2-part epoxy is the only glue that makes a permanent bond and it is the only glue that I recommend for all glue on clasps. Epoxy forms a secure bond between the clasp and the braid even when there is a small amount of empty space in the clasp end. Here are my step by step instructions so that you can use it with confidence. Relax, there is nothing to fear.
Any brand of epoxy will work, they are all basically the same
I prefer Loctite brand Heavy Duty 5 minute set Epoxy because it comes in plastic bottles rather than tubes. The bottles prevent the glue from oozing out, whereas the tubes get messy very quickly.
It is a bit more expensive than others, about $18 at Home Depot, but it doesn’t go bad and will probably last you for several years.
One tube is labeled Resin and the other is Hardener. Even though Hardener appears to be yellow, that is just so you can tell them apart, it will dry clear.
Be sure not mix up the caps, or they will get glued on permanently.
Choosing a Clasp
For design and proportion, choose a clasp about the same diameter as the braid.
The braid does not need to fill the entire opening of the clasp. This is one of the advantages of 2-part epoxy.
No beads need to be glued inside the clasp.
Before you start dispensing the epoxy from the tube, get everything ready: The braid, clasp, a toothpick (or applicator), 3rd hand tweezers, a small plastic bag.
You will also need something to hold the clasp upright. I stand the clasp up on end as shown, this way gravity will keep the epoxy inside the clasp and not in the beads. If the magnet is flush with the bottom of the clasp, you can place it on something metal, like a jewelers bench block as shown in photo. The magnet will attach firmly to the metal and keep it from sliding around while you are working. Sometimes a plastic bobbin can be used, simply place the clasp in the center hole. Otherwise a small jewelers vise is helpful.
Then do a dry fit to be sure that the braid end is the right size for the clasp opening. Trim any excess cords if necessary. Remember, the braid end does not need to fill the clasp opening.
A small plastic bag is perfect for mixing the epoxy. I have a big stack of used ones that I save just for gluing. I don’t recommend aluminum foil as it may tear when mixing.
Dispense equal amounts from each tube. Let sit for several minutes. As long as the two parts are not touching or mixed together, the epoxy can sit for a long time. Once mixed, the working time is only a few minutes. After the epoxy has settled it is easier to see if both amounts are equal. If you are not sure, err on the side of more hardener than resin. Mix both parts together until they are well blended. The mixture will become a solid color.
Use a toothpick and add the epoxy to the inside of the clasp opening.
Fill the clasp opening about half way and spread epoxy all the way up the sides.
Insert the braid end into clasp opening. If necessary remove braid end to either add or take out some of the epoxy. If you have too little epoxy you will not get a secure bond. Too much epoxy will force glue out of the clasp and into the beaded braid.
Re-insert the braid end and firmly hold the braid in place while applying downward pressure for several minutes.
Immediately wipe off any excess glue. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can remove glue from the clasp later.
Let braid dry in position for about one hour.
Repeat the process with the other end of the clasp. Let epoxy cure for at least 24 hours before the finished piece is worn.
Sometimes it is possible to glue both ends at the same time. However, I do not recommend this on your first attempt. Glue a few clasps and get comfortable with the process first. It is worth spending a few cents on the extra glue to have a professional looking finish for your project.
Gluing Unusual Shaped Clasps
Some clasps can not be held upright with a bench block or a plastic bobbin. For these clasps I find that a small jeweler’s vise works well. (See Example 1 Above)
I’ve used blue painter’s tape to cover the vise jaws so that there is no risk of marking the clasp.
Prepare braid ends and do a dry fit. Place half of the clasp in the vise, with the clasp opening facing upward.
Measure equal amounts of epoxy and mix until well blended. Add the epoxy to the inside of the clasp opening, filling about half way.
Insert one of the braid ends into clasp. If necessary remove braid and adjust the amount of epoxy. Firmly hold in place, while pushing down, for several minutes. (See Example 2 Above)
Once the braid is secured in the clasp you will not need to hold. I usually know when it is ready to be released when it does not move when I release my grip. To keep the braid upright while the epoxy finishes setting, insert a chopstick (or knitting needle) into the vise, then tape the braid to the chopstick. Keep in this position for at least an hour. (See Example 3 Above)
Once the clasp has set for an hour, then glue the second half of the clasp. Let the epoxy cure for 24 hours before you wear the finished piece.
Wasn’t that easy?