Friday, August 21, 2015

A riveting time

©2015 Barry Smith - Fragments of pure copper nails - after cutting down for riveting - will go into the smelting container.
Over the last 5 days I have been working on metal covers for books. Rivets are a design feature of the covers. In all I have made 16 sets of covers which entailed hand setting 410 copper rivets.

My copper rivets start life as small (1.5mm in diameter and about 20mm long) pure copper nails I purchased in Japan. As part of the riveting process these nails are: set, cut to size, domed and hammered flush with the surface.

Following are some photos of the process and the final products in the rough.

The tools

©2015 Barry Smith - Tools - left to right - riveting hammer, centre punch, depth gauge, flush cutters, home made setting tool, homemade doming tool, copper hammer (for use on punch, string and doming tools) and anvil. 
©2015 Barry Smith - Face of doming tool after 410 rivets
©2015 Barry Smith - Face of setting tool after 410 rivets
Setting the rivets

©2015 Barry Smith - Setting tool in action - formerly a bolt.
Cutting rivets to size

©2015 Barry Smith - 1mm thick aluminium used to measure rivet - cut off with flush cutters.
Doming the rivets

©2015 Barry Smith - Doming tool in action
©2015 Barry Smith - Domed rivet
A trick I learnt - holding the pieces of metal together with double sided tape; and using the clamp to make sure of a really good connection. Then there is no need for clamps etc when centre punching, drill ing and riveting.

©2015 Barry Smith - Double sided tape
©2015 Barry Smith - Clamp to ensure connection with tape.
Casualties - I used about 25 1.5mm metal bits in drilling the holes for the rivets. The stainless steel was very hard and either busted the bits  (after as little as 3 holes) or wore them out (maximum out of a bit was 24 holes). I used a drill press for the job to keep the revs down and the pressure gentle and even.

©2015 Barry Smith - Drill press
©2015 Barry Smith - Some of the busted and worn out drill bits
Riveted front and back pages ready for grinding, polishing and then etching.

©2015 Barry Smith - Riveted stainless steel 
©2015 Barry Smith - Riveted stainless steel
I achieved my goal of getting the riveting done by FRiday. Now that deserves a glass of red.


  1. It certainly deserves a glass of red! A lot of work but fascinating and very effective as a large wall piece. Love the book covers.

  2. You are amazing. Congratulations on what you have achieved this week. Gorgeous as usual.

  3. that pieced and riveted surface wants to be touched. (ok, i want to touch it.)

  4. Fabulous! I really enjoy your posts that show works in progress. Always delightful to see how you approach a project. This time, I am especially admiring your homemade tools.

  5. Looks like VERY fiddly work...but awesome results!

  6. Hi R, MB, V, AA & JM - thanks for checking out the work in progress - always hard when one is doing a lot of hours on commissions and not really able to share much - so it was good to be able to share a bit on the riveting itself. R - the wall piece could be another future project - thanks. MB - thanks - hardworking anyway. V - the combo of copper rivets and shiny stainless steel is caressable. AA - thanks I like to share process where I can as I enjoy seeing that from others. The homemade tools certain;y makes the job easier. JM - fiddly is right. All go well and create well. B

  7. Oh, brilliant, B, just amazing work!


Comments are welcomed - it is good to connect with fellow travellers.