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Learn the basics of riveting, including how to distinguish various types of rivets and how to set different rivets.
Riveting is a classic, durable and popular way to create cold connections in jewelry designs (a "cold connection" is the joining together of metal components without using solder).
Each type of rivet used to make jewelry requires different tools and techniques. Discover these methods below. Once you're ready to create your own custom riveted jewelry, check out our full line of rivets, eyelets, and riveting tools.
Also known as two-part rivets, compression rivets come in sets with a top and bottom. Typically used with leather, compression rivets are thicker than most wire rivets and are easy to set with just a few supplies. To set compression rivets, follow the infograph and use the following tools:
Nail-head rivets work the same way wire rivets do, except that they have one end already finished. This decreases the amount of labor needed to set them. They can be cut to shorter lengths if necessary, then set by hammering the unfinished end.
Decorative rivets (aka fancy wire rivets) are nail-head rivets with decorative motifs on the finished end. To avoid damaging the decorative end, use a wooden block instead of a metal block to set fancy rivets (a scrap piece of 2x4" works perfectly). Or, place a scrap of leather between the decorative head and the metal block when hammering. A bare steel block will damage the finished side of the rivet.
Nail-head rivets and decorative rivets work best on metal. To use this type of rivet with leather, place washers/spacers between the leather and the rivet heads (both sides) to hold the rivets in place. Otherwise, the small heads on these rivets tend to pull right through pliable materials like leather.
Semi-tubular rivets look similar to the "cap" portion of two-part rivets, but they work differently. They're designed to be set with
Crafted Findings riveting system. This innovative tool system allows you to punch holes and set rivets with the same tool base. Both rivets and eyelets are set with a screw-action mechanism, which means no loud tapping or hammering. The process is also much quicker than traditional wire riveting for metal, saving you oodles of time (several of us at Rings & Things have become Crafted Findings addicts!).
Crafted Findings riveting tools are made in the USA of durable heat-treated steel. They come in options for 1/16" diameter or 3/32" diameter rivets and eyelets. They also come in a choice of "original" or "long reach" sizes. The long reach tools allow you to rivet thicker layers together (i.e. the "reach" is height, not depth from edge to center).
EZ-Rivet® tools, imported by the BeadSmith®, set rivets using the same type of screw-action mechanism as Crafted Findings. EZ-Rivet tools come in sizes for 1/16" or 3/32" diameter rivets.
As with nail-head rivets, semi-tubular rivets work best on metal. To use Crafted Findings rivets with leather, place washers/spacers between the leather and the back of the rivets, to hold the rivets in place — as in our Winged Heart Hat Band design. Option: you can include washers on both sides of the rivet for a decorative effect, like in our
"Tschinkel's Circles" bracelet design.
For more information on Crafted Findings and semi-tubular rivets, see:
Wire rivets are classic, traditional rivets handmade with wire and a hammer. This "old-school" style of riveting is a wonderful skill to develop, but it's time-consuming to do properly. The rivets themselves are simply wire — made from any gauge of malleable wire, in any length you need. Here's a summary of the process with links to tools and supplies:
Make sure the end of the wire is smooth, and filed flat.
Fit wire through your layers of metal sheet,
pre-cut blanks, and/or other components. Depending on the wire gauge, about 0.5 to 1mm of wire should stick out at each end.
Set item on a steel bench block and keep the components centered on the wire. Use a
riveting hammer to tap a few times on the top of the wire, then flip the piece over and tap a few times on the other end of the wire. This starts mushrooming the wire.
Hammer gently around the edges of the wire on one end, then flip over and repeat.
Keep flipping over and repeating the steps on each side until both ends are domed and smooth to the touch.
Eyelets are tubes with flared ends. One end of a rivet sometimes looks like an eyelet. The main difference between a rivet and an eyelet is that you can see all the way through an eyelet after you set it, but at least one end of a rivet is always solid. If the eyelet is large enough, you can also run wire, chain or a jump ring through the resulting reinforced hole — as in the
"Spiris" pendant (pictured). As with rivets, eyelets come in various sizes and styles ...
3/16" diameter eyelets are large and generally used for leather. To set eyelets in leather, use an eyelet setter and use the same basic method used to set compression rivets (see above).