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making tongs, what to use for rivets


canuk

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You don't want anything high in carbon. If the rivet is ever heated up to hardening temperature and cooled rapidly enough to harden it can fracture. This can be dangerous because when it breaks you will lose your grip on your hot work piece. You can make rivets easy enough they can also be bought from Macmaster-carr just look up solid steel rivets on their web site. If your are cheep and don't feel like making a rivet or it is beyond your skill set at this point you can use a non-plated plain steel bolt as a rivet just peen over the end. You can cut off the threads or not. I have a couple of tongs made this way made quickly and they work just as well as any other.

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Manufactured rivets are actually softer than standard mild steel, so you may be better off making your own for tongs. I use a bolster underneath the tongs while I start one side and then flip it to do the second end of the rivet. You only need the bolster while you start the first head on the rivet, it keeps the tongs from sliding around on your rivet. :huh:

I should probably draw a picture.

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well i guess i will give an update.


i started out with 3/4'' galvanized round rod from silo rings. forged it into the shape i wanted, punched my hole, did alittle re-shaping of the jaws, tried making a rivet and messed up a little too often. so i grabbed a bolt and put it through one blank, got it into the other blank and heated to orange, and made the other head. they are some of the uglyiest things you will ever see but i think they should work which is all i care about at this point. going to weld some reins on rather then draw them out by hand.

thank you for the help regarding my question.


NOTE**- i do not recommend using galvanized steel, i have had metal fume fever before it wasn't severe but not something i want again. it was a risk to use it

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On 2/12/2011 at 8:45 PM, canuk said:

 i started out with 3/4'' galvanized round rod from silo rings. forged it into the shape i wanted, punched my hole, did a little re-shaping of the jaws, tried making a rivet and messed up a little too often. so i grabbed a bolt and put it through one blank, got it into the other blank and heated to orange, and made the other head. they are some of the ugliest things you will ever see but i think they should work which is all i care about at this point. going to weld some reins on rather then draw them out by hand. 


heck just get a big nail cut off what you don't need. The head is already formed on one side just heat and beat

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I buy old steel wire racks at yard sales and flea markets. You can get them for next to nothing, have even fished a few out of the trash. There is plenty of 1/4 and 3/16 stock in them. The short lengths make it easy to forge your own rivets. Just remember to take a magnet with you while shopping. Because I have found a lot of aluminum racks around. TC

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  • 3 weeks later...

I used to lay a flat bar on the anvil and the tongs on across that, kinda like a teeter-totter. Now I take the hot slug (rivet) with no head on it, drop it in the hole and rock the tongs up a little so that the rod is sticking out about the same on each side and smack it and form both heads at the same time! Piece-O-cake!

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On 2/11/2011 at 6:54 PM, canuk said:
i am mid way through making some tongs and want to make the rivet. can i simply use mild steel? or do commercially made rivets more then that?


I make hundreds of pairs of tongs every year and like others have said, use the same material the tongs are made of. Most of my tongs are just mild steel so I use 3/8 mild round stock cut to the length I want for the rivet. My tongs are drilled but you can hot punch the holes also. I assemble the tongs cold, insert the rivet, and then give each side a few glancing blows on the end of the rivet to keep it from falling out in the fire. I heat everything at once, come to the anvil, center the rivet in the tongs over the pritchel hole and then head the rivet alternating sides with each few blows to keep the heat even. You will find that the rivet actually upsets and fills the hole tightly so the last step is to take the tongs to the slack tub and work them rapidly in the water as they cool. Done right you will have a nice tight fit and smooth action.

 

 

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nhblacksmith: I'm not understanding why you do it over the pritchel hole. Usually rivets are set by backing-up the other end of the rivet. In fact, I can't think of any situation where I haven't had the other end of the rivet backed up when heading.


What I said was that I "center" the rivet over the pritchel hole, that is get it so that it protrudes evenly on both sides. I just glance at it on edge and if one side is longer, put the short side down over the hole and give it a tap or two. Then I do slide it back to the face of the anvil before setting the rivet. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
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I built a piece to go in the vice like double egde 2 It can make 1/4",3/8",and 1/2". I use it a lot. worth the time I added a piece of angle iron to each side so when I open the vice it stays there and I gust remove the finished rivet.



yep yep....they rock! only mine is 6, 8, and 10 mm.
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I used to lay a flat bar on the anvil and the tongs on across that, kinda like a teeter-totter. Now I take the hot slug (rivet) with no head on it, drop it in the hole and rock the tongs up a little so that the rod is sticking out about the same on each side and smack it and form both heads at the same time! Piece-O-cake!



yeah but youre good!....im only ok at it...lol


and i like the domed rivet look.
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What I said was that I "center" the rivet over the pritchel hole, that is get it so that it protrudes evenly on both sides. I just glance at it on edge and if one side is longer, put the short side down over the hole and give it a tap or two. Then I do slide it back to the face of the anvil before setting the rivet. Sorry if that wasn't clear.


Much mo clear now! Thanks!
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  • 10 years later...

hi, can i use a bolt for a rivet??   i am cold setting mild steel rivets in a sidesaddle tree with wood between 2 pieces of mild steel.  i usually use common nails for rivets but would like to  to use 10-24 bolts 

i have peened a couple of the bolts to see if i can form a head and i can.   any thoughts on the disadvantages?? 

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You can use anything that will fit in the hole, be deformable and stand the stresses put on it!   Pretty easy to make your own rivets if you can drill the right sized hole in a scrap piece of steel to head the first side in.

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okay , lol!! that is what i was thinking but wanted to ask , i rebuild antique sidesaddles and have been doing it for a yrs. common nails work well and match the old mild steel i am working with. some of the saddles are 150 yrs old.

i am doing a re build on a newer saddle now , replacing the cheap aluminum, and using  11 and 14 gauge steel metal for the straps on this one 

i used the bolts to pull the metal straps  tight against the wood, then planned take them out and rivet.    today i got to thinking why not just rivet the bolts.

 

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Welcome aboard, glad to have you. Would you mind posting some pics of your work? 

Ever consider how much fun it is to beat the living snot our of HOT steel? I'm sure if you put your general location in the header a member within visiting distance would let you give smithing a test drive on their equipment. 

No pressure, just something to think about. It IS fun, lots.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Make sure to get mild steel bolts, the high C ones would be a pain to hammer on! If you go to buy steel; I'd look into real 1018 or 1020 and NOT A-36. Of course prior to 1850's  real wrought iron would be used; hopefully triply refined.

You realize that a lot of us commonly use blacksmithing items older than 130 years, I have an 1828 William Foster anvil and steeled WI hammers that predate 1890. (Including one I dug out from under a scrap pile in England...)  My main area of interest is in ferrous metal technologies predating 1600.  One of the great thing about most blacksmith tools is that they wear like iron!

If you are ever in the USA and get out this way; stop by!

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