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I did a search through the forums but didn't find an answer.
In the photo is a trivet I made with the legs and handle riveted together.

Used a vise to to hold the trivet upside down while I heated and lightly peened the 1/4" round stock used for the rivets.
The vise was holding the top part of the trivet.

When that was done I inverted the trivet and rested the peened part of the rivet (bottom side) on the anvil horn and work on the top section with heat and light hammer blows.

Usually the rivet bends and once straightened it works.
I don't want to buy pre-made rivets before I learn how to do it this way.
Is there a rivet "set" that I can make or locate that will start the rivet head and also finish the rivet?



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on that particular piece i would use a square rivet and punch square holes to keep everything from moving and not staying lined up...as far as the rounded head there are tools you can buy or you could make one ... but making your own rivets is pretty much a waste of time for anything that isnt a one off..historically i havnt checked on when they were available mas produced but willing to bet it was early . probably 1750-1790 era or earlier...you could probably make um similar to the way nails were made....

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There're rivets,and then again,rivets.

The sort used in an airplane or a railroad bridge are a piece of VERY fine and complex engineering.All proportions thereof are calculated,especially the hemi-sphere of the head,but actually many,many different parameters.

In forging of Colonial era style ironwork you don't really need all that much finesse(actually,one of the ways of authenticating old work is by the invariably lousy rivets).As stated above,do index your joint/rivet/or both(a good ding in the side will do).

Typically,you don't even need to head rivets of this size,especially if there's an easy access to both sides(as in your trivet).Simply use a lengh of stock,put it through,and start riveting.Couple of blows,turn it over,et c.That way you can control the amount of mass on each side of rivet.Chamfer the ends beforehand,it helps.Sections of nails work great,you can practically do them cold(very low C).

If you must use a header,make one out of a chunk of med.or high C.Indent with a bearing ball of desired dia.HT.You can make them as top/bottom(hardy)tool,or even connect them with a spring,or any other C-shaped device,with the top sliding.
Best of luck.

Good job on those forgings,both those things look very good! :)

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16 penny nails make good rivets and the heads can be easily re-struck to resemble hand forged nails.

However in most colonial work would that not have been forge welded instead? I do several different trivets and forge weld the rings and the legs as my basic take on it is "If you are doing something to avoid a forge weld in a historical piece you probably are doing it in an unhistorical manner".

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When initially starting the rivet, the bottom section gets clamped in the vise, the leg and ring laid on top and then it is eated with a torch while forming the rose head.
Usually the rivets slips through the vise or sometimes it'll bend over and that just gets straightened out with a pair of tongs and I start over.

Once one end is finished it gets a little easier.
I try to have a rose head on each end.

George: I bookmarked that link. The riveted style looks nice to me too. Thanks

dablacksmith: To speed things up a little I drill 1/4" holes in the ring and legs and then follow up with a square punch in both.

Jake: Have been using 1/4" round for these rivets but its a bugger getting the first end started.
Keystock has been scarce around these parts and figured 1/4" round stock would upset into the squared holes.
Like the ball bearing idea.
What about drilling a hole in a chunk of metal plate that is slightly larger than the diameter of the rivet and using that plate to support the shank that isn't being upset?
Thanks for the kind words.

Thomas: I'll take a look at the nails next time I'm at the hardware store.
Also thought the same thing about forge-welding for this type of work.
In my "Colonial Wrought Iron" (Sorber Collection) book and Sonn's "Early American Wrought Iron" there are several examples of the legs being riveted. But there are forge-welded examples too.
I prefer the riveted look but thats chust me.

Don: thanks for the compliments. Both of those items were a first for me.

Larry Long, a blacksmith near Speedwell Forge Lake in Lancaster Co, showed me how to make forks and spatulas.
He is a real nice guy B) and freely shares his knowledge.


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Everyone works in the way that they find the most comfortable.I'm very attached to a degree of spontaneity in forging,letting the parts being riveted take care of themselves,as i head the rivet from one side,and the anvil backing it from the other.The Zen of forging,if you will.I find it to benefit the finished work.

But from all that you write i gather that you'd prefer to systematise your riveting.In that case,here's one way that you can do that:
Clamp two nice blocks in your vise with a piece of paper in between them.Drill right into the seam with a bit identical to your rivet dia.Weld on a loop of steel for a "spring" type arrangement,et c.,any other provision to index the blocks together,and to make them stay in your vise.
In other words,same as an upsetting matrix.
This way,by means of side-pressure(paper thickness exerpted will provide about the right amount),you can hold your round stock firmly enough to head it,and without distortion.
I'm not sure exactly what you meant about a plate/hole arrangement.The old rivet sets did often have a hole(deeper than the rivet),to use for compressing the parts with a rivet through them,before riveting.But you cannot use the bottom of your rivet to head against,if that's what you meant.
Sorry if i misunderstood you.

(As a devout worshipper of the mighty Random Factor myself i cannot recommend it more strongly,vs all this tedious Method,but again,not everyone happens to have such a large river so near by,to deep-six one's mistakes in,i'm very fortunate that way :) )

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Thanks for that tip.
The plate will have a hole drilled all the way through it and would have to be as thick as the rivet is long. I could rest the plate on the anvil face which would be a backer for the rivet.
Or it could have a blind hole which is similiar to your suggestion.

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Long age in the deep dark past of my life as an artist I made my own rivets by hand with a tool I made out of two pieces of angle. I took them over to the drill press and then put them back to back in a drill press vise and proceeded to drill a hole just slightly under the size of my rivet rod. Then after drilling the hole I slightly relieved the edge of the hole with a file so it wasn't sharp but not a real heavy radius, just a wee tiny one. Now I clamped a piece of my rivet rod in there in a heavy vise and hit it cold to start forming the head, just enough to swell the mild steel a bit. No, these were never for use as structural rivets, just decorative ones so mild steel was good enough, these were not for engineered projects, that's a whole nother ball game. Now with one end swollen up you can put it in place without it falling through and you can get it hot with a torch or in the forge and work it to a proper look or you can go ahead and heat it with a torch in the jig and work one side of the rivet to perfection. Now that I'm making some jewelry I have made the same jig for making silver, copper and brass rivets only on a very tiny scale. I have also made a couple of small rivet set tools similar to the old Pexto tools for setting rivets. So far they seem to work well for jewelry but my big fingers do get in the way of small work. :blink:

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I think the rivet problem has been solved.
Took a 3/4"sq bar and drilled a slightly over-sized blind hole in it so a 1/4" round rivet would fit.
Locked the bar in the vise, inserted rivet, placed pieces over top and heated with torch.
Formed the head halfway, removed entire assembly from the 3/4" bar and flipped it over on the anvil.
Heated the other rivet end and formed a rosehead.
Flipped it back over and finished hot forming the first side.
Works pretty well.
thanks for the help.

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I've read the responses, and am a little confused by the "technical writing." Instead of using the vise, I think that both quarter inch rivet heads could be done on the anvil cold. You might use a spacer tool, a plate of appropriate thickness with a ¼" parallel sided cutout in it. The spacer goes on the anvil, the workpiece on top of it, the hole registering over the cutout. When the ¼" round is dropped into the hole touching the anvil, the proper amount will be sticking up for a rivet head. The spacer is withdrawn before the work is turned over for the other heading. If you want the round shank to resist turning on the finished piece, you could cold-chisel marks around the periphery of the hole. The peened head will shape itself into the marks in a hidden manner.

You could also pre make your rivets before insertion. One way is to use oversized stock, say 3/8" and neck down the ¼" round shank using edge to edge blows at the near radiused edge of the anvil [square-octagonal-round]. Notch the 3/8" stock all around to demarcate the head, heat and insert in the heading tool, wringing it off similar to nail making. The sharp edged hole in the heading tool will get rid of any radii from previous hammering. Hammer the head and "Bob's your Uncle." This method is shown in Ernst Schwarzkopf, "Plain and Ornamental Forging."

You could also make a heading tool for quarter inch stock such as the one Jake suggested above.

Another way is to upset the end of the ¼" round, then cut to size and drop it hot into a heading tool. The hammered upset will form the head.

A rivet set or rivet setter is a tool to place over the rivet shank to draw the pieces tightly together thus getting rid of any gaps. It also has a "domer" on it in order to smooth out any hammer marks on the rivet head. They are still manufactured by the C.S. Osborne Company.


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