Riveting with NAIL HEAD Rivets
* I offer two types of rivets in my Etsy shop: NAIL HEAD RIVETS and CAP RIVETS
—>This tutorial is for NAIL HEAD RIVETS<—
Riveting is a quick and easy way to connect metal (and other materials!) without having to solder. It is sometimes referred to as a cold connection. It is possible to make your own rivets with wire but my nail head rivets are super handy and a huge time saver. I have rivets available in sterling silver, oxidized brass and copper. Ready, set, let’s go!! Follow along below as we dive right in. FYI – *CAP RIVETS, which are commonly used on leather, are not included in this demonstration. See my video tutorials section to watch a video on using CAP RIVETS. I also have a video on how to use NAIL HEAD rivets. The quality of the video is kinda terrible but you’ll get the idea! Here’s a link to it.
BASIC TOOLS & SUPPLIES:
* Nail Head Rivets (Vintaj oxidized brass 1/4″ length rivets are used in this demonstration)
* 1.5mm Hole Punch Pliers (used for punching holes in lightweight metals up to 22g in thickness)
* Remember the HIGHER the gauge, the THINNER the metal*
* Two-Hole Metal Punch (used for 20g and thicker metals) Makes 1.60mm and 2.30mm sized holes. The 1.60mm size works fine with my Nail Head rivets.
* Riveting Hammer or Chasing Hammer (a Riveting Hammer is used in this demonstration)
* Flush Cutter
* Bench Block
* Various Metal Blanks or Leather Items You Want to Use on Your Project
5 Easy Steps
Punch the holes in the items you wish to rivet. Use the appropriate tool listed above (either the Hole Punch Pliers or Two-Hole Metal Punch). 1.5mm LONG REACH Hole Punch Pliers was used in the picture below.
Here is a picture using the Two-Hole Metal Punch on one of my heavy gauge (16g) 1/4″ x 6″ brass bracelet blanks.
Stack items to be riveted on nail head rivet.
The picture above shows a square brass blank that has been hand stamped and is now ready to be riveted. A brass flower will be attached to the front. The decorative flower piece has a slight domed appearance that will flatten during the riveting process. Using curved or domed pieces is okay. It will look great when we are finished!
The picture above shows the underside of a leather flower stacked on the nail head rivet with a washer added to the back. A washer MUST BE be added to soft materials like leather, fabric, plastic, etc. in order for the rivet to work. Otherwise, the rivet would slide right through the soft leather. *TIP – you can make your own washers out of super small blanks or you can buy them ready to go from me!
Working on the back side of your item, trim away the excess wire from the rivet with your flush cutter, leaving about 1 – 1.5mm of excess wire remaining. (Note – if you are working with a soft material such as plastic, leather or fabric, add a washer before you trim away the excess wire.) See info above.
The picture above shows the excess wire being trimmed away. You want to make sure you have enough wire left to make a nice “mushroom” like head. The wider your mushroom head, the better and stronger the connection. If that doesn’t make sense, just keep reading!
Place your creation on a Bench Block and use the thin and tapered end of the Riveting Hammer to tap the remaining wire. (Note – you may want to lightly sand the wire to ensure a flat surface.) Rotate your piece about 45 degrees as you make each tap, going all the way around. You will notice the wire of your rivet begin to form a mushroom. Continue taping and rotating until the mushroom is fairly flat and tapped out.
* Some people prefer to use a chasing hammer instead of the riveting hammer for this. I didn’t learn to do it that way so I don’t use it. Just use what you have or what you are most comfortable with!
I know it is difficult to see, but the picture above shows the excess rivet wire as it starts to be tapped with the riveting hammer. (I left a little more excess wire than I should have! LOL But it still works well in the end!) So, if you leave a little too much wire, you can always snip a little more off. If you snip too much off to begin with, you’ll have to use another rivet. *TIP – just so you know, if your rivet wire is way too long, it will bend over and be unusable as a rivet when you make your first taps. Too short is no bueno but too long isn’t either. Don’t say forget it, it’s really not that difficult but does take some practice. So – don’t be scared off. Stay with me!
Now we can begin to see a mushroom starting to form at the tip of the excess wire. Woohoo!
The picture above shows another glimpse of the mushroom starting to appear as the wire spreads out as you tap it. Don’t forget to rotate it as you tap. You can rotate your design or rotate your hammer. But whatever you do, just rotate it! This will help the mushroom head to spread out more evenly and give you a good connection.
Looking at the picture above gives a glimpse of the leather flower design with the washer as the mushroom starts to form on it. Without the addition of the washer, the rivet would not hold due to the softness of the leather. This is why many people choose to use CAP RIVETS on their leather creations. Plus, cap rivets are just wayyy easier to do. But I LOVE the organic look you can have with NAIL HEAD rivets.
Take a peek above and you’ll see a mushroom starting to form on the end of the rivet wire on a bracelet blank project. If you are riveting a piece with a directional design on it and you don’t want any movement while riveting, tape your piece down. The flower on the other side has a name stamped on it and I didn’t want any movement during the riveting process so I taped it to the bracelet blank.
You can use the flat side of the Riveting Hammer to flatten and smooth the rivet head. Lightly brush your thumb across the rivet. If it feels smooth to the touch, you are done. If it is not, continue to flatten or lightly sand until it is smooth to the touch.
The wire mushroomed out well and I was able to use the flat end of the Riveting Hammer to hammer it more. Sometimes I finish up by using the peen side of my chasing hammer. Don’t be afraid to explore with this technique and see what works best for you. Try using a chasing hammer if you have one. Some people prefer that method but I learned with a riveting hammer and use it. Experiment and see what works! Your riveted piece should be on securely with no movement. If there is movement, do some more tapping and hammering.
The picture on the left shows the 3/4″ brass square with a rustic looking Vintaj brass 16mm Beaded Flower Washer riveted to it. It was stamped with my “Verona” 2mm Uppercase Letter Set. So adorable!! The picture on the right shows two leather flowers layered with a rustic looking Vintaj brass 13.5mm Fairy Petals element. The leather can be dyed or painted beforehand to create a unique design element to any project. This could be attached to one of my leather or metal bracelet blanks for an outstanding and unique design. So many options with Supply Zone products!!!
That’s it. You are done!! Woohoo 😉