Introduction: Make Great-Looking S-Hooks - Cheap
Do you like those s-hooks? You can make them for 80 cents or less each - smaller ones would be much less. If you don't need them to be pretty they can cost next to nothing except for your time.
I've always loved the look of pots and pans hanging above sinks, islands, and stoves in magazines and stores. And I've always felt insulted by the prices of the racks and the s-hooks. Granted, some of the hooks are fairly heavy-duty stainless steel, but five dollars EACH?
I'm not above buying s-hooks when the price is reasonable, but the only good deal I've found was during a sale at Ikea. Since the nearest Ikea is many miles from our home, I don't get up there often. And besides, I had made smaller ones from coat hanger wire for years. Finally I found a great material to use for larger sizes - copper grounding wire.
A simple wooden jig is all you need to get started. In each step I'll list "in case" options I thought of for tool and materials substitutes. Everything I've used is pretty simple, but there are alternate ways of getting the same results - perhaps with a little more labor.
1) 10 feet of 8 gauge copper grounding wire
2) 2x4 scrap
3) dowel scrap (broom handle)
4) 2 screws
5) 1 large (12d) nail
6) emery cloth (optional)
9) bolt cutter
10) metal file
12) small tubing for bending
Options (by materials/tool numbers above)
1) for smaller hooks you could use 6 or 8 gauge ground wire, or other materials suggested later in this instructable
2) 2x4 was just a convenient size; anything solid you have would work
3) electrical conduit would work well
4) I used 2" drywall screws - size is not critical
5) for the holding pin - it just needs to be solid. A screw would work, too.
6) for finishing the ends - that's up to you.
7) hand drill / brace and bit would be adequate
9) the wire is pretty heavy; if you don't have a bolt cutter, you'll need either a cable cutter or a hacksaw
10) for rounding off the ends - I actually used a Dremel tool with a grinding bit
11) if you don't have a suitable vise, you could always screw the jig onto a workbench.
12) I used some water outlet pipe from my plumbing junk drawer. You could use pliers, but that might mark up the wire. You could also drill a 1/4" hole in a short length of wood - that would be a little clumsy, but it would give you the leverage needed.
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Step 1: Buy the Wire
What you see in the picture is ten feet of 4 gauge grounding wire from Home Depot, currently (10/07) $1.28 per foot in the electrical department. That's pretty steep, but for this project I was willing to pay for heavy duty and convenience. I noted that smaller 6 gauge was half the price, and 8 gauge even less. But I found that the hooks required only 8 inches, so the ten feet would yield fifteen hooks for a bit over 80 cents each.
If I wanted to make more, I'd look for a cheaper source. Electrical supply houses would be an option, though they might sell grounding wire only be the reel, not the foot. Grounding or lightning arrestor kits might be a cheaper option - I'll check Radio Shack next time I'm there. Does anyone have some good source ideas?
Step 2: Get Your Pattern Hooks
The hooks above came from Ikea. I used the larger one as a pattern here.
Step 3: Or Use This Example
Here's a pattern for the large hook in case you don't have (or don't want) your own hook to copy.
Step 4: Lay Out the Jig
Trace around your pattern hook. Cut dowel (broom handle, in my case) lengths to 3-4". Trace locations for the dowels inside the curve of the pattern (pencil marks on block in photo).
I drilled a 1" hole half an inch deep into the block to provide more support for the dowel, then drilled a pilot hole for a 2" drywall screw through the bottom of the block into the dowel.
Better/simpler idea: After using the jig, I saw there was no reason for the dowels to be so long, or for drilling the 1" hole. You could use a half-inch length of dowel, drill a pilot hole through the center and into the block, then mount it with a screw from the top.
Step 5: Cut a Length of Wire
Cut a piece of wire 8.5" long to give you some leeway for your fist try. I drilled a 1/4" hole in the end of the block for straightening the stock (the deeper the hole, the better).
Step 6: Straighten the Stock
Use the hole to get your stock mostly straight.
Step 7: Set Holding Pin
Set the stock against the first dowel and mark a spot for the holding pin. I used a concrete nail for its stiffness. Drill a hole partially into the block so you can slip the pin in (later you might need to pull it out to free your stock).
Step 8: Make First Bend
Bend the stock around the first dowel until you touch the second.
Step 9: Lift Stock Around Second Dowel
Lift the stock, bending it a bit to get past the second dowel.
Step 10: Make Second Bend
Use a short piece of 3/8" tubing for leverage to make the 2nd bend. Move the tubing down the stock as needed, bending the final inch or so to match the pattern.
Step 11: Mark Any Excess and Cut
If your stock is too long, mark it and cut off the excess.
Step 12: Smooth Ends
The left hook shows the raw ends; the right is finished. File the ends until they're rounded (I used a Dremel tool) then smooth things off with emery cloth.
I'd want a better (certainly faster) way to finish the ends if I were to make more than a few of these hooks. Any suggestions?
Step 13: Make Other Sizes, Use Different Materials
The photo shows a couple of my earlier test hooks. The smaller ones and freebie stainless steel - they're the inside stiffeners from old windshield wipers. You can make an instant bending jig for these with a few large nails. The larger one (you guessed it) is a converted nail itself.
- Coat hanger wire is a good prototyping material. You can quickly make a number of different sizes with nothing more than some needle nose pliers. I've used small ones often for spray painting. Insert an eye hook in wood pieces to be painted. Then hang them with your s-hooks from another coat hanger. Now you can paint your pieces on all sides in one pass and leave them to dry.
- When I was looking for my grounding wire, I saw various colors of solid copper wire (12 gauge and larger) which would make great smaller hooks. The colored insulation would look great (except perhaps for white and yellow where the specifications lettering would show too prominently).
- Another pre-coated source would be wire shelving. If you cut this shelving to size, you end up with small pieces that are usually destined for the trash. Snip those up and you can have some nice vinyl-coated s-hooks.
- A last note on copper. If you're partial to copper cooking utensils, why not go all the way? Make it all match by using copper plumbing pipe to hang everything. With a few t-fittings and a 10' length of 1/2" copper pipe you could have an all-copper display.