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A hasp on a book is unexpected and functional. It keeps the book closed securely, yet isn’t a traditional closure. This project may seem daunting when you read through these directions, but you’ll find that after you’ve made one or two hasps it will all make sense and you’ll find yourself designing ever more elaborate hardware.

The Template that I’ve provided is a simple rectangle but the long hasp strap can be any shape. Try making this one and then get more experimental with your shapes as you gain experience.

The size of the hasp parts are determined by the height of the book at the fore edge, so it’s best to already have your book structure built before starting the hasp. Alternatively, you can build the hasp and then add or remove pages from the un-sewn book to accommodate the size of the hasp.

 

Technique

A hasp is made up of 5 parts; the long and short hasp straps, the hinge pin (the pin that holds the 2 straps of the hasp together), the staple (which comes up through the book cover and through a hole in the front of the large hasp strap) and the pin which goes through the staple to hold the hasp closed. All part sizes flow naturally from the longest strap of the hasp so we’ll start with that piece.

Rubber cement the template of the large hasp piece to the metal sheet and then use a jeweler’s saw and the appropriate blade size (determined by the gauge of metal you’ve chosen) to cut out the shape.

File and sand this piece to the desired shape and then use it as a template for the shorter hasp strap. I’ve included a template for this piece with this article but it’s intended as reference only. Saw blades leave a kerf (the sawn out portion left by the width of the blade while sawing). If you were to saw out both straps of the hasp at the same time, the kerf would be wide and therefore your finished hasp would be wobbly. For a tight hasp, use the filed and sanded long hasp strap to mark out the smaller strap and saw it out.

The length of the smaller hasp strap is determined by the height of the book at the fore edge. Take that measurement and then add enough to turn the hinges over the hinge pin. You’ll need about 3/8” of an inch for the tabs that get turned into the hinge knuckles.

Remember that there are knuckles on both ends of the small hasp strap. This measurement is not precise and will be affected by how tightly you turn the metal, the size of the roundnose pliers you use and the gauge of your hinge pin.

Cut out, file and sand the smaller strap of the hasp so that it fits together snuggly with the larger piece.

Cut out a piece of the metal sheet to about 2” long and ” wide. This piece will be the staple that comes up through the cover of the book.

Set up your annealing torch (a simple setup is a MAPP gas cylinder and torch head from the hardware store). Annealing is necessary to make the metal sheet soft enough to turn by hand with a pair of rod jawed pliers.

Turn on the torch, hold one piece of the hasp strap in the old pliers and move it into the flame about 1” in front of the blue cone part of the flame. Hold the piece there until it glows a dull red. Hold it at that temperature (not brightly glowing) for a couple seconds and then quench and dry it, or air-cool it.

Repeat with the other piece of the hasp strap, with the 12 gauge wire for the hinge pin, the 14 gauge wire for the closure pin and with the piece of metal for the staple.

When the pieces are cool, sand them with the polishing paper to remove any fire scale caused by the torch.

To begin the hinge knuckles, use a pair of rod jawed pliers to turn the metal tabs to the underside of the larger hasp strap. This can be tricky and you’ll definitely get better as you practice. The goal is the have the tabs wrap as tightly as possible around the hinge pin. You may need to finish the turns with a couple taps from a rawhide mallet.

Remove the hinge pin.

Roll the tabs on the smaller tab strap to the underside in the same way as you did the larger piece. At this time, roll only the tabs that will be adjoined to the longer hasp strap. The remaining tab will be rolled later when affixing the hasp to the book.

Remove the hinge pin and join the 2 hasp straps together at the knuckles. You should be able to slip the hinge pin into both pieces, making one complete hinge. You will probably need to adjust the knuckles at this point to get them to line up correctly.

Once you have the knuckles turned and tight on both hasp straps, remove the hinge pin. At this point you should have 2 hasp straps which can be lined up straight and a hinge pin which will slide through tightly.

Set these parts aside.

To make the staple that comes up through the book cover, take the strip of metal you cut and annealed for it and use a round mandrel of some sort to put a rounded turn in it at the center point. I like to use a small diameter round rod from the hardware store and lock it into a miniature bench vise. Remove the staple from the mandrel and use flatnose pliers to turn up the legs to form the staple shape.

Now cut a rectangular hole in the book cover wide and long enough to accommodate the staple. The construction material of the book will determine how elaborate this process is, primarily because rivet heads will tear out of any material other than metal. Consequently, if your book cover is made from binder’s board covered with paper, you’ll need to make a metal piece for the rivet heads on the outside of the book cover (the staple legs will function as the metal on the inside of the book).

Use a center punch to make a pilot hole (dent) inside the rectangle shape you will be cutting out (for the staple to come up through). Now use a small drill bit on your flex shaft, Dremel or drill press to drill a starter hole. Tighten the saw blade into the bottom screw of the jeweler’s saw and then thread the blade up through the hole in the book cover. Saw out the rectangle and file it smooth.

Use a ball pein (or chasing) hammer to form the first head of the rivet on a miniature bench vise so that you don’t scratch or dent the book cover later. Put the staple up through the hole in the book cover. Drill one hole through the cover (and the metal plate on the front if you had to make one) and one staple leg for the first rivet.

Thread the straight end of the rivet from the front of the book cover and down through the staple leg.

Set the book cover upside down on a bench block and finish the back of the rivet.

Drill a hole through all layers for the second rivet and repeat the process as you did for the first.

Mark and cut a rectangular hole in the long hasp strap to accommodate the staple. Placement is critical so be sure to measure carefully. Hold the hasp in place and try opening and closing it a few times to insure that it will function correctly. Cut and file the hole in the hasp strap.

Use the roundnose pliers to turn one end of the hinge pin into a short spiral. Visually gauge how much of the wire you used to make the spiral. Slip the straight portion of the hinge pin through the knuckles of both pieces of the hasp straps. Cut the wire so that the portion sticking out of the hinge is the same length you used to make the first spiral. Now use the roundnose pliers again and make a spiral matching the first one.

Measure the width of the remaining unbent tab on the short strap of the hasp. Center-punch, drill, saw out and file a thin rectangle into the back cover of the book to accommodate the tab.

Toward the underside of the hasp (the inside of the book when the hasp is closed), roll the tab to about 80% closed. Slide it into the rectangle cut into the back cover of the book. Use the rawhide mallet to finish closing the tab. Note; depending on the thickness of the book cover, you may need to leave a longer tab in this smaller hasp strap.

Now decoratively shape the top of the 12 gauge wire to act as a closure pin. I like to form a spiral at the top and use a torch to draw a bead on the bottom. The bead gives a finished look to the pin and the spiral keeps the pin from dropping down through the staple.

* While it’s fine to quench silver and copper in water after annealing, you should air-cool brass and nickel on a steel block. Quenching brass or nickel after annealing will actually have the opposite affect and will harden the metal.


Issue # 17

Christine Cox was a regular contributor to ARTitude Zine. This article originally appeared there and is reprinted here with permission. Unfortunately ARTitude is no longer published.

Christine Cox teaches metalsmithing and bookbinding classes in our Studio in Volcano, CA.

Metal Hasp Book Closure


The finished hasp and pin look contemporary on this metal journal

Difficulty Rating

Tools

Materials

  • Metal Sheet (copper, brass, silver, nickel) 20 or 18 gauge
  • 14 Gauge Wire, cut to 5” long (for closure pin)
  • 12 Gauge Wire, cut to 3” long (for hinge pin)
  • 20 Gauge Wire (for rivets)
  • Copy of Hasp Template
  • Rubber Cement

Click on any image for a larger version


A simple hasp template
(click image for correct size template)
This is just for reference. The size of your book will determine the length of the pieces. Cut out the portions marked with an ‘X’


The 5 completed hasp parts
(L-R) Closure pin, staple, hinge pin, short strap, long strap


All the parts and details


Bending the staple around a round rod/mandrel in a bench vise makes a clean, round center


Use a pair of flatnose pliers to bend the legs of the staple up. Note that the rod is still in the staple. This will prevent you from accidentally crushing the curve while you’re working


This is the finished shape of the staple


Using the roundnose pliers in your dominant hand, press the wire hard against the index finger of your passive hand. This will give you a tight spiral, rather than a lazy one


Funky closure pins have spirals on top to prevent the pin from sliding out through the staple. For a nice finish, bead the bottom of the wire with a torch


A metal plate on the outside of your book cover will prevent rivets from tearing through book board.