Riveting is the most popular cold connection technique in jewelry making today. Riveting allows the artist to join metal sheets or blanks without the use of heat or soldering. You can start riveting with a small number of tools and jewelry wire. It is a great way to enhance hand stamped jewelry and build your metal forming skills. These instructions are a useful reference for beginners.
Shear Wire Cutters
Wire segments for making rivets
Screw Punch, plier punch or metal drill set
Metal sheet or blanks – raw materials for your jewelry creations
(Optional) Heart-shaped rivet charms for embellishment
(Optional) Snap rivets
USING SNAP RIVETS
Punch a hole in your metal piece(s) to accommodate the snap rivet. You will need a 2.5mm hole. You can use the large side of a screw hole punch and then enlarge the hole a little bit with a reamer.
Snap rivets have 2pcs, a top, and a bottom. Insert your snap rivet through the metal pieces to be joined and insert into the bottom piece of the rivet.
Place the assembly on your bench block.
Use a flat hammerhead such as a household hammer, the flat end of a riveting hammer or a stamping hammer to strike the top of the rivet with 1-2 hammer blows.
This will “snap” the rivet together so it cannot be disassembled.
MAKING A WIRE RIVET
Punch or drill a hole in your metal piece(s) to accommodate the wire rivet. Below is a quick hole size conversion list.
The hole can be slightly larger than your wire segment since you will be creating rivet heads to secure the metal.
If your hole needs to be slightly enlarged insert a reamer and use it to widen the opening by filing or grinding the edges. However, if the hole is significantly larger than your wire you will need a larger gauge riveting wire.
Cut your wire to the appropriate length. You will need approximately 2mm of length on either side of the metal you are joining to create strong rivets.
File the ends of your wire segment so they are flat cross-section surfaces. If the end is angled or pinched you will not be able to form a strong rivet.
Insert the wire segment into your bench vise so that about 2mm is sticking out above the vise surface. Tighten the vise.
To create a rivet head strike the top of the wire with the chiseled end of the rivet hammer. Rotate slightly and strike again. This technique will flare the metal out from the wire rod. Repeat rotating your hammer and striking the top of the wire until you have created a nail head formation.
Once you are satisfied with your nailhead, flip the hammer over to the flat, square-shaped side and strike the rivet to flatten the surface.
Insert this rivet into your punched metal pieces to be joined. Be sure to leave about 2mm of wire to create the back of the rivet. Trim any excess from the unformed end.
Now put the assembled metal and rivet onto your bench block with the first riveted end facing down.
Securely hold the assembly or tape it to your bench block so it does not move.
Form a nail head on the backside by using the striking and rotating technique with your riveting hammer.
Switch to the flat side of your hammer to tighten the rivet down and secure the metal assembly.
HOLE SIZE CONVERSION LIST
1.2mm hole for 18ga wire
1.6mm hole for 16ga wire
2.3mm hole for 14ga wire
Finer wires are not recommended. They will not form secure rivets.
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