Hinges for Pouches Using Minimal Equipment
Pre-Demo Equipment list:
If you have not read the pre-demo equipment
list, click here.
This demo also contains a first ever, pre-demo
warning! Please read the whole thing before you
start. Some things may not make sense, in which case, email
me! Other things will not make sense to do until you get further
along in the demo and you may be tempted not to do them. Fight
Here's a picture of all the equipment
used in this demo. Clockwise, starting with the hammers: Rawhide
mallet (5$), small hammer (10$), half-round file (2$), flat
file (2$), rattail file (2$), wax (1$), Jeweler's Saw (20$),
needle nose pliers (10$), jeweler's pliers (10$). With metal,
wire and saw blades, this entire equipment list should cost
Why Make Your Own Hinges?
Why not? It is true that, historically, no tailor made his
or her own hinges. Strictly speaking, tailors probably did
not involve themselves in the making of pouches or other accessories
that might have required the use of hinges. However, given
that the focus of what we are trying to accomplish is the
recreation of historically accurate pieces, slapping a modern
hinge on that belt pouch that you researched and then reproduced
is really rather like waxing a Ferrari with Turtle wax. It
works, it's functional... but it's not the best that can be
done. So, unless you know someone who is willing to make hinges
for you, read on intrepid costumer and discover the joys and
frustrations of basic metalsmithing!
we get started, I want to talk a bit more about Tim McCreight's
book, The Complete Metalsmith. I can't emphasize enough
how invaluable this little book will be for you to purchase
before (if possible) you do this demo. I'll
be as thorough as I can in the demo but there are some things
that I will forget and this book will explain them in excellent
detail. This book was my text book for metalsmithing courses
in College which probably explains why I am so partial to
it. It also continues to be a standard in the field, even
after almost twenty years from its first publishing.
You can purchase it on Amazon! Click
here to go to the direct link.
As with any project, the first thing to do is make a plan.
For hinges, all this requires is graph paper, a pencil and
a ruler. Begin by drawing out your hinge, both sides butted
together like the photograph. It's important to make the hinge
flanges (the things that will curve around the hinge pin)
long enough that you can curve them.
the pattern is drawn and cleaned up, cut it out and rubber
cement it onto your piece of metal. To make a good, strong
bond, first coat the underside of the drawing and the piece
of metal separately. Allow the cement to dry. Once it's dry,
place the drawing on the metal. Beware! Once it's down, it's
down and there is no way to move it without starting over.
Fortunately, it's not going to destroy the drawing if this
happens. Press the drawing firmly down onto the metal and
you're ready to go.
yourself a saw blade (for 22 gauge metal, I like to work with
a 3/0), your jeweler's saw, and some wax (bee's wax or even
candle wax will do). Open up the top and bottom pins of the
saw. Place the saw blade, teeth pointing towards the handle,
into the top pin of the saw. Tighten the pin. Place the top
of the saw against a desk and the handle against your chest.
Push the handle slightly towards the top of the saw with your
body. Place the other end of the saw blade into the bottom
pin and tighten it down. It's ok if the saw pulls the saw
blade It's supposed to be tight. Don't get it too tight, however,
as the saw will simply snap the blade.
Additionally, get ready to break many, many saw blades. Even
after almost fifteen years of experience, I broke three blades
on the hinge I made for this demo.
starting to saw into the metal, wax your blade. One or two
passes will do it. This is to lubricate the blade and extend
its useful life. You don't necessarily need to wax but it
makes sawing easier and cuts down on the number of blades
you'll break (and you will break them!).
Place the metal piece on a firm, flat surface. If you went
ahead and bought a bench pin, great! If not, don't worry.
Almost any table will do. Just make sure to keep the metal
piece flat and mostly on the surface of the table, except
where you are sawing. The best method for sawing metal is
to keep the saw blade at 90 degree angle to the metal piece.
Don't give in to the temptation to saw at a 45 degree angle.
Metal is not like wood. Don't push on the blade any more than
is necessary to keep it moving; let the blade do the work.
saw around the hinge drawing until both pieces are cut from
the metal. When coming to a corner, continue to move the blade
up and down and turn the metal, rather than doing the opposite.
This helps keep the blade from binding up in the metal and
Once the two pieces of the hinge are cut out, take your file
or files and file down the edges. Also, if you want a really
smooth edge, do a little light sanding. At this point, if
you wanted to decorate the hinges, this is when you'd do it.
Acid etching, stamping, more pierce work... all are valid
embellishments. I'm not going to go into them here, however,
simply because they move more towards the metalsmithing side
of things and involve more equipment.
the filing is done, you can start to curve the flanges. I
usually hammer the flanges up to a forty-five degree angle
prior to curving them under with pliers. After hammering,
get your needle nose pliers out and work the flanges until
they are curves around. If they are a bit difficult, take
a rawhide mallet and tap them gently into place. Don't squish
them down; you'll need them to be open enough to insert the
hinge pin into. This is where you will discover whether or
not you made your flanges long enough. If you did not, or
if your metal is too thick, the flanges will not curve nicely.
I personally like to work with 22 gauge metal. It's thick
enough to do good duty but thin enough to move with my hands.
When the flanges are curved in, use your pliers to straighten
them up so that they fit together nicely. Use the rawhide
mallet to tap them if they need it. If everything goes well,
you can now insert the hinge pin, curl the ends around, and
get ready to add your hinge to your accessory.
Once you've got your hinge working, it's time to drill some
holes in it in preparation to sew it onto your accessory.
Using a dremel tool or even a regular power drill, take a
small drill bit and drill out several holes, evenly spaced
along the piece. You'll need a needle nosed file to file the
holes so that they do not cut the thread.
I would also suggest using upholstery thread.
|Hinge open with hinge pin.
||Hinge closed with hinge pin.
That's it! Again, I know there are bits and pieces that I
have glossed over. If you are at all serious about getting
into this type of craft, please pick up Tim McCreight's book,
Happy Cost... er... Accessorizing!