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Rivets and riveting Riveting

Demonstration by Jock Dempsey

January 18, 2001 (Edited May 23, 2011)
Tonight's demo is another on basics. In the past few weeks we have had a number of questions about riveting. As simple as this is to most of us it can be a mystery to those that have never done it.

If you are doing a job that requires a lot of rivets you should buy them. However, most blacksmithing uses different length rivets for every job and you could never stock enough. In any case, buy any that you see that you can afford.
Rivets and riveting
Figure 01
Types of Rivets:

1. Button Head or plain round head
2. High Button, I've never seen these
3. Cone Head
4. Pan Head
Rivets and riveting
Figure 02
5. Flat Top Countersunk Head Rivet
6. Round Top Countersunk Head
7. Truss or Wagon Box Head
8. Tinners Rivet
MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has specs on all these rivets plus some. Dimensions, number per pound, rivet set dimensions.

There are hundreds of types of rivets and they come in every imaginable material. We are using plain steel round head rivets for most blacksmithing. Jay-Cee sales is one of the best sources
Rivets and riveting
Figure 03
In most decorative work we create our own rivets or rehead round head rivets to make a "rose head".
Rivets and riveting
Figure 04
When riveting the round head require 1-1/2 diameters of stock to form the head. It also works with the rose head as follows.

The first step is to heat the rivet in the forge or with a torch. Most of us heat the shank of the rivet with a torch. Then upset the rivet with one hard sharp blow.
Rivets and riveting
Figure 05
Rivets and riveting
Figure 06
Rivets and riveting
Figure 07
Then five or six blows creates the head. I use the flat end of a relatively small ball pein hammer.
Rivets and riveting
Figure 08
The finished head looks something like this. In fancy work the head is often decorated with punch or chisel marks.
Rivets and riveting
Figure 09
Rivets and riveting
Figure 10
Rivets and riveting
Figure 11
For making any of the standard heads described at the top there are tools called a "Rivet Set".

A "set" is used to tighten the joint and then to form the head. If you don't want the preformed head of the rivet to have a flat then you need to support it in a swage, dap, or another rivet set as shown.
Rivets and riveting
Figure 12
In most blacksmithing we deal with long non standard rivets and stacked joints. In this case we use a plain mild steel pin with extra material for both heads.
Rivets and riveting
Figure 13
One side of the pin is supported by a "buck", a big hammer or a sledge while the other end is upset. Often after forming one end a tube or tool like a set is used to tighten the joint before upsetting the other end.

Somethings in tight locations flat ended punches are used to form the head.
Rivets and riveting
Figure 14
Another common riveted joint in decorative work is an upset tenon in a plain (solid) top rail. Although common it is only found in the best of work.

The tenon is formed at an angle. Often the shoulder is filed to fit. The rail has a heavy countersunk hole drilled.
Rivets and riveting
Figure 15
Rivets and riveting
Figure 16
The end of the tenon is heated, upset and hammered tight to fill the countersink. In most cases you want extra material.

After riveting, the head is ground flush, any lines or texture filed to match and the head heated to create the same finish as the rest of the top rail. When done it should be invisible.
Questions, Suggestions?
Bravo Guru, Would my local hardware store be likely to carry rivets?
Steve C
Jock, do you cool the head that is formed first or do you just use a rivet header to keep the head from being flattened?
Jim C.
Rivet set? Won't forming the head tighten up the joint?
good demo thanks guru!!!
PF do you do the angled tenon?
We often machine the angled tenons. The picket is bent, then the tenon formed in a lathe using a tool that looks a lot like a woodworking tenoner. Also known as a box tool. The tool is on the lathe spindle, the picket on the carriage.
Is it feasible to weld a tenon joint if heated up enough
I really like the idea of the "rose" head...Rod uses a lot of riveting in his saddle making so that would fancy it up a bit. Thanks
Especially informative to me were frames 14 through 16.
Another good demo Jock, thanks
Jim it depends on the type of rivet. When doing rose head rivets in decorative work there is a flat (normally). The opposite head cools rapidly. These are usually heated with a torch.
Thanks, I"ll be back for more.
Dunchadh, These are sometimes welded but usually not (unless there is not enough material to fill the countersink).
Jock I've been using store bought rivets and been tightening them cold.If I annealed my hot roll could I do the same or are those store boughts an alloy?
Great demo, guru, thanks. You mentioned Jay Cee sales- do they have a web site?
I'll list the phone and address for Jay-Cee sales when I post the demo.
Would centaur have the swage tool to create the first head?
A rivet set is a common tool. I suspect it helps tighten joints in sheet metal more than heavier work.
Thanks for the demo :)
Mike I'm not sure. If you want to make your own round head rivets then you need a clamping or gripping "header" to hold the work for upsetting.
very informative thank you guru

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