I don’t know if you’ve ever priced store-bought kitchen hooks before, but holy cow, they are expensive. Keith and I really wanted to hang our pots and pans from an old luggage rack we’ve had hanging on the kitchen wall, but we couldn’t afford to buy them. Then Keith had the brilliant idea to make hooks out of copper tubing. What a genius! And here comes the real treat – he wrote a tutorial so all of you can make your own hooks! Oh and the best part is that these are totally not expensive. He made a ton of them for $30, and that includes the price of tools. Pretty thrifty, right? Here’s Keith with his fancy tutorial:
¼” OD (outer diameter) copper coil, 20’
Handheld pipe bender (tube bending tool) -mine is a Brasscraft BCT074
Handheld pipe cutter -mine is a Brasscraft BCT005, 5/8” to 2 1/8” (also works for ¼”)
Tape measure or ruler
I. Cutting the Coil
1. Using your hands, gently straighten out about 12” of copper tube from the end of your coil. Make a mark at 9”, where you’ll be cutting. The tube won’t be perfectly straight, but you’re just going to bend it again anyway, so don’t worry too much.
2. Unscrew the handle of the pipe cutter enough to insert the copper tube between the two rollers, then lightly tighten the screw again until it’s snug against the cutting wheel (don’t tighten too much or you’ll just bend the copper). I found it easiest to hold the tube and spin the cutter around it, rather than spinning the whole copper coil. Because the cutter is made for slightly larger tubes, make sure you’re holding it straight; otherwise you’ll just score a spiral pattern around the copper, without cutting in.
After a turn or two, give the handle two more light twists (again, make sure you don’t bend the copper). This might cut through, or you might have to turn and tighten once or twice more. You could practice this on short pieces of coil before cutting your 9” lengths.
II. Bending the Hook
3. Read the instructions on your pipe bender package, just in case it’s a little different from mine. In general, you should open the top handle completely and then slide your tube into the appropriate groove on the top of the cutter (1/4”), with the end of your tube under the top tab, which will hold it down when you apply force.
4. Rest the top handle on top of your tube (there should be marks that line up to show you the start point), then, making sure that the tube doesn’t slide out from under the top tab (which is counteracting the force you’re applying), pull the handle down as far as it will go (usually a bit more than 90º).
5. This step is the only slightly tricky bit, and takes a little hand strength, but not too much. Without taking the tube out of the bender, lift up the top handle and slide your bent tube up and forward until the end that was held down by the top tab is parallel to the bottom handle. Since the top tab won’t hold it now, you’re going to be holding it with your hand, along with the bottom handle.
As in step 4, you’re going to rest the top handle on top of your tube, then pull the handle down again. But this time you have to make sure to tightly hold the tube end that’s parallel to the handle, to resist the leverage. If you don’t have the hand strength, you might wrap something strong around the tube and the handle (for instance, if you wrapped a plastic zip tie around them and left it slightly loose, you could reuse it each time, sliding it off and then back on).
6. Now you’ve completed half of the hook. To finish the hook, turn it around and slide the other end (the straight one) into the tube bender and repeat steps 3 through 5.
If you want hooks like ours, make sure the curved end is facing directly out towards you so that the two hooked ends are at right angles to each other (as in the left picture). If you want a straight s-hook, keep the curved end parallel to the pipe bender (as pictured on the right).
-If you can find a smaller pipe bender (perhaps at a craft store with a jewelry department) you might be able to make smaller diameter hooks, if you prefer.
-If you like the size of the hooked ends but want a longer hook, just increase your initial cut from 9”. The extra length will all end up in the middle.
-Experiment with some of your tube using the pipe bender, bending springs, and your hands to see what variations you can come up with. This shape of hook wasn’t my initial goal, but Veronica liked it, it was easy to replicate and it only took a few minutes to make each hook.