I have been teaching for over 35 years. In that time, I can’t even imagine how many times I have taught rivets. I always found creating the rivet head to be one of the more frustrating parts of the process. Just holding on to the wire wasn’t easy!
I finally decided to make a “jig” to help hold the wire while I was forming the head. I took a pair of cheap, Harbor Freight, flat-nosed pliers and with a separating disc, carved a groove in both jaws parallel to the end of the pliers. Then I could position the wire in the jaws, carefully transfer the pliers to my left hand, and hammer with my right hand to create the rivet head. This was okay – it’s not easy to do and it’s not easy to hold on to, but most of the time, I could do it. But teaching this was a nightmare! Most students don’t have the hand strength I do, so holding on to the pliers tight enough stabilize the wire was not working.
After a lot of thought about how to deal with the problem, I decided that if I put the wire into a thicker piece of metal with the appropriate size hole, it would hold the wire upright while I formed the head. And it worked! The only problem was that the thickest metal I had was about 10 ga. sheet and I needed to stack up two or three of these to keep the wire long enough to be able to do my riveting and have material for the rivet tail.
Twin Oaks Engineering to the rescue! Gil makes these rivet blocks on a mill so the holes are absolutely perpendicular to the surface of the block (a problem I had when working with 10ga. aluminum plates). They are smooth inside – and sized for the wires we commonly use when forming rivets: 18ga / 16ga / 14ga / 12ga / and 10ga. In addition, he added three sizes of rounded divots to keep a round rivet head rounded (or actually to make it better!) while forming the rivet tail.
I have altered my rivet block to add more head shapes to the surface. I use burs to grind a cross shape, an oval and a “rosette” into the surface – then my rivet heads take on these shapes when I form the tail. Click on link or image at right to download/view an instructional video
on how to use the rivet block - please note: video is quite large so be patient while it downloads to your computer...
I also have a short paper describing the riveting process which you can find here: “Rivets and Riveting
” by Deb Jemmott as well as directions for using the rivet block here: “Using Your New Rivet Block
” by Deb Jemmott.
One thing you do need to be careful about: These are made of BRASS – that means if you hammer directly on them, you will damage them. I recommend you use the method described in “Using Your New Rivet Block” to avoid this problem. Also – if a rivet does get stuck, be SURE not to widen the hole in the process of getting it out. If you do, this will create a hole that is wider on the end than in the middle, essentially creating a countersunk rivet the next time you use the hole and you will not be able to remove the rivet. More information here: “Stuck Wire
Five holes (18,16,14,12 & 10ga) for forming rivet heads
Three sized of rounded divots for shaping / protecting rivet head while forming rivet tail
Room on the block to allow individual head shaped to be carved
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Please see images below for additional views of this unique tool.