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Western European
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Eastern European:

- Shirts
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Ancillary Arts
- Fans
- Pouch Hinges, Part 1
- Pouch Hinges, Part 2

Demonstrations>Ancillary Arts>Making 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 that temptation!

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$). With metal, wire and saw blades, this entire equipment list should cost around 75$.

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!

Before 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.

Step-by-Step -

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.

After 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.

Get 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.

Before 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.

Carefully 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 breaking.

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.

Once 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, The Complete Metalsmith.

Happy Cost... er... Accessorizing!

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