Supplied West – “Miland” key hook

You might remember the Madsen coil key hook, made by Ryan at Supplied West, which I previously reviewed in 2017…

It’s been my daily companion for two years now – my most well used piece of EDC – still serving faithfully and oxidizing gracefully.

I’ve looked into other metal key hooks here and there, but really, IMO, nothing compares – once I tried Ryan’s handmade version, nothing else interested me that much.

Indeed, others than leather goods, EDC gear compatible with Japanese denim is hard to find, let alone handmade pieces.

Well, its 2019, and Ryan’s got some new key hook designs available in his brand new collection.

The headliner design is The Miland key hook.

The concept here is to upgrade and streamline the traditional coil hook, creating a key hook which is more compatible with the modern work-wear hobby.

Let’s take a look at how this Miland key hook compares to the tried & true original.

Material

The new Miland key hook utilises the same American copper from which Ryan creates all Supplied West copper hooks, yet the metal is thicker here compared with the previous coil hooks.

As I’ve mentioned on the blog in the past, I do believe that copper – rather than silver or brass – is the true companion for denim, leather and indigo dyed goods. The colour both new and with oxidation provides pleasant contrast to the blues and browns of our hobbies, synergistic in a way in which brass and silver cannot quite match.

In the photo below, you can see the differences in thickness between the old and the new key hooks. Further, the results of two years worth of oxidation and a couple of sandpaper polishes are on display on the older, coiled Madsen hook.

Certainly, the very raw, elemental copper featured here has oxidised in an elegant and appreciable way with just two years of use – this is partly the reason why I favored the Madsen hook these two years above all others. Given my experiences so far, I’d say the new Miland hook promises quite some patina in the next years, certainly.

Design & Construct

The Miland key hook has been designed to be heftier, yet simpler, compared with Supplied West’s other hooks.

Three major design features stand out – the thicker hook, the removal of coils and the addition of a chain of jump rings.

The hole attaching the hook to the first jump ring is precise.

The ring glides & spins effortlessly, but the hole is just the right size so that the ring also does not bounce or rattle.

Both ends of the hook are trimmed down and smoothly hammered.

The hook will not snag your clothes.

The spacing between the two parts of the hook is well done – it will pass through a thick belt loop with gentle effort, but it’s not too open so that the hook might be in danger of detaching.

Ryan has carefully bent the copper to shape, and thus the spacing is fine tuned.

The spacing can be further adjusted by the user of course – copper is pretty bendy as far as metals go, so no worries about breaking the hook.

The entire key hook is smooth and gentle to the hand.

There are no rough surfaces or sharp edges.

This is achieved through intensive & repeated hand filing and hand sanding.

The jump rings are made of thinner gauge copper, and are all precisely made.

The circular alignments are perfect – the rings glide over each other smoothly without snags.

Finally, Ryan has updated his hook designs to feature black-coated, solid copper Japanese split rings. The black coating has been designed to slowly wear off.

Thoughts

I can say with confidence that the range of metal hooks from Supplied West is some of the very finest in this hobby of ours.

Doing away with frills such as leather tassels and glass beads, Ryan’s work focuses on the hook itself, both in terms of material and design.

Whilst the Madsen hook from 2017 was an upgraded replication of the Japanese key hook commonly encountered in the denim hobby, Ryan’s newer designs can been seen as fundamentally different variations of the coil hook, progressively streamlining and minimizing.

The Miland key hook, however, represents a significant departure from the coil designs – modernized, more simplistic – an interesting blend of the elegance of elemental metal and the ruggedness of a handmade tool.

The streamlining of the key hook design has been executed well. The traditional coil hook can appear more hectic or folksy, due to the copper coiling around the body of the hook and the prominent curves.

Yet, with this new design, the need for coiling has been eliminated. Further, Ryan has reduced the curves on the body of the hook, opting for slightly more angular and minimalist edges. These changes lend a more industrial, yet cleaner, aesthetic.

This new style would be a smart choice for fans of minimalist carry or current generation Americana fans.

The meatier hook feels nicer and more substantial to the hand as well. Again, a careful balance heft, practicality and sleekness has been achieved here.

It is interesting to note that I also have a couple of blacksmith-made iron key hooks in my collection, which are thicker and more angular than the Miland. Yet, I never use these monster hooks, as they tend to cause rather severe wear & tear on my pants. There is no such issue with Ryan’s make – the copper is thick, but not excessively so, and the smoothed surfaces make it rather used friendly.

The oxidation potential of the copper metals here is also much greater compared with the average brass or cooper hook. Ryan has not just left the copper raw & uncoated – indeed, the hook has been extensively hand-finished through filing ad sanding, to intensify the patina development.

This is something I do myself on my brass and copper gear once every year or so, to achieve greater depth and flavor in the aging of the metal. It’s good to see a maker who is also a hobbyist, with an understanding of why brass and copper are important aspects of our hobby.

The chain of jump rings also introduces a new element to the hook, giving it a fluid feel when handled or used, adding an interesting dimension to the aesthetics. I also appreciate the fact that the jump rings are entirely handmade and hand finished to match the hook – Ryan has not taken any shortcuts at all.

The only aspect of the hook which Ryan has not made with his own hands is the Japanese black-coated split ring. This is, however, a very high quality split ring made from solid copper, which will fade from black to copper in time. The contrast between the ongoing oxidation of the hook and the fading the split ring from black to copper should prove very interesting.

The black on copper combination is my favourite too, and I’m glad to see Ryan consolidating his range of hooks based on this arrangement.

As part of our denim, work-wear and leather hobbies, I do believe that our outfits, in their entirety, need to be cohesive – a certain synergy and congruence between the component pieces is required. EDC gear such as a key chain or hook are parts of this equation too, and I do believe that Ryan’s key hooks will serve as perfect companions for denimheads and work-style enthusiasts. Whether it is the complementary aesthetics of the copper hook or the consistent philosophy of buying & using hand-made goods, Supplied West key hooks are a great choice regardless of where you’re at in our hobby.

At $60 USD, the Miland key hook is priced very well – not only is it entirely handmade by one man out of the finest raw materials, it will also give you years and, perhaps, decades of graceful service.

Skip the generic hooks and check out Ryan’s key hook line-up on the Supplied West website.

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