Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cold Connected Metal Elements

Thought I would write up a little treatise on how I make the cold connected metal elements.  This one deals with riveting using only the Crafted findings Rivet Tool.  Other cold connection methods not covered are: handmade rivets, tabs, and micro bolts and nuts.

Above a photo of the bench with some metal pieces and some tools.  In the lower right. there is a partially finished element, some rivets (not Crafted Findings), two have been cut to proper length with the cutters, two have not. Above the rivets is a playing card, cut in half, the two halves taped together, with a hole punched through.  This is used as a gauge to cut the rivets to length.

Other photos with notations will appear in my Flickr Photostream.

Really BIG caveat! How I make them is not necessarily the right, correct, or precise way to do it.  It's the way I do it.  Wanted to make that absolutely crystal clear.  

Basically, the elements consist of two or three pieces of different metals so there is a contrast of color.    I use various gauges, 18, 20, 22, 24, brass, copper, aluminum and nickel silver (also known as german silver), and most everyone knows, there's no silver in it.  I don't use any precious metals.  

First, I use a.....

1.  Jeweler's saw with appropriate blade to cut stock sheet metal down to manageable sizes.  Small enough to go through my rolling mill.
2.  No. 2 Flat file to remove burs.
3.  Propane fueled torch for annealing metal.
4.  Igniter.
5.  Annealing pan, with pumice grains.
7.  Pan of water to quench.  I sometimes use ice water  as this will help hold heat patina colors.
8.  Paper towels to dry off the annealed metal.

Some of the metal pieces are selected for texturing, others left plain.


1.  Manilla Folder, cut into pieces small enough to go through the mill.
2.  Scissors or shears to cut the folder.
3.  Various texturing materials.  The manilla folder paper will put a nice texture on metal. Take two       pieces of manilla and sandwich the metal between and run through the mill. Also, I used a piece of   netting from an onion bag from the grocery, or a piece of brass mesh, 20 threads per inch.
4.  Rolling mill.


1.  Disc cutter.
2.  Brass head mallet, 2 pounds.
3.  Padding under the disc cutter. I use a 1/16 inch thick urethane pad.  This protects the punches from damage.  
4.  Bur Lube to lubricate the punches.

After cutting the discs, some are run the mill  to create a nice oval shape.  Some are punched again in or near the middle with a smaller size punch, and then run through the mill.   Different shapes can be made by varying the pressure of the rollers.

I sometimes heat the metal again with a torch of add more heat patina.


1.  Metal Stamps, various styles to add  texture to the plain discs.
2.  Dual face hammer, brass and nylon.
3.  Steel bench block.
4.  Needle files.  I use these to create notches in some small accent pieces

Some pieces are textured with various hammers.  Ball peen, or the peen of a chasing hammer, texturing hammers, cross peen  hammer.  To hold small pieces in place on the bench block, I tape down a portion of the metal with some clear tape , stamp or texture the bare metal, and repeat the process on the other side.

I like to have a lot of different pieces laid out in front of me.  Then I begin to pick and choose what pieces go well with one another, setting them aside, and repeating the selection process again and again. When I have several selected, I begin the assembly process.


1.  Crafted Findings Rivet Tool and Rivets.  1/16 and 1/8 inch, copper, brass and aluminum.
2.  Vise.  I use the small Sine vise to hold the rivet tool.
3.  The Speetog Plier Clamp. In place of this, parallel jaw pliers, ring clamp, or very strong fingers!
4.  Flex-Shaft with No. 30 hand piece.
4.  Fine point Sharpie pen.
5.  Center punch.
6.  No. 53, .063 inch drill bit, plus various other small size drills used to drill accent holes. A set of number drills 1 to 60 is handy to have.  A 1/16 inch bit is the same size.
6.  Wood block.

Why drill when the Riveting Tool has a punch for the rivet hole?  Punching a hole through two or three pieces of metal with the tool's punch is difficult and could damage the punch.

To drill through two pieces of metal simultaneously. they must be securely clamped together.  Taping the pieces doesn't always work, which is why the Speetog is so handy for this.

Drill over solid wood. Drilling over a hole in the wood produces burs on the backside of the piece.

Drill one hole for a rivet. Check the backside for burs and remove if need be.  Then finish riveting. Then drill the next hole and rivet.  One at a time until all rivets are finished.

 If I use the tool's punch for a hole in a single layer of metal, I take a piece of card stock, like a 3 x 5 file card, with a narrow slot cut into it.  When punching with the Rivet Tool, the metal piece can be hard to remove unless you reverse wind the punch bringing the metal up against the top of the tool.  This can abrade the metal. By slipping the card onto the stem of the punch, over the metal, the metal won't be marred.

7.  Small setting bur, about 5-6 mm.  Used to put a chamfer around and neaten a hole drilled for a jump ring. Do this on both sides.
8.  1 inch PSA Mini Sanding Disc 220, for cleaning up any bur left from drilling.
9.  Plastic tape.  Cut small pieces of tape to hold a rivet. Place rivet head down on the sticky side.
10.  Bead mat - if I drop a rivet, it won't bounce into the nether reaches and vanish.
11.  Scissors to cut the tape.
12.  Fine point tweezers.
13.  Set the rivets with the Riveting Tool

When I use the tape method to carry and insert the rivet, I only partially seat the rivet with the rivet tool.  Then I remove the tape and finish seating the rivet.  Leaving the tape on can cause an incomplete riveting process.

14.  Wood dapping block with oval depressions used to add a curve to the piece.
15.  Fretz No. 7 hammer with interchangeable faces. I use the round face.
16.  Pieces of paper towel to protect both the dapping block and the hammer face.
17.  No. 2 file, 8 inch overall to clean up any uneven edges.
18.  3m bristle brushes to polish some areas

Questions, comments welcome.



  1. Hey, thanks for this- I'm saving it to my computer, to digest when I have all the right tools. I know that everyone does things differently and I'm sure I'll be no different. Thanks for taking the time to do this. :)

  2. You are most welcome, Tela.