Monday, June 14, 2010

Connection technique; joining any combination of materials together.

Although I can silver solder, there are times when other methods of joining are required, or I just fancy a change, or a design warrants the look of little rivets. All my work is either soldered or riveted. "Rivets" sounds technical, sounds 'hardware store', but it needn't be. The great thing about rivets is that you can make them yourself, very very easily, you can  connect together any materials you like, they have a beautiful decorative look to them, they're easy to make and use and they can even become the essence of your jewellery or mixed-media artwork. Best of all, it's smarter, more sophisticated, more permanent and more satisfying than using glue. Glue has it's place, but consider rivets.

Here is a sample I made to show you how to rivet, I'm going to show you how to Tube Rivet and how to Wire Rivet. You see a piece of wood, rusty steel, embossed copper shape, snippet of tin can, scrap of fabric and a shard of plastic.

TUBE RIVETING.
1. You can buy lengths of very small diameter, round tube in copper, brass and alluminium from model shops. You can buy silver and gold tube from your jewellery suppliers. You can make your own tube too, but I wont go into that here.

2. Here are all the materials waiting to be connected together.

3. Choose the tube you want to make your rivets out of. Find a drill bit that's the same diameter, like above.

 
4. Drill a hole through all the pieces to be joined. The tube should be a snug fit in the holes. The little copper rectangle shape you see in the 2nd picture, is a 'washer' I made to stop the tube rivet from sinking into the soft squashy wood. Your 'sandwich' of materials need to have the outer layers consisting of hard materials, or else make a washer. Your washer could be a tiny little disc with a hole in it, mine is a shape you can see for the purpose of this excercise.

 
5. Next, you need to saw a piece of your tube down to the right length for a rivet. You want the tube to protrude from each side of your sandwich by no less than 1mm and no more than 2mm. If your tube is too long, it will bend over when riveting and look ugly. Too short and the tube will disappear in the hole. Here is the back of my sample, the rectangular shape is the washer that stops the tube being pulled into the soft wood.

6. Here I am using a basic tube vice (chenier vice) to hold my tube while I saw through it with my sawblade to the right length. You don't need one of these, but it is important that each end of the tube is sawn flat and perpendicular to the tube.

7. Now, with tube section threaded through your sandwich, place you sandwich of materials onto a flat steel block. Use a pointed punch (you can make one by filing a cheap hardware store nail to a point) to flare out the protruding tube, by tapping gently with a hammer or mallet.

8. Gently flare out the other end of the tube by turning over your sandwich and tapping your punch point into the tube again, as before.

9. When the tube ends are flared and the connection is well and truly made, use the round head of a hammer to finish the flare / spreading of the tube end...

10.  ...and then use the flat head of a hammer to make the rivet flat. Your tube rivet connection is complete. There are variations on this simple way of doing a tube rivet, you could solder the tube onto the back of the metal so that only one side shows the distitinctive little 'donut' of the rivet (blind rivet). You could re-drill your hole very slightly, not all the way through, with a larger drill bit to create a dimple which would allow the donut to lie flush with the rest of the surface.

WIRE RIVETING.
1.  Once again, your materials need holes drilled through them that are the same diameter as the WIRE you want to make into a rivet. Again, the wire needs to protrude at the top of the sandwich by about 1.5mm and by about 1.5mm at the back of the sandwich, as you can see here above.


2.  As with step 6 of the tube rivet, place your materials with the wire in place onto a steel block. Now instead of using a punch, just use the round head of your hammer to tap the head of the wire...as in the above illustration. The black circle represents the flat protruding end of the wire. Your hammer blows should start in the centre of the circle and spiral outwards to gradually spread the head of the wire. You can also hit around the edge of the circle by 'stroking' your hammer blows outwards, as described by the orange arrows. Do a little on one side of the sandwich then turn over and do a bit on the otherside, same as for the tube rivet.

3. Here you can see how the end of the wire has spread into a sparkly little rivet head.

4.  Here on the back of the sample, you can see how much the rivet head has spread, compared to an offcut of the wire in its original condition.



 
Here are 3 books I own that concentrate on "cold connections" of many kinds. I recommend them all! (I do not represent the publishers or authors).  I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful and inspiring.

10 comments:

AdobeSol said...

Thanks so much for the tutorial and the inspiration! Very well written and pictured.

Evie's Tool Emporium said...

Super cool tutorial! Thank you!
Michelle-

PK Studios said...

Thank you...I've been wanting to try riveting for awhile ...Now I'm inspired!

Catherine Chandler said...

Fantastic tutorial!!!

Ann Hartley said...

Talk about a great tutorial!! Thanks Maria, this is fantastic!!!

Lisa Flanders said...

Awesome tutorial!

Dale said...

Wow! I do wire riveting, but i've never tried tube riveting! I love the idea of filing and making your own tool. This is great stuff :) Will go buy some tubes tomorrow...

Marqi Philippe said...

This tutorial was even better than a video tutorial. Thanks for the clear photos!

Amy Mathieux said...

Thank you thank you! Can't wait to try it.

PyxeeStyx said...

Just found this on Pinterest. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have been scared of rivets forever. You just made this seem like a piece of cake. Cant wait to try it now.

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