Silver Jewelry Making Details: Two Ways to Make a Pin Catch for a Brooch

In social media groups, I often see jewelry makers ask how to make a pin back for a brooch. I love it when I can answer jewelry-making questions or dilemmas with our free projects! Since brooches are returning to fashion and showing up on our benches more lately, I thought I’d share a couple of ways to make brooch pin backs, just in case you missed it.

brooches: fold-formed brooch by Helen Driggs

A fold-formed bronze broochh by Helen Driggs. Photo by Jim Lawson.

There are two important points to consider when you’re making a brooch pin catch. First, be sure to place it in the upper half of the piece for balance and support, so it won’t fall forward when it’s being worn. And second, while you’re back there, solder on a simple hidden bail, too, so that every brooch or pin can also be worn as a pendant. Jewelry that does double duty is a wonderful thing!

There are two parts to a brooch pin back: the pin stem and the catch that holds it. Here are two quick tutorials for making pin backs for brooches, the first from Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers by Elizabeth Bone.

Making Brooches: How to Make a Brooch Pin Back

Materials

12-gauge (2.0mm o/d) sterling silver tube
18-gauge (1.0mm) round sterling silver wire
20-gauge (0.8mm) round stainless-steel wire
flat-nose, snipe-nose, and parallel pliers
hard and medium silver solder
torch/soldering setup
flux
pickle
tube cutter
small silver jump ring
hand file, cut 2
piercing saw
emery board

Steps

1. Using a tube cutter and piercing saw, cut a short length of 12-gauge (2.0mm) tube. Holding the tube end-to-end in parallel pliers, file a small flat area along the length of the tube.

2. Clean, degrease, and flux the reverse side of your brooch. Place the tube flat side down and place small pieces of hard solder in position. Solder the tube to the brooch.

3. To form the catch, cut a length of 18-gauge (1.0mm) round silver wire and file one end flat. To give a larger surface area to attach the wire to the brooch, solder a very small jump ring to the filed end using hard silver solder. Check and mark the position for the catch on the reverse of the brooch, then solder the jump ring and wire in place using medium silver solder.

4. After pickling, use parallel pliers to twist the length of wire to work harden it.

5. Cut the wire, leaving it long enough to form into a catch, and file the end. Use round-nose pliers to curl it down and create the catch.
6. Use flat-nosed pliers to make a 90-degree bend in a length of 20-gauge (0.8mm) round stainless-steel wire. Place the short end through the tube; then, using the flat-nose pliers, bend it twice to form a triangle and bend the end of the wire down toward the back of the brooch causing the pin to lift up. Cut the pin to length so that there is enough wire to hold the pin securely in the catch. File the end of the pin to a point using a hand file and then sand it smooth.

Making Brooches: Another Way to Make a Brooch Pin Back

This similar technique for making a brooch pin back is from Julie Jerman-Melka’s Pottery Shard Brooch.

1. Use 4″ of 20-gauge round nickel wire for pin mechanism. Bend wire in half and solder ends to back of brooch with medium solder. Pickle and sand any excess solder. Note: Make sure you locate the mechanism above the central axis so the pin will sit properly when worn. 2. Snip wire for catch at 3/16″ and bend over. 3. Curl wire for pin stem twice with round-nose pliers to create tension for mechanism. End of pin should extend slightly beyond catch. Snip end if too long, then file, sand, and polish.

 

Clasps, bails, pin catches are all small but important details in silver jewelry making. Another important detail that too often gets ignored is proper jewelry finishing. You can learn about properly finishing your jewelry from two experts, with Lexi Erickson’s Hand-Finishing Jewelry video and Helen Driggs’ Machine-Finishing Jewelry video.


Learn more metalsmithing techniques!

 

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