Creating a Standard Rivet


Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets


Lesson Info

Creating a Standard Rivet

Let's go ahead and actually make a rivet and rivet together our bangle. So the first thing we're gonna do is we've got our blank here. And, of course, again, I decided I need a little decorative detail, so it's got a little ... It's got little spots for our rivets here, but we don't need it. The most important thing to think about is that you need at least two rivets. The reason you need at least two, is if you only have one, the rivet actually acts like a pivot point. So if I had a bracelet that came around and I only had one rivet, it could do this and want to flex. So you need at least two, and again, they can be going across or they can be going kinda stacked across the bracelet. It doesn't matter, but you need at least two. In this one, I used three, 'cause I just thought it would be pretty. But, this one I left space for two. So the first thing that you'll do is just go ahead and like anything else, we're gonna bend this around our mandrel, and make sure that we hammer it kinda d...

own. Now the most important thing here is that we get a nice kinda flat surface to rivet onto. And so that means that I'm actually gonna go ahead and kinda squish this down a little bit just to make it a little bit easier to work with. Because I can always reshape this after I've set the rivet. So it does not have to be a perfect shape in order to get the rivet done. It's actually more important that we actually get this guy lined up right. Make sense? So, now what I'll go ahead and do is take a little bit of tape. I prefer painters tape, because it's easy to come off, it's not gonna be super sticky, it's just kinda what I keep on-hand in my studio. And I'm gonna wrap a little bit of tape so I don't have to try to keep this closed. But what I'm not going to do is I'm not gonna tape where I want to set the rivet. I'm gonna tape behind it. If I tape under it, a) it's gonna a little bit of gap when I take the tape off, but b) the tape's gonna be hard to get out of there. So that's why I actually like leaving a slightly longer overlap, because it gives me a little bit more space to tape. So, nothing fancy about this. I'm just gonna wrap my tape around here a couple times. And it's not gonna be perfect. This is gonna want to spring up a little bit still, but now at least I don't have to expend a ton of energy holding this in place while I set the rivet. The other thing is, no matter what size or number of rivets you're using, you always want to drill the hole first, one hole at a time. So, we're gonna drill a hole, set the rivet, then drill the next hole, set the next rivet. We don't want to drill all the holes together because if anything shifts, now we're got holes that aren't lined up. So, when we're doing rivets, the most important thing is that we drill a hole that's as close to the thickness of our wire as possible. So you can see here, I'm working with pretty tiny wire. There is no law that says you have to work with any particular gauge wire for rivets. You can make big, chunky rivets, you can make little tiny rivets. I don't actually like usually working tiny, so why I picked this gauge, I do not know, but it's what I picked, so it's what we're going with. So, there are, again, just like everything else we're working with, it seems to be a little bit confusing, where our drill bits, the smaller the number, the bigger the drill bit, and vice versa, right? So a 55 is gonna be bigger than a 70. There are definitely charts and gauges that you can use to choose the right drill bit. What I did was I went online, I looked at what gauge my metal was, I looked at what the diameter was, and then I ordered a drill bit that matched. In my studio, what I often do, I am not a precision person, in case you guys could not tell, is I'll go like this. Yup, that looks about the same, right? Yeah, that looks pretty close. It'll probably work. You want it to be nice and snug, but it's not 100% perfect, it's okay, as long as it's pretty snug. You just don't want it to be like, oh look, there's a mile where I can like run the wire through. All right, so, first thing we have to do when we're drilling a hole is we need to center punch. Now, I'm gonna do this with our flex shaft. You can use a flex shaft, you can use a rotary tool like a Dremel, you can use, if you have a drill press, if you have a tiny drill press, that's the best, like a tiny drill press really is the best thing for this, but if you don't have one, you can get away with a flex shaft or a rotary tool. If you were in my previous class, you probably saw us talk about the center punching pliers. We're gonna talk about those later. They're not good for this, because they're not designed to go through two pieces of metal at once, and we have to drill through both. So, before I drill my hole, the first thing that I'm gonna do is I need to center punch. Actually the very first thing I'm gonna do is take my Sharpie and mark where I wanna put my holes so I know what's happening here. So I'm just gonna put a little dot and a little dot. So I'd go to my first hole and I'm gonna center punch. And a center punch is literally just a piece of metal with a point on it. This is where we get a little bit tricky. We don't need our tape anymore. Is that you kinda have to be creative because you need to center punch on a block of metal, so I'm gonna kinda hang this over the edge of my table here, line up my center punch, and just go ahead and give this a tap. That didn't feel like it really did anything, so I'm gonna tap it a little harder. There we go. And the reason we want to do this is because we want to actually give a little place for our drill bit to bite into, so it doesn't want to skim across the surface. Other things when you are drilling, so we always center punch, if you have long hair, tie it back, because the last thing we want is long hair caught in moving machinery, no loose clothing, and then we're always gonna wear safety glasses. So I'm gonna take my flex shaft here, and I'm gonna put my drill bit in it. There's still stuff in it from the last time I taught here a month ago. That's about what happens in my studio too. I can tell the last thing I did, it's like, Oh, that's still in the flex shaft. So I'm just gonna go ahead and put my drill bit in here. Wanna make sure that's nice and centered. Get that seated there really well. Nice and tight. Now, this is one of those two where we want to drill into something wood. In a perfect world, you'd keep a block of wood in your studio, I never seem to find one, so I drill into my bench pin. Usually I drill into this part of my bench pin, just so I'm not ruining the end that I saw at, but I need to be able to hang this off of here, you can't drill into it up there, and we really want to support our metals. So I'm just gonna hold this on here. When you're drilling with a flex shaft or a rotary tool, the most important thing is you keep it nice and vertical. This is why a drill press is so much easier, but a drill press really doesn't fit in my suitcase. I'm just gonna go ahead and drill that hole. All right, so now that I've got my hole drilled I can go ahead and create my rivet. All right, so the next thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take take my wire, and I'm gonna cut it to length for my rivet. I like to take some parallel pliers, or something that's a flat-nosed plier, and just straighten out my wire when it's long because you're gonna see pretty quickly that our rivet's gonna be tiny, and so I want to deal with it as long as I can on this piece. Because I want to try to hold on to something long as possible, and because I want to make sure my rivet doesn't have a pinched end from my wire cutters, I'm also gonna go ahead and file this end flat while it's still attached to the whole wire. And in this case, remember when we were doing the end of our cuff bracelet, we were going around? In this case I'm literally just running flat across. All right, so before I cut this I'm gonna do a little diagram for you guys here because, quite frankly, this is tiny and I want you to see what's happening. So, if we imagine this is our two pieces of metal, and we've gone ahead and drawn a hole in there. So yeah, so if we imagine this is our metal, now we're gonna have a piece of wire that runs through here, and so, what I like to say is when I'm cutting my wire, it's about one and a half times the thickness of the metal longer. So, that's not longer like each side is one and a half, but like total it's about one and a half. Does that make sense? You'll find pretty quickly you'll know if you're cutting them too long because they'll wanna like flop over, and you'll know if they're short because they're not enough metal. So then, so what we actually wanna do is if we were looking at this from the top down, this is our wire, we're gonna hit the edges of our wire. Now, imagine, of course, that we're working with something teeny tiny, which is why I'm drawing this our for you slightly bigger. So we're gonna hit the edges of our wire, so what's gonna happen is it's gonna start to dome out, like this. And then we're gonna keep hitting those edges until eventually it folds over like this. So we want it ... it's gonna kinda mushroom first, and then we want to push it down. So, and again, this is really tiny, so this is all easier said than done, right? But this is basically what we're looking for. We're gonna hit around the edges, we're not just gonna smash the whole thing flat. We're gonna work around the edges with our rivet hammer, which I'll show you guys in a second, to get this nice domed look. All right, make sense? Now let's do it. And hopefully we can see what's happening here. So, first thing's first, I'm gonna go ahead and just put my wire through here, to try to figure out how long I need to cut this. And, as you can see, it needs to be pretty short. So, about ... this is where a Sharpie makes your life easier. Now, the goal is obviously not have this little gap that's happening in the middle. So I want to push it closed as right as possible and then measure my rivet. When we get to two rivets, you guys are gonna see why I like them better, because it's definitely easier to deal with a little ... I mean it's still a tiny tube, but it's a little bit easier than dealing with this teeny tiny piece of metal. So now I'm gonna go ahead and cut the end of my rivet. And then, now I'm gonna hold on to this teeny tiny little piece of metal. See, this is really why I'm showing you guys this, so when you're like, "You know what, Megan? A torch is so much easier." It's really my sneaky way of getting you all excited about soldering. Okay, and actually looking at this, even putting it in here, this feels really long to me. So I'm just gonna slide this in and see. It's a little long, but I think we'll make it work. Now I'm just gonna go ahead and file that nice and flush. This is why I actually don't wear nail polish in the studio, because you just end up filing it off. All right, so now I've got ... Oh, I think think I filed the side that I had already filed. So now I've got this tiny little piece of wire filed on both ends. So now we're gonna go ahead and do the rivet. And the other thing that I would recommend if you're really excited about this technique, is you might want to practice it once on some scrap metal before you tri it in your bracelet, because there is definitely some finagling angle holding concerns with trying to set a riven in the middle of something that's got a lot of round material. So you may want to practice once or twice before you try this on a bracelet. Now I'm gonna slide this rivet in here. And the biggest challenge when you're riveting is you actually need to, besides the challenge of holding the tiny little piece of wire and getting it threaded through a little hole, is that you need to be able to hammer on one side while the other side is still balanced evenly. So I want to make sure that this is ... I know, it's like I'll hold this still for a second, I need to make sure that my rivet is actually centered in here while I'm hitting it. So what I like to do is I like to keep a little bit of scrap metal on my steel block so that when I set this down ... Oops, there goes my rivet. When I set this down in here, I've got a little bit of space between the bottom of my sheet and piece itself, and that's where my rivet's gonna hang out. Does that make sense? Why I'm doing that? I'm just creating a little spacer in there. So now I'm gonna hold that in there. I'm gonna come in with my rivet hammer. So this hammer is actually designed for riveting, and I'm gonna come in with the flat side, and I'm gonna start to just tap the edges of my rivet. And I'm gonna get a little closer so I can see what's happening. So you can see how the bracelet makes this trickier, right, because I've gotta like come in here from some angles. So I'm starting by trying to just get that little mushroom. And then once I've kinda got that started, I'm gonna flip this over, and once again I'm gonna like hang this over the edge. And now, you can see my rivet's a little long, see how this want to like fold over. So I'm actually gonna help myself out here. I'm gonna straighten my rivet. There we go. So now I'm gonna go ahead and hammer this from the other side. Yeah, rivet's definitely a little too long. So, because this is so long, and it's feeling a little bit ridiculous, I'm actually just gonna go ahead and get my wire cutters in here. And this is one of those things where safety glasses is not a bad idea as you're trying to cut off this little bit of wire, because you don't really know where this little bit of wire's gonna end up. So I'm actually gonna go in here and cut this a little shorter, and come back ... I'm like stubbornly not wanting to start over, because, quite frankly, I've already got one side domed, but so now I can help myself a little just by cutting it down and refiling. So, if you accidentally make your rivet too long, you don't really have to start over. You can kind of trim it down. So now I'm just gonna come in here, come back, hammer. It's still a little on the long side. So, basically then, you're gonna kinda keep flipping from end to end. It's still way too long, but it's starting to look a little better. So I'm gonna keep doing this and keep hammering, and in a perfect world, it's gonna look like these guys, and not like the hot mess that's happening right there. But you guys get the idea, right? Like that all makes sense? Hammer it, and then once you've got this one nice and tight and fit, then we can drill the hole, repeat the process, pull the tape off.

Class Description

Whether you’re just getting started in metalsmithing or have been experimenting for years, Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets will help you deepen your skills while exploring the exciting world of bracelets. From torchless techniques (like forming and riveting) to more advanced concepts (like hinges), you’ll walk out of this class with a heap of new metalsmithing skills! (And a pile of new bracelets).

In this class, jewelry designer and metalsmith Megan Auman will help you build your metalsmithing skills in a way that’s completely approachable - no matter what level you’re currently at.

You will learn how to:

  • Create unique cuff bracelets by forming wire and sheet.
  • Join metal without a torch by riveting.
  • Solder wire and sheet into different shapes.
  • Make hinges (with or without a torch) to take your bracelet designs to the next level.
  • Finish your designs and experiment with color on metal through patinas.

Whether you’re looking to grow your existing jewelry making knowledge or for a new creative outlet that you can proudly wear (and show off!), you’ll leave Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets with a series of bracelets you can call your own - and a new set of metalsmithing skills you can expand into even more jewelry ideas!



This is a great addition to Megan's metalsmithing series. She makes the topic really approachable. Bonus that metal patinas were added in to the class. I loved the class!

a Creativelive Student

I really enjoyed this class! It was very informative and gave me a lot of ideas for expanding a jewelry line to include a variety of bracelets and finishes.