Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Setting rivets inside a concave shape

I am working on a design series that involves attaching small
concave (half sphere) cups to flat sheet - the cups are “open” like a
flower - with rivets. This requires a tool that will fit inside the
cup to set the rivet which is made by balling wire. Any suggestions
for a tool to use that will not flatten the rivet head? I have
thought of modifying a round punch with a hole in it for the rivet,
but I am not sure my skills and tools are up for that. Does anyone
out there have any other suggestion? Thanks in advance.


Hi Ellen,

You might look for either old cup shaped burs that could be modified
or one of those round bezel cup closers (sorry I don’t have the name
but it was recently discussed on orchid)

I was lucky to receive an old watch makers anvil set which has
concave punches in all sorts of sizes. I see them up on ebay all the
time, here is a link to one such set:

[eBay link removed, sorry no eBay links on Orchid please]

This particular one seems to be in really rough shape but you can
see in some of the image of shapes that would be great for setting up
in your vice or your new watch anvil if the space is large enough.


Look to your local hardware store. It may be that a “nail set” will
help. This is a hardened steel punch with a domed face. They come in
a variety of sizes and are used to sink a finish nail below the
surface. They’ll know what it is.


Bill, Deborah, Michele & Sharon
Reactive Metals Studio, Inc


I solved similar problem by making a hollowed end in a piece of tool
steel rod - a little cup-shaped depression. I beveled the outside of
the rod until the beveled surface almost impinged upon the hole in
the end, but did not leave a significant flat area surrounding the
hole. Then, instead of hammering the rivet head (I was using copper
rivets) I mounted the rod in a drill chuck, just as if it were a
drill bit. Placed the depression over the rivet head and ran the
drill at moderate speed, pressing firmly with a slight wobble. This
burnished the head down and left it quite smooth and tidy with no
damage around it.

Try it try it you will see!
Marty in Victoria BC where we don’t lose our heads

I don’t have one of these nor have I seen one but look at this:


If you want the rivet heads to be half-round, then a beading tool of
suitable size can be used as a rivet setting punch. Choose a beading
tool slightly smaller than the estimated size of the finished rivet
head and tap or hammer the punch not all vertically but leaning and
going round and round to cover the head and direct the head towards
the centre. Just hammering straight down will often force the head to
one side and be off centre to the wire underneath. If the punch is
bigger than the rivet head it will stamp a circle around the rivet
head; not a bad thing for some extra decoration but easy to avoid

A better way would be to pre-form the head that goes in the cup, and
do the final riveting from the other side while the pre-formed head
is supported in the beading tool held firmly in a vice. To pre-form
the head, drop the wire into a close fitting hole in a drawplate so
the bead sits on top. If the wire pokes out the other side then
support the plate on two strips of wood or over the slightly opened
jaws of a vice, and proceed to form the bead into a head using a
beading tool as a punch. Here you will see how hard it is to keep the
head from drifting to one side! Direct the head by leaning the punch
as the head is being formed. Careful to not let the punch strike the
drawplate because one or the other will be damaged.

Cheers, Alastair

Try a tool made for countersinking brad nails and the like. you can
find it at a hardware store. It looks much like a center punch, and
already has the “divet” you need to accommodate your balled rivet
end. Should be in expensive (and I would suspect there are different
sized divets as there are different sized nail heads.)

Holly B. the wannabe

Hi Ellen,

I bought a set of three punches from Harbor Freight that are cupped
on the end. I think they were about 6 bucks for the three different
sizes and they are PERFECT for keeping a balled end on a rivet. I
have also made more for a wider range of sizes by filing the top down
on a nail setting punch to the correct size, then using a ball burr
to grind a hollow in the top. It’s a very cheap way to get a ball
punch, and very effective.