Crimping, Part 3: Soldering Crimps on Sheet Metal Clasps
If you can solder a sterling silver crimp onto a piece of wire, you can solder it onto sheet metal for a simple, attractive clasp. It just takes a light touch with a torch; you will want to practice until you know exactly how much flame you need. Adding crimping tubes to your clasps can help create secure, well-finished stringing designs with no visible crimps. Here’s how.
How to Make the Clasp
For texture, I stamped my hallmarks and logos all over a small piece of 18-gauge sterling silver sheet. Then I used a template and fine-point Sharpie to draw two ovals on the surface. After I cut them out with a jeweler’s saw, I filed and sanded the edges. Then I domed them slightly with a pair of Miland synclastic pliers.
Next, I fluxed and soldered a piece of half-round 16 gauge sterling silver wire onto one oval for the hook and a jump ring on to the other for the eye, using hard solder.
After pickle and rinse, I fluxed the ovals and four 2×2 mm crimp tubes on my soldering board. I lined up two crimp tubes on the other ends of each oval and soldered them in place with easy solder, using a low flame and #0 Smith torch tip. This is where you should practice on scrap first, because sterling crimp tubes melt easily. I just brushed a little heat over the metal to make the solder flow.
TIP! I use Prip’s Flux in a spray bottle, spraying and heating until I’ve built up a nice, snowy coat. This way, crimps and solder chips don’t dance around during soldering.
After another pickle and rinse, I used rosary pliers to bend the half-round wire into a hook and tossed everything in a shot-filled tumbler for about an hour.
My final step was polishing with Fabuluster and a cotton buff on a bench polisher.
Now the Stringing
For a better hold, I doubled medium beading cable through the two crimps.
I covered one side of my Beadalon Magical Crimping pliers with a couple layers of blue painter’s tape and squeezed down on the tiny silver tubes to tighten. For a little extra protection, I then placed the clasp on a bench block and hit each crimp once with a flat punch and chasing hammer.
After stringing on the beads, I ran the cable through the crimps I had soldered onto the eye catch, checked to make sure the strand draped nicely around the neck, and closed them.
The result? A cohesive, professional crimping look, plus your own custom clasp.
Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Learn more about stringing perfect strands to wear alone or to show off your pendants!