Intro: Hammered Wire Spiral Clasp
Learn to create a sturdy, unique wire clasp finding to use on your homemade jewellery.
The clasp can be made in petite sizes or large, bold sizes depending on the wire gauge used. Smaller clasps can be made on 1 mm (18 gauge) round wire and larger clasps made on 1.5 mm (14 gauge) round wire. I would not suggest using any smaller than 1 mm (18 gauge) round wire as the wire becomes too thin to remain sturdy.
The wire used for this clasp is continuous wire, a commodity usually kept by wire artists. The clasp is easily created once the technique is learned, readily available in the workshop and low cost compared to commercially purchased bold clasps.
The clasp works equally well in brass, copper, silver and gold wire. The clasp allows construction straight from the wire spool to minimize metal waste.
I recommend practicing the clasp in copper or brass for the first time before using silver or gold.
This is a perfect first wire project to learn a few new techniques such as:
Basic Loop creation
Tools required for this tutorial are:
Round Nose Pliers
Ball Peen Hammer
280 and 400 grit sandpaper
Steele plate (or other suitable surface, see step 8 notes)
10 cm of 1 mm (18 gauge) to 1.5 mm (14 gauge) round wire in Copper, Brass, Silver or Gold
Use the metal file to smooth down the wire ends until there are no sharp edges.
Put one end of the wire into the round nose pliers so that the end is flush with the top of the pliers.
If you wish to conserve wire waste, start with the wire connected straight from the spool.
Gently bend wire around the round nose pliers until there is a U shape in the end of the wire.
Place the U shape between the round nose pliers teeth and gently close pinching the U shape shut.
The end should look like a teardrop shaped nub.
For the 1.5 mm wire, there will always be a slight hole in the middle and this is desired.
For thinner wire such as 1 mm wire the nub can be tight without any gap.
Grasp the nub so that one of the round nose pliers' teeth is inside for better hold.
While bending, work with your finger tip right up against the pliers for a tight and greater control over the wire.
Bend the wire in the direction of the arrows so that the wire will bend around the end.
This will start the second rotation of the spiral.
The pliers will mark the wire. This is okay as we will take care of this at the end.
Airy versus Tight Spirals
The loop can be tight, where all the wire lays snug without a gap or airy with space between each rotation of the spiral, depending on the look you want.
If an airy look is desired, bend the wire to the point where there is still agap from the previous rotation. Holding the wire away from the pliers while bending will result in a more gently curved, airy look as the wire will not bend as tightly.
For a tight look, repeat step 2 to pinch the spiral together as shown in the second photo for this step.
Continue rotations until desired spiral size is achieved.
The spiral is done and now a gap needs to be created where the clasp can be connected to jewellery.
Hold the wire in the round nose pliers snug up to the spiral.
Continue with the spiral rotation AROUND the plier tooth, creating a gap between the wire and the spiral. It should look like the wire only sample photo for this step.
Push the wire against the spiral and finish the half rotation.
Hold the connection gap in place and continue the last half spiral rotation. In the photos below, you can see that I have made 2.5 completed rotations for the spiral.
Bend the wire in the opposite direction of the spiral to create the hook part of the clasp. I find that my finger tip give the most pleasing shape rather than using a perfectly round mandrel.
Continue to play with the hook curve until you are happy with the shape.
Please note, what we are forming in this step is the top half of the hook shape as the wire bends from the spiral.
We will finalize the whole hook shape towards step 14 - 16.
Now it is time to separate the hook from the spool of wire.
The general rule of thumb is that you want approximately 6 mm (1/4 inch) additional wire past where you would like the final hook end to be positioned.
In the second photo below, notice that the connection gap lines up with the spiral and top of the hook. This is optimal for clasp security.
I have found that for the hook to work securely, the final hook end needs to be able to loop back and almost touch the clasp at the top of the spiral.
If the hook end is too long then it may catch when being worn. The best suggestion here is to play with a few different clasps with hook lengths.
Open the hook up again so that the hook end can be flattened on the steel or hard work area.
DO NOT try to flatten the wire on any surface you wish to keep pristine - especially not on the dining table!
A hard wood plank can work but the wood will dent, so you will have to work harder to get the wire flat.
I have purchased a steel anvil for this job but the following are also very suitable substitutes:
Steel plate cast off from a steel casting company
Flat edge on bench vice
Concrete sidewalk (not tiles)
The end of the hook needs to be worked so that it isn't a sharp pointy end. It will be hammered flat in a plane PERPENDICULAR to the plane of the hook and spiral.
Use the flat side of the ball peen hammer and steel plate to flatten the hook end.
It will take quite a few hammer strikes, and it is better to take it more gently and work longer than ruin the clasp.
The last 1.5 centimeters (about 1/2 in) of the hook end needs to be flattened gradually until it is thin enough that the end can be bent by the round nose pliers.
The end will look sharp and asymmetrical, we will deal with this in the next step.
The hammer will leave marks, this is okay as we will take care of that in a minute.
Use the metal file to smooth the sharp long edges and make them straight again.
File down a rounded end.
Use the sandpaper to sand off any of the marks from the hammer on both sides of the hook end. Continue sanding until the only marks on the hook end are the scratches from the sand paper.
Grasp the edge of the hook end in the round nose pliers.
Use your thumb to make a tight curve back until you have a U shape.
The hook end should be bent AWAY From the inside of the hook. See photos for reference.
Because the round nose pliers are slanted, the U shape will be slightly askew until fixed in next few steps.
Place the hook end back on the work bench and use the flat side of the ball peen hammer to flatten the U shape closed.
The U shape needs to be closed entirely so that there is no gap left, as this would catch on clothing when worn.
This little nub may be still slightly askew.
Place the clasp flat on the steel plate so that the side of the hook end can be worked.
With the flat side of the ball peen hammer lightly hammer the edges to line up the nub and to smooth any hammer marks still visible on the side. Remember to flip the clasp over to get both edges of the hook end.
Use your fingers to bend the hook back into shape. You will notice that the hook end is really stiff now from all of the hammering, this is called work hardening.
Now that the clasp is finished, it is time to make it pretty and strong.
The spiral has a lot of marks that need working out. There are two options:
Option 1. Sandpaper - First strike the spiral lightly a few times with the flat side of the ball peen hammer so that the spiral gets work hardened.
Use sand paper to smooth out any marks. This can take a while. Keep at it with 400 grit paper. If the grooves are deep, then start with 280 grit paper (rougher) and then follow up with 400 grit. This will leave a nice matte finish.
Option 2. Hammered texture:
Use the round side of the ball peen hammer and, while holding the clasp down onto a covered steel or hard wood bench, repeatedly strike the spiral all over until the resulting dents are evenly spread on the spiral surface.
Flip clasp over and repeat on the other side of spiral.
Use the 400 grit sand paper to smooth over any sharp edges that could scratch or catch while worn.
NOTE: If you are unpracticed, the spiral should be placed on a scrap piece of leather or wood to protect the underside. Otherwise, while you texture one side, the other side will be hammered smooth again.
If you try to open the spiral after the hammered texture, it won't budge too easily because that part is now work hardened.
The hook curve needs to be work hardened and then the clasp will be sturdy.
Gently strike the hook curve with the flat side of the ball peen hammer a few times until it will not bend when pulled.
Alternatively, use the round side of the ball peen hammer to hammer texture the hook curve. Take care not to "thin" the metal on both sides too much and be sure to flatten the hook again when finished.
Use 400 grit sandpaper on the whole clasp to smooth down any rough or sharp edges. This will give the clasp a brushed matte look that will hide any future scratches well.
Give the clasp a gentle test for sturdiness and once over for scratches.
Use a jump ring to attach the connection gap to one side of the bracelet or necklace. On the other side of the bracelet or necklace, attach a large jump ring to use to secure the hook end.
I like to put a coiled spring onto the spiral for a bit of visual texture. (see step 7)
This type of hook can replace any where you would like to have a more non-conventional clasp instead of a store bought clasp. It does require a large enough jump ring to hook onto given the larger nature of the hook start. I have attached a few photos on this step so you can see bracelets with this style clasp in use.
They work for necklaces provided the necklace is heavy enough to keep the clasp pulled down - or brushing it could make the clasp unhinge.
To see my jewellery or find out more about what I do, visit my website www.yourjewellery.com