Here’s something I found on line that explains the process very
completely, basically what I was talking about:
General Riveting Info
I use 14, 16, 18, or 20 gauge wire (smaller than 20 gauge is
hard to hit in the correct places to get the mushrooming of the
rivet head). I also form all of my rivet heads on one side of
the wire at the same time (this saves me time). It takes 2
rivets to lock a piece in place (3 for stilt rivets). The wire
that you're using to make the rivet needs to fit very snugly in
the drill hole (you can use a drill plate to test what you're
wire/drill combo before you start or you can use trial and
error on a piece of scrap metal). If your piece has a patina on
it cover the area surrounding the future rivet with masking
tape to protect the patina.
Put a piece of wire (~2") in a vise, leaving as much sticking
up as the wire is wide (we're talking milimeters here... if too
much is sticking up you'll get a bent wire and no rivet) & file
so the top of the wire is flat. Use the ball end of a chasing
hammer to hit the edges of the wire. Continue working around
all sides of the wire in a circle. Repeat as necessary to form
a nice mushroom head. I use a chasing hammer instead of a
riveting hammer because the rounded end of the chasing hammer
is much more forgiving when making rivets. Cut the wire about
1/2" longer than you need. Slide the wire through the pieces to
be riveted so that the head you just made is on the front. Cut
the wire a little taller than you need it so that you can file
it down. Place front head of rivet on a steel block and hammer
the back end of the wire to make another rivet head.
Counter Sunk Rivet (almost invisible)
Use a 2mm-3mm setting burr (pyrimad shaped) to drill out an
upside down triangle in your metal (may repeat on the other
side if desired). Make a standard rivet head, slide into the
pieces to be riveted, & gently hammer it into the upside down
triangle so that the surface is flat (you may need to finish
your hammering with the flat end of a chasing hammer). Trim
your wire on the back side, make a standard rivet, and hammer.
Ball Head Rivet
Use a round/ball burr to drill holes around the edges of a
thick piece of plexiglass. Put a piece of silver wire in cross
locking tweezers. Apply self-pickling flux to wire. Heat up and
down wire until it glows, then focus the torch briefly on the
end of the wire, it will ball up. Use a cup burr (larger than
the ball on the end of the wire) to round of the ball. Place
rivet through pieces to be riveted with the ball end on the
front of the piece. Place the ball end in the appropriately
sized hole in the plexiglass. Plase plexiglass on a steel
block. Make a standard rivet on the back of the piece (or you
could make another ball head rivet).
The wire you're riveting with should fit very snugly inside
the tubing. Drill 3 holes in your piece at the same time.
Measure tubing and cut (preferably with a tubing jig so all
pieces are exactly the same). Gently sand the edges of tubing
in a circular motion to remove the burr. Make 3 standard rivet
heads, slide them through the bottom piece of metal, slide
tubing on each rivet, and slide top piece of metal on top of
the tubing. Make standard rivet heads, be gentle so you don't
smash the tubing. Metal beads with large holes work instead of
tubing as well.
Drill holes in your metal so that the tubing fits snugly, since
these holes will be pretty large start with a small drill bit
and gradually increase the size of the drill bits. Use calipers
to measure the thickness of your metal, cut the tubing 2mm
longer than the thickness of your metal. Place the tubing
evenly in your metal. Use a daping tool in a vise on the
bottom and the flat end of a ball peen hammer on the top to
begin to form a flange. Flip the piece upside down frequently
so that the flanges form equally on both sides. Use the next
size larger daping tool and repeat. If you want a flower
shaped/criss-cross tube rivet saw a "+" on each end of the
rivet before you place it in the piece.
I am using straight wire the size of the drill hole. Although not
loose, it can slide through. When I try to flatten one side of the
rivet, it wants to slide through.
What is a good way to secure the small piece of wire while I flatten
one side? Or is there some other way to do this? What I have always
done is to have an anvil or metal hammering block with a shallow hole
drilled into it. The hole should have a diameter slightly larger than
the rivet. I then lay the piece on the block such that one end of
the rivet slides into the hole while I flatten the other end. Then I
turn the piece over, laying it on a flat part of the block without
the hole. It for other end of the rivet is a bit too long, I can trim
it before flatting it.
Anyone else have a better way? I am always amazed at the ingenious
ways orchidians have devised to do things.
The wire should be a snug fit in the drilled hole. When you are
flattening each side of the rivet you should be working on a flat
steel surface, an anvil or similar surface. Thus, when spreading one
end of the rivet with your hammer, you are applying pressure on the
opposite end at the same time. After a few taps with your hammer,
(riveting hammer), turn the piece over and hammer on the opposite
side. Do this a few times, alternating sides. If you want the rivet
to be flush with each surface, after you drill the original holes,
take a drill bit that is about 40% larger in diameter and drill a
chamfer into each outside surface of the holes. This way the rivet
will spread into the chamfered area and be flush with the surface.
Cut rivet slightly longer than the hole, place item flat on steel
plate and using lightweight hammer with wedge shape end tap/work the
top of the wire till slightly spread.Turn over and repeat to other
end - again have the item placed on the steel plate.Turn over and
repeat till it is as tight as you require.All done in 10
seconds.Always strike rivet square/level and work it only slightly
at each strike. Is there a helpful local jeweller who you can watch
and learn from?
The way I make rivets is to ball one end of the wire with a torch,
then cut it a millimeter or so longer than it needs to be. Using a
riveting anvil, put the wire through and flatten the balled up end
against the anvil (riveting anvils are small pieces of steel with
little holes in them for this purpose). Then, put the wire through
the tube or hole where you need to use it, then flatten the other
end with a riveting hammer.
I usually ball up one end of the wire with my torch so that it won’t
go through the hole, file a flat on the outside of the ball to give a
finished look and peen the other side with a riveting hammer. Pretty
quick and easy
I pretty much make rivets as others have described. However, I was
taught to put the balled end in one of the small round depressions of
my draw plate, which helps hold the shape of the ball. Then, after I
have cut the other end to the correct size, hammer it flat. It has
never damaged my drawplate, and works just fine.
This one reply I read is the “proper” way to set rivets - put on
steel block, upset one end, turn it over, tap-over-tap-over, till
done. It is, by the way, what a staking tool is for. When you see
rivets with nice rounded tops, like on watches, those are done with
a staking tool. However, being of the lazy sort, when I set rivets
that are accessable, like on a joint, pin and catch, I get my really
old lineman’s pliers with the jaws worn off and go Squeeeeeeeze.
In just the latest of my amazements at the wonder the Orchid
community, the recent thread on rivets has been quite inspiring.
I’ve long procrastinated about learning to rivet, but a recent digest
had about 10 thoughtful and provacative responses on the subect.
Quite a little tutorial when printed out, and I’m finally gonna do
I’m mainly interested in bracelets, and the need to bend whatever I
make requires planning for how that torque will affect the design. If
I wanted to rivet a 1-2 level plaque of some kind onto a base piece,
would it survive the torque of bending? Or would I have to bend
first, and then rivet (a more daunting process)? Thanks for any