straighten
The screw and the eye may not appear straight. Both are hot after welding. Use a pair of pliers to handle the screw eye and to place the eye in a vise. Tap with a hammer to straighten the screw with the eye.
Step 7: Finished
The photo shows one of my screw eyes with rough spots ground away and painted. It fits the cord my wife will use on her banner and does not allow a knot to pass through the screw eye.
Anytime you need a screw eye a little different from what you find available in your hardware store, consider making your own.