How To Make A Hinge For Jewelry

See an overview of the Halstead Design Challenge and learn how to make a basic knuckle hinge in your jewelry designs using tubing, sheet and wire.

Halstead is proud to sponsor the third annual Halstead Design Challenge in cooperation with the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG).

Participants purchase a kit from Halstead and create brooches in line with a chosen theme. This year’s theme is Hidden. Participants are asked to use at least 50% of the material in the kits with all the proceeds from the kit sales and a percentage of proceeds from the final brooch sales benefiting SNAG. Jurors will select about 30 submissions for an exhibition at the SNAG Conference in Portland in May. The top 3 submissions will receive cash prizes.

The response to these Halstead Design Challenges has been amazing. The first year, the theme was Kinetic. There were 100 kits for sale that year, which sold out in 24 hours. First prize went to Gabrielle Gould for Spring Garden View.

Gabrielle Gould - Spring Garden View
Gabrielle Gould – Spring Garden View

Last year, the theme was Memento. We increased the number of kits to 200 and they sold out in 24 hours, too. First place went to Jim Bové for Mnemosyne at the waters of Lethe.

Jim Bove -Mnemosyne at the waters of Lethe
Jim Bove -Mnemosyne at the waters of Lethe

 

For this year’s Hidden theme, participants will create pieces around a hidden object in their brooches. We kept the kit quantity at 200 and they sold out in 12 hours. The jurors are Hilary Halstead Scott, President of Halstead; Brigitte Martin of Crafthaus; and Jim Bové, published artist, educator, and winner of the 2017 Halstead Design Challenge.

There have been some amazing designs that have come from these annual challenges. This year’s kit features sterling silver, copper, and brass supplies that include wire, metal blanks, beads, sheet metal and, my favorite, sterling silver tubing (see the top photo for the materials in the 2018 kit). Since there is a piece of tubing in the kit, many participants may choose to incorporate hinges in their pieces. I love hinges and, although they seem intimidating, I’d like to show you how easy they can be with a little practice.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for a simple knuckle hinge:

Halstead Blog - Finished Hinge

Step 1. Cutting the Tubes

Halstead Blog - Tube Cutting Jig
To create the hinge shown above, I used a tubing cutter jig with a saw to cut two 6mm lengths and one 8mm length of sterling silver tubing.

Tip

Tube cutting with a saw is very important. If you use cutters, the tubing will collapse at the cut. In the studio here at Halstead, we use tube cutting jigs. I highly recommend purchasing one of these if you are going to cut a lot of tubing.

Step 2. Preparing the Sheet

Halstead Blog - Preparing the Sheet
I’ve lined the tubing up with sterling silver sheet and used a permanent marker to draw the lines on the sheet where I will cut the pieces to fit the length of the tubing.

Tip

Use a saw here. Cutting with sheet shears leaves ragged, bent edges whereas a saw will produce a nice, clean cut.

Step 3: Tubing and Gaps

Halstead Blog - Tube Problems
I’ve finished preparing the metal sheet and I’ve placed the tubing in-between the sheet to check the fit. The length of the tubing fits perfectly, however, look where the arrows are pointing and you can see a large gap on each side of the tube. If you look at the zoomed image, you can see that there just isn’t enough contact between the tubing and sheet to create a strong join.

Tip

The solution to this problem came from Soham Harrison on his YouTube video: 3 Knuckle Hinge.

Step 4. Gap Solution

Halstead Blog - Gap Solution
There are a couple of solutions to this problem. First, you can file your sheet on the edge where the tubing meets the sheet using a round  joint file. This creates a round indent along your sheet that the tubing rests in. Second, you can start by placing two additional metal sheet pieces on top of your soldering block. Place the sheet you will be using for the hinge on top of those with the hinge resting between them. This creates a platform that lifts your sheet up to the center of the tubing, which removes the gaps and will create a strong join in the center of the tube.

Tip

This was a great solution since I didn't have a file on-hand that would work.

Step 5: Prepping for Soldering

Halstead Blog - Prepping for Solder
You’ll want to place your solder bits on opposing sides, as shown by the arrows above. The one on the left will hold solder onto the sheet on the left and the two on the right will solder to the sheet on the right.

Tip

It's very important that the solder doesn't flow onto the adjacent hinge sections. Keep your solder bits far away from the separate sections and use tiny slivers of solder bits.

Step 6: Soldering your Hinge

Halstead Blog: Soldering your Hinge
Solder your pieces now. After the solder flows, pickle, quench and dry your pieces.

Tip

I like to start out by moving the flame in a large circle around the piece, which dries the flux slowly rather than quickly. Drying too quickly causes bubbles to form and may move the solder bits around.

Step 7: Cleaning

Halstead Blog - Cleaning
Clean your hinge sections now. I used 3M Radial bristle disks on a flex shaft.

Tip

Keep the bristle disks away from the hinge sections. They can remove the edges on your hinges.

Step 8: Creating the Hinge Pin

Halstead Blog - Hinge Pin
Piece your hinge together with a wire that fits inside the tube. Cut the wire so that only 1mm is showing on either side of the tubing. Using a bench block and riveting hammer, flatten the wire ends slightly so they can’t slip out on either side.

Tip

Make sure the wire fits as snugly as possible.

Suggested Read:

Tim McCreight -Boxes & Lckets

One of my favorite books that we have in the Halstead Library is The Metalsmith’s Book of Boxes & Lockets by Tim McCreight. I highly recommend it if you’d like to try out different types of hinges. It’s full of how-to instructions and the photos inside are beautiful and inspiring.

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