A couple of brass thingamabobs for the thingamajigs on an old wicker basket.

My wife and I spent this afternoon at the Freilicht Museum in Bad Sobernheim, Germany. The museum had a last event today before closing down for the winter - an outdoor museum isn’t much fun when the weather turns cold in the wintertime.

There were several groups demonstrating old trades, among them a couple of guys operating a forge and doing some blacksmithing. They had a basket full of little doodads for sale that they’d made.

My wife had a look in the basket and found some little U-shaped things - sort of like U-nails but bigger and hand made. She thought the U-shaped things would be just what we needed for the hasps on the old wicker basket we keep in the trunk of our car. The basket holds stuff that’s good to have on hand (extra first aid kit, jumper cables, tow rope, etc.) but that you don’t want rattling around loose.

The basket has two hasps to hold the lid shut, but there’s nothing to keep the latches closed. We’ve had a couple of old bolts stuck through the hasps to keep the basket from popping open, but they fall out sometimes - and they look stupid, besides.

One of the blacksmiths came over while we were talking about the U-shaped things. He explained that they were in fact half of a hasp - you drive the U-shaped thing into a wall then put a latch on the door that mates with the U-shaped things.

We explained what we were talking about, and he offered to make a couple of them for us. We discussed it a bit, and he sketched it out on a little slate drawing board he had to hand.

What we came up with was this thing:

Hasp keeper
Hasp keeper

You close the latch, then put that through the loop of the hasp. It keeps the latch closed, but it isn’t a lock. The weight of the long legs keeps it from swinging around and falling out of the hasp.

The blacksmith made one out of a piece of scrap - it was just right.

That was, unfortunately, the only piece of scrap iron rod that he had in the museum’s blacksmith shop. We bought the one he’d made at the same price as the hasps they were selling then hung the keeper on the basket when we got back to the car.

Hasp, bolt, and keeper
Hasp, bolt, and keeper

The keeper is certainly better than the bolt, but there’s only one of them. Bummer.

When we got home, I was going to go out in the garage and continue working on the Pfaff K sewing machine I’ve been cleaning up. The paint I’d used to touch up some dings was still soft, though, so that was out - you can’t put shellac over soft paint (or, at least, I wasn’t going to experiment and see if you can.)

Since I was already in my “get grungy clothes,” I figured I might as well do something.

I don’t have any iron (or steel) rods, but I do have some 4 millimeter diameter brass rods I bought a couple of years ago for a project that never really got off the ground.

Why not make a couple of hasp keepers out of brass rod?

I’ve got a propane torch and a big old vise that’ll hold a big bolt in lieu of an anvil with a horn.

Torch and brass rod
Torch and brass rod

I cut a piece of brass rod 14 centimeters long, then bent it into a U-shape and hammered it around the smooth shank of a big lag bolt - the first keeper was done.

One brass keeper and a broken rod
One brass keeper and a broken rod

I went to make the second one, and found that you really must get the brass warm enough, all the way through. I didn’t heat the second one enough, and it broke on the first hammer blow. Interestingly enough, it broke exactly on the line I’d scored on it to mark the middle point. Sort of like breaking a glass tube, if you’ve ever done any glasswork in a chemistry class.

I broke a second rod before I got the third one to bend instead of break - I have no idea how I managed to get the first one right on the first try. You really have to heat the whole thing glowing red all around the area of the bend.

I got the second keeper bent, then hammered the loops flat and drilled a 2 millimeter hole in each loop.

Finished hasp keepers
Finished latch keepers

The hole is for a string to tie the keepers to the hasps so the keepers don’t get lost.

I polished the keepers. They’ve got jaw marks all over them from the pliers. The scratches are less noticeable on the polished surface than they were on the dull, matt surface that the torch left.

The keepers look like this:

Basket with hasp keepers
Basket with hatch keepers 1
Basket with hatch keepers 2

They keep the basket closed but not locked - ready for any highway emergency that may come our way.